The Other I

September 17, 2008

Ignoring the purple elephant

Filed under: Political thoughts,Survival Strategies — theotheri @ 7:41 pm

Many years ago I was told a story about a young American who travelled East in search of wisdom.  He talked to many people, and was told that for the greatest wisdom, he should see a wise monk who lived in a monastery in the mountains.  The young man travelled up the mountain with great effort, and when he got there, was granted a meeting with the Wise One.  He told the monk he was seeking wisdom, and asked what he did to become wise.  “I sit,” said the monk, “and I contemplate only on goodness, refusing to let any other thoughts distract me from my pursuit of goodness.”  The young man scoffed.  “I have come all this way, and all you can tell me to do is something as simple as to sit and think about goodness and nothing else?”  “If you think it is so easy,” replied the Wise Monk, “go stand in that corner for ten minutes and do not even once think about a purple elephant.”

I decided several days ago that I would not let the election in America, or the turmoil in the financial markets, or worries about global warming, or Zimbabwe or Pakistan or Afganistan or milk formula for babies in China drive me into a state of supressed hysteria.

Unfortunately, I haven’t given up a) watching the tv news, b) reading the papers, c) talking to family and friends, or d) email.

So I’m thinking about purple elephants rather more often than I would prefer. 

I think I’ll have to try a different strategy.

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