The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house, whether cottage or castle; it stands for permanence and separation from the world.
To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.
If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.
Money . . . buys privacy, silence. The less money you have, the noisier it is; the thinner your walls, the closer your neighbors. . . . The first thing you notice when you step into the house or apartment of a rich person is how quiet it is.
To be shelterless and alone in the open country, hearing the wind moan and watching for day through the whole long weary night; to listen to the falling rain, and crouch for warmth beneath the lee of some old barn or rick, or in the hollow of a tree; are dismal things — but not so dismal as the wandering . . . where beds and sleepers are by thousands; a houseless rejected creature.
Poverty is the open-mouthed relentless hell which yawns beneath civilized society. And it is hell enough.
In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
The British Airways steward announced that the in-flight movie would be Chariots of Fire. “Is that the only one?” I asked. “We are also showing Gandhi,” he replied. “Where do I have to sit to see it?” I responded. “I’m sorry, sir, but Gandhi is only showing in first class.” The irony seemed to escape him.
If everyone howled at every injustice, every act of barbarism, every act of unkindness, then we would be taking the first step toward a real humanity.
It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.
In my lifetime, I have lost my country and have been reduced to being totally dependent on the goodwill of others. I have also lost my mother, and most of my tutors and gurus have passed away, although I now have a few new gurus. Of course these are tragic incidents, and I feel sad when I think about them. However, I don’t feel overwhelmed by sadness. Old, familiar faces disappear, and new faces appear, but I still maintain my happiness and peace of mind.
Perhaps catastrophe is the natural human environment, and even though we spend a good deal of energy trying to get away from it, we are programmed for survival amid catastrophe.
I no longer expect things to make sense. I know there is no safety. But that does not mean there is no magic. It does not mean there is no hope. It simply means that each of us has reason to be wishful and frightened, aspiring and flawed. And it means that, to the degree we are lost, it is on the same ocean, in the same night.
Anyone can build a house of wood and bricks, but . . . that sort of home is not our real home; it’s only nominally ours. It’s a home in the world, and it follows the ways of the world. Our real home is inner peace. An external, material home may well be pretty, but it is not very peaceful. There’s this worry, and then that; this anxiety, and then that. . . . It’s external to us [and] sooner or later we’ll have to give it up. It’s not a place we can live in permanently, because it doesn’t truly belong to us; it’s part of the world. Our body is the same: we take it to be self, to be “me” and “mine,” but in fact it’s not really so at all; it’s another worldly home.
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
Home. The word circled comfortably in my mouth like bubble gum, swished around sweetly soft and satisfying. Home. Try saying it aloud to yourself. Home. Isn’t it like taking a bite of something lovely? If only we could eat words.