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Refining our Listening

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John O’Donohue

The Greeks believed that time had a secret structure. There was the moment of ‘epiphany’ when time suddenly opened and something was revealed in luminous clarity. There was the moment of ‘krisis’ when time got entangled and directions became confused and contrary. There was also the moment of ‘kairos’; this was the propitious moment. Time opened up in kindness and promise. All the energies cohered to offer a fecund occasion of initiative, creativity and promise.

Part of the art of living wisely is to learn to recognize and attend to such profound openings in one’s life. In the letters between Boris Pasternak and Olga Ivanska, collected in A Captive of Time, there is the beautiful recognition: ‘When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, its sound is often no louder than the beating of your heart and it is very easy to miss it.’ To live a conscious life we need constantly to refine our listening.

 

J. Krishnamurti

You see, you are not educated to be alone. Do you ever go out for a walk by yourself? It is very important to go out alone, to sit under a tree – not with a book, not with a companion, but by yourself – and observe the falling of a leaf, hear the lapping of the water, the fisherman’s song, watch the flight of a bird, and of your own thoughts as they chase each other across the space of your mind. If you are able to be alone and watch these things, then you will discover extraordinary riches which no government can tax, no human agency can ever corrupt, and which can never be destroyed.

 

Stephen Hawking

One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away….

Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask the question why. On the other hand, the people whose business it is to ask why, the philosophers, have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theories…. However, if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.