Sunday, July 14, 2013
Not Zen 67: Reversal of Movement
John unbuttoned his jacket and hung it over his office chair. He nodded. With his left hand, he picked up a stack of papers.
His hair had turned gray during his years of work for charities. Then he'd started his own cause. He'd built a mid-sized enterprise that served health care to the poor. Where once he had greeted every visitor in faded, torn clothes, he now solicited donations in a suit. Where once his office had been open to the street, now its door lay wide to a reception area.
"Yes, I wear nice clothes," he said. He didn't stop his work to chat with the visitor. He read the final paragraph of the top document and signed it.
"And you have a bed in your office?" His visitor pointed to the cot in the corner.
"Yes." He signed another form. "My back thinks that it's old and fragile. It doesn't like me to sleep on chairs or on the floor."
"You sleep at the office?"
"I've always slept in my offices. But I've never had a bed before last year."
"You nap during the day?"
"No." The administrator looked up. "I know you give money here and you seem shocked. But I make fold-out beds available to all my staff. It encourages them to stay."
"I see." The visitor looked around uncomfortably at the rich surroundings. "The place has grown a lot since I was here last."
"Yes. I can tell you approved of poverty better." The administrator sighed and sat down behind his desk. "I did, too. I thought that depriving myself of material goods would improve my spirit. Thanks to people like you, I found myself surrounded by plenty. I sought to give joy to others. Soon I found myself happy."
"Ah," said the visitor. He walked to the open doorway. He saw a doctor pass by, then another. "Now I understand. You have invoked the rule of reversal of movement. To achieve something, you first explore its opposite."
"I doubt it. " John turned back to his papers. “I didn't know about anything called that. It doesn't sound like it should work.”
"I've doubted the principle, too. But your life exemplifies it. Don't you explore a lot of sickness here?"
"More than I'd imagined possible."
"Same principle. By exploring sickness, you achieve health."