Lately, I’ve been thinking about concepts a lot, particularly how tied we can be to them when they become our beliefs or opinions. But concepts are not reality. Unfortunately, we humans can only think and communicate in concepts. They are very useful to navigate through this life, which is a consensus reality vs. an absolute reality. However, when we start to confuse our concept of, for example, what’s right and wrong or who we think we are, with ultimate reality, we are setting ourselves (and probably others) up for a lot of hurt.
Here is a Quaker story that was recounted by Samuel M. Janney: “Being one day in company with George Fox, [William Penn] asked his advice concerning [wearing his sword], saying that he might, perhaps, appear singular among Friends, but his sword had once been the means of saving his life without injuring his antagonist, and moreover, that Christ has said, ‘he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.’
“George Fox answered, ‘I advise thee to wear it as long as thou canst.’
“Not long after this they met again, when William had no sword, and George said to him, ‘William, where is thy sword?’
“‘Oh!’ said he, ‘I have taken thy advice; I wore it as long as I could.'”
This anecdote applies to a lot more than carrying a sword. My challenge to myself is to carry my concepts as long as I am able. When I’m wise enough, I’ll lay them down. They will just be useful concepts to navigate the consensus, shared reality of this life, but not something I need to believe are set in stone.
*Image: from my in progress tarot deck A Bodhisattva’s Tarot