July 31

July, Thoughts for…

Posted by William Berry | Filed under Blog | No Comments

Photo by Alexi Berry

31. How often each day, if you were to verbalize your inner reality at that moment, would you have to say, “I Don’t want to be where I am”? What does it feel like when you don’t want to be where you are?

In cases where it is not appropriate to walk out, “I don’t want to be here” is not only useless but dysfunctional. It makes you and others unhappy.

It has been said: Wherever you go there you are. In other words you are here. Always. Is it so hard to accept that? Eckhart Tolle – Stillness Speaks

30. Can you walk on water? You have done no better than a straw. Can you fly in the air? You have done no better than a bluebottle. Conquer your heart, than you may become somebody. Ansari of Herat

29. Trouble comes when we are unable to view things with moderation. We all want to be rich, but we don’t want to be poor. We all want happiness, but we shun disappointment.

Opposites are not mutually exclusive but are actually pairs. If we have sadness, then happiness will come too. If we have love, we will also have to deal with conflict. For all of our learning, we will have days where our philosophical outlook will be tried to its breaking point. For all the peace of meditation, we will still have to face work, illness, and stress. There is no path in life that only stands on one side of a pair and never ventures into the other. The sooner we accept- and work with that- the better off we will be. Deng Ming-Dao – Everyday Tao, pg137

28. The very nature of life is impermanence. People will come and go in every life, and although we may want to cling to avoid the pain of loss or for the purpose of security, in the end it is fruitless. Everything is transient. Embrace the flow. Berry

27. Life and love are life and love, a bunch of violets is a bunch of violets, and to drag in the idea of point is to ruin everything. Live and let live, love and let love, flower and fade, and follow the natural curve, which flows on, pointless. D.H. Lawrence

26. Security, certitude, and peace do not lead to discoveries. C.G. Jung

This is part of a quote I read in a book on interpreting drawings. It speaks in the book to the idea of honing your theories, of not discarding things that do not fit in. Recently I suggested in this month’s thoughts to define your beliefs. This would further that suggestion to adjust them, or at least hold in waiting, things that do not necessarily fit in at that moment. I like this quote because besides what I already wrote, its about remaining open-minded.

25. The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.

The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten. The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.

Where can I find a person who has forgotten words? They are the one I’d like to talk to. Chaung Tzu

24. It’s better to be an authentic loser than a false success, and to die alive than to live dead. William Markiewicz

This is a pretty cool quote I came across, and it exemplifies both ideas of genuineness and living life rather than simply existing.

23. They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Andy Warhol

I believe time and experience does move us toward change, if we are receptive to it. But those who change the most focus on what they want to change, and make a concerted effort. I believe for most people a focus on change brings a happier and more fulfilling existence. I recently bought a postcard for my office with a small picture of Buddha on it that says “If your not working on yourself, you aren’t working.”

20. There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. Epictetus

Another quote about letting go, allowing things to unfold, not worrying about that which you have no control over. Whenever I meet with someone in distress, after listening and empathizing, the next step is to determine what in the worrisome scenario do they have control over. Then that is the focus for change. The rest is best left to the forces in life which move without our direction.

19. Life is the dancer and you are the dance. Eckhart Tolle

I was reading some of “Stillness Speaks” this morning, and decided I wanted to use a quote by Eckhart Tolle today (This quote, however, is not from that book, it is from “A New Earth”). Most of his writing is about letting go of your ego and just being, being in the moment. This is an excellent quote to exemplify that. You might think it reversed, that you are the dancer and life is the dance, but he is very concise in his words. Ponder them a bit.

18. If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please. Epictetus

I read a passage recently in a book of Taoism that had to do with the middle path, with doing things in moderation, with understanding the importance of balance in life. As such I wanted a quote that captured its meaning, especially in regard to the pleasures in life. Everything ebbs and flows, all good things end, all bad times get better. This is the nature of our reality. Take the middle path and understand this and you are on your way to serenity.

17. We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe. The Upanishads

I liked this quote which I found when looking for something on impermanence. Plus, I’ve been obsessing about “Inception” lately.

16. I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. Edward Everett Hale

The other day I was exchanging emails with a friend and she mentioned feeling overwhelmed. I provided the advise a supervisor had provided me a long time ago: All you can do is all you can do. And all you can do is enough. She replied with the similar, but more poetic quote above.

We all get overwhelmed. At times when this happens, it is good to remember the above quotes, to apply them, and to allow the relief of their meaning in. There is no need to be overwhelmed, we can only do so much. If a little anxiety / stress helps you motivate, use it. But do not let stress paralyze you.

15. Real enlightenment is always with you, so there is no need for you to stick to it or even to think about it. Because it is always with you, difficulty itself is enlightenment. Your busy life itself is enlightened activity. That is true enlightenment. Shunryu Suzuki

There is always enlightenment. It is more about your state of mind than about your activity. Lately I have been overwhelmed with tasks, and admittedly my sitting practice has suffered. When I find myself unable to sit due to time constraints I practice mindfulness in my car on the way to wherever I am going. As I have said in previous posts I use the sky as my enlightenment bell, and I practice my breathing and focus on relaxation. There is always enlightenment. It is your state of mind.

14. Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for. Ralph Waldo Emerson

13. Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful. Paul Tillich

I just simply like this quote, and I do feel this way sometimes. I find myself trying to help people let things go with the flow of the universe and have faith in it, and at other times challenging their beliefs. Perhaps like the person quoted above, it is a deeper understanding that I am seeking. Whatever the case, I like the quote.

12. He (She) who has a why to live, can endure almost any how. Nietzsche

This is probably my favorite Nietzsche quote. I’ve considered getting it as a tattoo. I put it here because it is a great existential quote, and I’m using it to close out this focus on existentialism. Tomorrow I’ll return to more random quotes. In closing, I certainly hope my readers are not enduring any how, but are much happier in their lives than that. But if you have a why to live, you can make it through the toughest of times. That is the essence of this quote, which I first saw in Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning“.

11. Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you. Sartre

Things happen randomly in the chaos of everyday living. But we all have the freedom to respond to what happens in the way we choose, and it is to our benefit to own that freedom.

10. In comparison with capitalism, which reconstituted man as an economic animal; in comparison with Marxism, which found man an object made up of organized matter; in comparison with catholicism, which saw him as the unwitting plaything of an imperious unseen power (the Divine Will); in comparison with dialectical materialism, which saw him as unwitting plaything of the deterministic evolution of the means of production- existentialism made man a god. Ali Shariati

Existentialism purports that you are free to create the meaning of your life. Compared to most other belief systems this makes you the master of your destiny, and as the author of the quote above suggests, makes you your god.

9. Obviously, all religions fall far short of their own ideals… Ernest Becker

For me this quote goes with the previous, and likely should have preceded it.

8. ..philosophical systems are wholly true for their founders only. Nietzsche

I encourage you to create your own philosophy of life, of what you believe, and to define it for yourself.

7. Some refuse the loan of life to avoid the debt of death. Otto Rank

This quote focuses on how many people do not live fully, so as to avoid the awareness of what death means. I often discuss how the fear of death is denied and ignored in individuals. When I discuss this with clients or students I am often told that they are not afraid of death. This is usually a part of that denial. Why wouldn’t someone be afraid of death? No matter what your religion or beliefs about an afterlife, the you that exists in this plane of reality right now  will cease to exist. I believe that those who say they are not afraid, if suddenly faced with death would then experience the fear. There are experiments that seem to demonstrate that the fear of death is denied in most individuals. The belief seems to be if you ignore its weight, what it really means, you’ll be happier. In actuality existentialists believe the opposite. Recognize the fear, get in touch with it regularly, and you are more able to cherish life. The things you might enjoy but take for granted becomes sweeter. The stuff that is annoying becomes less important. Facing your fear of death and then coping with it makes life more full. Enjoy it.

6. Although the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death saves us. Yalom

I apologize for not posting anything the last two days. I had to be to the office early and relied on my work computer, and it is out of order. I am currently posting this while my class takes a few minutes to review their notes before an exam.

Some of you may have heard this quote before. I use it consistently in therapy, in my classes, and in my writing on existentialism. I love this quote. It works beautifully with the one before it. And it encapsulates again the idea that it is essential to face the idea of your death to live life to its fullest. Realize you will die so you can live fully.

5. If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself. Heidegger

I love this quote as it relates to embracing the fact you will die as a integral part of self actualization.

4. …man is free, in so far as he has the power of contradicting himself and his essential nature. Man is free even from his freedom; that is, he can surrender his humanity. Paul Tillich

Happy Forth of July. Recognize your freedom as a human.

3. …once I gave up the hunt for villains, I had little recourse but to take responsibility for my choices …Needless to say, this is far less satisfying than nailing villains. It also turned out to be more healing in the end… Barbara Brown Taylor

Existentialism is about taking responsibility for your life, looking at your part in everything that happens to you. It is about fully embracing your responsibility and your life.

2. Today, however, we are having a hard time living because we are so bent on outwitting death. Simone de Beauvoir

I liked this quote for today (sorry about the delay those of you that have come to expect a quote in the morning, I am away for the weekend and was driving, then site seeing until now).  It is the belief of Existentialists that many people ignore the fact they are going to die. Now when ever I say this, people either defend how they are not ignoring it, or they call me morbid. Regardless of what people say, I still believe most people really ignore the weight of what it means to cease to exist. To really grasp that is sad, but it makes life all the more sweet. So, as the quote suggests, live and don’t try to outwit death. You can’t.

1. What you have experienced, no power on Earth can take from you. Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning

I want to begin this month with a focus on embracing your life. I will likely bring some existential quotes to this forum, including some that focus on recognizing the approaching of your death. I hope this helps bring the focus to the preciousness of your life.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at 7:30 AM and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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