Wednesday, November 27, 2013

making a difference



 Zen master Ryokan was walking on the beach not long after a storm had blown over. Hundreds of starfish that had been washed up by the waves were beginning to die in the sharp sunlight. Ryokan picked up the starfish one by one and threw them back into the sea.


A fisherman who had been observing Ryokan came up to him. “Why do you do this? Every time there’s a storm, this happens on every beach for hundreds of miles. You can’t save them all, so what difference does your attempt make?”

“It will make a difference – to this one,” replied Ryokan, as he flung yet another starfish into the water.

the end
*****

This is definitely a lazy (and recovering) person's post but it's another one I like a lot.
Thanks to you all for the good wishes.


16 comments:

Rob-bear said...

I am familiar with this delightful tale. It is a good story.

Hope you continue to heal well and feel better.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

marja-leena said...

Lovely painting and tale! Susan, I'm relieved to hear that you are on the mend and will hopefully be fully recovered very soon.

Tom said...

A recovering person's post maybe, but a lazy post? I think not, my friend. Lovely little story, but the ramifications are large.

susan said...

Hi Rob, I'm not at all surprised you're familiar with this one. It's a beauty.

Thanks again for the good wishes. I'm getting there :)

susan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed both, Marja-Leena. It's an interesting exercise to simply let a picture come together with as little interference as possible from my controlling side.

Your good wishes certainly helped in my speedy recuperation.

susan said...

Thanks, Tom. I appreciate your compliment very much.

So far as the ramifications are concerned I'm reminded of a Sufi teaching story (they have many too) about the man who asked God if he could feed all the creatures in the sea for one day. God said no but that he would let him feed one fish. As the man stood confidently at the shore holding his sack of fish flakes he was shocked to see the biggest fish in the ocean rise to the surface with a wide open mouth.

Sean Jeating said...

Ah, language(s). In German they are called Seesterne (seastars), which might let people think they're no living creatures..
Hm, didn't I intend to simply write: 'Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!' as hardly I could get enough of such gems?
Good to read you seem to have the worst behind you, Susan. Now get well soon. :)

susan said...

That's a nice name for them, dear Sean, but I can see how mistakes could be made about their beingness.
Yes, there will be more because there are many and they are a joy to paint and tell.
Much better now the sutures are gone and the swelling is down. :)

gfid said...

glad to see in your response to Sean that you're recovering and returning to wellness. keep resting up, as much as boredom will allow. i always feel a funny gratitude after serious illnes.... when i return to health i re-appreciate how very fortunate i am to be more often well than ill, and how really GOOD it feels to be well. it's euphoric. but i'm not the brightest student, as i seem to need an occasional reminder, or i begin to take it all for granted.

i love this story; your illustration is, as always, gently evocative. what you do with 'simple' lines continues to amaze and inspire. my friend Laurie introduced me to sea stars many years ago, on a visit to her on the Sunshine Coast, and, being a sience geek, she told me all sorts of lovely things about them. she took me to a rocky shore for a swim and showed me stars in colors i hadn't ever imagined.... purples and reds and oranges.... and showed me how to gently remove one from a rock to get better acquainted.... how they move their legs ever so slowly towards the nearest solid surface to try to re-attach themselves, and have tiny, transparent suction cups on their undersides to hold on with. they tickle as they try to attach themselves to your hand. they are, aparrently, the worst enemy of oyster beds, as they share our human gourmet enjoyment of these delicacies.

susan said...

A wise man* once said, 'Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows'. The strange thing is that after a period of intense suffering of one kind or another then it's the river itself that feels good.

I'm happy you like the picture and happy too it turned out as well as it did considering the way I still felt when I drew and painted it. Like all the best of them the story tells a simple yet very real truth in a few lines.

That's a wonderful story of your own about Laurie introducing you to living starfish. I remember seeing them now and then when we lived in BC but I never touched one. It sounds as though you had a very magical encounter.

Just as well you weren't an oyster :)

* Nisargadatta Maharaj

okjimm said...

a truly wise man, when encountering such a proliferation of starfish, would have looked for recipes/

Lindsay Byrnes said...

pleased to see your on the mend, but still able to paint lovey pictures to go with the wise sayings, Reverence for all life we encounter is our salvation, in marked contrast to the march of materialism. best wishes

susan said...

Eating a starfish would be like having an oyster without the slurpy bit.

susan said...

Thanks, Lindsay. Yes, we'd all be much better off if we focused on quality of life rather than quantity of money and possessions.

Lydia said...

I love this drawing, this post. Missed it if you posted it before.
Now I am off to read about your ill health...... :(

susan said...

I'm glad you came by to see it, Lydia.. and, of course, that you enjoyed it :)