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Posts Tagged ‘progress’

I went looking for a koan to write about before bed, and came across this old favorite.

If You Love, Love Openly

In the traditional Zen monastery, it generally wasn’t the done thing for monks and nuns to have relationships. Both monks and nuns shaved their heads, which besides being practical was thought to discourage those heads from being easily turned.

However, this wasn’t the case for a nun named Eshun. Her shaved head seemed to accentuate the beauty of her face and form, and several monks were enamored of her. One of them sent her an ardent letter, insisting that she meet him privately, in secret.

So the next morning after the master’s lecture to the group, Eshun stood up. She turned to the letter-writer and said, “If you truly love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

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I’ve been reminded of how easy it is to feel that I’m having one conversation with someone, while they are having a completely opposite conversation with me. We each have our framings, our schema into which our words and phrases fit. Therefore, what appears so clearly one way to me will just as clearly appear diametrically apposed to them.

In this case, I was trying to speak to how hopeful and optimistic I am with the way I’ve observed positive change in this world. Not everything has been transformed to paradise, but so may people have awoken to a happier vision of the future on personal levels. I find this wonderful. However, as I was speaking to someone who feels global paradisaical transformation is required for there to have been positive change, I came across as contradictory and irrelevant.

I’m choosing to be okay with this. I’m disappointed they are unhappy with this world we share, and I’m disappointed I didn’t do a better job at communicating why I’m happy, even hopeful. But we’re both doing the best we can with the brains we have, and I can only keep working on mine.

That said, I still wish them all the happiness in the world. After all, I feel our world can use all the happiness and hope we are prepared to accept.

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I was re-reading this article the other day about steps to transform one’s approach to homemaking into something completely self-sufficient and sustainable. The author was describing a time when she gave a talk before a group that was very much “on the grid“, and at the end of it the host asked if she could distill it down to just a couple things that people could start with if they couldn’t make the full switch.

Her condescension dripped even in the recollection. She was apparently somewhat offended at the idea, but managed to rattle off three things including using a clothesline rather than a dryer. The audience was polite, but she didn’t seem to feel they were really engaged with her concept.

Then one person remained behind and said that he’d like to do more, but he can’t hang laundry out. In their part of the world, such things were banned by housing ordinances or homeowners associations. She seemed a little understanding, but not really. Her goals for peoples’ adoption of her ideals came across as just too big to her for her to be able to see around them.

I’m not recounting this to run her down, but as a framing for what’s been on my mind. You can’t do it all. You won’t likely do it all. So do what you can.

Take a step today, just anything that’s closer to where you’d like to be. Try it for two weeks at least, or however long it takes to get it going. Then pick the next step, then the next.

Yeah, it’d be great if we could all dive right in and do everything we feel we ought to. But that’s not usually how life works, and the thought that we have to do that in order to be true to our goals just seems to be keeping us all, collectively, from even starting to move forward.

So… move forward. Then keep moving.

You’ll get there.

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