A Supple Mind

by Navid Zaidi

Once there was a disciple of a Greek philosopher who was commanded by his master for three years to give money to everyone who insulted him. After three years, the disciple was asked to go to Athens to learn wisdom. A sage met him at the gate and insulted him. The disciple laughed at it. The sage asked him why he laughed. The disciple replied that for three years he had to pay money for being insulted and now he was getting it for free. The sage said, ‘ Enter the city. It’s all yours.’

(From Dalai Lama’s book: The Art of Happiness)

So it wasn’t hardship alone that opened the city of wisdom to the disciple. The prime factor that allowed him to deal with a difficult situation was his capacity to shift perspective, to view his situation from a different vantage point.

The ability to shift perspective can be one of the most powerful and effective tools we have to help us cope with life’s daily problems. It helps us develop a calmness of mind. Every event, every phenomenon has different aspects. We know the famous story of a train driver who lost a foot in an accident and remarked that now he’d only have to polish one shoe! In other words, shifting perspective, looking at the brighter side.

A situation that we may initially perceive as totally negative may have positive aspects to it.

Generally speaking, once we are already in a difficult situation it isn’t possible to change our attitude simply by adopting a particular thought once or twice. Rather it’s through a process of learning, training and getting used to new viewpoints that enables us to deal with the difficulty.

The capacity to view one’s problems from different angles is nurtured by a supple quality of mind. Every one of us should develop this suppleness of mind. It comes about through our efforts to stretch our perspective and deliberately try new viewpoints.

A supple, flexible mind helps us address our problems from a variety of perspectives. It can help us reconcile the external changes going on around us and integrate all of our internal conflicts and inconsistencies.

Without a flexible mind our outlook becomes narrow and brittle and our relationship to the world becomes characterized by fear.

Emphasizing the common ground we share with others, rather than the differences, results in a feeling of connection with all human beings. This leads to compassion and altruism.

This entry was posted in Classic Teaching, Navid Zaidi, Original Essays and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Supple Mind

  1. seeker says:

    Are the one reads my post? If you are, I like reading your post as well. The way this post is written, we have so much to learn. And the way I learn from this is to translate it personally. This is what I cognitive thinking. I truly believe in this “AHA” moment. Thank you.

    • sufiways says:

      I thought I’d reply for Navid, the author of this post. He will write you, too. Just wanted to thank you for your support. All of us read, enjoy, and learn from your posts. There are 4 authors on this blog, but we all review each post and hope to improve it prior to publishing it. You can think of us as a single unit although, admittedly, this a little confusing.
      Ali

    • sufiways says:

      Thank you, Seeker. Appreciate your thoughts. I fully agree with you that cognitive thinking is the way to learn. That helps us sift away the alloy of illusions that might sneak into our intuitive reception.

  2. seeker says:

    Reblogged this on theseeker and commented:
    I am a lover of Rumi and Hazrat Inayat Khan. These two are classics on molding my spiritual life that I became more in tuned with the religion that I am born at. Because Catholicism is Universal, allow me quote a Sufi saying: “There are so many ways to kiss the ground”. This post speaks personally about the cognitive way of thinking.

    • sufiways says:

      Thank you, again, on the behalf of all of us for putting one of our posts on your blog. And thank you, indeed, for the beautiful Sufi quote, reflective of a central Sufi thought: Inclusivity and Tolerance.
      Ali

  3. Hat dies auf Rainer "rcpffm" Peffm 's mobile blog and diary rebloggt und kommentierte:

    … reblogged …
    {
    Without a flexible mind our outlook becomes narrow and brittle and our relationship to the world becomes characterized by fear.
    }

  4. Ich hatte zu der Ente etwas geschrieben von anderen Enten, aber der Beitrag ist verschwunden und läßt sich weder lesen noch senden-

    • sufiways says:

      Vielen dank. Wir warten…

      • Hallöchen, ganz verwundert bin ich über diese Nachricht, die ich in ein Kommentarkästchen eines vollkommen anderen geschrieben hatte zu einem Link über die Riesengummi- Ente in China, da ich keine Antwort bekommen hatte, dachte ich:
        Na ja,im Nirwana verschwunden. Tut mir leid. Aber auf diese Weise haben wir uns wenigstens kennengelernt und nun muß ich erst mal nachsehen, was ihr so macht. LG 🙂 Lewi

  5. sufiways says:

    Im Nirwana verschwunden !!!The journey continues,fellow Weisheitssucher!

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