Money is like any other language through which people communicate. People who speak the same language tend to find each other. If you are one whose money speaks of protection and hoarding, you will find yourself involved with others whose money speaks the same language. You will be staring at each other with hooded eyes and closed fists and suspicion will be your common value. If your money speaks of sharing, you will find yourself among people who want their money to speak the language of sharing, and your world will be filled with possibility.
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Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you posses. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.
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Grover spit expertly between his teeth. "You know, Nerburn, " he said, "you're like those treaty negotiators we used to have to deal with. Always in a hurry. Sometimes there are preliminaries." "There are preliminaries and there are evasions, " I said. "Look out there." I swept my hand across the blazing, parched horizon. "We've got to get moving if we want to get up there before it's a hundred and ten degrees." "Just relax. He's just doing it the Lakota way, by laying out the history. That's how we remember our history, by telling our story, " "But does every story have to start with Columbus?" "Everything starts with Columbus. At least everything to do with white people." "But what's with the French fries?" "He likes to get rid of the salt." "No, the piles. First he insists on getting exactly twenty-eight, then he divides them into piles. It doesn't make any sense." A small smile crept across Grover's face. "How many piles?" he asked. "Four." He spit one more time onto the ground. It made a small puff of explosion in the dust. "Mmm. Twenty-eight French fries. Four piles of seven." He made a great charade of counting on his fingers. "Let's see. Four seasons. Four directions. Four stages of life. "Seven council fires. Seven sacred rituals. The moon lives for twenty-eight days. Yeah, I guess that doesn't make any sense." "That's crazy, " I said. "What is it? Some kind of Lakota French fry rosary?
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Our old people noticed this from the beginning. They said that the white man lived in a world of cages, and that if we didn't look out, they would make us live in cages too. So we started noticing. Everything looked like cages. Your clothes fit like cages. Your houses looked like cages. You put your fences around your yards so they looked like cages. Everything was a cage. You turned the land into cages. Little squares. Then after you had all these cages you made a government to protect these cages. And that government was all cages. All laws about what you couldn't do. The only freedom you had was inside your own cage. Then you wondered why you weren't happy and didn't feel free. You made all the cages, the you wondered why you didn't feel free.
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Our young people, raised under the old rules of courtesy, never indulged in the present habit of talking incessantly and all at the same time. To do so would have been not only impolite, but foolish; for poise, so much admired as a social grace, could not be accompanied by restlessness. Pauses were acknowledged gracefully and did not cause lack of ease or embarrassment.
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Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.
Loneliness is like sitting in an empty room and being aware of the space around you. It is a condition of separateness. Solitude is becoming one with the space around you. It is a condition of union. Loneliness is small, solitude is large. Loneliness closes in around you; solitude expands toward the infinite. Loneliness has its roots in words, in an internal conversation that nobody answers; solitude has its roots in the great silence of eternity.
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Solitude is a condition of peace that stands in direct opposition to loneliness. Loneliness is like sitting in an empty room and being aware of the space around you. It is a condition of separateness. Solitude is becoming one with the space around you. It is a condition of union. loneliness is small, solitude is large. loneliness closes in around you; solitude expands toward the infinite. loneliness has its roots in words, in an internal conversation that nodbody answers; solitude has it's roots in the great silence of eternity.
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The human being is a surprisingly resilient organism. We are impelled toward health not sickness. Your spirit, as surely as your body, will try to heal....So you should not fear tragedy and suffering. Like love, they make you more a part of the human family. From them can come your greatest creativity. They are the fire that burns you pure.
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It is not easy for a man to be as great as a mountain or a forest. But that is why the creator gave them to us as teachers. Now that I am old I Iook once more toward them for lessons, instead of trying to understand the ways of men. They tell me to be patient. They tell me I cannot change what is, I can only hope to change what will become. Let the grasses grow over our scars, they say, and let flowers bloom over our wounds.
That is why we need to travel. If we don't offer ourself to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.
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Like children, the elders are a burden. But unlike children, they offer no hope or promise. They are a weight and an encumbrance and a mirror of our own mortality. It takes a person of great heart to see past this fact and to see the wisdom the elders have to offer, and so serve them out of gratitude for the life they have passed on to us.
...Good leaders wait to be called and they give up their power when they are no longer needed. Selfish men and fools put themselves first and keep their power until someone throws them out. It is no good to have a way where selfish men and fools fight with each other to be leaders, while the good ones watch.
Do not grieve. Misfortune will happen to the wisest and best of men. Death will come, always out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey. What is past and cannot be prevented should not be grieved for... Misfortunes do not flourish particularly in our lives - they grow everywhere.
Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say while some fields will blossom and others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made. And give. Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than how is shared, and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.
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When you give of yourself something new comes in to being... the world expands, a bit of goodness is brought forth and a small miracle occurs. You must never underestimate this miracle. Too many good people think they have to become Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, or even Santa Claus, and perform great acts if they are to be givers. They don't see the simple openings of the heart that can be practiced anywhere with almost anyone.
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We are born male. We must learn to be men. Remember, strength is a force. It is an attribute of the heart. Its opposite is not weakness and fear, but confusion, lack of clarity, and lack of sound intention. If you are able to discern the path with heart and follow it even when at the moment it seems wrong, then and only then are you strong. Remember the words of Tao te ching. "The only true strength is a strength that people do not fear." Strength based in force is a strength people fear. Strength based in love is a strength people crave.
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I want you to consider this distinction as you go forward in life. Being male is not enough; being a man is a right to be earned and an honor to be cherished. I cannot tell you how to earn that right or deserve that honor. . . but I can tell you that the formation of your manhood must be a conscious act governed by the highest vision of the man you want to be.
Giving is a miracle that can transform the heaviest of hearts. Two people, who moments before lived in separate worlds of private concerns, suddenly meet each other over a simple act of sharing. The world expands, a moment of goodness is created, and something new comes into being where before there was nothing. . . . But true giving is not an economic exchange; it is a generative act. It does not subtract from what we have; it multiples the effect we can have in the world.
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It is the same for all men. None of us can escape this shadow of the father, even if that shadow fills us with fear, even if it has no name or face. To be worthy of that man, to prove something to that man, to exorcise the memory of that man from every corner of our life--however it affects us, the shadow of that man cannot be denied.
When all the words have been written, and all the phrases have been spoken, the great mystery of life will still remain. We may map the terrains of our lives, measure the farthest reaches of the universe, but no amount of searching will ever reveal for certain whether we are all children of chance or part of a great design. And who among us would have it otherwise? Who would wish to take the mystery out of the experience of looking into a newborn infant's eyes?
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Place yourself among those who carry on their lives with passion, and true learning will take place, no matter how humble or exalted the setting. But no matter what path you follow, do not be ashamed of your learning. In some corner of your life, you know more about something than anyone else on earth. The true measure of your education is not what you know, but how you share what you know with others.
I sometimes like to think of God as a great symphony and the various spiritual paths as instruments in an orchestra. The gift that you have is like music waiting to be played. You need only to find the instrument that will best bring it out. You alone can never play all the instruments, and your music might not find voice in all the instruments. All you can do is find the instrument that suits you best, play it as well as you can, and add your music to the great symphony of divine creation.
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Nature is the clearest source of solitude. The greatness of nature can overwhelm the insignificant chatter by which we measure most of our days. If you have the wisdom and the courage to go to nature alone, the larger rhythms, the eternal hum, will make itself known all the sooner. When you have found it, it will always be there for you. The peace without will become the peace within, and you will be able to return to it in your heart wherever you find yourself.
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