November 10     

Today's quotation:

The classical person is just a bundle of routine, ideas and tradition.  If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow-- you are not understanding yourself.

Bruce Lee

Today's Meditation:

I think that much of what we do in life is simply a repetition of things that have been done before.  We try things, we fail or we succeed, and if we succeed, we emulate the actions that led to the success-- whether it's the best way of doing a certain something or not.  What Bruce calls "classical patterns" are simply the same ways of doing things, and we do them in those ways because others have done them before us.  Many people actually reject their instincts and their intuition in favor of following established patterns, even though those established patterns hold little creativity or newness any more.

Sometimes we allow tradition to warp our perspective, especially when traditions are cruel or unfair to particular groups.  Nowadays we look poorly upon groups that don't allow people of a certain race, but until recently, such groups were rather common (and they still are, though not in the public eye).  Shirley Jackson addressed the cruelty of some traditions in her short story "The Lottery," and it's a frightening story indeed-- though not beyond belief.  When we allow this to happen to us, then it's no longer about the tradition-- it's more about us not being willing to take our own path in life because we might lose the support of others if we do so.

Traditions can be valuable.  They can give us a sense of connection with our ancestors-- though we have to keep in mind that it's only the sense of connection that we're getting, as the connection itself is always present.  Traditions can help us to understand the lives that our forebears lived, the struggles that they faced, the successes that they achieved.  Some people feel much more grounded when they're involved in traditional ceremonies or ways of doing things.  But the truth is that the world doesn't stand still, and holding tight to tradition just for tradition's sake often doesn't allow us to move on with the world, or to change on our own, in our own ways.

Some traditions are truly beautiful, and I would never say that we should reject the good and positive traditions in favor of change for change's sake.  I love a good Thanksgiving dinner, and I really enjoy Christmas.  But I know that I'm celebrating in a way that was appropriate years ago, and that I'm perpetuating a tradition-- I don't try to tell others that they should do what I'm doing, for if they want to change things up, they're more than free to do so.  Let's celebrate our traditions and respect them, then, but not allow them to rule our lives.  Our todays are too valuable to be ruled by our yesterdays.

Questions to consider:

What are some of your favorite traditions?  Why do you like them?

Why do so many people hold on to certain traditions no matter what has changed in their lives?

What kinds of traditions have you left behind as no longer being appropriate for you?  What has been the effect of leaving them behind?
For further thought:

Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking.

Grace McGarvie

more thoughts and ideas on tradition



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