Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I was surprised when Jimmy Carter said that he sinned with his mind, not with his body. I would have though that a president was 1) better disciplined than that or 2) better at knowing what to admit and what to lie about.
I’ve often become distressed at some of my thoughts. What is wrong with me, having such obscene thoughts? And what dreams I’ve had! What is that about? I imagine hurting people I love, having sex with people that I shouldn't, and on and on. Who is it that thinks these wrong thoughts? Who is feeding me my stories?
I was surprised learning in my Jewish Torah studies that Jews don't worry about their thoughts, but rather focus on their actions and/or lack of action. That seemed to lift a heavy weight off my shoulders and actually, since learning that, I’ve noticed that my day dreams and night dreams have become a lot less interesting. There is nothing that encourages bad thoughts like trying to not have bad thoughts. So the rabbi, giving me permission to think anything, actually put a break on my x-rated mind. (I just watched the Linda Lovelace film on Netflix and didn’t have a lewd thought … just felt sorry for the poor woman.)
Now to the Zen story of the two monks. One carries the woman in the beautiful Kimono across the river and sets her down. The other, a younger monk, doesn't touch her ... and ends up (lustfully) carrying her in his mind the rest of the day. The suggestion in the story is that the older and wiser monk acts correctly, doing what presumably needs to be done. And the younger monk’s action follows the rules of his religion, though his mind is somewhere else.
This is not an unusual occurrence. I often censure my actions but not my thoughts. I somehow thought I could get away with it. I thought I could whiz through a grocery store and not care about others. Then I realized the other day that I was releasing negative energy throughout the store, pushing my way through the crowds, looking for openings for my shopping cart like it was a football game. Now I'm trying to construct shopping as a loving dance, focusing first on my body and letting it lovingly move the shopping cart. I haven't come yet to the maiden in the kimono who wants to cross the stream, but now I know what to do. Or do I?
I told my grandson Charlie what my teacher told me 60 years ago... that a work of art is finished when none of the original idea remains. So...