It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

Join Soulspring for conscious insights... ...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

And receive this very special audio recording from Panache Desai on Breaking Bad Habits.

Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening.  Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called "one of the finest spiritual guides of our time," "a consummate storyteller," and "an eloquent spiritual teacher." His work is widely accessible and...
Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening.  Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called "one of the finest spiritual guides of our time," "a consummate storyteller," and "an eloquent spiritual teacher." His work is widely accessible and used by many and his books have been translated into more than twenty languages.  A bestselling author, he has published twenty-two books and recorded fifteen audio projects. For information about Mark’s work and his upcoming events and webinars, please visit Live.MarkNepo.com

More

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Swayed in All Directions

Image: Ben Turnbull

I doze in the hammock, and this book of voices from long ago falls from my lap into the grass. And these ancient voices say to me in my sleep, While you are not suffering, give to those who are. When I wake, the page where Li Po spoke of dead soldiers’ horses wailing to the sky is stained by the grass. The wind lifts my face to the east where we are at war in our own time. How do I hold the suffering of others in the middle of such a calm and beautiful day? We each can do the breaking. We each can be broken. We each can hold. We each can be held. I feel powerless in the presence of such suffering, and yet it’s the strength of our attention that makes a difference. The breath of this day keeps lifting my head. Is it enough to be kind where we are?

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Kinship

Malith-Karunarathne

If you don’t know,

then ask the moon in the sky.

Yuanwu



Trying to prove that all things

are connected is like piling up

snow in a silver bowl.

As soon as you bring it inside,

what you’ve gathered will vanish.

For truth like the ocean is hard

to see once in it.

I can only say that the things that

matter are always there like stars

in the daytime.

Kindness sleeps in our heart

the way flowers are compressed

in their seed.

Everything is waiting for the right

moment to break ground.

I am always here for you.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Two Forms of Compassion

ocean

What is compassion but drifting in the immensity of life with an open heart? We bump into and pass by so many torn and budding lives along the way. Some are like us, many are not—on the surface, but under it all, we remain the same ounce of spirit carried in skin and bone. One of our jobs, then, is to learn how to relate to the cascade of others that rise and fall around us. The practice of compassion is how we learn that we are each other. And the practice of expression is how the heart knows itself.

Early on in life, there is an initiation into the practice of compassion through the commonality of our experience with others. If I have suffered and healed from a broken heart, then when I witness your heart breaking, I can easily identify with what you’re going through. If you’ve lost your job and come into my life when I’m laid off, we can easily meet in our common struggle through adversity. If I’ve felt betrayed by a friend or loved one and I’m with you when you are betrayed, we can quickly form a bond that will help each other through. This sort of compassion, based on our common experience, is an ongoing apprenticeship that never ends.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Small Lift

Mark-Nepo-Feb-1---Jack-Anstey-photo

Our job while here is threefold. First, like a mountain that is steadfast in meeting the elements, we are called to face the wear of time, so we can reflect and endure the truth revealed. Some say this is doing nothing. If so, it is a noble nothing that in time reveals everything.

Second, like a river that is relentless in how it carves its path to the sea, we are called to bring what is true into the world. Some say this is our vigilance for justice. If so, this is a noble doing that in time honors everything.

And third, like a tireless seeker who finds God in the smallest pebble, we are called to care for everything in our way. Some say this is impossible. If so, this is the noblest errand of all—to go nowhere like a mountain and everywhere like a river until we turn nothing into everything with the small lift that some call love.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Unseen Force of Spirit

spirittree

As the unseen wind moves from the azalea to the young willow, the unseen force of Spirit moves from you to me and on to those yet born. Still, the azalea doesn’t become the willow, even though they root in the same soil. In just this way, you stay you and I stay me, though we are informed by each other, just by virtue of how Spirit moves through all things. Under the circus of appearance, all forms are knit into a barely perceptible weave of being that spans from the stars to the endless drip in the darkest caves. And though the star never touches the cave, the light and dark inform each other. We carry their essence. As I carry you, though we have never met. I carry the dream you are about to wake in. And you feel my sadness as a sudden cloud blocking the light. We arc in a dynamic elegance that no one orchestrates, though no one can come alive without feeling its pull.

A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a time when you felt the wind of life move through someone you care for. What did this look like? And how did this affect the person you care for?

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: After the War

tucker-monticelli-CDDKQCglYF4-unsplash
How can I be a bridge
to help you cross what
you need to cross?

This is finally all I aspire to.
To reach across the divide
because I have been so divided.

To pick up what is broken
because I have done the breaking.

