One day some people came to the master
and asked: How can you be happy
in a world of such impermanence,
where you cannot protect your loved ones
from harm, illness or death?
The master held up a glass and said:
Someone gave me this glass;
It holds my water admirably
and it glistens in the sunlight.
I touch it and it rings!
One day the wind
may blow it off the shelf,
or my elbow
may knock it from the table.
I know this glass is already broken,
so I enjoy it — incredibly.
Achaan Chah Subato, Thai monk
Something I always preach to my students: we live in community with others.
When we embark on a course together - literally, in the sense of sharing a classroom and engaging in a course of lessons - we learn the most in interaction with one another. This is why attendance and participation are important. The experience is not the same, for you or your classmates, without you here, contributing your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
I try to extend the metaphor to other areas of my life: the other tenants in my apartment building, fellow grad students and faculty members, other scholars in my discipline, people who live in my city. We influence one another, every day. We can be takers, or givers who put something back, and make things better for everyone.
This idea of community can be useful when we’re feeling inadequate, too. It’s important to remember that the whole doesn’t function without its parts, and that our presence makes a difference within our circle. There are people who are counting on us, as we count on them.
I feel blessed to be part of the community of scholars.
“People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.” - Pratchett