Be still, and know that I am God!
“I am exalted among the nations,
“I am exalted in the earth.”
“The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Your wisdom of the day is from Pico Iyer, one of best of the world’s best and most spiritual of travel writers, in his 2014 book The Art of Stillness:
“Going nowhere, as Leonard Cohen would later emphasize for me, isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.
“The idea behind Nowhere—choosing to sit still long enough to turn inward—is at heart a simple one. If your car is broken, you don’t try to find ways to repaint its chassis; most of our problems—and therefore our solutions, our peace of mind—lie within. To hurry around trying to find happiness outside ourselves makes about as much sense as the comical figure in the Sufi parable who, having lost a key in his living room, goes out into the street to look for it because there’s more light there. As Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius reminded us more than two millennia ago, it’s not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them; a hurricane sweeps through town, reducing everything to rubble, and one man sees it as a liberation, a chance to start anew, while another, perhaps even his brother, is traumatized for life. “There is nothing either good or bad,” as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “but thinking makes it so.”
“So much of our lives takes place in our heads—in memory or imagination, in speculation or interpretation— that sometimes I feel that I can best change my life by changing the way I look at it. As America’s wisest psychologist, William James, reminded us, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” It’s the perspective we choose—not the places we visit—that ultimately tells us where we stand. Every time I take a trip, the experience acquires meaning and grows deeper only after I get back home and, sitting still, begin to convert the sights I’ve seen into lasting insights.
“This isn’t to suggest that travel is useless; I’ve often known stillness most fruitfully in a sunlit corner of Ethiopia or Havana. It’s just a reminder that it’s not the physical movement that carries us up so much as the spirit we bring to it. Henry David Thoreau, one of the great explorers of his time, reminded himself in his journal, “It matters not where or how far you travel—the farther commonly the worse—but how much alive you are.”
— Adapted here from the online edition of “Tricycle” the great Buddhist magazine.