" 'Where there is fear,' said Mohandas Gandhi, 'we lose the way of our spirit.' When we are in fear, we focus all our attention on the point of danger and lose our capacity to find any courage, security, or peace within ourselves. We become so obsessed with what threatens us that the inner strengths of the heart become inaudible. Perhaps this is why, in the Christian New Testament, the phrase 'be not afraid' is found more than three hundred times. When we are afraid, we lose our ability to feel our own inner strength, and things precious and vital within us are smothered by our anxieties. When we spend all our days worried about how things will turn out, planning for whether we will have enough food, clothing, money, or love, then what kind of life have we protected? In spite of our plans and strategies, we never feel at peace."
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood

Why Suffering?

"Some people once brought a blind man to Jesus and asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' They all wanted to know why this terrible curse had fallen on this man. And Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.' He told them not to look for why the suffering came but to listen for what the suffering could teach them. Jesus taught that our pain is not punishment, it is no one's fault. When we seek to blame, we distract ourselves from an exquisite opportunity to pay attention, to see even in this pain a place of grace, a moment of spiritual promise and healing."
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood

Teachers Everywhere

"If the eye is clear, said Jesus, our body will be full of light. When our attention is receptive and accepting, everything we see may become an object of meditation, a source of teaching. Even the most difficult and painful feelings and emotions, as we experience their arising in the present, can become teachers and companions for us. According to Kabir, the fifteenth-century Indian poet, 'When the eyes and ears are open, even the leaves on the trees teach like pages from the scriptures.' "
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood


"A troubled woman came to the Indian saint Ramakrishna, saying, 'Oh, Master, I do not find that I love God.' He asked, 'Is there nothing, then, that you love?' To this she answered, 'My little nephew.' He replied, 'There is your love and service to God, in your love and service to that child.'

"We do not find God apart from ourselves, apart from our sisters and brothers. The face of every being that lives is a reflection of the divine, every one of us carries a spark of the spirit of God. When we love anyone, we are loving God. When we care for anyone, we are caring for God. Jesus said that whatever you do for anyone who suffers, you do for Him. When we open our hearts, our homes, or our hands in service to anyone in need, we are making a place for God. Every act of loving kindness toward ourselves or others is an act of love for God."
Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood

Knowing the Things We Love

"When we love something, we feel the truth of it, we touch its deeper nature. Our love breaks it open and reveals its secrets. There are many, many things in the world that I have had neither the time nor the ability to love, and so I know little about them. But those things I love, I have come to know. What we choose to love is very important, for what we love leads our eyes, ears, and hearts on a pilgrimage that shapes the texture of our lives. As Jesus reminds us, 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' "
How, Then, Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives

Making Love with the Divine

"Hindus love to sing to God. If you worship with Hindus, there are smells, sounds, colors, food, singing — a circus of the senses. Hindus believe that God needs love — just as we do. And so they clothe statues of deities in fine garments, provide food and flowers, light incense, and sing to them, devotional songs, for hours and hours. This is truly like making love with the divine."
How, Then, Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives

Let Blessings Flow

"Sharon Salzberg suggests we practice guerilla compassion — silently blessing people on line at the bank, at the supermarket, in the cars next to us in traffic. Each blessing a tiny Sabbath, a secret sanctuary offered to a hurried and unsuspecting world.

"There are many ways to offer your blessing. You may bless your children, your lover, your friend, by placing your hand on their head, and offering a prayer for their healing, their well-being, their happiness. Let them feel the truth of your prayer in their bodies. When this happens, many report feeling the physical blessing actually enter their body. It is as precious as it is free — completely gratuitous.

"Another practice invites us to bless strangers quietly, secretly. Offer it to people you notice on the street, in the market, on the bus. 'May you be happy. May you be at peace.' Feel the blessing move through your body as you offer it. Notice how you both receive some benefit from the blessing. Gently, almost without effort, each and every blessing becomes a Sabbath."
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

Thy Will Be Done

"Several years ago, I was very sick with near-fatal pneumonia. After a few weeks in the hospital, it was months before I fully regained my strength. Over time, I became impatient and frustrated with my inability to perform even the smallest tasks. . .

"But stronger than my impatience was another sensation deep in the cells of my body, in my bones. When I lay back on my pillow and allowed myself to let go of all my responsibilities — both real and imagined — I fell into a palpable feeling of surrender. In the midst of this terrible illness, I sensed that somehow everything would be all right. It was not that I knew I would survive the pneumonia. Rather, I had a visceral awareness that regardless of what happened — even if I died, or if it took a very long time for me to be well, everything would, in some way, be all right. In the years since my recovery, I have never lost that feeling of trust in something fundamentally good and true that will bear me up in times of need. For many years after my recovery, my daily prayer was simply this: Thy will be done."
Learning to Pray: How We Find Heaven on Earth