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The Path to Paradise
“Don't look into the future. This is the paradise we have to discover and make.”
The moment I read the title of Pico Iyer’s new book — The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise — I was hooked.
Yet, the more I read about people’s pursuits, the more I began to question the notion of paradise.
“The struggle of your life is your paradise.” — Eido Roshi
Pico’s life offers him an intimate understanding of the nature of human longing; Both as a lifelong traveler and a writer who lives in a small town in Japan and often stays at a monastery. So, I was curious…
What are our souls longing for when they cry out for home, as the Sufis write? Do we ever get there? And, if not, where do we go?
“It’s the longing for paradise that gets in the way of paradise and prevents us from seeing it.
When you step into a temple in Kyoto, there's often a Japanese sentence written on the ground that means: “Look beneath your feet.”
In other words, this is paradise. Don't look into the future. This is the paradise we have to discover and make.”
In our conversation, Pico awakens us to the countless opportunities we have to do so. Each rooted in the question he inspires in me: How do I want to live?
“Each of us has to ask ourselves: What really makes us feel richer and deeper?
Whether it's our friends or a piece of music, go in that direction. Nothing is forcing you to go in the direction of the things that cut you up, rather than open you up.”
Pico’s invitations offer us freedom from distraction, as he describes, reminding us of our agency in a highly stimulating world.
“Everyone has more choices than they know of how they’re going to spend at least a few minutes of their day. And, their day will be defined by the choices they make.
So, don’t give into the world. Remember, you have something better than you imagine and what is coming at you. Try not to lose a sense of that hidden treasure. The trouble isn’t that it isn’t there. But, that we forget that it's there. Then, we don't tend to it or make the best use of it.
I found that it's only by going to a quiet place that I remember what I have to share with people and what they have to share with me.
Everybody has some place or practice that will bring her there. The more time she spends there, the more she will have not to regret.”
Let’s reflect on Pico’s question: What makes you feel richer and deeper? How might you carve out space for it this week?