rare earth

March 16, 2010

By blending water and minerals from below with sunlight and CO2 from above, green plants link the earth to the sky.

We tend to believe that plants grow out of the soil, but in fact most of their substance comes from the air. The bulk of the cellulose and the other organic compounds produced through photosynthesis consists of heavy carbon and oxygen atoms, which plants take directly from the air in the form of CO2.

Thus the weight of a wooden log comes almost entirely from the air. When we burn a log in a fireplace, oxygen and carbon combine once more into CO2, and in the light and heat of the fire we recover part of the solar energy that went into making the wood.

– Fritjof Capra

Now I teach you to be like someone who has died the great death. If you truly can be like someone who has died the great death, then why should you spend time on intense effort, or on studying Ch’an and the Way, or on bowing and burning incense? It is a lot of wasted effort. I have been the abbot at five different monasteries, and what I have taught my followers at all of them does not go beyond this: be like someone who has died the great death.

– Ch’an-t’i Wei-chao (1084-1128)

good times

January 20, 2010

When we get sick, our suffering can put us in touch with the pain of others.  When things go well, however, our mind easily accepts this.  Like oil absorbing into our skin, attachment to favorable circumstances blends smoothly and invisibly into our thoughts and feelings.  Without realizing what’s happening, we can become infatuated with our achievements, fame, and wealth.  It’s difficult to extricate ourselves from positive obstacles.  If we could have everything we wish for —wealth, a comfortable house, nice clothing — we should view this good fortune as illusory, like a beautiful dream, and not let it seduce us into complacency.

– Pema Chödrön, from “Cutting Ties: The Fruits of Solitude”