Throwing Yourself Down, Alongside


    A Zen teaching story:

  One winter morning, a Zen monk lost his footing and fell into a deep snow drift. Unable to free himself, he screamed for help. Another monk came running, but instead of attempting a rescue, he threw himself down into the snow drift, alongside his friend.

    Psychologist David K. Reynolds, in A Thousand Waves, interprets the above story like this:

    "Sometimes there is nothing we can do to take away the difficulty that is troubling someone we care about . . . no matter how strong our desire to help, we may be unable to change the distressing circumstances. At such times we may decide to throw ourselves into the snow alongside our friend. We may choose to share some of the misery and physical discomfort, to talk about the loss, to empathize, to donate our time and our existence in order to be with our friend as he grieves. Our efforts may not solve the problem; they may not even relieve much of friend's pain. But it is a fine human gesture to dive into the snow anyway. To dive into the snow is doing compassion"

Posted in Psychology


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