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Category Archives: Leadership

Stones of Time

Source: Stones of Time

Olga provided great pictures of water and stones along with a haiku and two quotes. Today, I had a conversation about how do we change the world. I commented that we can only live in the here and now.

Confucius reminds us to do any change we begin with small tasks. When we are mindful and present living in the here and now, we understand the small tasks that call for our attention.

Pericles counsels us that others see and understand the imprint of our living in our actions. Our deeds reflect who we are to children, students, co-workers, neighbours, etc. That was part of our conversation today, as well.

What is most indelible are not our words, but our actions. Who am I as a person is a strong message.

 

The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

Source: The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

I am on the road for a couple of days, so I am not sure what I can post in terms of original material. I turn to pressing some great posts from others.

Val‘s post resonated with me, because judging and discerning were part of my dissertation. Hans-Georg Gadamer used these concepts in Truth and Method and they formed a significant part of my conceptual framework, literature review, and conclusions.

Gadamer proposed humans judge the world, ideas, and people as they encounter them. He used the term prejudice, which is a way of prejudging the world as we engage with it and others. In effect, there is a right or wrong way to engage. I used parentheses, because it has a negative connotation and to slow the pace of reading. It became (pre)judge and (pre)judice, which annoyed two of my committee members.

When we take more time to read text and (con)text, that which encircles us, we can (dis)cern and (in)form ourselves as we realize the world and people are complex. WE ask eloquent questions that do not have predetermined answers. We let the question frame dialogue with the world and others.

Val said “when we detach [ourselves] from the belief of good or bad, and discern life’s multicolors and shades, we find freedom beyond the rules and conditioning of the mind.” We let go of judgements of a world that is cast in binary choices of black or white, moving to complex (con)textual understandings (sub)ject to discerning and seeking new and continuous understandings. Ted Aoki contended “and” means more than the binary nature of “or.”

Work Around Your Abyss

Henri Nouwen wrote about the essential nature of being present, attentive, and mindful to our needs. Like Thomas Merton, he cautioned against being caught up in the quick fixes and materialism of contemporary society to heal the wounds we have.

When we feel pain and are suffering, it is essential to come close to those the wound, working around it until it heals. Unlike contemporary organizations, which are often described as teams, this is the work of community. Frequently, we share pain and woundswith others and it is in sharing our journey we discover solace and healing, making us each whole again.

There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible. You have to work around it so that gradually the abyss closes.

Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it. There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal.

How Poetry Comes to Me

Gary Snyder wrote this short, accurate description of how poetry comes to a person. It is not an easy process.

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light.

Snyder spent time in Japan where he immersed himself in Zen Buddhism and poetry, some of which he translated and used to guide his writing. One of the poets he studied was Han Shan who wrote the following poem called LX.

I see similarities between the two poems. Snyder wrote about how poems wait for us at the edge of the just out of range of our campfire. Han Shan suggests, if we move during sunny times, we might not move at all. Like moving to the edge of the light, we move timidly to find what awaits us and searches for us. It takes being present and mindful to our world and others.

Han Shan has so many strange, well-hidden sights,

Every climber climbs a little timidly . . .

Moon shines in the dripping water;

wind brings the very grass alive.

Freezing trees flower with snow,

dead, bare trees leafed out in cloud.

Gored by cold rain, the liveliest soul turns away.

Unless it stays sunny, you’ll never get through.

Whispers of Love

Rumi used paradoxical language in his poetry. Whenever I read his poetry, I find myself searching for the meaning of those words.

In this poem, I think he is suggesting that, when a person feels wanted and loved, there is a sense of belonging. A person can surrender to love, when they are cared for, belonging in a relationship.

The reciprocity of love makes one whole, healing them. The title proposes that love is quiet and a person has to listen closely, still themselves and their thoughts to hear the call addressing them. In this sense, love is a mindful and attentive way of living.

Love whispers in my ear,

Better to be a prey than a hunter.

Make yourself My fool.

Stop trying to be the sun and become a speck!

Dwell at My door and be homeless.

Dont pretend to be a candle, be a moth,

so you may taste the savor of Life

and know the power hidden in serving.”

Part 2, Sonnet X

Rilke wrote romantic and philosophic poetry was ahead its time. In a time, when our tools are often taken-for-granted appendages, it is essential to take time and recall the mysteries of life. I think he reminds us that the systems we create act as a machine, too.

When we take time and meditate over living, we find those extraordinary moments lifted from the ordinary. To live in proper relationship with our world and each other, is to (re)member there are always things we cannot understand.

Remember comes from the Latin, meaning call to mind and mindful. John Dewey proposed the word mind was a verb. It is a way of caring and tending to the world much like a gardener takes time to care for their garden.

The Machine endangers all we have made.

We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

Active Life

I am reading The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring by Parker Palmer. Parker included a number of quotes from The Way Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton, including this poem.

The poem reminds me of how I can misplace my priorities and they can overwhelm me. In the research I did for my dissertation, each teacher described how it was essential to step back from their practices and reflect. Each of them described how human relationships were at the heart of their teaching. How they each responded to their relationships was an expression of who they are as a person and teacher.

In the third stanza, Thomas Merton asked questions about people’s relationship with work. I think the first question is essential. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about weeds as essential to a gardener’s work. When we lose ourselves in activity without time to pause and reflect on what it means to care for ourselves and others as we create, we lose ourselves as the poem points out. When we are attentive and mindful, we nurture the soul, beginning with our own.

If an expert does not have some problem to vex him,
he is unhappy!
If a philosopher’s teaching is never attacked, she pines
away!
If critics have no one on whom to exercise their spite,
they are unhappy.
All such people are prisoners in the world of objects.

He who wants followers, seeks political power.
She who wants reputation, holds an office.
The strong man looks for weights to lift.
The brave woman looks for an emergency in which she
can show bravery.
The swordsman wants a battle in which he can swing
his sword.
People past their prime prefer a dignified retirement,
in which they may seem profound.
People experienced in law seek difficult cases to extend
the application of the laws.
Liturgists and musicians like festivals in which they
parade their ceremonious talents.
The benevolent, the dutiful, are always looking for
chances to display virtue.

Where would the gardener be if there were no more
weeds?
What would become of business without a market of
fools?
Where would the masses be if there were no pretext
for getting jammed together and making noise?
What would become of labor if there were no superfluous objects to
be made?

Produce! Get results! Make money! Make friends!
Make changes!
Or you will die of despair!

Those who are caught in the machinery of power take no joy except
in activity and change–the whirring of the machine! Whenever an
occasion for action presents itself, they are compelled to act; they
cannot help themselves. They are inexorably moved, like the ma-
chine of which they are a part. Prisoners in the world of objects,
they have no choice but to submit to the demands of matter! They
are pressed down and crushed by external forces, fashion, the mar-
ket, events, public opinion. Never in a whole lifetime do they re-
cover their right mind! The active life! What a pity!”

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