The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

It’s not what you do…

with 2 comments

There comes a time when everyone needs to write a “to do” list. It is almost impossible to navigate today’s world without some kind of ongoing reminder of the things that we have to do and of the things that are important to us. To me, lists are like road maps. Some of them are easy to navigate, and others are difficult, but they all point the way. The problem is that most of us forget that lists are just paper. They really mean nothing. In our rush to get them done, we ignore the things we are doing. We forget to learn from the experience. We do things just to check them off. Many of us even eat just to fuel up, but a junk list is as bad as junk food. It gets things done, but it drains the soul. 

I really can’t tell you how to manage your lists. I try to align mine to my principles, and let the principles themselves suggest my goals, but the more I try to get organized, the more I realize that my “to dos” are really more about the kind of interaction that I want to have with the world than about the results I expect from the interaction. The results are not important, rather, what matters is that I am molding myself to embody my principles. Interacting with life this way takes a lot of the stress of having to accomplish something. Every action can turn in to communication. If I pick up a cup, I’m telling it to raise. Instead of having a conversation with my head, I’m talking to the world by doing what I am doing. 

Maybe our lists are just plans for a great conversation. Research for our debate with the world. A hypothesis in the making, and our actions the test. Maybe, if we paid attention to the conversation of life, we could grow with life, because results are our answer. Most of us stop at results, and forget that the conversation goes on. We hang up mid sentence, happy with our half answer. We do not befriend life in the way a scientist coaxes data out of small events, or a meditator beauty, or both. We should. It is not about getting our talking points across, but about listening for the answer. Our plans mean nothing when life surprises us with a new turn of phrase. Be willing to have the conversation! 

I write this to remind myself, of course. I mean the conversation not as a metaphor either, but as the literal act of interacting with the universe, by understanding it and our relationship to it. The only things missing are words. We act and listen instead. It is a give and take. We make lists to remember what we need to ask of the world. We keep records of our memorable conversations. It is no wonder that emotionally charged events are easily remembered. We learn that way. 

Would I write if no one read? The answer is yes. I suppose that the way in which we interact with the world is the sound of the famous tree that will fall even if no one hears it, or the sound of one hand clapping for that matter. Unless we listen, or provide the other surface for the hand to sing.


Written by Hector

October 28, 2008 at 11:44 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi! I am a 29 years old Japanese man living in Kyoto, Japan. I am also interested in Zen Buddhism. I do Zazen for 10-15 minutes at my home everyday and at a temple of Soutou (or Soto) branch of Buddhism every week. Recently, I have known that there are a lot of people studying or learning the Buddhism or Zen practice around the world. So, I would like to communicate with the people. Let’s be friends.


    October 30, 2008 at 2:29 pm

  2. Lalakoora–I always look forward to meeting new friends. Thank you for your comment. I think one of the reasons Buddhism appeals to so many people is that it provides for our spiritual needs without necessarily leaning on the supernatural. Thanks again for your comment, and let me know if you would like for me to contact you over email. Cheers.


    October 31, 2008 at 2:05 am

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