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Excerpted from The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life  by John Tarrant. Copyright 1998 by John Tarrant. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"When we attend to the interior life, we also connect with what surrounds us--the espresso machine hissing, the skipping rope with its two red handles in line and the rope curling lazily out and back, the green points on the snowdrops nodding over the cold ground."

John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark, Part 3

If we respect the inner life, we find that it is also possible to reverse the whole relationship between inner and outer, beneath and above, and make the inner life come first, as a garden that is tended for the tending's own sake. To cultivate, to know, to love this vast inscape is the only way to be free in any circumstances, the only way to mend the poverty of wasted years. We explore the interior realm because it is what we humans are for--consciousness, the marvelous voyage.

Much of the journey is about the ways we work with our attention, because attention gives us more life. It expands the register, bringing us to notice more of the vividness and consolation of our dark lives, so that we can exist in our true range, and not go around missing things, as if we knew countries only from their airports and hotels. Attention is the most basic form of love: through it we bless and are blessed. When we attend to the interior life, we also connect with what surrounds us--the espresso machine hissing, the skipping rope with its two red handles in line and the rope curling lazily out and back, the green points on the snowdrops nodding over the cold ground. What was matter and merely inanimate becomes family, and we, the children walking, walking, walking home. All wanting--for love, to be seen for who we are, for a new red car--is wanting to find and be taken into this mysterious depth in things. And it is this inner connection that resolves the problem of who we are and makes us at home in the world.

For the interior life sweetens the humblest thing. It opens for us the magic in ordinary life.

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