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Tag Archives: Richard Schiffman

Smart Cookie

Richard Schiffman counsels that when we are hunting for something, whether it is a cookie or wisdom, it is harder to find it. What we look for can sometimes be right there in front of us, but, in looking for it, we cannot find it. In fact, what we are looking for can end up in the most unexpected places: in a jar in Tennessee.

It is in mindful, sensitive being in the present moment that what we look for finds us. When we apply this to leadership and education, it is about listening to the world and others.

What we each seek is unique to each of us. When we tell the stories and speak the poems about what we seek, we do so finding the words that suit our stories and our poems. Leaders sense this and offer others space to find the words for their stories and poems. In finding and choosing our paths and our words, we can become the smart cookies we seek.

The fortune that you seek is in another cookie,

was my fortune. So I’ll be equally frank—the wisdom

that you covet is in another poem. The life that you desire

is in a different universe. The cookie you are craving

is in another jar. The jar is buried somewhere in Tennessee.

Don’t even think of searching for it. If you found that jar,

everything would go kerflooey for a thousand miles around.

It is the jar of your fate in an alternate reality. Don’t even

think of living that life. Don’t even think of eating that cookie.

Be a smart cookie—eat what’s on your plate, not in some jar

in Tennessee. That’s my wisdom for today, though I know

it’s not what you were looking for.

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Hope (A Zen Perspective)

Mindfulness is being present in the given moment. Parker Palmer speaks about fidelity and faith as being linked together. The faith we have is not that we follow a predetermined, linear path where hope lives. Rather it is a speculative hope and faith born from deep faith that each moment is transient and what exists in each moment comes and go.

Richard Schiffman proposed hope is not an appetite for this or that concocted future. With faith in ourselves, others, and things beyond explanation, fidelity to phenomena never fully explainable and indescribable, the present unlearns the past and the present moves comfortably into an agnostic future.

When we take time, pause and breath, we enter each moment able to let go of fictitious pasts and fantastic futures, living in this particular moment, no this one.

Hope is not about some future meadow.
Hope is not a triumphal march toward some brighter,
bloodless field. Neither is it lighting a candle
or cursing the darkness or calling the glass half full.
It is this half-empty tumbler turning cartwheels
above the chasm. You, for example—
poised above your own private precipice,
bruised and bloodied, sifting through the ashes
of ten thousand burnt offerings.
Don’t scatter those ashes; don’t stuff the corpses
into body bags just yet. Don’t launch a fleet
of skyrockets to cheer up Gehenna. Don’t pretend
that you’re still hungry, like those battle-blind birds
pecking for seeds between the corpses.
Hope is not an appetite for this or that concocted future.
It is the present seeking itself, the present—
unlearning the past, agnostic of the future—
breathing, in its chains, like the sea.

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