Tag Archives: mirror

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Swami Vivekananda

Meditation has been laid stress upon by all religions. The meditative state of mind is declared by the Yogis to be the highest state in which the mind exists. When the mind is studying the external object, it gets identified with it, loses itself. To use the simile of the old Indian philosopher: the soul of man is like a piece of crystal, but it takes the colour of whatever is near it. Whatever the soul touches … it has to take its colour. That is the difficulty. That constitutes the bondage. The colour is so strong, the crystal forgets itself and identifies itself with the colour. Suppose a red flower is near the crystal and the crystal takes the colour and forgets itself, thinks it is red. We have taken the colour of the body and have forgotten what we are. All the difficulties that follow come from that one dead body. All our fears, all worries, anxieties, troubles, mistakes, weakness, evil, are from that one great blunder — that we are bodies. This is the ordinary person. It is the person taking the colour of the flower near to it. We are no more bodies than the crystal is the red flower.

The practice of meditation is pursued. The crystal knows what it is, takes its own colour. It is meditation that brings us nearer to truth than anything else.

— Swami Vivekananda – Washington Hall, San Francisco, April 3, 1900

Meditation

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When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

I want to hold you close like a lute,
so we can cry out with loving.

You would rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror, and here are the stones.

— Jalalud’din Rumi – Extract from “Music Master” – The Essential Rumi (transl. Coleman Barks & John Moyne)

Dualities

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Your partner is your mirror. Except for the way you perceive him, he doesn’t even exist for you. He is who you see he is, and ultimately it’s just you again, thinking. It’s just you, over and over and over, and in this way you remain blind to yourself and feel justified and lost. To think that your partner is anything but a mirror of you is painful. So when you see him as flawed in any way, you can be sure that that’s where your own flaw is. The flaw has to be in your thinking, because you’re the one projecting it. You are always what you judge us to be in the moment. There’s no exception. You are your own suffering; you are your own happiness.

— Katie Byron – A Thousand Names for Joy

The Mirror of Relationship

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We cannot exist without depending on others. When I go to the grocery store and buy an apple, I might feel very independent. I walk in, grab an apple, pay with my own money, and go home to eat it by myself. But in fact I can only enjoy this apple because it is connected to so many people and conditions: the store owner, the shelf stockers, the truckers, the farmers, all the way back to the seed and the Earth. There’s so much connection, all the time.

Of all of the relationships we have in this interdependent experience of ours, the most direct, most emotional, and most apt to bring great joy and suffering is a close, intimate relationship with another human being. We give it great, special prominence in our mind, but it helps to remember that it is the same as the apple. It’s about interconnection, interdependence.

Relationship is a great mirror. It is the mirror in which we see ourselves, in which we discover ourselves. That mirror can be distorted. I remember the first time I saw myself in a funhouse mirror: “Oh, what happened to me? I’m all stretched out.” The mirror can also be very clear. We can see ourselves and what we are up to so directly. That makes relationship a beautiful experience.

When we sit by ourselves, it’s easy to enjoy our mental games, fantasies, ego trips, and so forth. We can go on and on and on without any problem. But try that with your partner! Then here comes the mirror. The mirror will reflect and show you your ugly ego trips. A mirror is very neutral—it just reflects. It doesn’t take any sides. It is just a mirror for both of us.

In this mirror, we discover ourselves—our tendencies, our weaknesses, and our strengths. We discover our good qualities as well as our negative qualities. This mirror becomes a very precious teacher for us, a very precious path. The mirror of relationship becomes a very precious teaching for us to discover who we really are, and where we are on the path and in the world altogether.

This is a lot to take in, so our tendency is to see what we want to see in this relationship mirror. The problem with this approach is that two people in a close relationship can see two different things. If I want to see something and she wants to see something else, we’re both seeing two different things. As a result, we’re being thrown off from the balance, the benefit, the preciousness of the relationship, the mirror. We would rather idealize our relationship; we would rather escape. We would rather live in the future than in this very immediate present moment. But if we can practice being in this present moment, relationship becomes a path and the mirror a great teacher.

In our relationship with another, we often misunderstand how we are connected. We may think we are two made into one, or we may think we are completely independent. My father taught me that a marriage or partnership, an intimate relationship with another human being, is like two rings coming together. You can illustrate it with your fingers. Make a ring with each hand, then join the rings together. There’s a common space in the center. There is mutual responsibility, joy, and sharing, yet at the same time we must understand there are also the two sides. There is not only the middle. Individual space is also necessary, and if we try to overlap these two rings totally, we lose balance.

There is a common bond, but there are also two individual mind streams. We must respect that and allow the other independence. The common space respects the individual space. We cannot overpower the other or make them just like us. The other not only has needs but also individual habits that you cannot change. They need to initiate change themselves; you cannot forcibly change them.

That’s the basic principle in a relationship—we share. We share our wisdom, our knowledge, we allow ourselves to be a mirror, but it’s up to the individual to make the choice. We must respect that. We must know that the other acts out of habit pattern, just as we do. Just as we cannot be forcibly changed from the outside, so too with them.

Problems begin when we lose the balance that comes from understanding the interplay of connection and separateness. We lose the sense of mindfulness when we lose the basic balance of the selfless, egoless teaching, and become selfish, ego-centered, or even ego-maniacal.

That’s where suffering begins and joy ends, where the joy of relationship ends and the suffering of relationship begins. When a relationship is troubling, that will stimulate our path. We can’t expect it always to be perfect. In the mirror of relationship, we discover all these things. We discover the real nature of relationship and we discover how we go off balance, how we lose the egoless, selfless view, how we lose the sense of love and caring.

Practicing mindfulness and awareness can help us see in the mirror more clearly. Mindfulness can tame the mental wildness that causes us to go so off balance. Mindfulness puts the wild mind in a corral. Once the wild horse of our mind is a little settled, we can train it by tying it to the post of awareness. Then we can train the horse to do all sorts of things, including to exert itself on the path of relationship and take joy and delight in loving.

— Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche – Right Here With You: Bringing Mindful Awareness Into Our Relationships

The Great Mirror of Relationship

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Your face is neither infinite nor ephemeral.
You can never see your own face,
only a reflection, not the face itself.

So you sigh in front of mirrors
and cloud the surface.

It’s better to keep your breath cold.
Hold it, like a diver does in the ocean.
One slight movement, the mirror-image goes.

Don’t be dead or asleep or awake.
Don’t be anything.

What you most want,
what you travel around wishing to find,
lose yourself as lovers lose themselves,
and you’ll be that.

— Attar – Looking for your own face – The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia

Lose yourself as lovers lose themselves

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Your eye has not strength enough
To gaze at the burning sun,
But you can see its brilliant light
By watching its reflection
Mirrored in the water.

So the reflection of Absolute Being
Can Be viewed in this mirror of Not-Being,
For non-existence, being opposite Reality,
Instantly catches its reflection.

Know the world from end to end is a mirror;
In each atom a hundred suns are concealed.
If you pierce the heart of a single drop of water,
From it will flow a hundred clear oceans;
If you look intently at each speck of dust,
In it you will see a thousand beings,
A gnat it its limbs is like an elephant;
In name a drop of water resembles the Nile,
In the heart of a barley-corn is stored a hundred harvests,
Within a millet-seed a world exists,
In an insect’s wing is an ocean of life,
A heaven is concealed in the pupil of an eye,
The core in the centre of the heart is small,
Yet the Lord of both worlds will enter there.

— Sa’d Ud Din Mahmud Shabistari – The Secret Rose Garden – Part V – Time and this Dream-World

The Mirror