The first fruition of the practice is the attainment of froglessness.
When a frog is put on the center of a plate, she will jump out of the plate after just a few seconds. If you put the frog back again on the center of the plate, she will again jump out.
You have so many plans. There is something you want to become.
Therefore you always want to make a leap, a leap forward. It is difficult to keep the frog still on the center of the plate.
You and I both have Buddha Nature in us. This is encouraging, but you and I both have Frog Nature in us. That is why the first attainment of the practice– froglessness is its name.
–Thich Nhat Hanh
There are frogs everywhere. Paul Norton discusses Thich Nhat Hanh’s handy series of checkpoints that we can consider before acting reflexively. Full Article
The first checkpoint is Am I sure? Oftentimes, we are caught up in the moment and make mistakes. Thich Nhat Hanh has often said that with perception there is deception. Our Frog nature often causes us to jump to conclusions. The classic story that is told is that of seeing a coiled object as we walk through a forest. Frog mind sees it, in horror, as a snake, and we jump back. On further looking we see it is merely a rope.
This scenario is obvious. But how many times have we seen something we identify as “snake” and refuse to reevaluate? The lazy coworker who didn’t get the report done; the friend who passed us on the street and did not greet us; the politicians on the other side;
Chicago Bears fans;
The list goes on and on.
It is not that we make judgments. We always do that. To react quickly, being swept away by judgment is Frog Nature. To reflect is to allow judgment to be a partner in our actions, and not a bully.
The second checkpoint is What am I doing? We should act mindfully. Our actions should be kind, thoughtful, and appropriate. Often, we say things that are true but are not useful. Often, we do things for our own agenda, rather than the greater good. Does our actions or our words help? If not, the frogless thing may be to say or do nothing.
The third checkpoint is Hello, habit energy. Our ingrained ways of doing things, our long held patterns are easy to once again fall into. How much of what we might do or say is the result of our automatic reactions. We have used the before and maybe they were even successful then. We will most likely be wise, however, if we look at every moment as a fresh occurrence. We can only do this when we see that our habit energy has insidiously hijacked our train.
The fourth checkpoint is bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is loosely translated as true heart and mind. It is the wellspring of kindness. It is the hub of connection. It is the source of love.
Many people come to the path that I and others have taken of contemplation to become clearer about what they are doing. While it is true that the contemplative life leads to better decision making, it is also becomes apparent that THE answer is impossible. A Chinese saying: To be uncertain is uncomfortable but to be certain is ridiculous. We are all just taking our best guesses. Yes, they are all better guesses if you live a mindful and frogless life, but they are guesses just the same. When in doubt, choose the kinder option. Will you sometimes make the wrong decision and even seem foolish? Yes that will happen. But the more we all row in the same direction, the better off we are. The more we extend and open our bodhicitta heart, the more wonderful the world will be.
We all wish to be better people, better parents and partners, better employers and workers, better teachers and students, and better citizens and friends. It starts with taking a little time. That reactive mind has not always treated you so well.
Take time to smell the flowers. Take time to taste the coffee. Take time to see the sunset and the full moon. Take time to hear the spring birds. Take time to see the eyes of a child, even the eighty year old ones.
The best news that Guatama Siddharta told us is that we are all Buddhas. Maybe we can act like one .