January 7, 2013

10 Quotes Distilling Meditation, Sort Of.


Photo: Bruce

Let’s start with a certain problem for 99.9 percent of us.

“The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation.” ~ Milarepa

Have you ever once had time arrive, found you could suddenly sit?

“There is extra time now, what about a little meditation?” said no one, ever.

Every time we’ve ever made it to the cushion or the studio, we had to put other stuff aside to do it.  There’s nothing for that, and extensive studies have shown, there’s no point in waiting for the angel of extra meditation time to descend. She ‘aint coming.

Now let’s bring to the stage the man who penned one of the most complete poems on acceptance and equanimity ever, then repeated it often in Slaughterhouse Five. Three words and they are really everything.

“So it goes.”

Jesus, I love that. Vonnegut is so, so balls out in that synopsis, it gives and gives and gives. James Heath, my ninth-grade English teacher, for the umpteenth time, thank you. But I digress. Though this quote is the ultimate distillation in so many ways, it could be perhaps less specific than this article might hope for. So let’s pull a different Vonnegut:

“Meditation is holy to me, for I believe that all the secrets of existence and nonexistence are somewhere in our heads – or in other people’s heads. And I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This is to me is a miracle.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut

How can the two of us, reader and writer, overstate the truth in this piece? Are we not communing, feasting in reason, flowing in soul, at this very moment? KV is really onto something here. And let me say this about that.  I understand perfectly the viewpoint articulated by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in “Running With The Mind of Meditation” on this.

He talks about people telling him that running is their meditation. And he doesn’t buy it.  I paraphrase:

“Running is running. Meditation is meditation. That’s why they have different names.”

But I’m keeping this in as a top quote anyway. There is room in meditation for, what shall we call them, lesser meditations. Mindful activity. Plus I’m still in love with Vonnegut.

[Pagan Meditation]So let’s go right to the top.

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”  ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

I love the thought, the very idea, of understanding the immeasurable. Krishnamurti is pointing to the moon big time on this one.

I have not attained this understanding, but if you held a gun to my head and asked me “Hey Saliter, what would it take to understand the immeasurable?” I would more than likely reply “Please put that gun down.” And we go, briskly, apace, from the Murti to the Thich.

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich, you old poet. I’ve never spent any time in Plum Village, but this brief glimpse into such a beautiful soul makes me want to.  And again, activity. Walking, no less. But if you have ever done walking meditation (Shambhala Centers have good ones too) then you’ll appreciate where Thich is coming from. It is powerful. You will also understand why I cannot stop myself from including this floating, soaring gem from Salinger himself, who has written a fleet of deeply perceptive quotes on this same topic.

“All we do our whole lives is go from one piece of Holy Ground to the next.”


That one slays me. I could take that quote out for dinner, tell it it was looking pretty and mean it, pick up the check and tip large, in absolute secrecy, and suggest a perfect club for dancing after. I could commit to that quote without hesitation. That quote could tell me it was pregnant one morning and I would just heave a huge goofy grin into the air. That quote is the one.

Let’s bump it up a notch, up to the quotes that speak of meditation’s pragmatic, practical uses. For that, we turn to the women. Jane?

“An interval of meditation, serious and grateful, was the best corrective of everything dangerous.”  ~ Jane Austen, Persuasion

How about it? Serious and grateful suits me just fine. I mean, is there anything missing in that comment? No, people, no. Because guess what? Things dangerous are all around us, all the time, they just get more subtle as we grow. Am I reaching you here?  If we consider averting danger as accomplished or given, (which it is of course not), what else is on the table? Sarah?

Photo:Nichole Gould

Meditation connects you with your soul,and this connection gives you access to your intuition, your heartfelt desires, your integrity, and the inspiration to create a life you love.” 
~ Sarah McLean

Uhm, can we safely say green light experientially on this one? Who among us has not had meditation stretch the hours, so we are suddenly able to get five times as much done with the same hour. We’ve walked up from the cushion and had the phone ring with the call we completely needed. Sarah is right as rain on this one, now all we need is someone to explain why we keep blowing off the practice. Old school inspiration. Why do we need to be on the cushion?

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”

~ Pema Chodron

Best for last?  Hard to say.

I mean, there are a couple of Alan Watts it is killing me not to throw down.  Remember him saying “I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination?” Of course you do.

And Deepak, chiming in with “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there.”

How about Sharon, with “Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” I mean, there is probably no way I can even come close to laying this stuff at your feet properly.

Should this be a series? Would even that begin to cover it? I’ll never encapsulate this body of wisdom.

But I know what I love.

”God is the friend of silence. See how nature… trees, flowers, grass… grows in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

And speaking of the moon and the stars, here’s a bonus dubstep deep meditation dancevibe:

Shh.  Love ya.

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Editor: Kate B.

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