Nice haircut

November 8th, 2007

I guess the last post was too much to swallow in one gulp, when all we’re really talking about is how to know for sure that we’re teaching our kids to do the right thing.

Buddha left us a nifty eight-step program for that called The Eightfold Path that tells us how to live an enlightened life. It tells us eight ways to do the right thing: eight ways that cover just about the entire scope of human activity. It goes: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

That’s a lot of right. But this right doesn’t mean from wrong. This right means without a perception of a self.


Specifically, when it comes to speaking, it means that honesty is not always the best policy if someone has just gotten a bad haircut.

It means that in my interaction with my child, if I am motivated by: my shame, my anger, my fear, my worry, my desire to have my way, my pride, my fervent hope that I can teach her to be smarter, more charming, more clever, more grown up, more successful, more like me, less like me or more or less of anything or any way that constitutes my personal agenda, that’s not right. And I will inevitably cause her harm.

It means that in my interaction with anyone else, if I am motivated by: my shame, my anger, my fear, my worry, my pride, my desire to have my way, my need to be understood, my need for you to hear me out, my need for you to validate, concur, accept or agree to my point of view or do anything else that accords solely with my personal agenda, that’s not right. And I will inevitably cause you harm.

How can we put this into practice? Each time you get ready to speak, take a look at what you’re carrying. If you’ve got a pair of scissors in your hand, ready to cut, snip, shape or otherwise improve someone else’s head to your liking, set the scissors down!

Turns out not very much needs to be said. And in the event that you slip, hair grows back in no time at all. That’s the truth!


  1. I know, but it is so hard not to carry that baggage around. I was just thinking about validation about 20 min ago, about how to let that go. You remind me to let it go.

    Comment by Mika — November 8, 2007 @ 1:54 am

  2. Mika, it’s great if you can get it (that’s what blog friends are for!) but if you have to stab someone to hand it over . . . get my point? Not that I uphold the teaching, but at least I hear it.

    Comment by Karen — November 8, 2007 @ 2:09 am

  3. Yes (I get it), and I really like the hair analogy!

    Comment by Mika — November 8, 2007 @ 2:23 am

  4. Today why I was worrying about my hair, my son walked into the room with a bag of cookies. “Mom,” he said. “Here’s the last cookie. I know you haven’t had one yet, and so this one is for you.”

    There he was offering without being told or bothered or to ask for anything.

    All himself.

    Comment by marta — November 8, 2007 @ 2:25 am

  5. I just cut my own hair, and I blamed being a parent for having the courage to do it.

    I still haven’t gotten it fixed by a real pro. Actually, I’m fighting off the recurrent urge to shave my head totally bare. I did this about 10 years ago as a way to celebrate turning 30, and having a job where I was going to stop looking for a new, better job with a interview haircut at the ready. So now, ten years later, I’m tempted to shave it again.

    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — November 8, 2007 @ 3:56 am

  6. That looks sort of bad, the link ought to be:

    Click this to read about a fool cutting his own hair

    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — November 8, 2007 @ 3:57 am

  7. Nice haircut Chris

    Comment by Karen — November 8, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

  8. Apparently I need to buy your book, lol. With every post, I find myself looking deeper into me and wondering at what I find. It’s easy to how my personal agenda, in the past, has led to hurt and suffering. But applying it to the present will take much effort. More breathing, to think about where I am going with my actions and statements. I am SO the person who has the need to be heard, needs to be understood, needs for validation.

    Comment by Momma Phoenix — November 8, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

  9. This is a marvelous explanation of The Eightfold Path. Thank you.

    Comment by Mama Zen — November 8, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

  10. Phoenix, I agree. You need to buy my book. How’s that for validation?

    Seriously, we are all alike, and need to try a different approach to get along.

    Comment by Karen — November 8, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

  11. Okay . . . so how DO you determine when a judgment needs to be made, when there clearly is a right and wrong? When do you know you’re not just motivated by your own baggage, but actually doing your job as a parent. The lie that is a lie that is wrong, the teaching (on manners, sharing, or any number of other things) versus the cloning of another “you”. We do have legitimate “agendas”, — to raise a child into an adult. Can you give me a concrete example of how you make those distinctions?

    Comment by Connie — November 8, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  12. By how I live Connie, by how I live. Of couse I say as much as the next parent, “Be kind. Be honest. Be generous. Be nice.” But this practice reminds me that unless I am kind, apologetic, generous, patient, compassionate, and honest, my words are empty and hollow, and my child knows that. I say please alot. I say thank you. I say I’m too tired right now. I say no. I say not now. I prompt, I remind, and in doing so I prompt and remind myself. I say I’m sorry more than anything else. And I always mean it. And I trust that by living so, my daughter will develop in herself the means and manners to respond appropriately to what her life requires of her.

    Can you give me a concrete example of when the distinction isn’t clear?

    Comment by Karen — November 8, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  13. No personal agenda. That seems like such an impossible task. It’s funny, but I have been trying to do this lately with my teenage daughter, it feels like letting go. Now I will try to be aware of the scissors in my hand with others, too. This is hard work.
    Or not. 🙂

    Comment by Shannon — November 8, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  14. Next to impossible, Shannon. Next to. It is the greatest task of a human being. And so we keep working at it.

    Comment by Karen — November 8, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

  15. My teacher has a sign in her house that says something like, “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”


    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — November 8, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

  16. The truth comes out. Now I see that my first mistake yesterday was to assume that the Painter couldn’t go to school with stinky poopy shoes. My agenda, not his.

    Comment by RocketMom — November 8, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

  17. This metaphor makes me laugh with recognition because Leo HATES to have his hair cut. It gave me quite the alive image.
    I feel like I put the scissors down but then really I’m just hiding them in my back pocket, keeping them close at hand even if I’m not “using” them.
    So even if I’m not snipping away externally, I am inside, in my own head, in my judgments.
    And I also feel like I do this with myself, just as much as I do with others. I have the image of what I “should” be and then cut away so I will fit it, this crazy thing that is all in my head.
    Your words today hit home.

    Comment by bella — November 8, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  18. I will chew on this all day long. And I’m certain it will be good for me. I am a woman full of agenda–to release some of that would make my burden much lighter. How to let go is the question… Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    Comment by shauna — November 13, 2007 @ 8:26 pm

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