What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.
For the perfect accomplishment of any art, you must get this feeling of the eternal present into your bones – for it is the secret of proper timing. No rush. No dawdle. Just the sense of flowing with the course of events in the same way that you dance to music, neither trying to outpace it nor lagging behind. Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.
You can’t make love without art.
The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.
The truth is revealed by removing things that stand in its light, an art not unlike sculpture, in which the artist creates, not by building, but by hacking away.
We therefore work, not for the work’s sake, but for money—and money is supposed to get us what we really want in our hours of leisure and play. In the United States even poor people have lots of money compared with the wretched and skinny millions of India, Africa, and China, while our middle and upper classes (or should we say “income groups”) are as prosperous as princes. Yet, by and large, they have but slight taste for pleasure. Money alone cannot buy pleasure, though it can help. For enjoyment is an art and a skill for which we have little talent or energy.
There is nothing at all that can be talked about adequately, and the whole art of poetry is to say what can’t be said.
And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.
We are at the moment looking at space as something to be entered by the tremendous thrust of a rocket because that is the attitude of attacking the unknown. And that causes us not to realize that we are already on the most magnificently equipped spaceship, which could hardly be improved upon. It has got a source of temperature and energy just at the right distance from it. It’s beautifully equipped with oxygen, with food supplies, with all kinds of delightful things to do while on the journey…. and it’s traveling through space at a colossal speed… and it’s called the planet Earth.
Other people teach us who we are. Their attitudes to us are the mirror in which we learn to see ourselves, but the mirror is distorted. We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social environment.
Since opposed principles, or ideologies, are irreconcilable, wars fought over principle will be wars of mutual annihilation. But wars fought for simple greed will be far less destructive, because the aggressor will be careful not to destroy what he is fighting to capture. Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life.
A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool: the shape alone is stable, for the substance is a stream of energy going in at one end and out at the other. We are particularly and temporarily identifiable wiggles in a stream that enters us in the form of light, heat, air, water, milk, bread, fruit, beer, beef Stroganoff, caviar, and pate de foie gras. It goes out as gas and excrement – and also as semen, babies, talk, politics, commerce, war, poetry, and music. And philosophy.
But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.