Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.
~Thich Nhat Hahn
Don’t blame the lettuce! I love this, and it brings home the tendency we all have to ascribe blame to those things in our lives that don’t work like we want them to – and the ultimate fallacy in doing so.
My favorite Zen story regarding this is the “Empty Boat.” The basic version goes like this: On a very foggy morning on a narrow river a person is piloting their boat up the river. This is a difficult task, and out of the fog they see a boat coming downstream towards them. The person yells to the boat to look out, to get out of the way, and as the boat slowly approaches without changing course, the person gets angrier and angrier, believing that the other person is doing this deliberately. The person’s rage builds and builds as the boat gets closer and closer, and finally bumps into his boat. Boiling with rage, our pilot is ready to yell and scream and beat up the driver of the other boat. But when the boat is close enough to be seen clearly, our pilot finds that it is an empty boat that had come loose and was drifting down the river with no one inside. There is no one to blame, no fault – no one to beat up. At this point, anger vanishes and it’s just a matter of happenstance. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it isn’t anyone’s “fault.”
Releasing judgment, we move from blame to understanding… irrespective of whether or not we like what happened.
May we all be slower to blame and quicker to understand.
Wishing you good lettuce and lots of understanding,
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