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Zen Stories

Concentration A young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. “There,” he said to the old man, “see if you can match that!” Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather […]

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Jean Dunn

You are the Conscious Presence

Maharaj: Just as a person continues going to work every day because he wants to receive his wages, so you keep coming here because you want to gain knowledge. Once you have this knowledge, there is no need for you to stay any longer. Until you get the knowledge, you don’t want to leave; nevertheless, the only ones who should stay are those who feel a great urgency to know.

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Wisdom of the Sufi’s

Desire An emperor was coming out of his palace for his morning walk when he met a beggar. He asked the beggar, “What do you want?” The beggar laughed and said, “You are asking me as though you can fulfill my desire!” The king was offended. He said, “Of course I can fulfill your desire. What is it? Just tell me.” And the beggar said, “Think twice before you promise

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Wisdom from Around the World

True Wealth One day a very wealthy family took their son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing him how very poor people live. They spent a day and a night on the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “Very good, Dad! “Did you see how poor people can

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Wingbeats: The Poetry of Rumi

The rubat, the four-line poem, is indigenous to the Persian language, and Rumi is one of the great innovators with the form. There’s a legend about how the quatrain originated. It’s fair day. A poet and his friends are strolling along in the crowd. They stop to watch some children playing a game. A young boy throws a walnut so that it starts along a groove of the pavement, jumps

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Veggie Burgers

The painter, Maurice de Vlaminck, once remarked, “Good painting is like good cooking; it can be tasted, but not explained.” In the same way, when cooking, rather than following a recipe to the letter, by letting it be a guide it can transform itself in its own unique way. I love to simply read recipes; often I never make them, but sometimes—a fragrance or subtle touch of spice—bookmarks itself and

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True Solitude

In early 1972, the French Benedictine monk Abhishiktananda (Father La Saux) lived in India as a mendicant, spending time in solitude at the sacred hill Arunachala, in South India, and alone in the Himalayas. This is a letter to Marc (his student), who wanted to experience the heart of solitude for himself. Abhishiktananda sent him to Arunachala to learn that true solitude is everywhere. Your pilgrimage must not be interrupted,

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True Blessings

A Taoist Tale A man who lived in the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?” Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, “What

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Timeless Tales

Empty Your Cup A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can

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Three Stories

Conquering a Kingdom In the early 1900s, when the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi lived in the Virupaksha Cave on the Arunachala Hill, his companions were monkeys, dogs, snakes and other animals. Often the restless monkeys would sit still, as if in a trance, under the large tree in front of the cave. Once, one of the monkeys started moving and was looking restless. Ramana asked him, “What kingdom do you

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This Is It! Meeting William Samuel

William Samuel was a legend who lived life with all the gusto of an adventurer in an epic film. During the Second World War, he commanded OSS troops in China and led an army infantry company in some of the Korean war’s fiercest battles. He loved birds, plants, trees, arrowheads and every aspect of wildlife. A prolific writer of metaphysics, Samuel was also a beloved spiritual teacher, with students scattered

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The Wisdom of Solomon

The empty-hearted are quick to criticize; a heart filled with understanding values silence. (11:12) Truth is forever; falsehood lasts but a moment. (12:19) Pretending to knowledge reveals your lack of it; admitting ignorance is the beginning of wisdom. (13:7) A closed mind causes strife; an open mind cultivates wisdom. (13:10) True wisdom is self-understanding; fools deceive only themselves. (14:8) A serious mind seeks understanding, but a fool is satisfied with

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Ramana Maharshi

The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi with Commentary

 Arthur Osborne’s commentary is in italic. Questioner: Am I to concentrate on the thought “Who am I?” Ramana Maharshi: You must concentrate to see where the “I”-thought arises. Instead of looking outward, look inward and see where the “I”-thought arises. Q: And Bhagavan says that if I see that I shall realize the Self? RM: There is no such thing as “realizing” the Self. How is one to realize or

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Bernard Harmand

The Search for Happiness

Questioner: Is it necessary to acquire certain spiritual knowledge in order to undertake the search for our true nature? Bernard: Of course not! What is necessary is only to hear the good news that you are the Self. You are, here and at this very moment, the Self. What you seek, you already are! One needs to have heard this at least once, because it is the Truth about our

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The Poetry of Thomas Merton

Merton came to embrace the profound relationship that developed between his vocation to the silence of his monastic life and its rich and sacralizing effects on his poetics. Against all expectation and in spite of the persistent efforts of the Catholic Church to silence him in the ’60s, Merton emerged as one of the most prominent and effective social critics in twentieth-century America. This irony is not lost on the

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The Poet-Saint Kabir

Truth cannot be revealed by words. The mute person eating sweets only smiles, the sweetness he cannot express. Kabir, who lived between 1398 and 1448, was one of the great poet-saints of India whose works continue to be sung and quoted by millions of people. Although parts of Kabir’s life are surrounded by legend, it is fairly well-established that he was born in Beneras (Varanasi) and was adopted and raised

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The Metaphorical Journey of Arjuna

Spiritual texts that have stood the test of time continually reveal the truths they embody through the hearts and minds of those who apply their teachings in daily life. The fact that a teaching lives this way allows it to endure. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the great scriptures that reveals itself in this manner. It was Mahatma Gandhi’s “bible,” and is both an inspirational text and manual for

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The Life and Poetry of Muruganar

 “Vast, whole, immutable, the Self Reflected in the mind’s distorting Mirror may appear to move. Know that it is the image moving. The true Self never moves or changes.” Though the poetry of Muruganar is not widely known, those associated with the life of Ramana Maharshi are familiar with his extraordinary verses, which have been published by Ramanasramam and a few other centers in India. He was often referred to

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Stephen Jourdain

The Irreducible Identity

Gilles Farcet: Certain teachings compare the awakened one to an actor—the actor speaks his lines, plays his role perfectly, is in love, betrayed, rich, ruined, knows happy occasions or tragedies, cries or laughs, and becomes the character he plays, all the while knowing that he himself is not Romeo or Orestes. Once the curtain comes down, he quietly leaves the theatre. Stephen Jourdain: Yes, that’s exactly it. There’s this strange

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Karl Renz

The Final Resignation

 As a child I saw an absolute division in experiences. One moment I was completely detached and in perfect harmony with the world, the next moment I was in deepest depression wishing for dissolution and to die. I was either heavenly happy or filled with sadness and death. Naturally, I only wanted to dwell in the pleasant experiences, so the search began to achieve this. Initially, it was not truth

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The Fakir Sai Baba

During a classic Asian monsoon season in 1979, while blackish-purple clouds unleashed sheets of rain for weeks at a time, a small, yet powerful book found its way into the damp cottage where we were living in Tiruvannamalai, South India. I’ll never forget the first sentence of the book: “Look, here comes the crazy fakir (Muslim holy man) again!” I could picture the Indian shopkeepers in the center of a

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Symphony of the Spirit

“So solitary and secret, so remote and far distant from sense, that naught pertaining to it, nor any touch of created things, succeeds in approaching the soul in such a way as to disturb it and detain it on the road of the union of love.” —St. John of the Cross St. John of the Cross is widely regarded one of the great Christian mystics and poets. He was born

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