Top Ten John Muir Quotes

Händkakk_2014I love inspirational and thought provoking quotes.  I love when a complex, intricate, gargantuan subject or idea can be represented with not so many words.  They’re easy to find (thanks to the internet) They’re diverse and plentiful, and they draw me in like a moth to a fortune cookie

This morning, I am feeling a special affection toward the wise words of John Muir.  I’d like to have copy and pasted the entire list from Goodreads and BrainyQuote, but for the sake of brevity, I have only included ten.

10.  “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~John Muir

9.  “As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can”.  ~John Muir

8.  “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”  ~John Muir

7.  “Going to the woods is going home.”   ~John Muir

6.  “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  ~John Muir

5.  “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”  ~ John Muir

4.   “I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.”  ~John Muir

3.  “The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”  ~John Muir

2. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~John Muir
1.  “The power of imagination makes us infinite.”  ~John Muir
BONUS QUOTE!
I thought this one would go nicely as a tagline on my Unschooling blog Dadosaurus Rex:
“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.”  ~John Muir
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“Speak To Me Of God”

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“I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed” ~Nikos Kazantzakis

There is an indescribable completeness that one finds in commune with nature.  It gives contentedness and joy; it feeds the soul.  Days spent in a sterile, synthetic environment lead to separation, discontent, worry, and fatigue, but time spent in nature brings peace.

Make every effort to deepen your connection with nature, and with yourself.  breathe the air, feel the earth, take in the sunshine.  Hear the wisdom of the earth and follow its guidance.

Learning From Nature #6

IMG_20140726_161303931“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.”  ~Valerie Andrews

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Expanding On “The Body of Christ”

Humans, animals, plants, and stones; the Sun and the Sky.  We are all inseparably connected.  So much so, that it is difficult to distinguish where one begins, and another ends.  It is probably more accurate to say that we are one being, than to say we are many beings who are connected.

There is an illustration in the Bible which speaks of the Christian Church as the “Body of Christ.”  It encourages Christians to act not as separate entities, but as one unit.  This is an amazingly wonderful idea, but Imagine what could be done if we applied to the entire planet, rather than limiting it to humans of a certain religious persuasion.

 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.   And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?   As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,  so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  1 Corinthians 12:15-26

There is no need to compare or compete.  Realize that the consciousness you are experiencing is only a part of your true self.  By caring for others, and caring for the earth, you are caring for yourself.  There is no need to be jealous of what another has, because you possess all things.

A Lasting Legacy

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Billions of people have tried, or are trying, to make a lasting legacy.  Many humans struggle with the idea that all too soon they will be dead, and eventually forgotten.  No matter how generous you are, no matter how heroic, no matter how many libraries you name after yourself, what office you h0ld, or how many records you break:  You will be forgotten.  After 100, 1000, or 10,000 years your name, your face, your life, will be wiped from history.

Forgotten but not Gone

While the details of your life will fade into obscurity, you will by no means be gone (Where would you go?).  Going on all around us is a constant exchange.  We breathe in the air taking in oxygen.  We breathe out releasing carbon dioxide.  Rain falls to the earth, enters the soil, and is taken up by the roots of a tree.  The tree uses the water, the carbon dioxide, and energy from the sun to create fruit.  We then eat the fruit, and its digestion is aided by trillions of micro-organisms living inside of us.  Nothing is stagnant.  Nothing stays still.  Matter and energy are constantly changing shape, changing hands, changing form, mixing, and melding.  This process continues after we die, the only difference is that there is no longer an entity that is notably and recognizably ‘you.’

Our bodies leftovers, however, will not be the only part of us to remain.  Every breath we take, every action, every thought, and every word, has an impact.  Each day we shape and change the world around us.  We all do, in fact, leave a legacy.  The legacy is not one that can be easily traced, nor one that is easily perceived by our fellowman.  But the earth knows.  and the earth will never forget.

So, if you want to leave a lasting legacy, be mindful of your actions.  Live each day with purpose, and take time to recognize your connection with every creature on this planet.  Headstones will eventually crumble, but the earth, and her creatures, will be around for some time.

Silencing Fear

I often wonder, whether or not I am headed in the right direction.  I seem to be wandering around aimlessly.  Hopelessly lost in a society that is quick to judge, quick to blame, and deathly afraid of change.  I get inspired, I feel the fire burning in my soul, and I set off to change the world, but when the path gets rocky, I start to worry, and run back to that increasingly familiar place.  A stagnant place, of strange comfort.  Then, feeling the shame of failure, I commence to wallow in the mire of self pity.  Fear keeps me grounded in this place.  What will people think if I try and fail?  What if I lose everything?  What If I am wrong?  But what if I could live without fear?

Fear Is Natural

Fear is good.  Fear is helpful.  Fear is something that all humans have.  Without fear, the human race would have been drowned, eaten, trampled, or dashed to pieces before we had a chance to become a dominating force on this planet.  Fear is not the enemy, and attempting to live without it will only lead to frustration.

If Not Fear, Then What is the problem?

If you are sleeping, and your house becomes engulfed in flames, your smoke alarm will go off.  If you are cooking, and spill some grease on the range, it might also go off.  In the first situation, you would be wise to grab your cat, run outside, and try to get some help.  However, you would not react the same way in the second situation, even though the same alarm is going off.  You would silence the alarm, clean up your mess, and move on with your day.

Fear is like a smoke alarm.  It is programmed to go off in every situation that has the potential to cause death, dismemberment, loss, or even discomfort.  Sometimes it requires immediate action on our part, but sometimes we simply need to acknowledge the fear, release it, and press forward.  Inappropriate reactions to fear, not fear itself, is what causes so many of our problems

Fear, and our other emotions, are not meant to be navigators on our journey through life.  We need to remain awake, aware, and in the driver’s seat, taking fear and our other emotions into account, but not allowing them to become a dominating and controlling force.

Learning From Trees Part 1: Grow Like A Tree

“For a plant or stone to be natural is no problem, but for us there is some problem, indeed a big problem.  To be natural is something we must work on.”  ~Shunryu Suzuki

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”  ~Hermann Hesse

What better place is there to learn about naturalness, than nature?  Over the past year, I have spent much time contemplating nature.  Watching, listening, observing, and meditating.  I have learned a lot, but I have to admit, I am a bit jealous of the birds, moss, and trees.  What makes it so easy for them to be natural?  They don’t even have to think about it!  To say that a tree is behaving naturally is redundant.  Of course it is natural, its a tree!  But what does a tree actually do?  And how can we learn from it?

Continued Growth

The first thing, and most obvious I suppose, is that a tree grows.  And it never stops growing, even when it is old.  In the same way, we can continue to grow and develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, up to our dying day.  Not being content to stay where we are, but always deepening the roots of our understanding, and broadening the trunk of our wisdom.

Overcoming Obstacles

A tree never asks permission to grow, and as it tree grows, it can break through cement, or consume barbed wire.  Its strength lies in patience, slowness, and indifference.  A tree neither attacks obstacles, nor avoids them, but simply grows according to its nature, and if a sidewalk or a fence is destroyed in the process, so be it.

No Regrets

It is also interesting to note that while the most recent growth is nearest to the surface, and is the part of the tree that is alive, it is the growth from years past that becomes the heartwood, and holds the tree up.  It does not regret its past form, or failures from years ago, but builds on them, and uses them as a source of strength.

Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” ~Herman Hesse