Shaun McNiff

“My colleague Christopher Cook ran the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston for one year as a work of art. Like other conceptual artists in the early 1970’s, he was attempting to demonstrate that boundaries need not exist between art and life. Cook approached everything he did during his year as ICA director as part of an artwork. At the end of the year his work culminated in an exhibition where his office was re-created; videotaped and photographic documentation on his activities over the past year were displayed, along with various papers, notes, and artefacts. People attending the show participated in the yearlong artistic project and were invited to continue the process of integrating art and life in their own experience.”

Shaun McNiff

Mark Strand

My Name by Mark Strand

Once when the lawn was a golden green
and the marbled moonlit trees rose like fresh memorials
in the scented air, and the whole countryside pulsed
with the chirr and murmur of insects, I lay in the grass,
feeling the great distances open above me, and wondered
what I would become and where I would find myself,
and though I barely existed, I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.

Kahlil Gibran

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
 

Imaginary Conversation by Linda Pastan

You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead—that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.

But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first—
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?

You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.

Salt Heart – Jane Hirshfield

 

I was tired, half sleeping in the sun. A single bee delved the lavender nearby, and beyond the fence, a trowel’s shoulder knocked a white stone. Soon, the ringing stopped. And from somewhere, a quiet voice said the one word. Surely a command, though it seemed more a question, a wondering perhaps—”What about joy?” So long it had been forgotten, even the thought raised surprise. But however briefly, there, in the untuned devotions of bee and the lavender fragrance, the murmur of better and worse was unimportant. From next door, the sound of raking, and neither courage nor cowardice mattered. Soon enough that gate swung closed, the world turned back to heart-salt of wanting, heart-salts of will and grief. My friend would continue dying, at last only exhausted, even his wrists thinned with pain. The river Suffering would take what it wished of him, then go. And I would stay and drink on, as the living do, until the rest would enter into that water—the lavender swept in, the bee, the swallowed labors of my neighbor. The ordinary moment swept in, whatever it drowsily holds. I begin to believe the only sin is distance, refusal. All others stemming from this. Then, come. Rivers, come. Irrevocable futures, come. Come even joy. Even now, even here, and though it vanish like him.

Mary Oliver

Mindful

by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Healing

After many years of experiencing deep seated suffering any notion of healing may seem so far removed from our everyday reality now. All hope of any form of recovery has, more likely, faded and we have come to accept our difficult plight as the norm. This is understandable because we have been on a roller coaster ride, health wise. Yet underneath all this there is still hope. We may have underestimated our ability to turn things around because of a constant feeder stream of self-aggression towards ourselves – a subtle flow of personal guilt, shame and perhaps embarrassment that keeps us locked in failure. Now we must start again, we must start to believe in ourselves, a revived, enriched personal validation, that understands that progress can still be made. That there is always action that we can take, however small that could secure a better future. The personal rejection that we have promoted must now be rejected and replaced with a self-belief that will invest in our lives.

 

Non Violence by Dr Martin Luther King Jnr

 

 “Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.”

 “ It must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight… The way of nonviolent resistance … is ultimately the way of the strong man. It is not a method of stagnant passivity… For while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and his emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil. “

 “Nonviolence … does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through non co-operation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”

“ It is the evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by the evil. If he is opposing racial injustice, the nonviolent resister has the vision to see that the basic tension is not between the races… The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness…. We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.“

 “Nonviolent resistance [requires] a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back… The nonviolent resister is willing to accept violence if necessary, but never to inflict it. He does not seek to dodge jail. If going to jail is necessary, he enters it “as a bridegroom enters the bride’s chamber.”

“Unearned suffering is redemptive. Suffering, the nonviolent resister realizes, has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities. “

“Nonviolent resistance … avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives. “

 “Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object… Agape is disinterested love. It is a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed toward both. If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.”

