The Living Book

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This is the greatest work of all. In order to show and release her powers, Nature has no need of fortune; she shows herself equally on all levels, and behind a curtain as well as without one. To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, to rule, to lay up treasure, to build, are at most but little appendices and props.

Montaigne (1533 – 1592)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207 – 1273)

As one beholds through a small window
A single green leaf,
a small patch of the vast blue sky,
So I began to perceive Thee,
in the beginning of All things.
As the leaf faded and withered,
the patch covered as with a Dark cloud,
So didst Thou fade and vanish,
But to be reborn again,
As the single green leaf,
as the small patch of the blue sky.
For many lives have I seen the bleak winter and the Green spring.
Prisoned in my little room,
I could not behold the entire tree nor the whole sky.
I swore there was no tree nor the vast sky — That was the truth.
Through time and destruction My window grew large.
I beheld, Now,
A branch with many leaves,
And a greater patch of the blue, with many clouds.
I forgot the single green leaf,
the small patch of the vast blue.
I swore there was no tree, nor the immense sky — That was the truth.
Weary of this prison,
This small cell, I raged at my window.
With bleeding fingers I tore away brick after brick,
I beheld, Now,
The entire tree, its great trunk,
Its many branches, and its thousand leaves,
And an immense part of the sky.
I swore there was no other tree,
no other part to the sky — That was the truth.
This prison no longer holds me, I flew away through the window,
O friend, I behold every tree and the vast expanse of the limitless sky.
Though I live in every single leaf and in every small
Patch of the vast blue sky,
Though I live in every prison,
looking out through every small casement, Liberated am I.
Lo! not a thing shall bind me — This is the truth.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986)

For whilst in one sense we give up self to live the universal and absolute life of reason, yet that to which we thus surrender ourselves is in reality our truer self. The life of absolute truth or reason is not a life that is foreign to us. In yielding to it we are not submitting to an outward and arbitrary law or to an external authority, but to a law that has become our own law, an authority which has become enthroned in the inmost essence of our being.

John Caird (1820 – 1898)