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Law as Spiritual Path

Closing talk for the national meditation retreat for lawyers, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, November, 2004

By Zoketsu Norman Fischer | Nov 01, 2004
In topic: Law / Business
"This is a concept that goes beyond getting lawyers to meditate so they can “relax.” It’s about being able to see ideas that arise and pass in the mind without having a visceral response to them. It’s about developing a way of thinking that is flexible and can embrace paradox."

 



Good morning everybody. I heard you had a great day yesterday. And I’m very sorry not to have been here. But I’m actually involved in two retreats going on simultaneously this weekend, so I’m running back and forth. The retreat that I was at yesterday is continuing today, so as soon as I’m done here I’m going to back there where I have to give another talk in that retreat. That other retreat is a Jewish Meditation Retreat because I’m co-director with an old friend of mine, Rabbi Alan Lew, of a Jewish meditation center in San Francisco. And there what were trying to do is bring meditation practice to enliven the practice of Judaism; to make the practice of Judaism actually connected and experiential. So that people can find a way to make their Jewish life into a life of transformation and real spiritual engagement. We’re using this kind of basic meditation practice there. January of 2005 will be our fifth anniversary; this center’s been going for five years, and in fact, it’s working. It is in fact transforming people’s lives and their way of viewing their Jewish practice.

Similarly, for more than that, maybe eight years, I’ve been involved in a community which is loosely called the “Company Time community.” We work with business people in all kinds of businesses, large and small, self employed and working for big corporations. To similarly use this simple meditation practice to transform people’s work lives. So that their work lives become vehicles for their development and inner growth. And we started doing that because once I went to a gathering of business people and sat down and talked to them and I was shocked at the amount of stress and pain and suffering and grief that there was in their world so I suggested maybe having a retreat to talk about it more. A lot of people came. And they really wanted to meditate together and talk about their troubles. And then we just kept doing it. We meet for one day retreats about 3 or 4 times a year. In the beginning, I remember people would say, well I have a spiritual practice or a meditation practice but it has absolutely nothing to do with my work life. And in fact, I feel as if when I go to work I have to set aside whoever I am that I access through the meditation. I have to set that aside so that I can go to work and be the person I’m supposed to be at work and I find the gap between those two people – the person I am and want to more and more become, and the person I feel I need to be at work - very painful. And other people said, I want to establish a spiritual practice because I’m dying at work. As we were saying at our meeting on Friday, I’m required to be so inauthentic and so much not who I really am or who I want be that it’s really tough to go to work every day. So that’s what people said at the beginning, when we began our retreats. But that’s not what they say now. Over the period of 7 or 8 years that we’ve been doing these retreats we have become a kind of community. At each retreat we have 25 or 30 people, and out of the 25 or 30 people usually about 60-70% of them have been there before and they know each other fairly well by now and they’re in dialogue together and they encourage each other. And now they say it’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s hard to bring the peron I really am to work but I am doing it. And I’m finding the challenge of doing this energizing and interesting. And coming to the retreats is good because I get a chance to talk about what I’ve been doing, and hear perspectives from other people, and get encouragement. This is what people say now. So I know that this process works in very difficult real-life situations.

My favorite example of this is my friend Bruce who’s a senior Vice President at the Wells Fargo Bank. And Bruce for years worked for the Wells Fargo Bank and was a VP and then he couldn’t stand it anymore so he quit. This was during the dot com moment. He quit the Wells Fargo bank and joined a start-up where he worked 99 hours a week and completely burned himself out and of course the start-up also burned out and so he was happily unemployed for about a year. He spent most of his time hiking, relaxing, and doing his meditation practice. At the end of this long break he said I think what I’m going to do is go back to work for the Wells Fargo bank and see what happens. So he went back to work for the Wells Fargo bank and he got a position I think that was lower than the position he’d held before he left—he was very proud of himself for taking a position that was lower than the one he had left but fortunately or unfortunately he did so well that he’s now risen up several steps above where he was before. But he views it as a kind of experiment to see whether it’s possible in that kind of large coporate environment to maintain his spiritual practice and integrity. At this point in his life he feels as if his spiritual practice is central, and he wants to see whether he can maintain his practice in that setting. And it’s very interesting.

