The Zen teacher’s dog loved his evening romp with his master. The dog would bound ahead to fetch a stick, then run back, wag his tail, and wait for the next game. On this particular evening, the teacher invited one of his brightest students to join him – a boy so intelligent that he became troubled by the contradictions in Buddhist doctrine.
“You must understand,” said the teacher, “that words are only guideposts. Never let the words or symbols get in the way of truth. Here, I’ll show you.”
With that the teacher called his happy dog.
“Fetch me the moon,” he said to his dog and pointed to the full moon.
“Where is my dog looking?” asked the teacher of the bright pupil.
“He’s looking at your finger.”
“Exactly. Don’t be like my dog. Don’t confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at. All our Buddhist words are only guideposts. Every man fights his way through other men’s words to find his own truth.”
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By: Stephen Cope
Book Overview: If you’re feeling lost in your own life’s journey, The Great Work of Your Life may provide you with answers to the questions you most urgently need addressed—and may help you to find and to embrace your true calling.
Post(s) Inspired by this Book: The Power of Mantra – As Described by Mohandas Gandhi’s Family Servant.
“[Ludwig van] Beethoven came to see that complete surrender to his situation in life – to his deafness, to his various neuroses – was absolutely essential for his own spiritual development and for the development of his art. He accepted the apparent mystery that his art and his suffering were inextricably linked.” ~ Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
“Blessed is the man who, having subdued all his passions, performeth with his active faculties all the functions of life, unconcerned about the event… Be not one whose motive for action is the hope of reward. Perform thy duty, abandon all thought of the consequence, and make the event equal, whether it terminate in good or evil; for such an equality is called yoga.” ~ Bhagavad Gita
“The whole world is inside each person, each being, each object. To know any part of the world deeply, intimately, is to know the whole world. Each of us, then, must find our own particular domain – that little corner of the world in which we can drill for gold. For the acupuncturist it is knowing the body through the language of Chinese medicine. For the painter, it is knowing the world through through paint and the canvas. For the writer, it is knowing the world through words.” ~ Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
“To organize life’s energies around anything less sublime than our true nature is to still be split – separated from Self. No matter how much focus we may bring to any task, if the task is not our real vocation we will still be haunted by the suffering of doubt, and the internal agony of division.” ~ Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
“When we reach sixty-two, we are likely to interpret feelings of exhaustion and boredom as the signal to retire. But couldn’t they just as easily be the call to reinvent ourselves? As we age it seems harder and harder to let our authentic dharma reinvent us. We imagine somehow that the risks are greater. We tend to think that leaping off cliffs is for the young. But no. Actually – when better to leap off cliffs?” ~ Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
“You cannot be anyone you want to be. Your one and only shot at a fulfilled life is being yourself – whoever that is. Furthermore, at a certain age it finally dawns on us that, shockingly, no one really cares what we’re doing with our life. This is a most unsettling discovery to those of us who have lived someone else’s dream and eschewed our own: No one really cares except us. When you scratch the surface, you finally discover that it doesn’t really matter a whit who else you disappoint if you’re disappointing yourself. The only question that makes sense to ask is: Is your life working for you?” ~ Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
“It is better to fail at your own dharma than to succeed at the dharma of someone else.” ~ Krisna, Bhagavad Gita
“People actually feel happiest and most fulfilled when meeting the challenge of their dharma in the world, when bringing highly concentrated effort to some compelling activity for which they have a true calling. For most of us this means our work in the world. And by work, of course, I do not mean only ‘job.'” ~ Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life
“Every man has a vocation to be someone: but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person: himself.” ~ Thomas Merton
“Squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives. As it turns out, it’s not merely benign or ‘too bad’ if we don’t use the gifts that we’ve been given; we pay for it with our emotional and physical well-being. When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighted down by feelings of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear, and even grief.” ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
“If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing – it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.” ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection