Monday, December 6, 2010

Joy 69/82: Being Content

"Too much thought only leads to trouble . . . We Eskimos do not concern ourselves with solving all riddles. We repeat the old stories in the way they were told to us and with the words we ourselves remember . . . You always want these supernatural things to make sense, but we do not bother about that. We are content not to understand"
-- Orulo, Iglulik area as told to Knud Rasmussen, "Intellectual Capital of the Iglulik Eskimos," (Reports of the Fifth Thule Expeditions, 1921-1924, vol 7, 1929) p 69.
I'm part of a small book club (there are three of us) and we just finished several months of reading "Buddhism, Plain & Simple" by Steve Hagen.  The first two parts were indeed "plain & simple."  Part three left each of us befuddled as we grappled, unsuccessfully, with Reality, the Whole and Truth.  We kept getting tangled up in concepts, beliefs and perceptions, trying out one metaphor after another to find a way to understand.  Finally we gave up and just talked about our lives.

Perhaps that was the best thing we did.  Perhaps we were thinking too much, trying to solve all the riddles when we are part of the riddle, in the midst of the riddle and our real challenge is not to understand it but to simply live it.  Perhaps when we gave up the aggressive need to make the world make sense to our puny minds and simply began to enjoy the experience of each other's company ... perhaps that's when the riddle actually untied itself and invited us in.  Perhaps being content to not understand is understanding.  (I'm beginning to sound like the book.)


  1. I like your reverie on being content to not understand... all is good!

  2. As a counterpoint, may I suggest MERE CHRISTIANITY by C.S. Lewis. Lewis once said (and I paraphrase), "Those who reject Christianity usually are rejecting a caricature of Christianity, not the real thing." Just a thought, presuming you'd want to be "fair and balanced."


  3. Don ... I tried that path for many years and finally decided to take the advice offered by one of my old bosses on many occasions ... "take the best and leave the rest." Take: Christ's message of love and forgiveness. Leave: the dogma, ritual and exclusionary righteousness.

    Perhaps this puts me in the same category of "fair and balanced" as Fox News.