He and I talk quite a bit and he works very hard and I’m always interested to see how he’s doing. It’s interesting how he set it up his new Wells Fargo life. The first thing that he did when he came back – and that he does again every time he gets a promotion- is to have a conversation with the people who are offering him the job. He tells them what his values are and what he’s willing to do and what he can’t do. He says I want you to understand where I’m coming from and if this is okay with you, knowing what I intend to do and what I can’t do, then I’m happy to take this job. Every time so far, people have said yes. So he then undertakes the job with some sense that he’s clear about what he’s doing and they are clear about who he is.

The other thing that he does that is to focus on human relationships, especially on mentoring. Since he’s a senior VP now he works with a lot of junior executives who report to him and he views those relationships as the most important part of his job; the part that gives him the greatest joy and is the most engaging and interesting. He feels he is teaching these young men and women what he has learned in his many years of management and this gives him a lot of satisfaction. He’s mentoring them in some of sort of sane, holistic way of doing what they’re doing. Part of the reason he works so hard is that he’s always willing and happy to stay longer to have one-on-one conversations with these numerous executives that he supervises. I forget how many years it’s been since he’s been back at Wells Fargo, maybe about 3 or 4. We’ll see what happens, how long it will last. It’s been a real case study for me in the fact that this really is possible to do, at least for a while, in difficult real-world situations. Bruce is the clearest example but he’s not the only one. Many people are finding ways of re-envisioning what they’re doing in terms of their most fundamental goals in life and finding a way of doing it.

Back to the Jewish Meditation group. Although I don’t know so much about Judaism, I give classes so that I can learn. Once I gave a class in a very well-known Jewish text called Pirke Avot, “Ethics of the Fathers,” which is a much studied text traditionally in Judaism. It’s full of wise sayings about life, aphorisms that are really impressive, from the pens of the important Talmudic rabbis. Many of the sayings have to do with legal judgments and how to depose witnesses, and I realized, they’re all lawyers and judges. The Talmudic rabbis were legal people! And they actually were. The aphorisms are full of legal wisdom, full of worldly issues. And there’s a seamless connection between their being lawyers and judges and the whole idea of bringing spirituality to everyday affairs in life. When you think about it, that is the basis of law, isn’t it? In other words, how do you bring some sense of balance, and righteousness, and clarity and kindness, and goodness to what otherwise might be very vicious and nasty battles of might against might. And so that’s what they’re always talking about in this text. So in our culture it’s a fact that religion, living spirituality, is in fact the basis of the law. Our idea of law comes from the Judeo-Christian context in which the fact that there’s a relationship to the Divine immediately implies a more humane way of living together and a reflection as to what that humane way of living would be. A humane way of life is not easy to find and maintain in the real world of people’s desires and needs and aggression and so forth. The law is that reflection, is that humane way of life, based on an obligation that comes to us through our relationship to the divine. At least this is what it is supposed to be. What it could be if we wanted to see it that way.

Personally, I actually believe that this is the basis of law, the vision one should have if one was engaged in the law. Now you may say, well, maybe that was true three or four thousand years ago but it certainly has not been that way for quite some time and in fact the law is now just a civilized style of aggression and viciousness, aggression by more polite and regulated means. And maybe that’s so. But is it possible to have a vision of the law that’s different from that? The world as we know it is a powerful thought. I know this very well, possibly as well as anyone does. The world is a very powerful thought and it really does impress itself upon all of us. But I don’t think the world is an all-powerful thought. It’s a powerful thought but it’s not an all-powerful thought. The thought that comes from within us also has a certain amount of power if we would cultivate it and if we would give it energy. The problem is that most of us don’t think that way. We don’t see that the world is a powerful thought. We think that the world is reality. We say the “real world,” and by this phrase we express our frustration and disappointment with the corruption and intractability of the world as we know it. As if it was a given that “the real world” is really what the world is. In fact it is that way only because we conspire to keep it that way. The conspiracy is powerful, but it is only one of many possibilities. The question is- to what extent do we have the capacity, the intention, the courage, the interest, and when it really comes down to it, the need to create within ourselves another thought that we can use to meet this powerful conspiratorial world. I know that it’s hard to do, but it can be done. The other day, Dennis was talking about how the way we look at the law and the world is our own projection. In other words, our own feeling of inadequacy or unhappiness or fear or whatever it is is projected onto the world and onto the law and onto the way things are. And he was suggesting, if I understood him correctly, that we are distorting and creating the world much more than we think we are. What would it be like if we had a great deal more awareness and clarity about what goes on inside of us? We if we could see thorough our projections about the world- and about the legal profession- and through the projections of our colleagues- and be able to focus on the actual possibilities in front of us? I think if we had that kind of clarity- which requires some work and some support- we would see a very different picture. Suppose we had more personal stability and more confidence in this alternative picture. Suppose we even had allies and friends who shared this vision and this confidence. What would that do to our daily experience of showing up to work? How would we show up and what quality of mind would we evidence, what kind of activity would we be engaged in?

