It is early spring in Minnesota. Much of the snow is gone, but there are still piles here and there, particularly in the shady spots.
Every year at this time I become a child, wishing that the snow would hurry and melt, longing for the return of green grass, leafing trees, and comfortably warm days.
“Do not like, do not dislike and all will be perfectly clear, make a hairbreadth difference and heaven and earth are set apart,” so states a famous Zen poem by Seng-ts’an. Yes, there is wisdom in accepting the world as it is. In letting winter be winter and letting spring come as it will.
“Don’t push the river,” is another Zen axiom. But here I am at the end of each winter, liking and disliking, pushing like crazy. And it doesn’t do any good, of course. Spring will come when it is ready. My wanting, my pushing, make no difference.
Yet, if I chide myself on my foolish wanting, if I try to discipline myself to be more accepting of exactly what is, that too would be exercising a preference, that too would be liking and disliking.
So I will simply own this folly – I’ll helplessly push on the river of time and wish that spring would hurry up and get its sweet little ass over here. It is an honest and innocent folly.
To be honest, I am filled with such folly. All of it honest desire, though not all of it innocent. Folly and wisdom are, for me, somewhat equivalent to what sin and holiness are to a Christian. In Christian dogma, humans are born sinful. My equivalent is that we are born foolish. But we can strive to be less foolish, more wise.
Recognizing and understanding our folly is a step toward becoming less foolish and is one of the more interesting and challenging aspects of a spiritual life.
Over the years, I have come to recognize and have compassion for much of my folly. Often, I am able to laugh at it. In recognizing and having compassion for my own folly, I have become more tolerant and compassionate toward the folly of others. And in this, I’ll say with conviction, I am becoming a bit wiser and a bit better as a person.
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Note: I actually wrote this last spring after a very snowy winter. This year, was much dryer and the snow has been long gone.
3 thoughts on “April Fool”
Thank you, Thomas. This reminds me of the line from William Blake: “If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.”
Thomas, you describe your April “follies” and self-understanding beautifully. A good lesson.
In this materialistic age we live in it is so easy to forget to be content with what you have and where you are now. I have retired and now life very modestly. I realize I never needed more. What I needed was less.