Teacups (Gentleness)

Quick Look

The world and I are rough and brusque and rude. What tools can help me resist that harshness? Now! (since it takes so long for me to transform my mind and heart)

A Tale

An American student, in the early days of the San Francisco Zen Center, asked Suzuki Roshi why the Japanese make their teacups so thin and delicate that they break easily.

“It’s not that they’re too delicate,” he answered, “but that you don’t know how to handle them. You must adjust yourself to the environment, and not vice versa.”

The Tale Wagged

Gentleness Deferred

This tale makes me uncomfortable: if I’d been Suzuki’s student when he was alive, I’d’ve gotten this rebuke, because I am not gentle and kind by nature.

My wife is, though, so l try to imitate her. She seldom tosses silverware into the sink, seldom knocks over a glass grabbing the mashed potatoes, seldom interrupts people when they’re talking.

So I have had to figure out where in my life to put out signs like the one that reminds me: “Slow ‑ Deaf Child at Play.” Some of my mechanisms include scheduling extra time to do everything (when I’m late, I usually get rude), volunteering for hospice (people dealing with death do not allow me to be coarse), even listening closely to music. Sitting still in absolute silence helps, too.

Your reminders will be different, of course, but do try to put some in place, little obstacles that prevent you from acting brusquely, going too fast, feeling important ‑ introduce anything that forces you to handle things gently.

Coupla links:

Yeah, but how do we put it into practice?


Echo on Gentleness


About RayMunn

Husband, father, Zen guy, web designer, film-maker.
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