Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Saying Yes Means Saying No

"Choosing a Path"

Now that the weather is getting cooler I am able to resume my regular walks along the wilderness trails around our house. The trails are iconic for me - they teach an important lesson about walking a path through the wilderness of everyday life. 

First of all, you can't just wander aimlessly out in the wilderness -it is a vast uncharted territory in which you can very quickly become disoriented. If you just wander around you will certainly get lost. In fact, I often hear the sound of helicopters flying overhead - off to rescue some hapless hikers who thought they didn't need to follow any directions, arrogantly believing they could travel on their own.

Walking a trail also involves making a choice. There are many paths out there and they don't all lead in the same direction or wind up in the same place, so you have to choose where you want to go when you walk in the wilderness - obviously you can't walk in all the different directions at the same time.

Making a choice also involves saying "yes" and saying "no"- by choosing to follow one path you are intentionally choosing to "not" follow another.

So it is with life- if we wander aimlessly we will certainly be lost, wind up in danger, sometimes needing to be rescued. So we must choose to follow a path, and saying "yes" to one path always  means saying no to another.

I have chosen to walk a life path that follows in the way of Jesus, a path that follows a parallel course to the way of the Buddha. Choosing that path I have a map and a compass that points me in the direction of compassion, kindness, forgiveness, generosity,  and concern for the welfare and the dignity of others. And, Saying "yes" to this path, I also say "no" to the road that leads in the opposite direction.

As  I see it, it is just as important for me to identify the road NOT traveled as it is to know the road I have chosen to walk on life - this helps me find the way.  And so, whenever I am aware that I am more concerned about my own success and narcissistic satisfaction without regard for the needs of others, I know I have lost my way and that I am traveling in the wrong direction.

It's interesting to me that before being baptized as a Christians and before taking "refuge" in the Buddha, potential Christians as well as potential Buddhists are asked to say "no" before they say "yes." Christians are asked to renounce selfishness and to turn away from a path that would destroy or oppress fellow human beings. Buddhists are likewise asked to renounce and reject the poisons, greed hatred and egoism.

I order to know where you want to go, you need to know where you don't want to go.

I recently read an essay about the parallel paths of Buddhism and Christianity. The author composed some "renunciation questions" that might be asked of any who would follow the path of Jesus as well as those who follow the path of the Buddha. Actually, I think these questions might be asked of anyone on any spiritual journey:

-Do you renounce all grasping and desire to possess people and things for yourself alone?
-Do you renounce the proud belief in yourself as a self-sufficient being?
-Do you renounce all envy, violence and injustice against others and against the earth?

Yes, I do renounce this path and doing this helps me find the "way."

Saying "yes" means saying "no."




  1. This is also an example of detachment. All religions have some form of common ground. Detaching ourselves from physical desires, all possession of thought and want, ego and pride. Letting go of the world and stepping into who we truly are, beings experiencing humans body. Thanks for sharing and enjoying nautre as God intended you to