Much of what we call ‘telling the truth’ involves an unproductive effort to change, convince, or convert another person, rather than an attempt to clarify our own selves. (115)
There is, perhaps, no more direct route to discovering our own truths than to unearth the stories in our immediate and extended family. The stories of our family members are our stories, these stories ‘are us,’ and it is in the exchanging and refining of personal experiences that we can come to know our own truths. (116)
Glib affirmations to ‘think positively’ and ‘look on the bright side’ can alienate us from our bodies and our unconscious, by serving to conceal emotional complexity rather than uncover what is hidden or lost. (123)
Humans lean toward dichotomous, polarized thinking under stress. As we divide into opposing camps, multiple and complex truths are easily lost, with each party overfocused on what the other is doing wrong and underfocused on our own options for moving differently. (129)
We can’t see what’s ‘true’ or possible in a relationship or in a human being until after we change our behavior. (135)
He only knew that he did not want to see their looks of horror; that would make the whole thing seem worse and therefore more difficult to face. (269)
I think that this is a significant truth, that we often hold our secrets because we do not want to see our truth reflected back to us. Our pain and grief, held inside, can be borne but when we see the sympathy or empathy in the eyes of another, what we hold becomes reflected back to us and it becomes more real, more tangible. What I feel is “only” what I feel but when I share that feeling it becomes so much more. If I can sublimate my pain, I cannot ignore it when I know you carry it too. And this is why it is necessary to have someone in whom you can confide even the darkest part (or parts) of the self. Of course, when a person you think loves you enough to share your pain—especially when you have held their heart close, dried their tears, helped them to find a reason to smile—proves to either be inadequate to the task or chooses to reject your pain, the instinct is to bury it more deeply. However, we have evolved far beyond instinct. Or hopefully we have.
It’s only natural! When we’re afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us. Besides, fear has always been the driving force behind all dictators’ repression. (148)
I can’t help but relate this to the quote above about dichotomous, polarized thinking. Either/or, black/white, am/am not. It makes sense that dictators typically use fear to control and manipulate, create an enemy, some “other” to blame. Having a shared opponent allows the populace to look the other way. With eyes focused on “them,” those in power can do what they choose. We see this time and again in politics and I often listen for the fearful messages in debates. Words reveal the heart, whether it is the “heart” of a group or the individual.
What could not be changed must be endured. (14)
If you like this quote and have not read Epictetus, I highly recommend his Discourses. It is accessible, far more so than Sartre’s Being and Nothingness which I started and couldn’t finish after only a few pages. Of course, in this day and age, we don’t have to endure things. We can numb ourselves to them through prescription pills or losing ourselves in mindless television or seeking empty solace in things that make us feel temporarily better. The things that cannot be changed are still there, eating us from within, and our not feeling them doesn’t make them go away. With acceptance, of both our discomfort and the immutable circumstance, is the only path through. Then again, I like what the Joker says in Dark Knight: That which does not kill us makes us stranger.
Prophecy was not known for mercy any more than for yielding to prayers. (50)
It’s illogical . . . but the human heart is seldom logical. (88)
Sometimes, just saying that you hate something, and having someone agree with you, can make you feel better about a terrible situation. (32)
[I]t is a sad truth in life that when someone has lost a loved one, friends sometimes avoid the person, just when the presence of friends is most needed. (34)
There are many, many types of books in the world, which makes good sense, because there are many, many types of people, and everybody wants to read something different. (83)
We should be sure not to demonize the ego as the enemy but practice to relegate it to its proper place and role in the overall ecology of our consciousness. (10)
The more common “to-the-knee” interpretation does suggest at least an ultimate though not ultimately important goal. (131)
One of the reasons I liked this book so very much had to do with how the author presents yoga not as a means to an end but as an end itself. Being flexible enough to sit in a full-lotus or fold forward so that the forehead touches the knee, these are all fine but not necessary. The practice, the moving into the pose even if imperfectly, is the purpose. In a western society, where competition is par for the course, it is no wonder that so many yoga magazines have articles about not comparing yourself to the person on the mat to your left or right, to not push yourself too hard or too fast. My advice is to find the edge of the pain and then back off just a bit and always listen to the breath. When you are at ease, the breath is at ease. When the pose feels easy, the breath comes easily. I could blabber on and on about yoga but I’ll refrain. This is already long enough as it is, don’t you think?