From "Idylls of the King" by Lord Alfred Tennyson, pg. 165. "'Stabb'd through the heart's affections to the heart/Seethed like the kid in its own mother's milk!/Kill'd with a word worse than a life of blows!/I thought that he was gentle, being great:/O God, that I had loved a smaller man!/I should have found in him a greater heart . . .'"
Merlin's senses came back to him slowly: he felt the hard, smooth, cold rock that he lay on; he felt the soft, fine silk that draped his body; he felt the stillness of the air; he smelled the damp and the mustiness. He opened his eyes, adjusted his vision to the darkness, and saw that he was in his cave, the one he had lived in for almost a lifetime, only now the entrance was blocked, and he lay in state, with trappings fit for a king. His memory came rushing back to him in a tidal wave: how he had been sharing a glass of wine with Vivien on a moonlit balcony of the castle when he tasted the bitter poison, how he felt his eyelids grow heavier as his mind grew foggier, and how in those last few moments of consciousness he had felt the crushing betrayal of the woman he loved.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 36. "Physical pleasure is a sensual experience . . . the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as a distraction instead of rallying toward exalted moments."
As my friend told me about her latest boyfriend, I merely nodded, lending my ear as a friend should, but not sharing her joy. Her constant need for a boyfriend in her life was because she always needed to have other people around her and, though I denied it to others in her defence, it was also because of sex. I found myself jealous of her relationships at times, but only briefly; these were meaningless diversions, and I waited for something higher: true love.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 69. "Has it terrors, they are OUR terrors . . ."
Joe pulled at the edge of the blue, speckled curtain, which hung over his kitchen window, and peeked out. Dark clouds loomed overhead, the wind whipped the trees wildly, and debris flew haphazardly through the air. It might have been the approaching storm that was making him apprehensive, but he pictured a horde of screaming spirits careening toward him from the West.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 27. " . . . the least incident unfolds like a destiny, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide web in which each thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another and held and borne up by a hundred others."
I worshipped no God, and a belief in fate or destiny was beyond my scientific mind. This was one of those times, however, when I thought that something in the universe guided our lives. It was the third time that day I saw the man I loved.
From "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins. "The Fool is potentially everybody, but not everybody has the wisdom or the guts to play the fool."
It seemed to the nobility and to the servants that he had always been part of the Court, he was always around somewhere, the clumsy but loveable servant, with the scruffy clothes and a slight limp, whose name nobody ever bothered remembering. Little did they know that as he served, he watched, gathering information, calculating. As he lay on his pallet in the servants' quarters, he promised himself that one day the people of the Court would be at his mercy.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 49. "As long as the pistons keep moving, we feel safe."
Nancy suddenly wished she were on a highway or a well-lit city street, not the gravel, tree-lined side road in the middle of the night, with raindrops splattering against her windshield. She was convinced that the car whose headlights shone in her rear-view mirror was following her. Just as she pressed her high-heeled foot harder on the gas pedal, her car jerked and then decelerated.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 10. "King Arthur is a legendary example of warriorship in the western tradition . . ."
I pushed my way through the crowded pub, sat in an empty seat beside an old man, and struck up a conversation about the recently deceased king. "I fought alongside him once," the man said, "and I have never met anyone I had more respect for: He was a great warrior, brave, kind and fair." I had never met anyone like that.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 24. "How remote from the everyday world this landscape seems!"
A clattering noise outside awakened the woman, so she got out of bed, stepped through the doorway, and looked around. Two moons glowed in the sky, and a small, two-headed animal scurried away. Everything was normal, so the woman went back to bed.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 66. "In emptiness, forms are born."
Henrietta closed the door behind her and entered the silent darkness of her house. She was just thinking to herself that it was almost too quiet when she heard a slight rustling. Suddenly, the room was filled with light, revealing a crowd of cheering friends and a ceiling covered in helium balloons.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 75. "The way of cowardice is to embed ourselves in a cocoon, in which we perpetuate our habitual patterns."