“Another basic point about agape is that it springs from the need of the other person — his need for belonging to the best in the human family… Since the white man’s personality is greatly distorted by segregation, and his soul is greatly scarred, he needs the love of the Negro. The Negro must love the white man, because the white man needs his love to remove his tensions, insecurities, and fears. “

 “Agape is not a weak, passive love. It is love in action… Agape is a willingness to go to any length to restore community… It is a willingness to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven to restore community…. If I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only close the gap in broken community by meeting hate with love. “

“Nonviolent resistance … is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. Consequently, the believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future. This faith is another reason why the nonviolent resister can accept suffering without retaliation. For he knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship. It is true that there are devout believers in nonviolence who find it difficult to believe in a personal God. But even these persons believe in the existence of some creative force that works for universal wholeness. Whether we call it an unconscious process, an impersonal Brahman, or a Personal Being of matchless power of infinite love, there is a creative force in this universe that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole.”

Martin Luther King Jnr

King used the phrase “I have a dream” eight times in his address to about 2,000 people at Booker T Washington High School in Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina, eight months before he electrified the country during the so-called March on Washington, the Associated Press said. He also referred to “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners,” saying he dreamed they would “meet at the table of brotherhood”. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where he spoke in Washington King changed that to “sit down together at the table of brotherhood”. In both speeches, “Let Freedom Ring” served as his rallying cry. Experts have said it may have been fortunate that King practiced the “dream” section of his speech in North Carolina, and later in Detroit, as it was not part of the type-written text prepared for Washington. Indeed, historians say the singer Mahalia Jackson shouted “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” as he reached a slow point in his prepared text. King then improvised, and lit up the audience.

The Independent 12/8/15

 

ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN LIFE

 

We often settle for less, feeling perhaps that we are not good enough for more achievements, more success. This is nonsense of course; it’s just a self-sabotaging device that is allowed to run away with debilitating feelings that prevent us from going further. Never settle for second best, never fall back from going that extra mile and startle yourself in what you can achieve.

 

Never measure your life in years but in the number of lives you touch.

 

Cultivate balance in your life. It’s right to work hard to achieve your goals but it’s also equally right to take time out for relaxing, for renewal.

 

Mindfulness attends to our lives peacefully and contentedly allowing things to get done at their own pace. Its special gift is its ability to connect us to an inner harmony, a natural rhythm which flows unimpeded in relaxing calm.  

 

Don’t beat yourself up over the mistakes you make. Mistakes are an integral part of life, there as our instructors to guide and push us in the right direction.

 

If we look deeply enough into the problems we confront you will see a corresponding solution. Remember the words of Krishnamurti: “ If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem. “

 

Keeping your sense of humour in difficult circumstances is essential if we are to keep our sanity.

 

Be generous in your dealings with people. This will always pay you back in often unexpected ways.

 

Always seek out clarity in your communications with others. Ambiguity and vagueness always impede fuller understanding. Better to articulate in clear, simple, succinct terms to get your message over so as to dismiss any possibility of misunderstanding.

 

Death is already waiting for us so live your life fully, completely as you can, making every moment count before it’s too late.

 

Someone once said: “If you have a vocation you will never work again.’

Let’s all find our vocation as a matter of priority and if you have been fortunate enough already to have found yours then deepen that engagement.  

 

We must endeavour to live a life that feels nourishing, wholesome and good on the inside irrespective of our perception of how we appear to others on the outside. This is called being authentic to the true self.

 

Don’t compromise too much on ‘ false ‘ friendship. Because it wastes time that could be spent in finding the depth of companionship we always wanted.

 

Wisdom can only arise from a still, contemplative mind and for this we need to free ourselves from the busyness of our everyday activities and our inherent habitual thinking.

 

Relaxation is the tool we need to re-engage with balance and perspective, in other words – our sanity.

 

Keep it simple. Life often gets too complicated, too stressful at times to handle. By restricting our work load and relaxing around goals and achievements we can rebalance our composure and settle down to a more manageable, peaceful existence.

 MICHAEL LEWIN