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The wilderness in the mind


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Howard Dunn writes

I’d like to share four extracts from recent reading.

In Anne Morrow Lindberg’s book ‘Gifts from the Sea’ first written over 60 years ago -

It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you off from people you love. It’s the wilderness in the mind. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is stranger to others too.

If one is out of touch with oneself then one cannot touch others. In Nelson Mandela’s biography he advised his then wife Winnie how to use her upcoming jail time -

You may find that the cell is an ideal place to get to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings. In judging our process as individuals, we tend to focus on external facts such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education …. but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men - qualities within the reach of every soul -are the foundation of one’s spiritual life. At least if nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you. Regular meditation, say about fifteen minutes a day before you turn in, can be very fruitful in this regard. You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.

Richard Rohr in a daily meditation quoted George Washington Carver (1864-1943) who suggests –

How far you go in life depends on

Your being tender with the young, Compassionate with the aged, Sympathetic with the striving and Tolerant of the weak and the strong

…. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these …

I have to say that each one presented me with a specific challenge in being authentic, contemplative and generous of spirit on my journey.