March 14

Today's quotation:

Our life is not about sitting on some mountaintop contemplating our navel.  It takes place in the world, interacting with others.

John Daido Loori

Today's Meditation:

In contrast with yesterday's passage about sitting alone quietly in a room, John Loori's words tell a completely different story.  John looks at the responsibility that we have to be a part of this world that we've been born into, to celebrate and utilize the unity that we have as human beings all together on this planet.  If I sit alone on a mountaintop, then what can I contribute to my sisters and brothers who are also doing their best to get by, and who may need some help or an encouraging word or two as they face their struggles?

I often need to take time alone, mostly to recharge myself and to re-focus my energy.  I need this so that I'll be able to interact more effectively with people who need what I have to give.  When I'm teaching, I need to be an effective teacher--and that means a well-rested and -focused teacher.  When I'm working at the front desk of a hotel, the guests need me to be able to focus and take care of their needs.  As a husband, a step-father, a friend, a co-worker, I need to be able to interact effectively with people.

But if I spend my whole life alone, recharging my energy, who will ever benefit from my gifts?  How will I be able to share my talents and abilities?  How will my isolation serve anyone but myself?

Thoreau went out to live at Walden in order to live simply, but he never did leave behind his fellow people.  He visited them regularly, never intending for his chosen solitude to cut him off completely from his brothers and sisters.

If we're to live fully, we need each other--we need to give to each other, teach each other, take from each other, and learn from each other.  We weren't born alone into this world, so why would we imagine that cutting ourselves off from others is an effective way of life?

Questions to consider:

Why might a life of complete solitude seem very enticing?

If I spend my life alone on a mountaintop, what might I be able to contribute to humanity and the world we live on?

What kinds of things can we contribute while interacting with others?
For further thought:

Many people do not know that they can strengthen or diminish
the life around them.  The way we live day to day simply may not reflect back to us our power to influence life or the web of relationships that connects us.  Life responds to us anyway.  We all have the power to affect others.  We may affect those we know and those we do not even know at all. . . . Without our knowing, we may influence the lives of others in very simple ways.

Rachel Naomi Remen


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