Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour II

Home/Retraites au coeur de la vie/Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour II

Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour II

It’s a new day. Thanks to all for your comments. Keep it up. And please don’t forget to tell us where you are, what city or country or street or neighborhood…

On my way home from sitting last night, in the bitter cold, I was reminded of a sentence from the late French writer Georges Bataille: « Le soleil donne sans jamais recevoir. » In English: « The sun gives without ever receiving. » And so it does, offering warmth and light to everything and everyone, freely, openly, generously.

This is a good phrase for today. Do I give without a thought of receiving? I don’t mean only giving something to someone; ultimately, it’s about giving myself to life without expecting something in return. Usually, we tend to be focused on saving, profiting, consuming to get ahead and ahead and ahead… But the truth is that there’s nowhere to go, nothing to get – you already have it all! And there’s more than enough to go around.

What made me think of that phrase from Bataille was a tree that I passed late last night, on the sidewalk just a few meters from my house. Because I thought a description wouldn’t be enough, I took a picture to share here. I don’t know if it’s one tree with strange, skinny branches sprouting from the ground or if it’s two trees or if it’s a tree with a plant sprouting around it. Whatever it is, it’s all one and it’s giving itself freely, generously to the whole of life.

By | 2016-11-29T11:01:12+00:00 novembre 29th, 2016|Retraites au coeur de la vie|25 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. Filipa 1 décembre 2016 at 0 h 39 min - Reply

    This is a hard one for me. And kind of new, too. I was taught that everything was an exchange. So if I wanted something I had to give something in return. I found out the « hardest way » that it isn’t so. And I’m learning to give without asking and to receive without needing to give back. And I don’t even know when to ask. It’s all so damn hard for me… I often have no idea if what I’m doing is right. But was is right? I’m glad I can now see all these different things that happen around me and with me. And most of all I have new friends who just come and give me, mostly love and understanding, or keep me company, or just let me know they are there. These give witouht wanting anything in return. And I’m overwhelmed with what I feel when others give themselves freely, to me <3

  2. Sophie 30 novembre 2016 at 8 h 12 min - Reply

    Bonjour Good morning,
    Seeing all your texts, reading them or not (yet), from so many places, people I know others not, I feel as wind on my face, on my body, in my heart…and it is so good, as I am going through anxiousness and pain, and also consciousness and incarnation and feeling of impermanence…A month and half ago, a close friend’s sister « decided » to stop her life, I know it is real and at the same time I can’t believe it, it is impossible, as it happened fifty years ago when my little brother died by accident. And for some days-weeks, my close dear cat is getting old it is difficult for her to eat (kidney problem), she like(d) so much to eat. It became better for a while thanks to intensive medicine, but again it is declining -here she comes to write with me-. So yes I am in the heart of life, and also in the heart of death, as says François Cheng in his book « Méditations sur la vie, autrement dit sur la mort ». His last book is joyful « De l’Âme »… Je vous emBRASse, Sophie.

    • Madalena 30 novembre 2016 at 12 h 27 min - Reply

      Very sorry to know you are going through such a difficult time..
      My thoughts and prayers are with you..
      Je vous embrasse.

  3. Eduardo 30 novembre 2016 at 3 h 04 min - Reply

    Vila Real/ Northeast Portugal. Again out of time to write something meaningful and attuned with Amy’s thought.
    Yesterday morning I walked instead of driving to the campus. At the beginning, every step was done with a sense of freshness and togetherness (after having known that many of you were in this journey). However, after a while my sceptical mind asked to my guts: is this wild sesshin a self illusion to satisfy your eager need of group belonging? Are you really able to deliver yourself to otherness without expecting anything (not even a smile, not even love) in return? Or, instead, aren’t you embarking in a kind of new age spiritual trip to entertain your ego with a set of beautiful ideas that make you feel special?
    The breeze of the morning brought me back to the walking and to the awaking that my thoughts, regardless their sense of honesty, were driving me away from a sense of gratitude towards the air I was breathing, towards the infinite chain of causes and effects that allowed me to experience the fact that I was only walking to the campus, that every step was the way to come into contact with a grateful sense of simply being.
    Actually that breeze led me to realise that unconditional giving pressuposes unconditional gratitude of just being. I then would like to thank the early breeze of yesterday morning for having taught me about her unconditional giving and love
    For those of us who have not yet seen, please accept sharing with you Leonard Cohen speech on gratitude


