My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
I hope and trust that 2012 is starting well for you. But if your efforts to maintain your resolutions for the new year are already starting to falter, then read through these quotations and see if they speak to you more powerfully than willpower alone.
Sometimes I think we’re all so afraid of failing that we don’t even both to think about how we’re living and the direction our life is going.
But it’s not too late. Power down the devices, switch off the tv, log off the internet and just sit quietly.
Try being with yourselves for 180 or 360 seconds without any “to do” buzzing through your mind. Even just 2 or 3 minutes of quietude can act like a powerful compass enabling us to re-check our orientation to what’s truly important to us. Taking a short time every day for personal reflection can show us whether we’re off course or not and which direction we need to be heading in order to reach our destination.
Another benefit is that, like a glass of muddy water allowed to stand undisturbed, we may see clearly through our every day haze of desires, dislikes and petty dramas.
So, in the spirit of taking a few moments for self reflection as we get deeper into this new year, I offer these quotes which have drifted into my life:
Renunciation is not getting rid of the things of this world, but accepting that they pass away.
Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.
It isn’t more complicated that that.
It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is,
without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
Our modern Western culture only recognises the first of these, freedom of desires. It then worships such a freedom by enshrining it at the forefront of national constitutions and bills of human rights. One can say that the underlying creed of most Western democracies is to protect their people’s freedom to realise their desires, as far as this is possible. It is remarkable that in such countries people do not feel very free. The second kind of freedom, freedom from desires, is celebrated only in some religious communities. It celebrates contentment, peace that is free from desires.
Ajahn Brahm (Opening the Door of Your Heart)
If only I could throw away the urge to trace my patterns in your heart, I could really see you.
David Brandon (Zen in the Art of Helping)
Do not speak – unless it improves on silence.
Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much
as your own unguarded thoughts.
You can explore the universe looking for somebody who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself,
and you will not find that person anywhere.
Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.
Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines,
but the final victory comes to the one who endures.
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise
or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you will have a
little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if
you let go completely you will have complete peace.
At the end of our life our questions are simple:
Did I life fully? Did I love well?
My religion is to live and die without regret.
All happiness comes from the desire for others to be happy.
All misery comes from the desire for oneself to be happy.