This is a compilation of thoughts and quotes that I have found or written recently, as well as many that I've collected throughout the years. Most thoughts are posted randomly, as I feel inspired. A listing of quotes can be found alphabetically (check the 2008 and 2009 archives listing), or by source.

Feel free to suggest additions!

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

Monday, May 20, 2013

Desires Determine Progress - Excerpts from the conference talk "Desire" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.

First I speak of some common desires. As mortal beings we have some basic physical needs. Desires to satisfy these needs compel our choices and determine our actions.  We sometimes override these desires with other desires that we consider more important.

Even the basic desire for sleep can be temporarily overridden by an even more important desire.

In the early months of the Korean War, a Richfield Utah National Guard field artillery battery was called into active service. This battery, commanded by Captain Ray Cox, consisted of about 40 Mormon men. After additional training and reinforcement by reservists from elsewhere, they were sent to Korea, where they experienced some of the fiercest combat of that war. In one battle they had to repel a direct assault by hundreds of enemy infantry, the kind of attack that overran and destroyed other field artillery batteries.

What does this have to do with overcoming the desire for sleep? During one critical night, when enemy infantry had poured through the front lines and into the rear areas occupied by the artillery, the captain had the field telephone lines wired into his tent and ordered his numerous perimeter guards to phone him personally each hour on the hour all night long. This kept the guards awake, but it also meant that Captain Cox had scores of interruptions to his sleep. “How could you do that?” I asked him. His answer shows the power of an overriding desire.

“I knew that if we ever got home, I would be meeting the parents of those boys on the streets in our small town, and I didn’t want to face any of them if their son didn’t make it home because of anything I failed to do as his commander.”

As a conclusion to that illustration, early in the morning following his nearly sleepless night, Captain Cox led his men in a counterattack on the enemy infantry. They took over 800 prisoners and suffered only two wounded. Cox was decorated for bravery, and his battery received a Presidential Unit Citation for its extraordinary heroism.

Readjusting our desires to give highest priority to the things of eternity is not easy. We are all tempted to desire that worldly quartet of property, prominence, pride, and power. We might desire these, but we should not fix them as our highest priorities.

How do we develop desires?

Few will have the kind of crisis that motivated Aron Ralston, but his experience provides a valuable lesson about developing desires. While Ralston was hiking in a remote canyon in southern Utah, an 800-pound rock shifted suddenly and trapped his right arm. For five lonely days he struggled to free himself.

When he was about to give up and accept death, he had a vision of a three-year-old boy running toward him and being scooped up with his left arm. Understanding this as a vision of his future son and an assurance that he could still live, Ralston summoned the courage and took drastic action to save his life before his strength ran out. He broke the two bones in his trapped right arm and then used the knife in his multitool to cut off that arm. He then summoned the strength to hike five miles for help.

What an example of the power of an overwhelming desire! When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.

Most of us will never face such an extreme crisis, but all of us face potential traps that will prevent progress toward our eternal destiny. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress.

We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent.

“Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.” - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.

See also:
Full text of Dallin H. Oaks talk "Desire", April 2011

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: Excerpts

Here's just a few excerpts about living calmly and living virtuously, from Dr. Wayne Dyer's book that interprets the ancient text of the Tao Te Ching, by Lao-tzu:

26th Verse of the Tao:

The heavy is the root of the light.
The still is the master of unrest.

Realizing this,
the successfukl person is
poised and centered
in the midst of all activities;
although surrounded by opulence,
he is not swayed.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
To be restless is to lose one's self-mastery.

Living Calmly:

You're being advised to maintain a sense of serenity regardless of what you may see taking place around you.  The ability to stay calm is always located within.  From this perspective, there's no need to assign responsibility to others for how you feel.

Circumstances don't determine your state of mind, for that power rests with you.  When you maintain a peaceful inner posture, even in the midst of chaos, you change your life.

Do you want to be in a state of confusion or to have a tranquil inner landscape?  It's up to you!

Assigning blame for your lack of calmness will never bring you to the state of being that you're striving to attain.  Self-mastery only blossoms when you practice being aware of, and responsible for, what you're feeling.

What could be better than the freedom of going through life without feeling that people and circumstances control you without your permission?

If you believe that a changing economic picture or tapestry of events taking place around you is responsible - and you then use these external factors to explain your inner state of mind - you've lost touch with your root. Why? Because you're allowing yourself to be "blown to and fro" by the shifting winds of circumstance.

The solution for a life of unrest is choosing stillness.

Vow to seek a calm inner response to the circumstances of your life.

In the midst of any unrest - be it an argument, a traffic jam, a monetary crisis, or anything at all - make the immediate decision that you will find the calm center of yourself.

Affirm the following often: I have the ability to stay poised and centered, regardless of what goes before me. Then vow to put this new way of being into practice the next time a situation of unrest crops up.

Living Virtuously:

The advice Lao-tsu gives on this topic in the 28th verse are contained in four distinct images:

1. "Be a valley under heaven" is number one.  Let the river of life flow through you.  As a valley beneath heaven, you're a fertile place of grace where everything is received and allowed.   Be ready to embrace and tend the seeds that blow your way.

Get down to the eye level of a small child. Looking up, see if "original qualities" are more visible.

Instead of striving to see yourself as superior to others, perhaps choose the self image of a valley.  From this grounded, fertile, and receptive position, be willing to hear and receive.  Listen intently when you're inclined to offer advice.

2. "Be the pattern of the world" is the second image that invites you to live virtuously.  See nature unspoiled by culture, as in the perfection of the uncarved block of wood.  So rather than insisting on changing or resisting, you're encouraged to row your boat, and your life, gently down the stream.

Dismiss ego, which you've created, and allow yourself to be in the world by changing how you look at the world.

3. "Act in accordance with eternal power" is the third image for living virtuously.  Just contemplate for a moment the idea of a is always there, and endless geyser gushing forth the abundant life of virtue.

Picture yourself pouring forth, not from your ideas of self-importance and your need for external power over others, but from a ceaseless Source of good and virtue that's in harmony with your infinite nature.  Change the image of yourself to a being who's in accord with eternal power, and the virtuous life you want to see will be visible.

4. "Preserve your original qualities" is the fourth image of living virtuously.  Your original qualities are those that were you before there was a you!

The original qualities Lao-tzu speaks of are the love, kindness, and beauty that defined your essence before you were formed into a particle and then a human being.  In other words, living virtuously has nothing to do with obeying laws, being a good citizen, or fulfilling some externally inspired idea of who you're meant to become.


For more quotes by Lao-tsu, see:

Ancient Chinese Wisdom: Quotes by Lao-tsu

See also I Can See Clearly Now