Friday, May 1, 2009

Freedom, Grace, and Learning

Did you know tigers can read? Well, especially seeker tigers. The tiger has mentioned before that he doesn't know anything, yet. He is in the learning mode. So, tiger reads, tiger looks, and tiger listens, then tiger does some form of thinking about all of the input. He synthesizes, comparing what he holds as truth now to what he has just ingested. Several weeks ago, the tiger read Thich Nhat Hanh's Being Peace.

Many who recall Mahatma Gandhi also recall the notion that suggests you must be what you want the world to be. If you want peace, you must be peace. Thich Nhat Hanh offers some very basic “guides” for being peace. At the top of the list is the following:

Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. (Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh, Page 90)

Have you ever recalled a time in your life where you were absolutely convinced that you had “truth” and you thought you had an obligation to bring others to that truth? Have you since come to a point in your life where you look at those times, slap your forehead and scream in pain and embarrassment, “Dang! I was stupid.”

Well, if you could see the tiger now, you would probably wonder why there is red between the black stripes instead of that rich satin orange you normally see on tigers. Dang! He was so stupid back then. He will probably continue to replay those nightmarish years in his mind for three more incarnations.

Listen, tiger will recover. And the tiger understands that the recollection of that experience is precisely what keeps him from the arrogance that can come from learning.

Indeed, learning is a humbling experience. If it is not, then one is not really learning. One is most likely on the precipice of humiliation, which may, thankfully, result in learning. Mahatma Gandhi suggests that freedom without the freedom to fail is not freedom. There is grace in true freedom.

The tiger needs grace. The tiger loves grace.

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