Leaves of Faith

Optimism

Author: 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is wiser to be pessimistic; it is a way of avoiding dissappointment and ridicule, and so wise people condemn optimism. The essence of optimism is not its view of the present, but the fact that it is the inspiration of life, and hope when others give in; it enables a man to hold his head high when everything seems to be going wrong; it gives him strength to sustain reverses and yet to claim the future for himself instead of abandoning it to his opponent. It is true that there is a silly, cowardly kind of optimism, which we must condemn. But the optimism that is will for the future should never be despised, even if it is proved wrong a hundred times; it is health and vitality, and the sick man has no business to impugn it. There are people who regard it as frivolous, and some Christians think it impious for anyone to hope and prepare for a better earthly future. they think that the meaning of present events is chaos, disorder, and catastrophe; and in resignation or pious escapism they surrender all responsibility for reconstruction and for future generations. It may be that the day of judgement will dawn tomorrow; and in that case, though not before, we shall gladly stop working for a better future.

Letters and Papers from Prison

How I Pray

Author: 
Sobonfu Somé, Parabola 2014

I pray in many different ways.
The clarity of my intention is the beginning of my prayer.

In my tradition, every breath I draw is a prayer. Every time I inhale and exhale, it is a prayer.
And so, how conscious are you when you are breathing in and out? How conscious are you when you are walking?
How conscious are you when you are singing? How conscious are you when you are angry?
I pray in the way that I show gratitude, love or compassion. I pray alone and in community.
I pray with my thoughts. I pray with my body.

I pray in the way I speak to people.
I pray to various elements of nature-
the trees, the animals, the water, the rocks, the earth, the fire....
I pray to my Ancestors and all the Divinities.
I pray simply, with passion, humility, clarity and grace.

I pray in the way I welcome and bless people . I pray with whatever emotions come my way.
I pray with sincerity and with strong belief that what I'm praying for is going to manifest.

In my tradition, whatever you say is a prayer that you send out, Because sound is a powerful force that brings the hidden to light. And when you pray something is going to say Yes.

So each moment of my life is a prayer.
Each moment I reflect on myself, on the world and other people is a prayer. How I interact with people and how I deal with my thoughts is a prayer.
How genuine am l?-is a way for me to pray.

For me, all these things are sacred and are messengers, and can take my heart cries, which are my prayers to the Divinities.
This is the power of how I pray.

Extremists of Justice

Author: 
Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extremists of justice?

 

(From: "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community")

For A New Beginning

Author: 
John O'Donohue

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

May I Become an Island

To the Buddhas residing in all directions
With my palms pressed together I make this request
Please continue to shine the lamp of Dharma
For living beings lost and suffering in the darkness of ignorance.

May I become an island for those seeking dry land
A lamp for those needing light,
A place of rest for those who desire one,
And a servant for those needing service.

Gift

Author: 
Czeslaw Milosz

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

Look to the Growing Edge

Author: 
Dr. Howard Thurman

Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge. It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men and women have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. Such is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge."

Dear Darkening Ground

Author: 
Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear darkening ground,
you've endured so patiently the walls we've built,
perhaps you'll give the cities one more hour

and grant the churches and cloisters two.
And those that labor—let their work
grip them another five hours, or seven,

before you become forest again, and water, and widening wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.

Just give me a little more time!

I want to love the things
as no one has thought to love them,
until they're worthy of you and real.

Book of Hours, I 61

When You Give, You Say You Have More Than Enough

Author: 
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

When you give, you put yourself in a position of wealth. The gift is proof that you have more than enough. At the same time it gives you a sense of your worth as a person. You're able to help other people. The act of giving also creates a sense of spaciousness in the mind, because the world we live in is created by our actions, and the act of giving creates a spacious world: a world where generosity is an operating principle, a world where people have more than enough, enough to share.

- Thanissaro Bhikkhu

A Person Will Worship Something

Author: 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.

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