Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Sheepfulness

Posted by jembendell on August 28, 2014

… I think 2 years in the land of Beatrix Potter is rubbing off on me.

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A boy, walking alone on a felltop stops to look at a sheep. It stares back.

Boy: You seem calm. Are you happy?

Sheep: What’s happy?

Boy: Oh… it means lots of things.

Sheep: So “happy” is a concept?

Boy: Er, sort of. It’s an idea about a bunch of feelings.

Sheep: So you want to know if I’m experiencing the idea of “happy”?

Boy: Not quite, I guess I was asking about the feelings. Are you in pain?

Sheep: No

Boy: Are you comfortable with your life?

Sheep: I’ve a bit of an itch.

Boy: No, I mean comfortable with what you do! Are you doing enough stuff?

Sheep: Is “enough” another idea?

Boy: Yes. But are you worried about death?

Sheep: I know it happens but I don’t know when. What’s there to worry about?

Boy: I think we worry about death a bit as we don’t know what the purpose of life is.

Sheep: Is “purpose” another of your ideas?

Boy: Yes

Sheep: Is worrying an idea too?

Boy: It’s more like a feeling.

Sheep: What’s the feeling?

Boy: A feeling of going round and round in circles with my ideas, and this then tensing the muscles in my chest.

Sheep: So you create a purpose-idea to experience a happy-idea that is difficult because you have created a worry-idea and end up tensing your muscles?

Boy: Sort of

Sheep: So why do you focus on that happy-idea if it tenses you up?

Boy: Maybe because it’s what grown-ups do. But are you saying you don’t think?

Sheep: Baa! Animals think too. Didn’t you notice? But I don’t create ideas. I appreciate stuff I like, and avoid experiences I don’t like. Just look at the sunset!

Boy: Yes, it’s nice. But isn’t that a bit selfish?

Sheep: There you go again with another idea! “Selfish!” My positive feeling from looking at the sunset is the Universe’s experience as well as mine. I’m enjoying the universe enjoying me enjoying the sunset. Wjy else would it have made it so beautiful to us?

Boy: So are all our ideas and concepts bad?

Sheep: No, your ability to create concepts and ideas has given you your technology and culture. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Neither would so many of you! Your ideas of geometry and building mean I have a nice warm barn for the winter, if I’m still here.

Boy: OK, I get it. Some ideas are useful and some are not. It’s what they do to us, and what we do with them, that matters.

Sheep: Nice. Will you experience a happy-idea when you eat me?

Boy: I did before. But I’m not sure anymore.

 

There endeth a bit of Lakeland Zen

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