Wisdom: Ancient and Modern Wisdom

Tough Questions about powerful motives that shape our actions and choices in life.

A few years ago in one of my periodical fits of random reading, I came across a little Zen story that gets us thinking deeply about the mystery and complexity of human motivation. I’ve forgotten the original source, but it must have struck a resonant chord with me because I found it the other day while cleaning up some old document files.  You will find it artfully reproduced at the end of this little column. Personally, I hope that it will resonate with your journey too.

Basically, the story describes our need to be aware of the powerful motives that shape our actions and choices in life. It uses the Buddhist idea of winds that have the potential to blow us away like “dry leaves in an autumn breeze” if we aren’t aware of them. Each of us is vulnerable to a particular type of wind or two, and that vulnerability remains a central feature of our journey through life. Learning about oneself, growing toward personal enlightenment or wisdom, necessarily involves deeper understanding about the enduring force that motivates our actions.

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