To ask for guidance because I
too have been so stubborn.
Continue reading
Tags:

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Wherever We Go

colton-duke-QRU0i5AqEJA-unsplash
We live between the edge we look out from
and the edge beyond which we can’t see.

 
What we see as real may expand when
we relax or are illumined and shrink when
we are tense or in pain. But always, an edge
to what we know: out there, in here.

 
So the real art is: how to listen where we
are blind, how to sense and relate to all
that lives beyond our awareness.

 
Like a cell in the heart that doesn’t know
it is carried by a body, we float, work hard,
and drift in a sea of life on which we depend.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Allegro 28

anewyear
I happened into the cathedral downtown
and heard serious, ancient song in Latin
or Greek. Wonderfully, the words had no
meaning but the weight the voices carried,
the search their eyes revealed.

I was happy to receive no message
so beautifully.

It made me want to whittle new myths
for our children’s children
to lose their way by.

Finding is never as urgent
as needing to look.
Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Finding It

brian-garcia-13VwsTt9pAw-unsplash

How will you ever find peace

unless you yield to love?

Rabia


If you put down what you carry

in case of emergency, you will make

space for what can really help. For

clutching onto failure or success

will only make you sink.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Gold of Suffering

*Photo Credit: Michael Held Notes from the Pandemic

The apple blossoms behind Susan’s studio are opening and the weeping cherry is turning pink. And today, we have coffee on the deck, our faces in the sun. Everything is so peaceful and full of quiet that we can, for the moment, forget that the Earth is draped in a pandemic. Still, all things are true and all things are happening at once. As I breathe in the early light, someone is taking their last breath. As I wrestle with a jolt of fear, a couple is making love for the first time. As a thousand things are falling apart, another thousand are coming together. This ebb and flow on a cosmic scale is what keeps the Universe going. It feels inevitable that the more I can’t go anywhere, the more my heart travels everywhere—across the globe, then back and forth through history.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mending Quality of Life

nepo-migration The Mending Quality of Life

The slightest nudge in the fabric of existence alters everything. The shift of an atom when no one is looking can turn a molecule into a disease that covers the Earth, as in the pandemic we are suffering. Similarly, one small act of care can birth a food source that can feed the world. As happened 10,000—14,000 years ago, when an anonymous Chinese farmer first domesticated seed from wild grass to cultivate the first known rice field near the middle stretch of the Yangtze River.

In just this way, the opening of a soul’s eye under all trouble can turn darkness into light. This, too, can cover the Earth. Still, life in its totality has always been overwhelming, though the world has always turned on the smallest gesture. To stay devoted to how life will always join other life while never knowing if your effort makes a difference is at the heart of an enduring, nameless faith. We can describe this nameless joining as the irrepressible life-force emanating through us to keep remaking the world, no matter how many times things fall apart.

Continue reading

Mark Nepos' Weekly Reflection: Not Great But True

*Photo Credit: KS Kyung

I began as all young artists do—working toward some imagined greatness that might reveal itself in time, if I could stay devoted enough to my craft. But along the way, I was humbled to be more uplifted by what was true rather than what was great, by what was heartfelt rather than what was intricate. It kept me close to my own experience, which when entered honestly began to reveal the common ground of all experience and all time.

From there, I risked more by entering the poems than by writing them, not sure where they might go, and found myself touched and changed by showing up in my life so completely. Well, that’s not very different than being changed by loving another, is it? Now in the second half of life, I am devoted to being in that holy space where the conversation of aliveness exists. It’s not about the words but the poetry of life that is revealed and enlivened by our honest engagement.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: One More Time

Wilfried-Santer Fragrance of peace

Every day, we are challenged to love what we’re given as much as what we want. We don’t have to like the things we’re given, but we need to find a way to accept them. And love is the surest way to deepen our acceptance. And so, we must stay devoted to getting up one more time than we fall down. To waking up one more time than we fall asleep. To being sensitive one more time than we are blunt and cumbersome. To listen one more time than we speak. To hold one more time than we drop what we’re holding. To aspire to be clear one more time than we are confused. To open one more than we close. And to lean into life one more time than we are pushed away. We may not always land in the open, but when we do, the tenderness we find is the earned fragrance of peace.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Living a Making

digital-tablet-and-eyeglasses-on-books-in-public-library-picture-id1135144614

When finding my way as a young man, I came home from college to have a classic argument with my father. Over dinner the first night, I declared to him with excitement that I was a poet. I hadn’t yet written anything but knew it was true. He was incredulous and frustrated and loudly asked, “How are you going to make a living?” I’m not sure where it came from in me, but I looked at him and said, “I’m going to live a making.” I confess that I’ve spent much of my life learning what that means. And it is living a making for so many years that has led me to the place of true meeting that waits under all our struggles.

