The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Thursday, 23 February 2012
the four agreements
Some of you might remember, if you were of the right age and of that inclination in the 70s, several books written by Carlos Casteneda of his time with the Yaqui shaman Don Juan. The first, The Teachings of Don Juan, and the succeeding books shaped my own vision.
Built on similar foundations but much simpler and with an altogether shorter scope, but nonetheless insightful, is the book by Toltec medicine man Don Miguel Ruiz: The Four Agreements (Amber-Allen Publishing).
There was a time in my life when, living alone, one of my biggest joys was sitting by the kitchen window early in the day with a first cup of tea, watching dawn come back to light up the river, and the garden slowly fill with birds. Gradually, as my cup emptied and I filled myself with riverlight and birdsong, I'd turn to my journal and also some book of sacred texts or spiritual writings, or poetry – so much more warming a way to wake up than with, say, the news.
This morning, with TM off to work early, instead of rushing to meditate, shower, then walk the dog straightaway, I sat with a cup of tea watching the birds in the courtyard, and then picked up Ruiz's book.
Ruiz has four proposals; he says they're Toltec, but in content and range I'd say they are also in effect a distillation of psychospiritual perennial wisdom teachings from all times and cultures. If we live according to these four, he says, we can transform our lives. Need a shot of transformation? See what you can do with these.
Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don't take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
Don't make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Always do your best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you're healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.*
*I'd qualify this one by saying that our problem in the West, (or maybe it's a British problem), is not that we don't do our best, but that we believe that our best isn't enough, or good enough. We may need to challenge that deeply-ingrained belief.
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