“For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know this? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.”—Stephen King “11/22/63.”
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
“Sacrifice,” the Captain said. “You made one. I made one. We all make them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost. You didn’t get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. A mother works so her son can go to school A daughter moves home to take care of her sick father.”
“A man goes to war…”—The Five People You Meet in Heaven
I have a friend who is an artist, and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “Look how beautiful it is” and I’ll agree. And he says, “you see as an artist I can see how beautiful this is, but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing.” And I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe, although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is; but I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean, it’s not just beauty at this dimension of one centimeter, there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions. The inner structure, also the processes, the fact that the colors and the flower are evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting. It means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms that… why is it aesthetic… all kinds of interesting questions which with science, knowledge, only adds to the excitement, and mystery, and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts. If you expected science to give all the answers to the wonderful questions about what we are, where we are going, what the meaning of the universe is, and so on, then I think you could easily become disillusioned and look for some mystic answer to these problems. How a scientist can take a mystic answer, I don’t know, the whole spirit is to understand… Well, never mind that, I mean I don’t understand that. But anyhow, if you think of it, the way I think of what we’re doing is that we are exploring, we’re trying to find out as much as we can about the world.
People say to me “Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?” No I’m not, I’m just looking to find out more about the world, and if it turns out there is a simple ultimate law that explains everything, so be it. That would be very nice to discover. If it turns out it’s like an onion with millions of layers, and we’re just sick and tired of looking at the layers, then that’s the way it is. But whatever way it comes out, nature is there and she’s going to come out the way she is. Therefore, when we go to investigate it, we shouldn’t pre-decide what it is we’re trying to do except to find out more about it. You see, one thing is: I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and there are many things I don’t know anything about. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things; by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell possible. It doesn’t frighten me. And so altogether I can’t believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be too simple, too connected…too local, too provincial. The earth, he came to the earth! One of the aspects of god came to the Earth, mind you. And look at what’s out there, it isn’t in proportion. Anyway, it’s no use arguing, I can’t argue it. I’m just trying to tell you: with the scientific view, my father’s view, that we should look to see what’s true and what may not be true; once you start doubting, which to me is a very fundamental part of my soul, is to doubt, and to ask; when you doubt and ask, it gets a little harder to believe.
When you’re ready to wake up, you’re going to wake up, and if you’re not ready you’re going to stay pretending that you’re just a ‘poor little me.’ And since you’re all here and engaged in this sort of inquiry and listening to this sort of lecture, I assume you’re all in the process of waking up. Or else you’re teasing yourselves with some kind of flirtation with waking up which you’re not serious about. But I assume that maybe you are not serious, but sincere – that you are ready to wake up.
So then, when you’re in the way of waking up, and finding out who you really are, what you do is what the whole universe is doing a the place you call here and now. You are something that the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing… The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around; the real, deep down you is the whole universe.
So then, when you die, you’re not going to have to put up with everlasting non-existance, because that’s not an experience. A lot of people are afraid that when they die, they’re going to be locked up in a dark room forever, and sort of undergo that. But one of the interesting things in the world is–this is a yoga, this is a realization–try and imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up. Think about that.
Children think about it. It’s one of the great wonders of life. What will it be like to go to sleep and never wake up? And if you think long enough about that, something will happen to you. You will find out, among other things, it will pose the next question to you. What was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born.
You see, you can’t have an experience of nothing; nature abhors a vacuum. So after you’re dead, the only thing that can happen is the same experience, or the same sort of experience as when you were born. In other words, we all know very well that after other people die, other people are born. And they’re all you, only you can only experience it one at a time. Everybody is I, you all know you’re you, and wheresoever beings exist throughout all galaxies, it doesn’t make any difference. You are all of them. And when they come into being, that’s you coming into being.
You know that very well, only you don’t have to remember the past in the same way you don’t have to think about how you work your thyroid gland, or whatever else it is in your organism. You don’t have to know how to shine the sun. You just do it, like you breath. Doesn’t it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing, and that you’re doing all this and you never had any education in how to do it? Never learned, but you’re this miracle?
“I know you think this world is too dark to even dream in color,
but I’ve seen flowers bloom at midnight.
I’ve seen kites fly in gray skies
and they were real close to looking like the sunrise,
and sometime it takes the most wounded wings
the most broken things
to notice how strong the breeze is,
how precious the flight.”—Andrea Gibson, “The Moon is a Kite” (via larmoyante)
“there are twenty four ribs
that supposedly protect
your heart from damage,
but i swear you know
the precise location of
each 4 cm gap, know
how to nick the arteries
and slip into my circulation,
virtually undetected until
the x-rays show you
lighting up my body
like a christmas tree.”—implexa, “Infection” (via fleurishes)
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”—Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid (via larmoyante)
Starting a new book is a risk, just like falling in love. You have to commit to it. You open the pages knowing a little bit about it maybe, from the back or from a blurb on the front. But who knows, right? Those bits and pieces aren’t always right. Sometimes people advertise themselves as one thing and then when you get deep into it you realize that they’re something completely different. Either there was some good marketing attached to a terrible book, or the story was only explained in a superficial way and once you reach the middle of the book, you realize there’s so much more to this book than anyone could have ever told you.
You start off slow. The story is beginning to unfold. You’re unsure. It’s a big commitment lugging this tome around. Maybe this book won’t be that great but you’ll feel guilty about putting it down. Maybe it’ll be so awful you’ll keep hate-reading or just set it down immediately and never pick it up again. Or maybe you’ll come back to it some night, drunk or lonely — needing something to fill the time, but it won’t be any better than it was when you first started reading it.
Maybe you’re worn out. You’ve read tons of books before. Some were just light weights on a Kindle or Nook, no big deal really. Others were Infinite Jest-style burdens. Heavy on your back or in your purse. Weighing you down all the time. Maybe you’ve taken some time off from reading because the last few books you read just weren’t worth it. Do they even write new, great works of literature anymore? Maybe that time you fell in love with a book before will just never happen for you again. Maybe it’s a once in a lifetime feeling and you’re never gonna find it again.
Or something exciting could happen. Maybe this will become your new favorite book. That’s always a possibility right? That’s the beauty of risk. The reward could actually be worth it. You invest your time and your brain power in the words and what you get back is empathy and a new understanding and pure wonder. How could someone possibly know you like this? Some stranger, some author, some character. It’s like they’re seeing inside your soul. This book existed inside some book store, on a shelf, maybe handled by other people and really it was just waiting for you pick it up and crack the spine. It was waiting to speak to you. To say, “You are not alone.”
You just want more of the story. You want to keep reading, maybe everything this author’s ever written. You wish it would never end. The closer it gets to the smaller side of the pages, the slower you read, wanting to savor it all. This book is now one of your favorites forever. You will always wish you could go back to never having read it and pick it up fresh again, but also you know you’re better for having this close, inside you, covering your heart and mind.
Once you get in deep enough, you know you could never put this book down.