    My deep thanks to all of you

    J. Eduardo

  4. Sónia Martinez 30 novembre 2016 at 2 h 59 min - Reply

    Hi from Charneca da Caparica,Portugal.
    This morning right after sitting i received a message of a friend that is very ansious and is being projecting her anxiety on me for some days. Imediatly i understood her situation, at the same time that i understood that i could understand but not carry it. So i respond to her that i understand her anxiety but i asked her to manage it and not put it on me. Then she said that was not her intention . I knew it from the begining, she was just being who she is, and i was just being who i am. I response her this feeling such a great respect and love for us both. And felt very good. Being so honest with me, with her, is one of the forms that i most feel that i’m really giving of myself to life: be what i am, expressing what is, expresse myself with all of the truth of my being, expressing what i feel. Just be myself not nedding that the other person agree or stop to be who she is to be what i am. And i’m very gratefull for the opportunity that we both had to give ourselves to each other and to make our relation stronger.

  5. MM 30 novembre 2016 at 0 h 40 min - Reply

    Be patient with impatience
    and the joy of a friend
    will make your day!

  6. André 30 novembre 2016 at 0 h 06 min - Reply

    Greetings from Lisbon, Portugal. Today I have received several moving companies in my house. Soon we will be leaving and all these arrangements are so tiresome… Then I´ve read Amy´s word – « But the truth is that there’s nowhere to go » – and I´ve sat.
    Usiku mwema/Good night

  7. Cristina (Ocean of Generosity) 29 novembre 2016 at 23 h 36 min - Reply

    Hello from Esposende Portugal!!!
    « Do I give without a thought of receiving? »
    Today I offered two orchids from my garden to a friend, she was not expecting neither knew that I would offer her the 2 orchids.
    She smile.
    I truly learned and experienced giving without expecting anything in return the day my daughter was born 13 years ago and I became a mother. And this is endless.
    A big hug to all of you!!!

  8. Elizabeth 29 novembre 2016 at 23 h 22 min - Reply

    Good evening from Coimbra
    Connection ,Solidarity what we mean by that ?
    What I mean and feel by that ?Sometimes it,s so clear but that is only sometimes !
    Good night and peace is what I wish for all now

  9. Helena 29 novembre 2016 at 22 h 45 min - Reply

    Hello from Helena and Pi! 🙂

    Viseu, Portugal

    Giving without expecting something in return, if we think about it not easy concept to put in practice these days.

    Today I went to the medical office for a consult, there was a girl there and she seemed to be a bit « odd » when compared to kids today.
    When I entered the waiting room she looked at me and smiled, I looked back into her eyes and smiled. Other people in the waiting room were saying not very nice things about her, because she was very vivid and was going around talking with everyone and never stopped talking. She never came talking to me so I just stood there and watched. She was a sweet girl.
    When she was getting ready to leave she « throwed » me kisses while having a big smile on her face 7 year done today old face. I just looked at here and smiled. She was the sweetest person in the rooms and the only one who was just there, just living and not judging others.
    There is no such thing as giving without receiving; when we smile we get a smile back. When the sun warms us he gets our smiles back. We just need to stop expecting.



  10. João Pedro Tapada 29 novembre 2016 at 22 h 45 min - Reply

    Didn’t write anything yesterday, here from Almada, in Portugal. Very busy day, and arriving home very, very late. Anyway, quite a challenge, dealing with whoever or whatever I feel like putting aside, turning my back to or just not paying attention to.
    And today, how important, that thought about giving or not giving myself totally to life. Indeed, there’s nowhere to go. How liberating!
    So many opportunities for small gestures, for a smile, a compliment, a kind word.

