Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Thinking Doth Make Cowards of Us All"

Okay, it a bit of a liberty from the original
"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action."
But it makes the point; "Thinking" can be torture.

Now make no mistake, I haven't nailed this yet, I don't know the cure, but I sure know the disease. My trouble in the relationship I have with my daughter is certainly too much thinking, to a large extent. Thoughts like - what she should be, what she should be doing, do I like how she spends her time, is she "obeying" me, does she "respect" me, what did that look mean, why can't she just [fill in the blank], she's not grateful for what she has...etc....

All this activity and none of it really arising out of pursuit of "right action."

I said "I don't know the cure," but that's not entirely true. I suspect the cure is to sit regularly, per doctor Nishijima's prescription, "take two zazen a day, once at night and once in the morning." Over time this should cure the thinking illness. Like all red blooded America males (on average) I do not do what my doctor suggests will make me better. But I'm getting there.

I think discussing thinking requires a vocabulary like the Esquimaux's reportedly have for snow, at least 57 varieties. The brain must be active, as all reports so far (with due respect to Hamlet's thesis concerning bourns from which no traveler returns) indicate, for life. Knowing not to drink lava or kiss tigers is also thinking, but very helpful. Remembering that food is in the refrigerator, is also thinking, but again, very helpful. Even realizing a new, better type of shelter from idealistic thought, is a good thinking, I believe. But mulling over what she said or he said. Worrying over how your Aunt will react to dust when she visists. Holding the pain from an arguement six years ago. All these are not good thinking.

What to call it? How about ruminant thinking on abstracts? For those without cow experience, they are ruminant cause the swallow then regurgitate their food to chew it again. Events in the abstract, like being angry, are best not ruminated.

So why an eyelash mite picture? I guess to underscore some of the mystery of life our thinking can never touch. All of us have scores of eyelash mites living entire lives over and over right under (and over) our eyes. Not much thinking goes on with them, I suppose, given their "brain" size...if they have one. And us, like them, are impermanent. Gone in a blink.



Jordan said...


Thank you for your practice.


Uku said...


thank you for your efforts and may year 2009 be just like it should be!

With palms together,

Peter said...


Thanks for your post.

Happy New Year to you and your family!