Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Broken Things - Buddhism and things already being broken


Toddlers break things, grownups break things, the dog breaks things. 

At our house it sometimes appears as though we're all working together to lower the number of our belongings. Not by donating, giving away, or selling them, but by accidentally breaking them.

A girl grabs a broom to get beads out from under the couch (from a necklace she broke while fighting with her sister) and with the other end accidentally hits a pitcher on the counter sundering it in thrain. 

The dog pulls the butter dish off the counter and it smashes on the floor.

Jars, glasses, pitchers, plates, bowls, you name it. Just about every week something drops and shatters.

There's a buddhist concept I came across many years ago that rises up in the regular disasters of being people - the cup is already broken.

The most succinct version I could find is from Mark Epstein's Freud and Buddha

...Before saying a word, [Ajahn Chah] motioned to a glass at his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.” (emphasis mine)

Some things we can mend, many mended items we can repurpose. 

Many things we just have to take a breath and let them go.

If we think of things as already broken, we can acknowledge and let go before things break.

Parenting seems to be an exercise in letting go. We are constantly told to enjoy every moment (which is baloney) but perhaps, if we practice letting go, that the cup is already broken, we can be more present, and be the grownups we need to be.


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