I think what we’re really talking about is something pretty hard to do and pretty large—the transformation of our own experience and by virtue of that, the transformation of the place where we work, and maybe even the legal profession. What would it take to actually undertake this big job? First of all, I think it would take the cultivation of certain personal qualities. And this is something that is revolutionary in itself, the fact that – and it is a fact - by your effort you can actually cultivate particular qualities. That the way you are, the way you see things, the way you react to things, is not something given, somehow built inevitably into your character. That you could cultivate, strengthen qualities like patience, faith, energy. This is the first one: patience. Because let’s be honest—this is not an easy fix. It probably takes the rest of your career to work on this and never feel by the end that you have it figured out, you are in control. It’s a bigger job than any one lifetime.

The first thing would be then that you’d have a quality of patience. You’d have a quality of making effort with the recognition that it takes a while and there’s a kind of quality of joy or interest in the effort itself. What would it be like to cultivate the quality of patience?

Then this quality of faith or confidence, which I think the world knocks that out of us most of the time. We don’t have the confidence that an alternative is possible. We need this kind of faith. That takes allies and friends. It also takes a certain amount of input—in other words what am I putting in my brain? What am I putting in my heart? Am I putting enough stuff in there that gives me faith and gives me confidence? What am I reading? What am I thinking? Who am I talking to? How am I talking? All these things make a huge difference. So the cultivation of faith comes next.

And then, the cultivation of energy, because the reality is you have to show up with energy to make this kind of effort. How do you cultivate energy? And then finally skill. The skill of seeing things more clearly as James was telling us the very first day. Meditation promotes clear seeing. Clear seeing promotes a whole new set of things that we could be doing to change the situation. So those are just very briefly some personal qualities that I think we need to develop.

The next question is how. What is the actual possible mode, concretely, of doing this? First of all, pretty obvious, what we’re talking about here is meditation practice. Having a regular meditation practice. Or some other form of disciplined spiritual exercise. We’ve had a good retreat these few days. It’s been peaceful and pleasant. But really the point is not that we get to just calm down a little bit and then go back into the fray. But meditation isn’t a break, a form of relaxation. If you’re really paying attention in your meditation practice you begin to see that it opens up possibilities and it opens up a different viewpoint, little by little by little. So for me, meditation practice is a kind of a ground, foundation, a basis. But it’s not in itself sufficient for changing our lives.

You also need some sort of a community or a group you can meet with; that you can talk this over with. This has been the experiment of our Bay Area Working Group. We meet once a month and we engage with each other over these real life issues. And we try to express ourselves and listen to each other and gain some sort of understanding or confidence from those conversations. So you need to figure out, do you have any people that you can converse with? And one of the benefits of this retreat is that you’re going to get an e-mail list of all the people who have been here. If you have somebody in your area or not in your area who you made a connection with at the retreat, you can establish an e-mail relationship with that person to encourage each other. I think that’s pretty much a necessity, because if you’re just meditating on your own and trying to do this work I think it’s actually too hard.

The next thing I think is that you probably need to go to retreats like this one, longer retreats once in a while. You need to think of that as being a key part of your year. You get away once a year to a longer retreat to deepen your meditation practice and have a chance to recharge and discharge from what’s going on. That’s in your calendar. You think about that and you point yourself towards that and you do that every year. We intend to do this retreat at least once a year. We’re going to do it again in April. You check the Spirit Rock website—there are constantly all sorts of retreats going on, meditation retreats. You can sit with me, check the Everyday Zen website and see how and when. There are so many opportunities. If you have one, you can go to your local Benedictine monastery and go on a personal retreat. I’ve been to many of them around the country—beautiful opportunities for retreat. Whatever it is, to see that as something important to put in your annual calendar.

The last one is everyday at work to have a number of possible strategies that you can use to bring this directly into your work. You ought to have a menu of possibilities, you may try different ones, go from one to the other, or find some that work for you that you use all the time. I’ll give you some examples, but here’s where you have to be creative and figure out for yourself your own practices. These practices take discipline—the kind of discipline you exercise when you go to law school, when you go to work everyday and do the things that you do—there’s a certain amount of discipline involved in that. So now you have to apply that same discipline muscle that you obviously already have to your spiritual practice. Things like, whenever the phone rings, it’s a mindfulness bell. Before you pick up the phone, you take a breath. That’s pretty simple. But it makes a big difference. You take a breath with the thought that this is going to be another human being speaking to me. Suppose you did that every single time the phone rang—what would that do?

I myself am a big fan of walking meditation. I practice walking meditation pretty much most of the time, whenever I’m walking. This seems funny, but it’s really the truth for me. When I walk to the bathroom, I do walking meditation. I practice awareness. I practice mindfulness while I’m peeing. I consider that nature’s tremendous meditation break. I actually take that as a meditation break. If you’re in an office setting and you’re walking some distance to the bathroom, instead of rushing to the bathroom as if that time of going to the bathroom actually didn’t exist, as if it was filler time, dead time, you say, “Aha! I seem to need to go the bathroom. Now I’m going to take this opportunity to walk to the bathroom and appreciate the walking to the bathroom, being mindful, and I’m peeing, isn’t this great? This is really good.” Noticing the process and the great relief and release. It’s a tremendous thing. And then walking back, refreshed, resuming. Or even just standing up and taking a breath once in a while, particularly when you feel frazzled. Maybe you remember some of the beautiful ways we were breathing in qigong. [deep breath]. Two breaths like that—you’d be astonished the difference that makes.

Gary alluded to another practice—for mediators before you sit down in the mediation chair, you take a moment to honor the process. Say you did that every morning before work. Say you had a little prayer you wrote which expressed your best and highest intention in your work for the day. What it really means to you, what it could be. And you repeated that. You wrote it down on a card or something and you had it on your desk or you just repeated it every morning before you sat down at your desk, before you went into the busy round of events, you repeated that to yourself. Suppose in conversation with clients or other attorneys you cultivated the brief but significant pause before you speak, so that you spoke a little more mindfully. You didn’t feel as we usually feel in conversation that every second has to be full of words but that you could pause. Suppose you actually intentionally cultivated a small pause, you figured out how long the pause could be before it was uncomfortable. Exactly how long. People would notice, you would notice it, but it wouldn’t be anti-social or strange, but it would be your way of speaking a little more mindfully and carefully. And there are many more practices that you could figure out with your friends or on your own. Suppose you had an active practice of doing one or more of those things every day. Even if you did it as an experiment for a month to see what would happen, if it would make a difference.

I confess that I’ve had an easy and pleasant life. I believe I have every chance of getting to the end of my life in continued ease because I hardly have had to do any work. All the things you’ve struggled with in your work lives I’ve managed to successfully avoid by being basically a useless bum. Though I did have a few jobs. One time I was working at one of the Zen centers where I lived. We had a bakery. It was very funny; we didn’t know how to bake. We were learning as we went along. We would screw up royally and constantly, which meant that we had to work twice as fast and twice as hard to make up for all the things that fell on the floor or the cakes that we had to bake again. We really worked hard. It was exhausting. And we’d begin each day at about 4:30 am with meditation. So we were always tired, too. Every day at lunchtime everybody would eat convivially, but I would always eat lunch by myself. Not to be anti-social, but to be quiet, so that I could recover. I always viewed the lunchtime as a kind of meditation period.

I also had a job one time, which was a very hard job, teaching high school English. And I did the same thing then. I would close the door of my room, and I would eat lunch in my room most of the time, and I would have lunch mindfully and then I would walk up and down in my room, so that I could be ready for the onslaught of the 125 kids coming in the afternoon. In both situations, the culture was that we ate together. Everybody ate together and chatted. So I would eat with other people once in a while, because I didn’t want to be anti-social. I also realized that for my own survival and my own state of mind I couldn’t really do that all the time in the way other people did and I took care of myself. I always told people, I’m sorry but I really need to be quiet for a while, every day or most days. I think that’s another key thing. There’s no reason why people can’t know if you’re doing this practice that you’re doing it. I think it actually makes it a lot easier. In the business retreats I spoke about earlier, people at first would tell me that they were scared to tell other people that they practiced meditation. They would say, they’ll think we’re flaky; they’ll never take us seriously again if we let them know that we’re practicing meditation and trying to change our lives. I kept saying to them, no, no, no, check it out and see if that’s really true. You think that’s true, but is it really true, check it out. It would happen many times that they would tell somebody at work about their practice, and the person would say, you know what, I’m also doing that. It happened many times. And even if that wasn’t the case, most people would respect them for meditating regularly. They would often get the response, I respect what you’re doing and I wish I could do that myself, but I’m not disciplined enough. And yes, there were a minority of people who would think, that’s weird. But it was really a small minority of the people. These were people who thought you were weird already anyway! So it didn’t matter.

