Sit & Sweep
Dear Spirit to Spirit friend,
This question was put to Jack Kornfield, respected author and teacher in the Vipassana movement of American Theravada Buddhism, early on during
the pandemic. It still has great significance today.
How do we strike any sort of balance between accepting how little control we have as individuals in this situation and not letting that acceptance turn into resignation?
"That’s a beautiful question. It’s posed in a way that sets up a straw man: either we accept things the way they are and don’t try to change anything, or we realize that it’s our job to change the whole world, which would be a heavy burden. The reality is the middle path.
I go back to the Serenity Prayer, commonly attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
‘‘God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.’’
In a similar way, with this pandemic, we have to accept where we are, the uncertainty of it, and then say, “All right, I’m going to steady my own heart and see how I can contribute."
If you’re a scientist, you contribute in your lab. If you’re a poet, like those people singing from the balconies in Italy, send your poems out and buoy up the hearts of others. If you have the capacity, buy groceries for your neighbors.
So it’s not about passivity. In Zen, they say there are only two things:
You sit and you sweep the garden.
So you quiet the mind, and once you’ve done that, you get up and tend the garden with the gifts you’ve been given."
Today... let's sit... and then let's sweep together.
In Gratitude & Love, Joanna