As my audio educational journey has continued through my daily walks and my smart earbuds, I was struck by a particular moment from Jack Kornfield during a discussion on 10 Percent Happier with Dan Harris. In it, Kornfield relates a story about an encounter he had with a master Buddhist teacher named Ajahn Chah. They were walking in a field, the master and his students, and Ajahn Chah points to a huge boulder and asks his students if they thought the boulder was heavy. Kornfield, the eager American student, replies, “Yes, master, of course it’s heavy.” To which Ajahn Chah replies: “not if you don’t pick it up.”
So there I was, stopped in my tracks on my daily lecture circuit, with my guide Hazel, and my smart earbuds as a conduit. I felt like I had walked into a Kung Fu movie before opening my eyes and remembering that I was still in my neighborhood in the midst of a global pandemic. We make choices about what we carry. We make choices about the stresses that we take on. Sometimes you don’t need to pick up the boulder. We’re living in a time of great uncertainly where the outside dangers of life have forced us to remain inside, but also perhaps created an opportunity to focus inward and make different choices about the boulders that we try to pick up.
Wisdom Through Smart Earbuds
Of course, there are also boulders that need to be moved, and they are heavy. The recent protests and the movement for Black Lives reminds us that regardless of how heavy something is, sometimes it’s necessary to be moved. It doesn’t, however, need to be moved alone. Chris Hayes, the host of Why is This Happening recently had a conversation with Trymaine Lee, who hosts Into America. What struck me about their conversation is that the seemingly immovable boulder of systemic racism can be picked up and moved. It just requires the strength of everyone. We make choices about what we carry and in this moment we can chose to move this forward.
Kornfield goes on to say that wisdom allows us to think deeply about the body and the heart. There is no limit or proper method by which to gain wisdom. We do so through conversation, through meditation, through reading, and even in the spoken word through our smart earbuds. I learn every day which boulders are worth moving and which are better suited to stay in the field and gather moss. My smart earbuds and daily walks are the conduit though which I am gaining wisdom.