Posts Tagged ‘the backward step’

408px-representation_of_laozi“Do your work,” wrote Lao-Tzu in the Tao Te Ching, “then step back—the only path to peacefulness.” Sage advice in itself, this admonition also points toward two complementary practices in the Zen tradition. Undertaken individually, these practices can deepen and illuminate our everyday lives. Undertaken together, they can promote a wholesome balance of action and insight, engagement and contemplative awareness, enabling us to live more wisely. (more…)

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             Hotei    Kano Takanobu, 1616

Kano Takanobu, 1616

Last month my infant granddaughter Allegra uttered her first belly laugh. At the time she was sitting upright in her father’s lap, firmly supported by his two strong hands. Meanwhile my wife, Robin, was exuberantly entertaining Allegra, smiling broadly, blowing raspberries on her belly, and singing “I’m going to get you” as she tickled her toes. Without warning, up when Allegra’s arms, as though she were conducting an orchestra, and from her whole little being came gleeful, protracted laughter.

Luckily I had my camera handy, and I was able to capture the moment. When I later sent the photo to a few friends, one described Allegra as a laughing Buddha. Another expressed the wish that Allegra might keep laughing all her life. (more…)

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Eihei Dogen, Fukanzazengi (1233)

“It’s time for Congress to step up to its job,” writes Chris Dunn on his blog Collegiate Times. “It’s time for the Lakers to step up,” writes Darius Soriano on the Forum Blue and Gold. “It is time for webOS to step up,” writes Derek Kessler on precentral.net, if Hewlett-Packard is to compete with the iPad.  And “it is time to step up and be found faithful to God and his work,” writes Pastor Joe on the website of the Oakdale Baptist Church.

Surveying these pronouncements, one might conclude that it is time for American bloggers—and American popular culture—to find a new figure of speech. But cliches often reflect common beliefs, and behind this particular cliche lies a widely held belief that whatever the problem might be, it can best be addressed by someone stepping up. Whether the field of endeavor be politics, sports, business, or religion, this belief is so familiar as to be mistaken for empirical fact. And though the contexts in which it functions are most often practical, it also carries its share of moral weight. Those who have stepped up are to be commended. Those who have not would do well to get with the program. (more…)

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