  11. ECA 29 novembre 2016 at 21 h 31 min - Reply

    Geneva. Northern periphery of the Paquis, next to Parc Mon Repos. Tonight, I am sad. I came home for lunch today at my usual hour to find men buzzing around the beautiful, age-old tree outside my apartment window. I watched in utter horror as their chainsaws sliced the tree piece by piece. I bit back the sting of tears — the tree was one of the reasons we picked this apartment. I tried to console myself « it must have been sick, it probably would have fallen through my window one evening at dinner. » but I couldn’t even console myself with these thoughts because I just simply missed the tree. Stupid, beautiful tree, now I have a hole in my heart because you are gone. Perhaps we all miss the tree?

    Giving without ever receiving. I tried to posit my way out of that one. Perhaps the sun rather likes the attention of all the planets, their orbit, their worship? I thought about Newton’s law of universal gravity, everything with mass is connected, we all have mass, we are all connected. Comforting thought. But does one mass really need the other? Perhaps that need rests in the third or fourth dimension — too complex for my mind. Gibberish.

    I will never know peace because in many things I will always expect something in return. I have made it my life’s work to make the world a better place, to ease suffering. I expect or at least hope that the world will become a better place for all living things through my work. I smile as I recall the proverb ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. I pray that is not the path I build, but that the world will profit from my suffering, from the demands I place on myself and the anger that drives me to succeed.

    I wish you all peace and happiness and may I feel it through our connection.

  12. Geert 29 novembre 2016 at 19 h 43 min - Reply

    Good evening dear friends. Having finished work for today, I leave a little message from Menen, near the French border in Flanders – Belgium. As for the items of connecting and giving freely and boundlessly I like the biblical image of the yeast in the dough. Yeast is powerless and worthless on its own. But it can raise dough when it connects with it. My wish and attempt is to make the dough of every day life raise by throwing myself into it with the yeast of compassionate living and acting. Yeast can very easily and quickly multiply and spread. I’m sure all of us are spreading the yeast of compassion in this crazy world. Otherwise we would not be « here » (where?) together and connect as (being) one to each-other and the whole universe. Let’s not forget this is very powerful and has huge (healing) potential… For me, this potential is very well expressed in the song « If it be Your Will » by Leonard Cohen, who recently passed over. It expresses the vulnerability and yet tremendous power of authentic compassion that rises from the wisdom of no gain nor loss and all we are and have is pure grace, as mentioned by Amy Roshi this morning. Hope you don’t mind me sharing this youtube link with you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_Qk_4emjEs
    From this broken hill, thank you all !

  13. margarida 29 novembre 2016 at 15 h 20 min - Reply

    Gasho everyone from Esposende, Portugal

    i´m not good organizing thoughts into words very much…they come in great amount and very quickly…i have lack of patience to do that, I forget important things … in the end i feel silent is better…anyway..i share with you some of the thoughts i had to let you all know that i´m here/there…
    About « we » yesterday, during my yoga class, that turned out to be a talk, the theme of auto immune disease come out. It started to take form in my head then, this idea of We (all the people and nature) as One, experiencing a auto immune disease when we fight parts of ourselves because we can´t recognize them as being the same body… later on, after the sitting period i saw the 3rd episode of Human (Yann Arthus-Bertrand) (http://www.human-themovie.org/ ) on tv, where someone said as a statement on the subject of justice, that the development of a country was seen by the way its prisoners the sick people, were treated… (I would say everyone that is not in conformity with the idea of perfection, good, beautiful…) as individuals we do that… we reject, hide and fight parts of ourselves that do not correspond to our fantasies of how we should be…i´m in a process of being gentle and loving with this parts of myself (the way i experiencing myself) but most of the times i have this felling of being stuck in between two different realities/identities that ask from me, opposite attitudes. To be the sun or the morning star its to be able of living in a between field of lightness, i suppose, without « I » (fears, desires, opinions against or in favor); as a medium of something bigger
    Morning Star

