Glimpsing someone thoroughly being their true self is akin to catching a peony the moment it opens in the sun. Being in the presence of someone courageous enough to hold nothing back is like witnessing the perfect curl of surf give itself over to a thirsty shore. It is always stunning and subtle, essential and elusive. It refreshes your own courage and sense of being here. How can you be inspired to better stand by your core?
Solitude does not mean living apart from others; it means never living apart from one’s self.
The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa sees the heart as a pilot light for all the vital energies. Whether you are inclined to Buddhist tradition or not, this is an apt metaphor for standing by one’s core. In regard to our souls, it is essential for each of us to learn: What is the pilot light for us? What form of heart and practice keeps it lit? And what can the pilot light illuminate, warm, and ignite in the world?
In the Middle East, the Aramaic word for heart comes from a root that means passion, courage, and vitality. It literally refers to the heart or center of one’s life, the consciousness of one’s core. If we are to stay vitally alive, we need to continually realize (make real) how we are linked to the center and how our awareness grows for living there.
In deep and crucial ways, the work of heart and mind is to stand by the center of life (accessed most intimately through the center of one’s own life), and the work of consciousness is to listen to what that ever-present center continually says, though it may speak in languages other than the ones we are used to.
The ancient Tao can be understood in these terms. Our ongoing work is to stand by the Tao, that mystical current of life, as we would a mountain stream in spring and to drink from it, not just to sustain our bodies, but as a way to imbibe its way. Till we think and move like a mountain.