Monday, June 27, 2011


Trust is an interesting thing, a thing worth examining, I think. Where does it come from? What is its imperative? It may bind the social tapestry, but what is its source and need and teaching? The Zen teacher Rinzai once told his monks more or less, "Your whole problem is that you do not trust yourselves enough."

What brought this to mind was a small article that arrived in email yesterday. The article tells the tale of a 49-year-old woman who was laid out in a coffin prior to burial. She woke up, found herself in a coffin preparing to be buried, saw the sorrowing throng around her, had a heart attack and died.

The story is/was in print. Things that are written down engender trust to one degree or another. What is written is a compact between the words themselves and the reader who reads them. The reader is free to trust or distrust them, but either way, s/he takes the trouble to read them. Are they true?

People would like to think that what they ingest and process is true in one sense or another. Either such things are true in their truth or they are true in their lies. They are trusted: Here is the truth! Or, this is utter bullshit! Or, perhaps it is all a mixture of fact and fantasy!

Employment, relationships, sunshine, or marshmallows ... the longing to trust is so strong that it is often overlooked as a subject for investigation. Investigation usually implies doubt, and trust is skittish about doubt. Becoming a cynic (nothing is trustworthy) is every bit as trusting as trust in full flower. Somehow you've got to trust something, right? You've got to because ... because ... because why?

Is it because without trust life is too lonely or because I wouldn't know who I was if I didn't trust or there is some mortal danger in not trusting some empirically observable facts? Where are the roots of trust and what soil nourishes them? As I see it, there is no need to make a federal case out of it, stumbling around in some arcane philosophy or religion. But there is a usefulness to examining what's happening here.

As the Zen teacher Rinzai said, more or less: "Your whole problem is that you do not trust yourselves enough."

1 comment:

  1. I've always thought that you can trust people to be who they are, so getting to know them will provide you with realistic expectations. In order to trust ourselves, knowing ourselves then becomes important. And we live in a culture where intention and capacity are significantly blurred. Who you want to be and who you are, may not be the same, and the difference not recognized. A mutual friend talked about getting in touch with your deepest intention, and maybe that's what's often missing.