Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finding Your Story

Many religious and secular moral traditions attest to the centrality of learning to the realization of a full life. Growth of the mind, through study, experience and verbal exchange, proves internal to mature subjectivity. But in gathering and internalizing the stories of others, the student must also find solid footing in the self, as the book of LE JIN insists:

The Master said, 'A scholar, whose mind is set on truth, and who is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not fit to be discoursed with.' (CHAP. IX)

One might take this excerpt from the Confucian Analects as a forewarning to academics of the unprofitable nature of that trade! I read the verse, however, as a call to finding a sustaining narrative that grounds inquiry and motivates the 'free and responsible search for truth and meaning.'

The Master is really asking: what story do you tell of yourself? Is it one premised on luxury and vanity? Is it one of shame for outward appearance? Or, is it one of modesty? Is it one of passionate devotion to the permanent amidst the transient (Parker)?

Which story inspires and defines your discipleship?

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