As small children, we have to learn to judge. Our fears and failures help us survive–don’t touch that, it hurts; don’t do that, it’s dangerous.
Then, as we grow, we are able to do more with information than make simple judgments based on facts and observations.
We learn the difference between what we like and what we don’t. What we think and what others think. We make decisions and see outcomes.
Eventually, having built up set of opinions and assumptions, we have a world view. But our view, like the world, is not meant to be unchanging.
Change is Natural
When we learn to accept that events, and people, are unpredictable, life gets simpler. We can lose our compulsion to react to each piece of input.
We can stop wasting energy complaining about, or fearing, change, and instead see change for what it is: natural.
And then, we can act accordingly. Based on the current situation. Which we can now accept as different than what we once thought. Because that’s the nature of change.
It might not always be comfortable, but this is the moment of truth–are we going to move forward having made up our mind again, or instead decide to keep it flexible?
Remember, you’re allowed to experiment. And because you’re living and learning, you might try things from various angles.
A resolute and unbending mind, or opinions and ideas that never change, will miss out on a vast collection of experiences and perspectives. That’s why you can change your mind from a fresh view, and feel you have grown.
You can also learn to go with the flow, or walk with the wind, instead of against. If you want to stand for something and find your best actions in any moment, try thinking flexibly about it. Your strongest choices will surely rise to the top.
Is That So?
This is a classic Zen story which has been told many times. For good reason, as you will soon see!
Zen master Hakuin lived a quiet, contemplative life and was well-loved and respected by the people in his small Japanese village.
One day, the parents of a beautiful young girl in the village discovered she was with child. Her parents were very angry, and embarrassed, and forced the girl to reveal who had fathered the child. She finally admitted it was the old master, Hakuin.
Her parents went to the master and expressed their rage. When Hakuin learned of the girl being with child, and revealing that he was the father, all he said was, “Is that so?” Soon, the entire village was angry with and disgusted by Hakuin, losing their respect and admiration.
When the baby was born, the girls parents brought him to Hakuin and demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly accepting the child in his arms.
Hakuin cared for the baby, using whatever resources he had, begging milk from neighbors, playing with and teaching the child for a year.
After that year, the baby’s mother couldn’t stand to keep it in anymore: she confessed to her parents that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The baby’s grandparents went to back to Hakuin, this time to apologize for accusing him and to tell him what their daughter had revealed. “Is that so?” was his reply.
Then they thanked Haikun for taking such good care of the baby for the past year, but said they would like to take the child back now. “Is that so?” he said, as he gently placed the baby in the grandmother’s arms.
By keeping his flexible mind, Haikun was able to act with the highest honor and compassion for all involved. Each time the situation changed, he was open to the change of perspective that came with it.
As a result, the best case scenario was created for all the people in this story. Including him, because he benefited from his time with the child, and was able to keep the peace.
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