The Spirituality of Trivia

"I was five and lying in high grass. A bee hummed close to my eye and frightened me. Then the bee started to suck honey and at that very moment I became sun, bee, flower and grass. 'Me' had evaporated with my fear.

"Then, when I was eleven, on a country road, I saw a snow flurry approach from afar. The first few snowflakes fell around my feet from the dark wintry sky. I saw how some of the flakes melted immediately on impact, others stayed. Again, Me disappeared, melted with snowflakes, became one with road and sky and snowstorm. It has happened often, always when least expected.

"A few hours before leaving on this journey, driving somewhere in New Jersey, I lost my way back to the parkway. At last at a traffic light stood a pedestrian, a very fat man in a battered homburg hat. A greasy cigar stump stuck out straight from what looked more like a snout than a face.

"How do I get to Route 4?" I called out.

"Route 4," he repeated, chewing on his cigar. "Nothing to it!" His little eyes twinkled with kindness. "Take a left at the second light, can't miss it!" He had put his fat hand on my sleeve and given a friendly squeeze.

"I looked at him and saw. I tried to thank him, but no sound came. I made a kind of bow. The jelly had become Man.

"What is spiritual experience? A snowflake melting, a bee sucking honey, a fat man at a traffic light. Trivia.
Fingers Pointing Toward the Sacred: A Twentieth Century Pilgrimage on the Eastern and Western Way

The Opposite of Faith

"If faith is a central human constituent, the opposite of faith is not doubt, nor is it disbelief or even unbelief. The antithesis of faith is unfaith, the incapacity to respond to one's existence, that of others, even that of the universe, as having any meaning at all."
Fingers Pointing Toward the Sacred: A Twentieth Century Pilgrimage on the Eastern and Western Way

Drawing Opens the Eyes

"Once we start to draw, all of a sudden we begin to see again. Were we so blind? How could we have ignored the beauty, the intricacies of these 'simplest things,' the convoluted network of veins in an oak leaf, the graceful curve of the clover's stem, the starry splendor of humble dandelion, the voluptuous curves of a green pepper? . . . It is more than drawing pictures: it is a meditation-in-action on That Which Matters, a veritable breakthrough, an awakening from the years of non-seeing, from the coma of looking-at to firsthand seeing. It is as if the innocent eye of childhood is reawakened through the unjaded eye of the artist.

"The moment the eye opens up, all becomes equally fascinating, equally inspiring, equally pregnant with meaning."
Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing: Meditation in Action

The Question of Being Human

"It was only in my seventh decade that I realized that the question 'What does it mean to be human?' is the vital, the central, one to which all other questions and problems, spiritual, ethical, economic, and political are secondary. 'To be human or not be at all' is the question at this millennial shift."
—"What Does It Mean to Be Human?: Reverence for Life Reaffirmed by Responses from Around the World

Authentic Spirituality and Pseudo Spirituality

"Authentic spirituality is intimately related to firsthand, direct experiencing. It may mature through various disciplines, as for instance structured meditation and verbalized prayer. To live in radical openness to pure experiencing in kitchen, bedroom, subway, newspaper, that is: to everyday life, inside as well as around oneself may, however, be the equivalent of both formal meditation and verbal prayer. It is the finding of one's path without being 'bamboozled, confused, sidetracked,' at every step.

"Some symptoms by which pseudo-spirituality may be recognized are sentimentality, premature group formation, proselytizing, fanaticism, holier-than-thou delusions, superstitions, spiritual tourism. Above all: unconcern, detachment from all the avoidable suffering, injustice, violence constantly being inflicted on the great majority of our fellow human beings.

"It is not a matter of choosing between Christianity and Buddhism. They do not collide in me, they are complementary. This complementarity may be easier to understand to the upright Buddhist than to the more dogmatically programmed Christian believer.

"Under the starry summer sky, hearing the song of the cicadas, musing on those I love on this beloved earth, on living, on dying, I am a Buddhist. Going indoors, switching on the radio, glancing at the headlines, I hear His cry: 'Why hast Thou forsaken Me?. . .'

"To be committed to Truth/Reality does not carry any obligation to join any group, movement, church or party. Even less does it oblige me to any kind of religious, sectarian, ethnic, national, political self-labeling. It compels me to refrain from any such labeling and joining."
What Matters: Spiritual Nourishment for Head and Heart

The Unkillable Human Core

"The epiphany of the Face as it appeared in my fifteen windows, almost primeval in their simplicity, came to me in a sudden vision, years ago in Melbourne, when I spontaneously jotted it down with my writing brush while working on a poster for The Death and Life of Everyone, which we were staging in St. Augustine, an abandoned church in Melbourne's outskirts. Later it was to become the logo of Pacem in Terris. To me it epitomizes the specifically unkillable Human core, the Sleeping Christ within, the Buddha Nature, the Jivanmukti of Hinduism, the Sacred Man of the Taoist sages, the Perfect Man of the Sufis, the Divine Spark."
Pacem in Terris: A Love Story