Not to be advertising, “I’m a spiritual practitioner,” but rather when it came up not to feel that it was a secret. I think that’s a very important thing, to be forthright about it in a very grounded and ordinary way. It’s not a woo-woo thing. Basically what we are talking about is surviving this world and getting out the other end of our lives remaining human beings, not getting twisted out of shape. That’s what’s at stake here as far as I can tell. And everybody can understand the need for this. So why not let people know that’s what you’re trying to do?

All of this is to say that I’m sure that this is possible to do. It’s not an easy fix. It is hard. It’s takes a really long time. It’s not, “let’s get this done and go on to other things;” it’s not like that. It’s “this is all the other things. This is everything.” But if you feel as if you’re getting somewhere, if you feel as if you’re engaged in the process, even though there’s still a lot of difficulty and suffering and pain, it feels good to know, yeah, I’m getting somewhere. Not too far. Long way to go. But yeah I’m going down that road. That makes a big difference and I think gives you a lot of hope and a lot of joy in the effort.

I think you are going to get this document which you can use to set up a group of lawyers who would engage in this work. It’s an abstract about the Bay Area Working Group–here’s how we constituted ourselves and this is what we do. You can think about getting some friends together on your own. I’m going to go through this briefly, because I think it’s worthwhile. We meet once a month on Friday afternoons—and Friday’s good because we don’t have to go to work the next day usually. We meet in a private home in the afternoon for 3 hours and 15 minutes. We arrive in silence. Sometimes people come late. And the meditation starts when the first person is there. The door is left open, people just walk in and find a group of people who are silent. The meditation is a half hour. It’s the kind of meditation we’ve been doing here. Through e-mail, a couple of people have agreed to talk about a topic that we have previously set. They very briefly, informally will talk about the topic from the point of view of their own lives and practice. That’s a kick off to a conversation. Then we break up into small groups, very much like the ones we’ve been having here, with the same format of everybody talking for so many minutes, with others listening without interruption. After everybody in the group speaks, there’s a time for cross-talk and then we get back to the large group. We take a silent break about midway through. 15 minutes. We have tea but we don’t talk; the social time is left for the end. After the whole meeting is over, we can chat.

It’s pretty doable. Some of the people in the group say, this can’t be done without me, without a meditation teacher, a spiritual teacher present. Not everybody in the group thinks this, but a few people keep repeating this over and over again. But I have two responses to that. First of all, I don’t really believe that; I think a group of people can do this without me or someone like me. Secondly, I think it actually is good to have a meditation person, a non-lawyer, in the group, and there are so many meditation people around, you would be shocked at how many unemployed meditation teachers there are around. So pretty much, wherever you are, unless you’re in some small town far away, the chances are really good that you can actually find someone who is a meditation teacher, who if you explain this to them, would be interested to show up and just be there for another perspective and to hit the bell for you. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, I guarantee you that if you put a notice up on Craig’s list, you’d be inundated with meditation teachers who’d be happy to help you out. You can look at the Spirit Rock website. I’m in involved in a Zen organization which is a national organization that has a website that lists all the Zen teachers all across the country and how to get a hold of them. It’s called the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. I don’t have to tell you how to find things! If you can find a meditation teacher be sure to make a donation to that person, as I receive a donation for my showing up. That makes it feel like something’s going on; money makes it feel like something’s going on.

Then this document lists some suggested topics for conversation. In our group, and you could do this too, we have Doug who comes to our meetings and takes notes, so we receive 10 page e-mails about what we talked about, which is interesting to have. Say you took up one of these topics and you were interested to read for seeding a conversation some of the points that we raised, you could probably e-mail the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society or Doug and get copies of those things. It’s kind of valuable to have the notes to reflect on and refer to. In this document are various topics that we covered that were very valuable to us. Then it says, “One of the major tasks of the Bay Area Working Group has been developing a new concept: ‘The Meditative Perspective.’ The meditative perspective is a way of viewing and acting in the world that is inspired and fostered by meditation and other contemplative practices. Broadly defined, a contemplative practice is one designed to quiet the mind in the midst of the stress and distraction of everyday life, in order to cultivate a personal capacity for deep concentration and insight. The meditative perspective is not meditation itself, but is rather an outlook largely informed by meditation practice. It includes the qualities of curiosity, non-attachment, groundedness, and compassion. Some of the benefits of developing a contemplative perspective include the following. Promotes self-reflection.” As you develop this meditative perspective, there’s a lot more clarity and honesty with your own experience and with your relationships. The denial and distraction that are so much features of our contemporary life and taken for granted become more difficult actually when you’re more reflective, self-reflective. In other words, you have a smaller level of tolerance for denial and distraction, which is a good thing.

