The other day, I visited the Dharma Field Zen Center, here in Minneapolis, where I'm spending Christmas. I enjoyed Buddhism: It's Not What You Think, by Steve Hagen, the head teacher there, so I thought it would be fun to drop in and taste the flavor of the temple.
One Soto Zen tradition Steve showed me during my visit was that during walking meditation, the hands are kept in shashu. In this position, the left fist is held in the right hand, but what is important is that the left thumb is actually folded into the palm of the left fist instead of being held on its outside.
As Steve explained it: "If you try to punch someone with your thumb inside your fist you will break your thumb. So we keep our hands in this position to remind ourselves that you can't hurt someone else without hurting yourself."
This environmental thing. It's not about saving someone or something else. It's about living a better life for ourselves. Because when we live in such a way that hurts someone else or the planet, it hurts us too. Or course this goes for so much of life--not just ecology. You can't hurt someone else without hurting yourself.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.