John Welwood on skillful means
- "The discovery of basic goodness can be likened to clarifying muddy
water - an ancient metaphor from the Taoist and Buddhist traditions.
Water is naturally pure and clear, though its turbulence may stir up
mud from below. Our awareness is like that, essentially clear and
open, but muddied with the turbulence of conflicting thoughts and
emotions. If we want to clarify the water, what else is there to do
but let the water sit?
"Usually we want to put our hands in the water and do something with
the dirt - struggle with it, try to change it, fix it, sanitize it -
but this only stirs up more mud: 'Maybe I can get rid of my sadness
by thinking positive thoughts.' But then the sadness sinks deeper
and hardens into depression. 'Maybe I'll get my anger out, show
people how I feel.' But this only spreads the dirt around. The
water of awareness regains its clarity through seeing the muddiness
for what it is - recognizing the turbulence of thought and feeling as
noise or static, rather than as who we really are. When we stop
reacting to it, which only stirs it up all the more, the mud can
~ John Welwood, Ph.D., from "Toward a Psychology or Awakening:
Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual
Transformations," Shambhala Publications, 2000, as excerpted in the
April, 2000 issue of Shambhala Sun magazine.
May this be of benefit.