August 22, 2009

Daily Dharma: Let go of your assumptions

Many years ago when I was a young Zen student living at Green Gulch Farm in California, a problem arose among the residents: a sliding wooden door at the entrance of the student living area was regularly being left open. As a result, cold Pacific Ocean winds would sweep in and chill our shared living space. Announcements were made at least a half dozen times at community work meetings reminding people to keep this door shut. But it was continually found open, and over time this became a remarkably divisive issue. People grew emotional, blaming and pointing fingers. In the midst of one tense meeting, Sierra, the farm’s pet golden retriever, opened the door from the outside and joined the group. Of course, Sierra didn’t close the door behind her. Everyone laughed. No one knew that Sierra had the dexterity to open a sliding wooden door. The group’s false assumptions had nearly led to an all-out battle.

–Marc Lesser, from "Assumptions," excerpted from the article "Do Less, Accomplish More: Let Go of the 5 Things That Waste Your Time," in the current issue of Tricycle (on the newsstands now). Read the rest here.

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Brandon Paugh's picture

This reminds me of an event that took place where I work..
My job is to make copies of legal and court documents for a law firm here in Charlotte, NC.
Anyway...some original documents were lost, or replaced, or damaged; I don't quite remember which. co-workers kept blaming each other for it because this particular legal team were coming down hard on us and being very rude and argumentative.
It turns out that original documents were mailed to a client by the legal team...our copy team did nothing wrong.

It was a big misunderstanding and everyone was blaming everyone else. Now everyone talks about the situation from the past and just laughs about it. :)

James Shaheen's picture

And giving ourselves a chance to be wrong!

Debra Birkinshaw's picture

I want to say that practicing this one principle of mindfulness has changed my life. It helps to wake up each day with a fresh new perspective on each person that I know and love. It allows me to experience forgiveness of others and myself, gratitude, and humility. What if you were to wake up every minute, and see your mate and your family and your friends for who they are in that moment, letting go of grudges, and giving everyone, including yourself, a chance to be a better human being?