I have learned that making a living is how we survive, but living a making is how we thrive. We need the strength and resilience to do both.

There is always a tension between surviving and thriving, and between making a living and living a making. Part of the journey of individuation is withstanding the tension of both until they work hand in hand.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Germs

maria-teneva-vf4O1OwtPnk-unsplash Germs

Germs are microscopic cells that breakdown the structure of the life they enter. In the biology we inhabit, germs are the cause of disease. The spiritual equivalent, however, reaches us as unseeable agents of revelation that break down our structures so we can restore our direct sense of living. These spiritual germs cause us to feel and think in new ways. More simply put, these enzymes of pure life-force cause us to have the rug pulled out from under us. It’s how Saul was knocked off his horse, only to dust himself off as Saint Paul. It’s how Pissarro one day stopped painting realistically and devoted himself to the painting of light. It’s how we spend years building a dream that hardens into a cage until one day, for some unknown reason, we feel confined more than lifted, and have to break the dream in order to go on. No one likes this or seeks it out. But like gravity, it grips us nonetheless. So, as the germs of the coronavirus wreak havoc with our biology, what unseeable agents of revelation are being released, even as we speak, to break down the many structures we have built between us and life?

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Miracle and Tragedy

*Photo Credit: Oliver Hihn Miracle and tragedy are forever linked

Sometimes, the life-giving downpour will snap a limb on its way to releasing spring. And once the storm has vanished, the flowers come alive and open. And sometimes, a boy drawn by their wild color will find the broken limb among the flowers and bring it home to secretly carve a walking stick for his bent and smiling grandfather who is as crooked as the fallen limb.

From outside the story, this seems a sweet happenstance. But when it’s our turn to be the snapped limb, then God seems merciless and life has no meaning. And this is true, in part, the way when we close our eyes, the world of light is lost and gone—as long as we refuse or forget how to open our eyes and see again. As real and painful as tragedy is, it is always as close to miracle as the opening of an eye or a heart or a mind. It’s as challenging as it is true that the only way through tragedy is to open up and let the lost world of light in again.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Fighting the Instrument

snowy-mountain-ridge-with-footprint-in-blizzard-picture-id1010514668 The storm is not as important as the path it opens
Often the instruments of change
are not kind or just
and the hardest openness
of all might be
to embrace the change
while not wasting your heart
fighting the instrument.


The storm is not as important
as the path it opens.
The mistreatment in one life
never as crucial as the clearing
it makes in your heart.


This is very difficult to accept.
The hammer or cruel one
is always short-lived
compared to the jewel
in the center of the stone.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Longings for Worth

red-rose-isolated-picture-id504131676 Care erases the walls we build between us.

After almost seventy years, I confess that though I have struggled I have never been lost and have never stopped loving—everything. And this has enabled me to inhabit life authentically. In the beginning, there were goals I was taught to work toward and these longings for worth were honed in time into personal ambitions, which all fell away. For staying true to the love of everything as our teacher has turned out to be the most enduring ambition of all. This love has made me get up when I have fallen, and has given me the strength to enter the breaks in my heart where I have retrieved my gifts. And so, I have very little to offer beyond the confirmation that unending love without preference will lead us to drink from the Mystery without leaving the world. Unending love without intent will fill every contour of existence the way light fills every hole. So, there is very little to teach. Just that love awakens everything. And care erases the walls we build between us.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: I Promise You

Photo Credit: John Fowler I Promise You
I was in a circle of those who
climbed from the sea of trouble
onto the shore of a day like today.
We were tired, aglow, broken.

Out of a sudden silence
a young woman stood and sang
You’ve Got a Friend. When I heard,
You just call out my name and
I’ll be there…” I saw you all.

No vow has meant more to me.
Yet there was the time I couldn’t
get there. And the time I was afraid
to come for some dark reason too
familiar for me to understand.

I am sorry for the wounds my
absence has caused.

We try like birds awakened by
a tone of light to fly into each
other’s need. And always
wind throws us off.
Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Life of Care

friends-playing-guitar-and-singing-around-bonfire-at-the-beach-picture-id657428556 As a fire needs wood, the soul needs care to thrive.

As a fire needs wood, the soul needs care to burn strong and bright. And just as it doesn’t matter what kind of wood is given to the fire, the soul doesn’t value one form of care over another. Any act of care will make the soul come alive through us. And since all things are worthy of care and in need of care, any ground of experience we devote ourselves to will brighten our aliveness—in us and between us. Simply and profoundly, as a fire needs wood, the soul needs care to thrive.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a form of care that feeds your soul. What role does this have in your life?

Continue reading