November 11, 2008

Widsom of Pie

Here in the Western world there has been much consternation and outrage at the discover of some of the rules for bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, monks and nuns. Safe in our so-called equality we stand in our glass houses and frown in disapproval at the quaint ethnic traditions of the less civilized cultures while all the while revering them for their wisdom. We pick and choose only the sweetest apples from the tree and leave the rest.

There is this one particular rule which I thought of today – that any nun, no matter her age or seniority, must bow to any monk, no matter his age or seniority. This may result in the eighty year old abbess showing deference to the sixteen year old novice. Naturally, we modern women scowl and scoff at such a rule. Yet, in the grand scheme, I’m thinking the nun got the better part of that deal. I’m thinking someone was laughing when they made up this one.

Which is more worthy of cultivation? Which is more helpful on the path? Which destroys ego and which feeds ego? Humility or superiority?

My grandmothers knew the tart apples, the ones no good for eating, make the best pies.

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