We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A North Country Metaphor

We recently went out to land owned by friends and picked wild blackberries.  It was a wet spring and there has been plenty of rain all summer here in the North Country of New York, which means that the forests are especially green and verdant—and that there is a ton of blackberries out there just for the effort of picking them.

So, I was picking away at one particularly berry-laden spot working up the patch, getting all the berries that I could reach.  Blackberry plants have these nasty thorns, and the ground was rough, uneven, and the plant growth fairly thick.  Soon I had picked my way around to the back side of the original spot, and lo and behold looking back through the growth I could see that there were more berries back there, which I didn't see first time around.  Pushing my way toward the backside of that spot, I picked several more hands full of berries that I would have missed otherwise.

When picking blackberries, perspective is everything, but it is always limited.  It is never absolute.  There is always another side to it.  And if one insists that they've seen and picked all the berries there are without changing their perspective, chances are they haven't seen and picked all the berries.  Out in the woods of the North Country, perspective is everything.  You can canoe up to a lovely little bit of quiet water or hike to an equally beautiful place in the forest and look around carefully seeing as much as you can, but if you come back tomorrow it will be different because in the North Country perspective is always changing.  Amen.