  14. Óscar Faria 29 novembre 2016 at 14 h 07 min - Reply

    Suddenly, yesterday, at lunch time, I was without internet connection. After several attempts, with no success, I went to a shopping mall near home where there is a shop of the company with which I have my mobile deal. They say I should wait for their contact in the next 72 hours. With time in front of me, I decided to go to my parents house. I watch, for the first time, a session with my father’s physiotherapist. I was also with my mother, that offered me marmalade made by her, fruits, bread. I also profited the occasion to bring some books with me, mainly of portuguese poets – Teixeira de Pascoaes, Mário Cesariny and Ruy Cinatti -, but also a volume named “A arte de jardinar” ( “The art of gardening”, in english), written by Y.K. Centeno. In the pages of this collected essays about symbolism in the literary text, I discover a illustration – the emblem XXX – made by Matthias Merian for “Atalanta Fugiens”, a book by Michael Maier, published by Johann Theodor de Bry, in 1617. The figure has a motto: “The sun needs the moon, like the cock needs the hen.” And a epigram: “O, Sun, you do not achieve anything alone, if I am not present with my forces,/ Just as the cock is useless without the help of the hen./ And in my turn I, the moon, want your help,/ Just as the cock is desired by the hen./ Foolish is he who would want to free from the bonds those things/ From which Nature urgently requires that they are united.”
    Late, in the evening, I arrived home. There was no light! I called the electricity company. After several experiences, guided by the voice in the other side of the phone line, we arrived to the conclusion that the problem was related with the electric board, so, I should contact an electrician. He came this morning and will return in one hour and a half: there are a number of power sockets that do not work, but he still didn’t get to the source of the problem.
    Everything is interdependent. We need each other. A friend is coming to help me around 2 pm. And another revised this text. There is another sunny day in Porto.
    “O, Sun, you do not achieve anything alone. »

    (yesterday, I was very moved by the post of Evi)

  15. Miguel 29 novembre 2016 at 13 h 22 min - Reply

    Hello everyone,
    Just arrived yesterday from Bristol. At home now in Almoçageme, Sintra, Portugal.
    What is coming from the weekend and today’s message is that giving, for exemple, attention To what is coming into being in conscioness incondicionally is at the same time receiving incondicionally what comes into being. Like if We’re at the same time the sun and the flower, the fountain and the bird who drinks the cold water, the cooker of this mushroom rice and the one who eats it with great pleasure.

  16. Christine 29 novembre 2016 at 12 h 15 min - Reply

    Hello everybody from Palaiseau, South of Paris.
    In front of me on the table is a picture of my new little niece, Emmi, born a month ago in Altadena, California, her whole body almost completely covered by the hands of my brother. I only know her from pictures and little videos, but her existence makes me happy.
    Went to an unkown place this morning by car, was a little stressed before, now I am home again and feel peaceful and happy. Yesterday I cleaned up half of the house, it was very dirty. There’s still a lot of work to do, but cleaning away all this dust already feels good. My four year old little one was at home because he still was a bit sick. Several times the day he was very angry at me because I didn’t say yes to something he wanted. In the evening when he was in bed and I told him that I loved him, he said: I love you, too, so much, and even when I’m angry. I was very touched, especially as since weeks when he is angry at me he always claims that he will never ever again make a painting for me.

  17. Madalena 29 novembre 2016 at 12 h 13 min - Reply

    Good morning from Esposende..
    What a great thought/phrase for today.. »Do I give without a thought of receiving? »
    I would love to do it permanently, freely, just like the sun, the plants, the planet Earth, the Universe..
    Just give myself to life and others without expecting nothing in return.. That is my higer purpose!
    I would call it Love (unconditional love).. I would call it Service (joyful service)…
    And there are so many persons around the World (that I admire) who have done it and still do: just for free!

     » I slept and I dreamed that life is all Joy!
    I woke and I saw that life is Service!
    I served and I saw that Service is Joy »
    Khalil Gibran

    Have a lovely day…

  18. Tiago 29 novembre 2016 at 11 h 44 min - Reply

    Good morning!
    Jack Frost has come to London this morning. It is so cold my hands refuse to do minute actions such as those I need to do work.
    I’ve chanted the Gatta of Atonement this morning and I felt you all with me here, giving ourselves completely to the chant.
    When reading Amy’s words this morning about giving and receiving fully I recalled Corine sensei’s talk last summer — to fully understand if we are giving without wanting anything in return, from a selfless ‘state’, we must ask ourselves: who are we protecting? Is it ourselves or those we are giving to?
    Yesterday there was « we » but I wasn’t listening. Today WE are here and I know that.
    Wishing you all a good day and that we may share our lives together again and again and again…

