Not a Comfortable Place

Have you recently thought about the state of the world?
A couple of proselytising persons had found their way to the isolated cottage where I was staying these past couple of weeks. They had come in a large 4 x 4 with a spiritual mission, and I accepted that. They looked like regular folk. But how to answer the question? It was one of those moment when the mind goes literal. HAD I thought about the state of the world? Recently?

My answer, not thought through and following quickly on the heels of the question. Uh! sorry I’m really very busy with something inside. I excused myself and went indoors and they turned and left, no hard feelings. It was the best I could do at the time. I’d excused myself from the inevitable debate, politely and respectfully I hope. There was not an intention to deceive or to tell an untruth yet all the same, looked at from a certain perspective, I’d not been completely truthful.

The end of the poem that has been posted these past couple of weeks has the protagonist telling a fib. Moved by profound emotion while reading, his tears had soaked the book. A neighbour came by and asked about the wet book. Our friend said the rain had come in during the night and soaked it.

Actions, such as my response, are not without consequence of course, however the basic guiding principle is to do as little harm as possible and intention is paramount in terms of keeping the precepts. In a way the above two examples are about saving both self and other from lengthy explanations about subtle matters, which are difficult to negotiate at the best of times even with like minded listeners.

We will just have to continue to sit balanced on the tip of the sword of justice. This is not a comfortable place, as any parent with small children know only too well! Maturing to spiritual adulthood is our task.

Thanks to Miles for raising the question about truthfulness of speech, an important question.

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6 thoughts on “Not a Comfortable Place”

  1. The question of discussing beliefs is very relevant to me at the moment as my parents are coming to visit for the first time since I’ve lived here and they’ll be staying a month. My mom tends towards the fundamentalist side of Christianity and as I have not always had the best relationship with my parents, until the past few years, this can be a sticky situation and the need to keep the heart open and not closing down will be my training for a month. I’m still contemplating whether I should leave the 2 Altars in our place up or take them down or just wait and see the reaction, etc! So, I can understand your moving quickly from the door! Jack

  2. I’ve read somewhere that the Buddha used to keep a ‘Noble Silence’ when people asked him questions he didn’t feel were appropriate or helpful, and I think that was a practice in the Theravadin tradition too.

    I wonder if it would be possible to keep a ‘Noble Silence’ now. Maybe people really have forgotten how to take ‘no answer’ as an answer.

  3. this post was so very relevant for me in terms of a dilemma i’m going thru’ this week.

    in our family blog we share memories. i’ve been very blocked for months and recently realized that it’s related to feeling ambivalent about sharing negative memories for a number of complicated famiy reasons; it blocks my positive memories, so to speak. and i question the cost of “truthfulness”. my present solution is to begin writing out blocking memories for myself in hopes of moving into more creative space. i am so grateful for the learning and sharing i gain through the buddhist path.

    thank you Rev Mugo, for your words.

  4. I think all we can hope for is to have the best of intentions. To try to explain ‘on the door step’ that one’s practice is to see clearly by recognising our thoughts as only that, that it is not nothing but no-thing and that we are indeed trying to appreciate the world, well better to keep a ‘Noble Silence’

  5. The internet connection I’m using is slow, slow and getting sloooower and I’m behind on responding to comments. Which is something I like to do, when I can.
    Also, as we move into the summer retreat time, with many guests here, the amount of free time I have available to keep on posting is getting less, less and lesser unfortunately!

    Ah, but there will be a trip to the Netherlands in about a month from now so that will bring in some fresh new perspectives, and photographs too.

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