Look up

A Zen master once told me when I despaired, “It’s up to you to look up.” It was annoying how simple that instruction was. It was annoying how it made it clear that my feelings and what I do about them are completely my responsibility. Her instruction left no room for blaming the world when I despaired. Despair is a darkening path with no end… It won’t help you, and it won’t help others.

“In fact,” she said, “I’m going to make a new precept.” (A precept is a Buddhist guideline for living, similar to the commandments in Christianity.) “Do not despair.” 

Simply do whatever you can, even if today it’s a very small thing, and do whatever you have to do to make and keep your faith in the world. Light a candle. Put up a picture. Kiss a loved one. Nurture yourself by cooking a meal. Join an activist or support group that shares your values. Smile at a stranger, even if at first you look like you’re grimacing. Smile to yourself when nobody’s looking.

Experiment with not complaining for a week. Every time you feel a complaint coming on, instead put your energy into figuring out a constructive approach to whatever thing it is that you feel should be changed. Or just enjoy, for a change, the peace you feel when you stop complaining. You may not see results immediately, but you’ll feel it immediately.

Faith is the knowledge that every little counts. It is the patience that comes with being in this life for the very, very long run. There is always time for things to change.


20th November 2016

Comments (3)

  1. Good to see your writing again! Love n Gasshos, Naomi

  2. A wave Mia and a smile at that Zen master who gave you that advice. Something I’d have said myself.

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