The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now—to be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you. In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve. Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.
The great Zen Master Rinzai, in order to take his students’ attention away from time, would often raise his finger and slowly ask: “What, at this moment, is lacking?” A powerful question that does not require an answer on the level of the mind. It is designed to take your attention deeply into the Now. A similar question in the Zen tradition is this: “If not now, when?”
—Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
The impermanent has no reality; reality lies in the eternal. Those who have seen the boundary between these two have attained the end of all knowledge. Realize that* which pervades the universe and is indestructible; no power can affect this unchanging, imperishable reality. The body is mortal, but that* which dwells in the body is immortal and immeasurable.
—The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, translation and notes by Eknath Easwaran
*Tat, “that,” is an ancient name for Brahman, the supreme reality. Brahman is neither masculine nor feminine; in fact, it has no attributes at all. It is impossible to describe Brahman in words, so it simply pointed to: tat.
—Thomas Merton, Kentucky, USA, 1966. Photo by Ralph Eugene Meatyard.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said, “for theirs will be the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:3]. What does “poor in spirit” mean? No inner baggage, no identifications. Not with things, nor with any mental concepts that have a sense of self in them. And what is the “kingdom of heaven”? The simple but profound joy of Being that is there when you let go of identifications and so become “poor in spirit.”
—Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Leave the senses and workings of the intellect, and all that the senses and intellect can perceive, and all that is not and that is; and through unknowing reach out, so far as this is possible, towards oneness with Him who is beyond all being and knowledge. In this way, through an uncompromising, absolute and pure detachment from yourself and from all things, transcending all things and released from all, you will be led upwards towards that radiance of the divine darkness which is beyond all being.
Entering the darkness that surpasses understanding, we shall find ourselves brought, not just to brevity of speech, but to perfect silence and unknowing.
Emptied of all knowledge, man is joined in the highest part of himself, not with any created thing, nor with himself, nor with another, but with the One who is altogether unknowable; and, in knowing nothing, he knows in a manner that surpasses understanding.
—Dionysius the Areopagite, The Essential Mystics
Good Shepherd, You have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don’t get tired of looking for me! I know You won’t. For You have found me. All I have to do is stay found.
—Thomas Merton, Entering the Silence
If you can learn to accept and even welcome the endings in your life, you may find that the feeling of emptiness that initially felt uncomfortable turns into a sense of inner spaciousness that is deeply peaceful. By learning to die daily in this way, you open yourself to Life.
—Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks