I've learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can't see past it. Sometimes we can't even see God because of it. When we want something so bad, it's easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing we really want. When this sort of thing happens, and it seems to happen to everyone, I've found it's because what God has for us is obscured from view, just around another bend in the road.In the Bible, the people following God had the same problem I did. They swapped the real thing for an image of the real thing. We target the wrong thing and our misdirected life's goal ends up looking like a girl or a wide-brimmed hat or a golden calf. All along, what God really wants for us is something much different, something more tailored for us.[...]And when each of us looks back at all the turns and folds God has allowed in our lives, I don't think it looks like a series of folded-overs that have shaped our lives. Instead I think we'll conclude in the end that maybe we're all a little like human origami and the more creases we have, the better.
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I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can’t see past it. Sometimes we can’t even see God because of it. When we want something so bad, it’s easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing we really want. When this sort of thing happens, and it seems to happen to everyone, I’ve found it’s because what God has for us is obscured from view, just around another bend in the road.In the Bible, the people following God had the same problem I did. They swapped the real thing for an image of the real thing. We target the wrong thing and our misdirected life’s goal ends up looking like a girl or a wide-brimmed hat or a golden calf. All along, what God really wants for us is something much different, something more tailored for us.[…]And when each of us looks back at all the turns and folds God has allowed in our lives, I don’t think it looks like a series of folded-overs that have shaped our lives. Instead I think we’ll conclude in the end that maybe we’re all a little like human origami and the more creases we have, the better.

-Bob Goff

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-Sarah Dessen

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*Breathing in, I know this is my in-breath.Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath.*It's very simple, but very effective. When we bring our attention to our in-breath and our out-breath, we stop thinking of the past; we stop thinking of the future; and we begin to come home to ourselves...Don't think this practice doesn't apply to you. If we don't go home to ourselves, we can't be at our best and serve the world in the best way... Our quality of being is the foundation for the quality of our actions.*Breathing in, I'm aware of my whole body.Breathing out, I'm aware of my whole body.*Breathing mindfully brings us back to our bodies. We have to acknowledge our bodies first because tension and suffering accumulate in the body. Breathing in this way, we create a kind of family reunion between mind and body. The mind becomes an embodied mind....We can't do our best if we don't know to release the tension and pain in ourselves. *Breathing in, I'm aware of the tension in my body.Breathing out, I'm aware of the tension in my body.*When we look at the suffering around us, at poverty, violence, or climate change, we may want to solve these things immediately. We want to do something. But to do something effectively and ethically, we need to be our best selves in order to be able to handle the suffering...*Breathing in, I am aware of a painful feeling arising.Breathing out, I release the painful feeling.*This is a nonviolent and gentle way to help our bodies release tension and pain. It is possible to practice mindful breathing in order to produce a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness. When we are well-nourished and know how to create joy, then we are strong enough to handle the deep pain within ourselves and the world.

-Thích Nhất

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Fifteen years ago, a business manager from the United States came to Plum Village to visit me. His conscience was troubled because he was the head of a firm that designed atomic bombs. I listened as he expressed his concerns. I knew if I advised him to quit his job, another person would only replace him. If he were to quit, he might help himself, but he would not help his company, society, or country. I urged him to remain the director of his firm, to bring mindfulness into his daily work, and to use his position to communicate his concerns and doubts about the production of atomic bombs.In the Sutra on Happiness, the Buddha says it is great fortune to have an occupation that allows us to be happy, to help others, and to generate compassion and understanding in this world. Those in the helping professions have occupations that give them this wonderful opportunity. Yet many social workers, physicians, and therapists work in a way that does not cultivate their compassion, instead doing their job only to earn money. If the bomb designer practises and does his work with mindfulness, his job can still nourish his compassion and in some way allow him to help others. He can still influence his government and fellow citizens by bringing greater awareness to the situation. He can give the whole nation an opportunity to question the necessity of bomb production.Many people who are wealthy, powerful, and important in business, politics, and entertainment are not happy. They are seeking empty things - wealth, fame, power, sex - and in the process they are destroying themselves and those around them. In Plum Village, we have organised retreats for businesspeople. We see that they have many problems and suffer just as others do, sometimes even more. We see that their wealth allows them to live in comfortable conditions, yet they still suffer a great deal.Some businesspeople, even those who have persuaded themselves that their work is very important, feel empty in their occupation. They provide employment to many people in their factories, newspapers, insurance firms, and supermarket chains, yet their financial success is an empty happiness because it is not motivated by understanding or compassion. Caught up in their small world of profit and loss, they are unaware of the suffering and poverty in the world. When we are not int ouch with this larger reality, we will lack the compassion we need to nourish and guide us to happiness.Once you begin to realise your interconnectedness with others, your interbeing, you begin to see how your actions affect you and all other life. You begin to question your way of living, to look with new eyes at the quality of your relationships and the way you work. You begin to see, 'I have to earn a living, yes, but I want to earn a living mindfully. I want to try to select a vocation not harmful to others and to the natural world, one that does not misuse resources.'Entire companies can also adopt this way of thinking. Companies have the right to pursue economic growth, but not at the expense of other life. They should respect the life and integrity of people, animals, plants and minerals. Do not invest your time or money in companies that deprive others of their lives, that operate in a way that exploits people or animals, and destroys nature.Businesspeople who visit Plum Village often find that getting in touch with the suffering of others and cultivating understanding brings them happiness. They practise like Anathapindika, a successful businessman who lived at the time of the Buddha, who with the practise of mindfulness throughout his life did everything he could to help the poor and sick people in his homeland.

-Thích Nhất

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I took a little walk outside for a while. I was surprised that I wasn't feeling what I thought people were supposed to feel under the circumstances. May be I was fooling myself. I wasn't delighted, but I didn't feel terribly upset, perhaps because we had known for a long time that it was going to happen.It's hard to explain. If a Martian(who, we'll imagine never dies except by accident) came to Earth and saw this peculiar race of creatures-these humans who live about seventy or eighty years, knowing that death is going to come--it would look to hi like a terrible problem of psychology to live under those circumstances, knowing that life is only temporary Well, we humans somehow figure out how to live despite this problem: we laugh, we joke, we live.The only difference for me and Arlene was, instead of fifty years, it was five years. It was only a quantitative difference--the psychological problem was just the same. The only way it would have become any different is if we had said to ourselves, "But those other people have it better, because they might live fifty years." But that's crazy. Why make yourself miserable saying things like, "Why do we have such bad luck? What has God done to us? What have we done to deserve this?"--all of which, if you understand reality and take it completely into your heart, are irrelevant and unsolvable. They are just things that nobody can know. Your situation is just an accident of life..We had a hell of good time together...

-Richard Feynman

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[The Old Astronomer to His Pupil]Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of howWe are working to completion, working on from then to now.Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,And remember men will scorn it, 'tis original and true,And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles;What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate.Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.You 'have none but me,' you murmur, and I 'leave you quite alone'?Well then, kiss me, -- since my mother left her blessing on my brow,There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;I can dimly comprehend it, -- that I might have been more kind,Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.I 'have never failed in kindness'? No, we lived too high for strife,--Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you stillTo the service of our science: you will further it? you will!There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;And remember, 'Patience, Patience,' is the watchword of a sage,Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.I have sown, like Tycho Brahe, that a greater man may reap;But if none should do my reaping, 'twill disturb me in my sleepSo be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,--God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.

-Tycho Brahe

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One day about a month ago, I really hit bottom. You know, I just felt that in a Godless universe, I didn't want to go on living. Now I happen to own this rifle, which I loaded, believe it or not, and pressed it to my forehead. And I remember thinking, at the time, I'm gonna kill myself. Then I thought, what if I'm wrong? What if there is a God? I mean, after all, nobody really knows that. But then I thought, no, you know, maybe is not good enough. I want certainty or nothing. And I remember very clearly, the clock was ticking, and I was sitting there frozen with the gun to my head, debating whether to shoot.[The gun fires accidentally, shattering a mirror] All of a sudden, the gun went off. I had been so tense my finger had squeezed the trigger inadvertently. But I was perspiring so much the gun had slid off my forehead and missed me. And suddenly neighbors were, were pounding on the door, and, and I don't know, the whole scene was just pandemonium. And, uh, you know, I-I-I ran to the door, I-I didn't know what to say. You know, I was-I was embarrassed and confused and my-my-my mind was r-r-racing a mile a minute. And I-I just knew one thing.I-I-I had to get out of that house, I had to just get out in the fresh air and-and clear my head. And I remember very clearly, I walked the streets. I walked and I walked. I-I didn't know what was going through my mind. It all seemed so violent and un-unreal to me. And I wandered for a long time on the Upper West Side, you know, and-and it must have been hours. You know, my-my feet hurt, my head was-was pounding, and-and I had to sit down. I went into a movie house. I-I didn't know what was playing or anything.I just, I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and, and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective. And I went upstairs to the balcony, and I sat down, and, you know, the movie was a-a-a film that I'd seen many times in my life since I was a kid, and-and I always, uh, loved it. And, you know, I'm-I'm watching these people up on the screen and I started getting hooked on the film, you know. And I started to feel, how can you even think of killing yourself. I mean isn't it so stupid? I mean, l-look at all the people up there on the screen. You know, they're real funny, and-and what if the worst is true.What if there's no God, and you only go around once and that's it. Well, you know, don't you want to be part of the experience? You know, what the hell, it's-it's not all a drag. And I'm thinkin' to myself, geez, I should stop ruining my life - searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts. And, you know, after, who knows? I mean, you know, maybe there is something. Nobody really knows. I know, I know maybe is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that's the best we have. And then, I started to sit back, and I actually began to enjoy myself.

-Woody Allen

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I imagined my coffin being closed, and the screws being turned. I was immobile, but I was alive, and I wanted to tell my family that I was seeing everything. I wanted to tell them all that I loved them, but not a sound came out of my mouth. My father and mother were weeping, my wife and my friends were gathered around, but I was completely alone! With all of the people dear to me standing there, no one was able to see that I was alive and that I had not yet accomplished all that I wanted to do in this world. I tried desperately to open my eyes, to give a sign, to beat on the lid of the coffin. But I could not move any part of my body. I felt the coffin being carried toward the grave. I could hear the sound of the handles grinding against their fittings, the steps of those in the procession, and conversations from this side and that. Someone said that he had a date for dinner later on, and another observed that I had died early. The smell of flowers all around me began to suffocate me. I remembered how I had given up trying to establish a relationship with two or three women, fearing their rejection. I remembered also the number of times I had failed to do what I wanted to do, thinking I could always do it later. I felt very sorry for myself, not only because I was about to be buried alive but also because I had been afraid to live. Why be fearful of saying no to someone or of leaving something undone when the most important thing of all was to enjoy life fully? There I was, trapped in a coffin, and it was already too late to go back and show the courage I should have had. There I was, having played the role of my own Judas, having betrayed myself. There I was, powerless to move a muscle, screaming for help, while the others were involved in their lives, worrying about what they were going to do that night, admiring statues and buildings that I would never see again. I began to feel how unfair it was to have to be buried while others continued to live. I would have felt better if there had been a catastrophe and all of us had been in the same boat, heading for the same abyss toward which they were carrying me now. Help! I tried to cry out. I’m still alive. I haven’t died. My mind is still functioning! They placed my coffin at the edge of the grave. They are going to bury me! My wife is going to forget all about me; she will marry someone else and spend the money we have struggled to save for all these years! But who cares about that. I want to be with her now, because I’m alive! I hear sobs, and I feel tears falling from my eyes, too. If my friends were to open my coffin now, they would see my tears and save me. But instead all I feel is the lowering of the coffin into the ground. Suddenly, everything is dark. A moment ago, there was a ray of light at the edge of the coffin, but now the darkness is complete. The grave diggers’ shovels are filling in the grave, and I’m alive! Buried alive! I sense that the air is being cut off, and the fragrance of the flowers is awful. I hear the mourners’ departing footsteps. My terror is total. I’m not able to do anything; if they go away now, it will soon be night, and no one will hear me knocking on the lid of my coffin! The footsteps fade, nobody hears my screams, and I am alone in the darkness; the air is heavy, and the smell of the flowers is driving me crazy. Suddenly, I hear a sound. It’s the worms, coming to eat me alive. I try with all my strength to move the parts of my body, but I am inert. The worms begin to climb over my body. They are sticky and cold. They creep over my face and crawl into my shorts. One of them enters through my anus, and another begins to sneak into a nostril. Help! I’m being eaten alive, and nobody can hear me; nobody says a word to me. The worm that entered my nostril has reached my throat. I feel another invading my ear. I have to get out! Where is God; why doesn’t he help me? They are beginning to eat at my throat, and soon I won’t be able to scream! They

-Paulo Coelho

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I've apparently been the victim of growing up, which apparently happens to all of us at one point or another. It's been going on for quite some time now, without me knowing it. I've found that growing up can mean a lot of things. For me, it doesn't mean I should become somebody completely new and stop loving the things I used to love. It means I've just added more things to my list. Like for example, I'm still beyond obsessed with the winter season and I still start putting up strings of lights in September. I still love sparkles and grocery shopping and really old cats that are only nice to you half the time. I still love writing in my journal and wearing dresses all the time and staring at chandeliers. But some new things I've fallen in love with -- mismatched everything. Mismatched chairs, mismatched colors, mismatched personalities. I love spraying perfumes I used to wear when I was in high school. It brings me back to the days of trying to get a close parking spot at school, trying to get noticed by soccer players, and trying to figure out how to avoid doing or saying anything uncool, and wishing every minute of every day that one day maybe I'd get a chance to win a Grammy. Or something crazy and out of reach like that. 😉 I love old buildings with the paint chipping off the walls and my dad's stories about college. I love the freedom of living alone, but I also love things that make me feel seven again. Back then naivety was the norm and skepticism was a foreign language, and I just think every once in a while you need fries and a chocolate milkshake and your mom. I love picking up a cookbook and closing my eyes and opening it to a random page, then attempting to make that recipe. I've loved my fans from the very first day, but they've said things and done things recently that make me feel like they're my friends -- more now than ever before. I'll never go a day without thinking about our memories together.

-Taylor Swift

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