IMG_20140722_161443Discernment is the proper balance of Wisdom and Compassion. When expressed perfectly the wise thing to do is also the compassionate thing to do.

Wisdom in my mind is the combination of knowledge and perspective expressed. The older I gets the more I figure out that the best expression is often no-action. As they say ‘you cannot push the river’.

Compassion on the other hand is hard to put into words as it is grace that you are actually trying to define. Outside of actually witnessing it in action you can sometimes recognize it in poetry. It is easiest to speak to what it is not. The Victim – Perpetrator – Rescuer triangle comes up as a good reference to speak to.

Identifying with any of these is not compassion, it is known as idiot compassion.

Being the victim as to not cause problems is not compassionate. Allowing the Perpetrator to continue they’re abuse is an error that will harm others and cheats the perpetrator from growing.

Being the Perpetrator is fairly obvious. There is a thin line between holding someone accountable and victimizing them. The rule of thumb I learned in the workplace was that to be accountable they had to have responsibility and authority, which holds true in the world as well.

Being the Rescuer is where idiot’s compassion plays out most often. The Rescuer is most often righteousness in disguise. People do need a hand up, but as they say, teach them to fish. If rescuing is not in the moment, such as grabbing a runaway baby buggy, then it is very difficult to maintain.

The truth is that you are always victim, perpetrator, rescuer and taking action; that is being human. Being aware of this instead of operating blindly out of habit makes all the difference.

So with all of this in mind I ask myself what am I doing here. Yes I am trying to rescue a certain group in my community and here on LinkedIn. Yes to the majority here, as LinkedIn claims, I am a perpetrator of thinking outside of comfort zones. Technically I am a victim of censorship; however I fully expected LinkedIn and those that feed from the corporate structure to not like what I had to say.

I have no interest in wasting energy battling LinkedIn, there are other venues, so I will de-escalate my posts here and focus elsewhere. It is also clear from private messages that having you help me propagate this on LI is a lot to ask of you. I will post from time to time as things come up and to remind those new arrivals out of corporate life that there are alternatives.

If you wish to see more it will all be on www.fiveranks.org and soon likely be posted on FB to a page titled Corporate Rehab. Or follow me @PrajnaAbility on twitter for tweets of new postings.

May your life go well





Plucking Tiger

straw2There is the following story in Zen:

A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

No matter which field of life we choose, we encounter the tiger and sooner or later we find ourselves over a cliff holding on to a vine. Notice the story is clear to point out that he swung himself over the edge, likely feeling quite clever or victorious at the time.

So here he is, if he climbs back up, a tiger to face; if he lets go, a tiger to face. If he just holds on, over time the little mice will gnaw through the vine and again tiger to face.

It is easy in life to become so focused on the tiger and preoccupied by the mice that we never even look around and see the strawberry.  Let alone take the risk of loosening our grip to reach out, pluck it and pop it in our mouth.

The tigers and mice are a given as part of the human condition, by our age we have all witnessed death often enough to realize we are all just hanging on the vine. What is optional is how many strawberries we will pluck.

What are your tigers? What are your mice?

Have you plucked all the strawberries in reach?

What is that strawberry just out of reach if you loosened your grip a bit more?

May your life go well




30 Blows

30 blowspic

In Zen we have a koan – an enigma wrapped in a riddle* – ‘Answer yes, 30 blows; Answer no, 30 blows’. This koan in particular points to one of, if not the hardest paradox of being a human being.


The longer you live the more clearly you see the effects of randomness at work. Now you can argue about the word random and call it God’s plan, karma, fate or any other thing. What they all have at the root is not-knowing, there are thing you just cannot know.

Each choice in our life leaves the other path unknown and no matter how clever we think we are, we do not know where either path leads.

Just so you don’t get the wrong idea about my monk-ness and invoking of various theological words and ideas, this reminds me of a whorehouse joke.

Seems there was this poor farm family and on the sons 16th birthday the father walked him a few miles toward the big city to the local whorehouse. He told his son this was the last lesson he could give him, paid the madam and wished him well in life. Sitting on the steps after he had finished his business, with no clue where to go, the madam felt sorry for him and said: you know I need an accountant are you good with numbers? Hanging his head he informed her he could neither read nor write or do numbers and she pointed him in the direction of the big city and shoo’d him away.

On the way he came across an apple tree and not knowing when he would eat again, he filled his pack. Long story short, he sold those apples in the city and 30 years later was a wealthy man and the largest fruit distributor in Gotham. Being interviewed about his life story and success, a reporter says to him: Just imagine what you could have accomplished if only you had been taught to read and write. He quickly responded, why yes, I’d be an accountant in a whorehouse.

The point is, you can only work with what you have, where you are at and neither of those things limits what you can become.

Each junction in your life will lead to outcomes you deem positive and negative. There is no path in which this is not true. Too many of us beat ourselves up for the decision we didn’t make or the breaks we didn’t get, this is a trap. We are all right where we need to be at this moment and cancer, divorce or loss can be just as good of resource as a big stack of money to move forward on our path.

So pick an apple from your tree of life today and have a great journey.

May your life go well

*A koan is not solved by the rational mind. Therefore, people in the zen business object to the word riddle. Likewise, it is ‘seen’ by the student, hopefully, so it is not an enigma – mystery – either. The definition I give here is appropriate for the audience. If you want to know more; google koan and ‘public case’.