Second, it “promotes calmness. Strong value place on stability and calmness. Ability to know your own emotions and to have the capacity to tame them so that they don’t entirely run away with you.”

Third, “promotes a sensitive and realistic sense of ethics.” You identify and you can feel the discomfort that comes from unethical conduct. Instead of overriding it, it bothers you. You really can’t go on that way. You cultivate that awareness and you do something about it.

“Promotes sensitivity to others.” You’re just as aware of others’ emotions as your own. That changes your communication.

“Promotes the idea of a whole life, that is, that one will bring to one’s work as a lawyer the values and styles that one holds in one’s personal and spiritual life.” Some of the most disastrous things that we’ve heard about are when the opposite happens, when you bring home the persona and the way of life you feel you have to develop as a lawyer. Lawyers have said to me, “I’m cross-examining my children! I view my children as hostile witnesses!” That’s no good. It has to go the other way.

“Promotes greater awareness of one’s self and one’s personal condition and heightens creativity.” These are things that do happen. You identify this quality, the meditative perspective, and you try to cultivate it.

This is a concept that goes beyond getting lawyers to meditate so they can “relax.” It’s about being able to see ideas that arise and pass in the mind without having a visceral response to them. It’s about developing a way of thinking that is flexible and can embrace paradox.

“The ongoing practice of a discussion group with other like-minded legal professionals is a key tool for the cultivation and strengthening of the meditative perspective. Our discussions have acknowledged the stressful and combative nature of legal practice in the United States.” In our discussions, we talk about how big a problem this is. Given the size of the problem, we’ve found the meditative perspective to be particularly valuable.

“An initial experience of meditative awareness may make lawyers want to leave the profession. “ A lot of people leave the profession because they see no way to apply what they learn from meditation to the legal world as we know it. But as our conversations make clear, there are ways to practice law inspired by the meditative perspective. We’d like to create models of law that are informed by the meditative perspective and that would be recognizable and understandable to people in the profession. We are seeking to respond to the question of “how can I use meditation to make my life better as a lawyer?” We also want to go beyond that question and contribute to a re-envisioning of the profession.

If this is something that you think is doable or of interest or worth trying, I would really encourage you to talk about it, think about it, write about it, to make it your own. I think there are a lot of people who are already doing this and there are going to be more. For the people in the room that are younger, the fact is that the profession is changing, it will continue to change. Consider the difference between Perry Mason and The Practice on TV. Perry Mason was a legal machine. There was no other Perry Mason besides the courtroom Perry Mason. Perry never smiled. The people in The Practice, by contrast, are portrayed as human beings with feelings and problems. This is a big difference. The profession really is changing. As we were saying on Friday, for the younger people who already see this perspective, you will make choices and decisions and do things that will ensure that you will find a path through. For the older people who have already been formed in the profession as it has been, this is going to be much more exciting. I think it is going to be much more exciting, because it’s much more difficult. I wouldn’t blame anybody who felt like it was too hard, and that they ought to give up and do something else. I wouldn’t blame anybody for that. But somebody has to do it. In other words, if everybody left the difficult parts, the parts that were really hard, and did things in the law that were more compatible with the meditative perspective, then that would be too bad. I think there is a noble possibility in taking on the most difficult problems, like my friend Bruce in the Wells Fargo bank, there is something to that—the nobility of that possibility. I think if you do take that up, you’ll find support and help in it. It’s worth a try, particularly if you’re stuck with it, it’s really worth a try. I would encourage that.

We have high hopes and lots of ambition around this possibility. The intention is for us to reconvene for sure in April and then every year after that at least once. Who knows what will come of this when we are done? I’m sure that smart people with good hearts in alignment with each other can do things that seem impossible. I’m not worried; I have no doubt.

That’s what I wanted to say to you today.

© 2004, Norman Fischer