Iron your shirt with care

ZenGraham gave me a copy of a small book written by his Zen Master, who lives in South Africa. It is entitled Stoep Zen: A Zen Life in South Africa. Here is a short excerpt, which struck me as being very wise:

“Seeing clearly leads naturally to compassion. compassion leads naturally to action. And we can only act in this place where we live, among these particular people, in this particular situation. So political involvement is natural and necessary. But the kind of involvement is up to each of us — what is the most helpful thing for me to do? If you are clear enough then you will see what step to take. Maybe you will speak to thousands at a political rally, teach handiwork to street children, enter a monastery. Or just iron your shirt with care.”

My son and my youngest brother and I have been discussing the complex and dangerous problems involved in dealing with Iran (or not) about their building nuclear weapons and their threat to Israel and the rest of the world. They are both convinced that President Obama is making a terrible mistake in his approach. But the question is, what can we do about this? The South Africans also lived in the midst of an extremely complex situation for many years, and must have asked themselves many times, what can we do about this? It seems to me that the answer to such questions is neatly summarized in the quote from Stoep Zen. First you see clearly, then you act out of compassion as best you can, right where you are.