Saturday, December 26, 2009

Words we are given

I don't always know why I gravitate toward a particular writer during those rare days that reading time opens up. Most recently, I opened Annie Dillard's For the time being (1999). I have an odd relationship with her books, having shared a writing program with her (Hollins College) and having her former husband as my adviser. I loved her writing most before it became popular to say so.

As I read a segment of the narrative tonight, I came across words suited to this holiday season, when we so easily fall into the trap of trying to outdo ourselves or our neighbors in preparing elaborate meals, adorning ourselves in finery, or standing out as the most eloquent person at a party. Instead, listen to this:

"Seventh-century Chinese Chan Buddhist master Hongren advised: 'Work, work!...Work! Don't waste a moment...Calm yourself. Quiet yourself, master your senses. Work, work! Just dress in old clothes, eat simple food...feign ignorance, appear inarticulate. This is most economical with energy, yet effective."


Blogger Castanea_d said...

As I said to you, Master Hongren's words struck me strongly.

At staff meetings most every week, when something arises with which I am tempted to disagree, I write on my page of notes "B.Y.T." This is a reminder to myself to "Bite Your Tongue."
It is much better to have no opinion and to stay out of discussions, except when duty requires one to speak (such as the matter yesterday of dropping lessons from the Eucharist).

"Feign ignorance, appear inarticulate." I have far to go in this matter.

I hope you are feeling better today.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Castanea_d said...

It is bad form to comment on one's own comment, but here goes. After visiting here, and Tree's place, I checked another site that is on my "daily" list and found this quote. It is cautionary, perhaps a counterpoise to "Feign ignorance, appear inarticulate."

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." (D. Bonhoeffer)

7:59 AM  

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