Sunday, August 21, 2005


This restlessness, this shying away from the obvious next task. It's the same thing, in all its forms. It's just fear.

I am afraid of so many things. Such a timid creature. And all of the solutions begin: "First, gather up your courage --"

-- And I say, wait a minute. You've begun with the conclusion. Back up. If I could gather up my courage, I wouldn't have any of these problems. The problem is not that my courage is scattered. The problem is that I have none.

Well, not exactly none. That's not true. I have a little trembling match, a tiny flame of courage. But I have to shield it carefully, and move it slowly, or it winks out. And then I have nothing to work with.

My most foolish response is my most frequent one. It shouldn't be this way. What can that mean? Even in a theist context, that's a mindless thing to say. There is either only one being who has the authority to make that statement, or none. In any case it's certainly not me.

God made me a coward, if anybody did, and gave me this little flickering liight to carry. I must start where I am. I'm not talking about moral obligations. I'm talking about geography.

So we're back, again, to refuge. There is only one thing that has never let me down. Time to turn back to that. I know how to shield this tiny flame. It's by sitting down on the cushion, putting my hands together, and murmuring, "Until enlightenment I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the supreme assembly of the Sangha..."

It's not much that I've got. That much more important to nurture it. Cup my hands around it. Blow gently on it. Feed it a little fuel at a time -- careful not to smother it -- and wait. People I have reason to trust say that it can't really go out. So maybe there is nothing to be afraid of. -- Nothing more, that is.

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