The last thing George remembered was walking home from work, down the dark city street, and being hit on the back of the head. He now awoke and felt, in addition to the pounding in the back of his skull, that his entire body was bound tightly. He opened his eyes to confirm that he was, in fact, trapped within some sort of cocoon.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 120. " . . . when the Iranian revolutionaries were guarding the hostages at the American Embassy, they probably woke up in the morning with a feeling of delight: "Great! We have hostages next door!"
He was in a spacious room, elegantly furnished, with panes of glass in the windows and a cozy fire burning in the fireplace. It might have been the lap of luxury had it not been for the bars on the windows and Royal guards at his door. But, with meals brought to him three times a day that were better than at his father's castle, and more respect given him here than by his own father, he was beginning to think that this whole hostage thing wasn't such a bad deal.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 77. "Freedom, he seems to be saying, is not getting what you like but liking what you get."
The box was wrapped in shiny, holly-patterned paper with a big red bow on top, and Sally ripped into the paper eagerly. Inside was a sweater, pink with big orange flowers on it, the sleeves not quite the same length: something she wouldn't be caught dead wearing. She smiled, walked over to her grandmother, and gave her a big hug, saying, "Thanks so much, Grandma, it's beautiful!"
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 98. "'It cleanses me with its noise and lays a rhythm upon everything in me that is disturbed and confused.'"
A little light made its way through the window on the door and onto the white, padded floor of the room. She sat on the floor in the center of the unfurnished room, as images entered her mind: the flash of a knife and blood, blood everywhere, on her hands, staining her hands. When these images came, she rocked herself back and forth, back and forth, for hours at a time.
From "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldberg, pg. 80. "He accepted the unacceptable, the nothing happening, daily drudge of writing."
When I was about ten years old, I got a diary for Christmas, and a year or two later I decided to use it. Looking back after the year of diary-writing was over, I saw that most of the pages said, "Nothing special happened today." I had found nothing inspiring in my daily life, even with a child's creativity and fascination about the world.
From "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldberg, pg. 24. "I needed to go as far as I could alone, to discover what I had in me and not be influenced too early."
I was always told that you needed someone to edit your writing. I tried not to let my friend get on my nerves as she picked apart my story, and told me that my style of language was wrong. I gave in and did it her way.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 38. "Imagine that you are sitting naked on the ground, with your bare bottom touching the earth."
I walked out of the curtained cubicle at the gym, feeling maybe a little self-conscious about my "beer belly", in a hurry to catch up with my friends Haven and Heather. Standing in the changeroom was a woman, completely naked, rolls of pale, fat flesh hanging from her frame. I walked towards her, trying not to look at her but trying not to NOT look at her, and said, "Uh, excuse me, you're standing in front of my towel."
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 62. "It takes more than a Ph.D. degree to make a good scientist or a true teacher."
I had heard so many bad things about the prof. that I was not looking forward to the class. I soon found myself loving his lectures, paying attention to every word, and being inspired by things he said. He told us we were privileged, getting an education in Genetics most people would not, so it was up to us to make them understand.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 54. "But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is - solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves."
I loved him desperately, and was sure he was the one. They made a good couple, but even so, people broke up even after years in a relationship. So I waited.
From "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins. "Now his journey has really begun. Along the way, he'll meet all the teachers and tempters -- the tempters are teachers, too -- and challenging situations that a person is likely to meet in the task of his or her growing."
Her mind had wandered away to her past of darkness, living in the heart of the mountain, surrounded by those blank eyes and hollow hearts, but she was brought back to the present by the pupil's question. "Do you regret joining the Black Robes and your Master?" he was asking. She shook her head, "Regret? How can I regret what has made me what I am? Without finding and then leaving the Black Robes I would never have found my place in the world."
From "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins. "Subconsciously, the goal of all of us out-of-control primates is essentially the same . . ."
