*Brian Wilcox. 'still together, after all these years'. Flickr
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Written on the ninth day of silent retreat at Raven's Rest hermitage, in the Great Smoky Mountains, outside Hot Springs, North Carolina.
A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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Mary was a joyful young woman of age 25. She was a fiction writer. She called herself a Buddhist-Christian, sometimes a Christian-Buddhist. She lived with her parents.
In a gathering one evening, Mary was noticeably upset. This was not like her; in fact, community members called her Bald Head Merry, because she was bald and almost always cheerful. She laughed when she was first called Bald Head Merry, it, to her, was a compliment. She still laughs often when hearing it. She feels this is a way the community shows love for her, and appreciation for her being herself.
Mary likes shaving her head, unlike any other girl anywhere nearby. She started shortly after graduation from high school. She does not know why, it just felt natural for her. Her parents blamed it on her going to what they called one of those "godless liberal colleges." But no female or male at her college shaved the head, and no one encouraged her to. Even her noting some Buddhist nuns have shaved heads did not influence her. It just felt right for her.
Mary spoke about her distress in the gathering. "My parents are very upset, and have been for years, since I shaved my head, that I refuse to let my hair grow out. I'm trying to follow the Buddhist precept of "Non-Harming," which is central to the Buddhist ethics I follow." Then, she asked the sage, "Does it not seem I'm violating my ethics, since my shaved head seems to be bringing harm to my parents?"
The sage replied, calmly and compassionately, "Mary, it seems to me your choosing what feels right to you, keeping your head shaved, isn't bringing any harm to your parents at all."
Mary had a confused look on her face. "But they're in pain, that's for sure, and my bald head seems to be the cause, at least that becomes the topic of discussion when the matter arises in our family, usually at the dinner table. Then it goes on and on, my bald head this, my bald head that... on and on. You would think this shaved head was a security threat to these United States, or maybe the whole world, by the way they talk. So, if I let my hair grow out, they wouldn't be suffering so. Right?"
"Possibly," said the sage, "but they appear to be harming themselves. And is it possible that you would be harming yourself to give in to their wish, simply because they don't like your head bald? I mean, doesn't the precept of "Non-Harming" apply to you, as well as anyone?"
Mary looked a little more like the usual Bald Head Merry, a lighter countenance. "So, they're harming themselves, it's not my bald head?"
"Mary, your bald head isn't harming them, that's how I see it. And, after all, do you really think a bald head has the power or intelligence to harm anyone?"
Mary smiled, looking like Bald Head Merry, again. She said, with a whimsical tone, "I guess if my bald head were harming anyone, it would be me, since I'm the only one wearing it all the time."
The group started chanting uproariously, "She's back! Bald Head Merry is merry again!" Bald Head Merry joined in, and the sage too. Everyone was enjoying a merry time.
*Brian Wilcox. 'somewhere between here & there'. Flickr
*(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered from major booksellers online, including the publisher 1stBooks.