Zen Quaker

The Story of Quazee

"Wear It As Long As Thou Canst"

My favorite Quaker parable is the story of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, having problems with his conscience about wearing his sword. He asked George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, if he should get rid of it because it conflicted with Quaker pacifistic values. George Fox told him to wear the sword as long a he could.

This seems similar to Suzuki Roshi’s (the founder of San Francisco Zen Center), advice about controlling your thoughts. He said that the best way to control your thoughts is to watch them wander, like controlling cattle by giving them a large pasture to roam through. He said to control people, tell them to behave badly, give them free reign to behave as they will, without judgement and they will behave nicely.

If William Penn could wear his sword, it wasn’t really conflicting with his core values, he just had to watch his values without judgements. When he did, he found that his sword became uncomfortable to him and he stopped wearing it.

Once you identify a habit you want to change, watch it. See what happens.

  • 4 October 2012
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