“You who sit on the top of a 100 foot pole,
Although you have entered the Way, it is not yet genuine
Take a step from the top of the pole
And the entire world becomes your body”
According to Gary R. McClain and Eve Adamson’s ‘The complete idiot’s guide to Zen living’, they refer to stepping off the hundred-foot pole as a koan which is a wonderful metaphor for Zen practices. They state that climbing a pole is very hard work, just like contemplating a koan, meditating and following the Zen precepts. But what do you do when you get to the top? It takes a lot of practice, intellectual understanding, rules and techniques to get to the top. This can be linked to our lives and practices, that if you grasped the truth beyond logic and the material world, you can easily step off the top of the pole, because beyond the pole lies a universe of beyond thinking and something much bigger than the sky you see and truth as apparent as daylight.
I want to link the concept of the 100-foot pole to planning for crises in life. Some of you might ask, how does the two links to each other? Well, when climbing a 100-foot pole had to get you to plan on how you will get to the top, but did you plan on how you are going to get down? I guess not! After viewing the sky and mountains from the top of the pole, you realise that in some way you have to get down. Thoughts of falling down, breaking a part of your body, probably killing yourself runs through your mind as you are devastated and realised that you didn’t prepare a plan on how you might get down the pole!
If you don’t know how to step from the pole – it’s by then you plan for a crises and start thinking of possible ideas. It also means taking risks. Somewhere in life we plan to do things, but we always forget to make a plan in how we are going to turn around and taking a few steps back.
Plan correctly; thinking, deciding, strategising and rethinking your options are important. A good crises plan accomplishes more. You should also seek to maximise every possible opportunity in life. Whenever you have reached the top of the pole, you should enjoy every moment of live and capture the beauty of the view wilderness. Once you have stepped down from the 100-foot pole, it may be a disappointment and hitting the ground can be tough and painful. However, pick yourself up again and continue climbing the pole – just remember to plan your way down! Things will be much easier after that!
Editor: Roelien Zwart
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