She tossed back her long, dark hair, and adjusted her tight black dress as she entered the bar. Colored lights flashed across dancing couples in the dark, smokey room. She spotted a man, who looked maybe a little like Tom Cruise in the poor lighting, who wore a suit and paid for his drink with a fifty, and she made her way over to him to introduce herself.
From "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins. "A lot of folks don't know what's in that bag they're carrying. And they're all too willing to trade it for cash."
"That's a beautiful pendant you are wearing," the noblewoman commented, holding the misty white stone in her hands, the gold chain hanging between her and the girl's neck. "It could get you the warm meal and horse you asked me for," she continued, looking at the girl's travel-worn clothes. The girl shook her head and grasped the pendant to her chest, taking a step back: her mother had given her that pendant on her deathbed, and had told her to keep it with her always because it had magical properties.
From "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldberg, pg. 75. "Sadness comes from the knowledge of impermanence."
It felt strange, climbing up the steps of the big yellow school bus, knowing it would be my last time. A melancholy mood enveloped me as I watched the familiar scenery slip by my window. There was not anything in particular that I missed, it was just the change, the leaving-behind of a stage in my life.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 87. "Then always poems, very reminiscent, only here and there characteristic of himself because he could not bear to publish the things he really cared for and put forth only the least personal."
I had printed the poems up on decorative paper and taped them to my door. They were my masterpieces, the ones I was most proud of, but they spoke of things that lay deep within my heart. When a girl down the hall told me she had read them, I was embarrassed, and regretted taping them to my door in the first place.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 70. "Those who see the lightening/And think nothing:/How precious they are!"
Father bent back to his task of fixing the well in the middle of our yard as the rain splattered across his back. I saw the lightening flash hit him before the crack of thunder reached my ears. His body lay draped across the well.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 45. " . . . and to almost everybody came hours when they would gladly exchange it for any sort of intercourse, however banal and cheap, for the semblance of some slight accord with the first comer, with the unworthiest . . ."
A young man entered the store and bought cigarettes from her. "Where can I buy condoms?" he asked, so she calmly gave him directions to the nearest drug store. "So, when are you finished work tonight?" he asked.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 35. "It is like a badly made drum: the skin doesn't fit the frame of the drum, so either the frame breaks or the skin breaks, and there is no constant tautness."
If I was going to be in Band the next fall, I would have to buy a set of drums that summer. I picked the cheapest set in the Super Shopper. The skins were dirty and cracked, but I handed over the $100 willingly.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 39. "'Violets/By the mountain path:/There's something humble about them.'"
Her name was Violet, one of those great-great aunts I would see once a year at another aunt's Christmas dinner. One year I walked into the kitchen and she called me my brother's name. I never liked her much since that day.
From "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldberg, pg. 22. "Joey followed the instructions, and within a short while he could ride a bike."
I don't remember learning how to ride a bike, but I guess I learned on my brother's ugly yellow and black bike with the banana seat. I do remember by first bike, it was red, and I thought it was beautiful. The pedals were too stiff for me to use, so we sold it at a yard sale, and I rode my brother's ugly yellow and black bike with the banana seat.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 42. "Our being is good . . . We cannot redesign our physiological system . . . "
It was a sunny summer day, and the family was gathered on the back deck eating barbequed hot dogs. Laughing at Uncle Fred's story, Orville suddenly found himself unable to breathe, part of a hot dog lodged in his throat. With his dying thought, he silently cursed the poor physiological design of the human body.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 39. "'The old pond;/A frog jumps in:/Sound of water.'"
As my t.a. leaned over our shark, she said, "Suzanne, come over here and hold back the shark's skin." I had always had a strange fear of dead animals, but with a direct order from the t.a., I had no choice. At first, my hand was shaking, but then I felt fine: it was one of my proudest moments.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 59. "When mind and body are unsynchronized, then, if you are doing archery, you can't hit the target."
