- Marsha Sinetar, Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics, p 26.
Monastic life and the organization which encouraged such a life precedes Christianity. In Hinduism, for example, isolated caves, mountain tops and ashrams have been home for religious men, either singly or in groups. Here they practice their arduous yogic and meditative prayers so as to experience samahdi: that state of superconscious awareness of identity with God. A Zen Buddhist enters a monastery for the same reason: to see and experience his highest reality, the truth of his own being, within the structure of the monastery. In early Judaism, the monks of Qumran lied in devoted consciousness of Old Testament prophecy. Christianity (specifically--but not exclusively--Catholicism) has the same, centuries-old tradition: the monk's aim is to live out his faith according to the sample and Gospel of Christ, to join in mysterious union with him.
- Marsha Sinetar, Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics, p 26.
When I was 42 years and 7 months old, the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming...and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books...
- Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) (scientist, writer, and composer, who suffered from migraines and saw a glow and colors around people)
They had made this place, knowing that the blue dragonfly would come and sit by me.
I found myself on a tiny path that seemed to lead away from the temple, up into a hillside. I followed this path up steps cut in the hillside, partly stone, set into the grass. The path went on and on, a shallow staircase, up into the hill, between two hedges. It was getting narrower and narrower all the time. Toward the top, it got trapped between two low rambling hedges.
Suddenly it ended. To my surprise, I could not go further. The path just stopped. The hedges closed. There was a small place at the top of the stair. I turned around and sat down. There was nowhere to sit, except on the top step, and that is where I sat, looking down at the temple precinct, watching it, tired, happy to sit there, quiet, only the wind now instead of the sounds of temple business. As I sat there, a blue dragonfly came and landed on the step beside me. It stayed. And as it stayed I was filled with the most extraordinary sensation. I was suddenly certain that the people who had built that place had done all this deliberately. I felt certain -- no matter how peculiar or unlikely it sounds today, as I am telling it again -- that they had made that place, knowing that the blue dragonfly would come and sit by me. However it sounds now, at the time when it happened, while I sat down on that stair, there was no doubt in my mind at all that there was a level of skill in the people who had made this place that I had never experienced before. I remember shivering as I became aware of my own ignorance. I felt the existence of a level of skill and knowledge beyond anything I had ever come across before.
I sat there for two or three hours -- and then stayed in the temple all day long, filled, for the whole day, by my awe in the face of what these people had known, and by the beauty of the place. Most of all I was simply shocked by the certainty that the people who made this place had done it with a level of skill far beyond anything I had ever experienced--and that the grasses, the steps, the wind, the dragonfly, were all deliberately placed by their hands.
To this day, I have never again had such a shaft strike me. I have not seen again the possibility of such perfect human knowledge of nature...The sensation of nature waking up, and human beings helping to make it wake, was luminous, like a hum. I feel a heavy longing, remembering it, it was so vivid, so quiet, so perfect. Yet it changed my life to see it, and to walk through it.
- Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order, Book One: The Phenomenon of Life, p. 436-37
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
A Zen Master was asked, “What did you use to do before you became enlightened?”
He said, “I used to chop wood and carry water from the well for my Master’s house.”
The inquirer asked, “And now that you have become enlightened, what do you do?”
He said, “I chop wood and carry water.”
The inquirer was obviously puzzled. “Then what is the difference? You used to chop wood and carry water, you still chop wood and still carry water — then what is the difference?”
The Master laughed. He said, “The difference is infinite! Before I simply used to chop wood not knowing the beauties that surrounded me. Now chopping wood is not the same because I am not the same. My eyes are not the same, my heart beats in a different rhythm — my heart beats with the heart of the whole. There is a synchronicity, there is harmony.
Carrying water from the well is the same from the outside, but my interior has become totally different. I am a new man, I am born again! Now I can see in depth, I can see into the very core of things, and each pebble has become a diamond, and each song of a bird is nothing but a call from God, and whenever a flower blooms, God blooms for me. Looking into people’s eyes I am looking into God’s eyes. Yes, on the surface I am carrying on the same activity, but because I am not the same the world is not the same.”
- Marsha Sinetar, Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow, available at http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-9780440501602-11
I am constantly searching for the rare, divine, silver-edged moments we are occasionally fortunate enough to experience, when one senses, or even actually sees, the strings that tie together the universe. Understanding the provenance of such moments, their meaning, and how to obtain more of them is what I am always seeking. This is a space for all of you to share your experiences that defy easy explanation. I hope a visit here leaves you feeling relieved, emboldened, and less alone. I look forward to hearing from you.