  19. Guillaume 29 novembre 2016 at 10 h 41 min - Reply

    Such a cold morning bicycle ride to work in Paris. I’m still tired, sleep was slow to come yesterday despite the fatigue and I didn’t have the night I’d hoped for. The continuous pain in my ears I thought I was finally delivered from is coming back. I want nice things, like that warm coffee I smelled passing in front of a café, some rest, and to be free from pain. What does it mean to give myself to cold, pain and discomfort without return? What if cold and pain were all that were left for me, forever? Is it what it’s like to be old and dying? What if I were never to have friends again, never to feel happy again? What if we were witnessing the crumbling of the human world to one of generalized greed, hatred and brutality? What if all hope was lost? Would I be strong enough to give myself to « this » at all? I don’t want to say « yes ». I feel like saying either « yes » or « no » would miss the point. I don’t want hope. May be some day I’ll say that I don’t want despair either. And may be that day I’ll find out that I can give myself to life without a thought of receiving, or equivalently, that I can take all of life. But not yet. For now, I want no hope at all.

  20. Hugo 29 novembre 2016 at 10 h 03 min - Reply

    Mindarie, Western Australia. Jobs Summit Day. At my table, some one says:we need to be all connected. I smile. I give my silence ane listen.

  21. céu 29 novembre 2016 at 9 h 16 min - Reply

    Good morning from Lisbon

  22. Manon 29 novembre 2016 at 9 h 11 min - Reply

    Tuebingen, Allemagne.
    De nouveau un très beau soleil dehors. Je suis plongée dans mes cours de neurologie alors que les examens approchent. Le texte d’Amy m’a fait pleurer. Je ne sais pas pourquoi. Mais cela a t-il de l’importance ? J’avais envie de partager un texte d’une amie qui écrit en allemand. Je traduis quelques uns de ses poèmes en français. Elle traduit quelques uns de mes textes vers l’allemand. Voici son poème (un extrait) il parle de matin :
    weiches weiss: haferflockenleichter morgen. in den spitzenhemden hängt das erste licht. die luft ist wir milch, ein süssliches ausatmen. wenn die fingerkuppen zuckerkristalle aufsammeln. verschüttetes leicht. da ist der frühe tag noch voll da, nicht im kopf, im unweiten raum zwischen den dingen. da ist jeder körper fern. und das sammeln und das zählen der weisskanten auf speckigem tischplattenholz ist nichts anderes als das suchen der welt.

    Et en français ;
    molle blancheur: quelques flocons d’avoine le matin. la première lumière est suspendue aux chemises brodées. l’air est comme du lait ,une exhalaison sucrée. quand les mains rassemblent du bout des doigts les cristaux de sucre. légèreté éparpillée. le jour dans son commencement est encore pleinement là, non dans la tête, dans l’espace imperceptible ? entre les choses. ici, chaque corps est éloigné. et rassembler et compter les arrêtes blanches sur le bois de table graisseux n’est rien d’autre qu’être à la recherche du monde.

    Tout me semble si fragile en ce moment et à la fois si précieux,
    Greetings to you all.

  23. Frédéric WEMBANDJU 29 novembre 2016 at 9 h 07 min - Reply

    Hello everyone !!!
    Thank you for being here (where you are) and now (when you read)
    the sun is giving
    baby Maru is playing
    Counting to ten i remember my breath
    Breathing makes me happy
    Happy i’m silent
    Love you all !!!

  24. Tomas 29 novembre 2016 at 8 h 21 min - Reply

    Good morning from the foot of Jura mountains in Vesancy, France! Baby Maru and I back in the cushion even if a bit late joining you this morning. Well…I’m back in the cushion, he just discovered the meditation bell as the newest toy… and I think the little timer won’t survive his energy….I’m very happy to join you all in today’s « basket of mysteries », exploring and celebrating the lightness of giving 🙂

Leave A Comment