Below him, musicians played a loud, joyful tune as the townspeople danced in their brightly colored clothes. He shifted his position slightly on the roof, drew his bow taut, and blocked the celebrations from his senses. As his target came out, dressed in purple velvet and flaunting his wealth, there were only the two of them, and nothing else existed.
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke, pg. 39. " . . . be considerate of aging people, who fear that being-alone in which you trust."
As my great-uncle sat in his chair and my great-aunt worried over him, I tried to be as helpful as I could. They were nearing ninety, and living in a house next to their old farm, with a lawn to mow and a garden to tend to. We all tried to help because they would not move into town, and their health was failing.
From "Sleepers Joining Hands," pg. 38. "'I saw pale kings, and princes too,/Pale warriors, death pale were they all;'"
A chill went up my spine as I watched the advancing army. They were pale as death, and their eyes were hollow, devoid of any spark of life. I suddenly realized that my sword was useless, and could not take life from that which was already dead.
From "Sleepers Joining Hands," pg. 44. "'As the old sailor remains silent/and the terrors/he's experienced leap about him as if in rocking cages.'"
The captain rested his rough hands on the rough rails of the ship. A salty mist surrounded the boat as it rested in the motionless waters. Suddenly, a shadow broke free of the mist: a squid as big as the boat which crunched the timbers with its tentacles.
From "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldberg, pg. 96. "Write about the place where you were brought up."
It was a white, one-story house, on Highway 26, built beside and in front of a junk yard. My room was at the end of the hall, the only room with two windows, and at one point my mom had papered the walls with Smurf wallpaper. She had put it on wrong behind my door, and told me not to show anyone, so I showed it to everyone who came into my room.
From "Zen Art for Meditation" by Stewart W. Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, pg. 83. "One can live only in the present moment."
The scientist checked all the settings on his time-machine controls one last time. In a moment of whimsy, he had designed it as a red, British-style telephone booth, like in "Dr. Who." He took a deep breath, then pushed the big, green button marked "go": this was the moment of truth.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 24. "You realize that you are capable of sitting like a king or queen on a throne."
She sat in her dark red, velvet robes, back straight and head held high. The golden crown set with rubies weighed heavy on her head, but she sat still. She found herself longing for the life of a peasant.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 25. "They blackmail others with the threat of suicide, saying that they will kill themselves if certain things don't change."
"If you break up with me," the note said, "I swear I'll kill myself." She crumpled up the note and tossed it in the garbage. "Screw him."
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 29. "Through the practice of meditation, we begin to find that within ourselves there is no fundamental complaint about anything or anyone at all."
She walked out onto the back porch, and the neighbour's cows crowded against the fence to stare at her. She wrinkled her nose against the smell and turned her attention to the task at hand. She lit up the barbeque and threw on a thick, juicy steak, laughing an evil laugh.
From "Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, pg. 31. "Because of that, your shoulders become straight automatically, so you develop a good sense of head and shoulders."
He massaged the shampoo into his hair, building up a lather. "Oooh, it feels tingly," he said. "It must be Head and Shoulders."
From "Letters to a Young Poet" by Maria Rilke, pg. 41. "We arrived in Rome about six weeks ago, at a time when it was still the empty, hot, fever-discredited Rome . . ."
He always proclaimed his Roman heritage, and fought proudly in the army. He was in Rome now on leave. As he looked around the city, he felt himself longing to return to his post in Britain.
[not from a quote]
He was dressed in typical Roman soldier garb, with the high-laced sandals and a helmet on his head. He walked into the pub, drawing the attention of the locals within. He sat down at a corner table, called for some ale, and everyone went back to their own business.
[not from a quote]
I walked through the mist, expecting to find myself changed when I reached the other side. As the mist cleared, I looked down to see a familiar pair of grungy white Nikes. I realized with surprise that I was the same person I had always been.
Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas by Tom Robbins
Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa
Zen Art for Meditation by Horioka Holmes
Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg
Sleepers Joining Hands by Robert Bly