Foreword–Page 4

February 12th, 2020 ~ This book has taken shape over several years and is offered with several aims in mind.  First, it is hoped that some of what is suggested will strike a resonant chord in the minds of readers and give them direction for their own consideration of organizational issues.

The life force that organizes species, organs, and organisms also molds organizations.  Human beings cannot conquer nature-they are nature in action.  The creative leaps made by man and the creative leaps made by nature are of the same kind.  Nature makes use of what may be called “un reculer pour mieux sauter,” a recoiling, in order to leap that much better.  When nature’s evolutionary drive has reached a cul-de-sac, it withdraws and breaks out from a new point in a new direction.  I am suggesting that Zazen is a discipline that uses un reculer pour mieux sauter; this approach provides greater facility in dealing with those organizational cul-de-sacs that are both frustrations and opportunities.  Zazen seems to be as old as mankind; what is new today is its availability to the West, and specifically, its availability for dealing with the complex, multifaceted problems encountered in organizations.

May 17th, 2020 ~ Tonite, on 60 minutes with Jon Werheim, there was a story about how life changes after great natural plagues like the one we are facing with the Corona Virus Pandemic.  It reminded me of the correlation Albert Low was making about meditation and nature.  He writes: “Nature makes use of what may be called “un reculer pour mieux sauter,” a recoiling, in order to leap that much better.  When nature’s evolutionary drive has reached a cul-de-sac, it withdraws and breaks out from a new point in a new direction.”  This happens in meditation as well, he says.  Zazen gives us space where there isn’t any.  Middle Way Zen where I have been meditating for 5 years or so is now meeting online.  We all tend to agree that meditation is helping us cope with the new normal.  Just as zazen gives us space in stressful situations to not over react, it can give us space in an extremely uncertain future.  

Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of history at Yale University, and author of the timely published book: “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present” and who recently recovered from Covid 19 says that society has made great strides after the plagues of the past.  “Our public health methods were built on the plague precedents.  And so they had quarantine.  They had social distancing.  They had lockdowns.  Doctors actually wore PPE.  And what they had was a mask.  We know about that.  Theirs was differently shaped.  It had a long beak.  And they put sweet-smelling herbs in it, to keep the foul odors away.  But in addition, they carried a long rod or verger and the doctor would physically keep people at a distance.”  He goes on to say: “And the real source of optimism might come from knowing that the aftermath of plagues has, consistently, brought about some of the great transformations, leaving societies looking radically different.  Order comes from Chaos.”

Albert Low says we can’t conquer nature because we are nature.  We are not separate from nature and it is this delusion we have that we think we are separate.  We are not separate from Covid-19.  We are it.  Covid-19 is us.

Snowden says: “They introduced sewer systems, toilets.  They set housing regulations, paved streets.  So the hygiene of modern cities that we see today was built, in large part, on the sanitary measures that grew out of the terrible experience of the Asiatic cholera.”

We have hit a dead end.  Nature finds a way to come back.

In that same 60 minutes piece, there is a writer Arundhati Roy from India who was commenting how we have a past and see a future: “Right now it feels as though we have no present, you know? . . . And right now, we’re in some sort of transit lounge.  And there isn’t any connection between the past and the future.”  She goes on to say: “We should not be trying to stitch them together without thinking about that rupture, you know?  And that rupture is not just one of production and consumption and all our–you know, it’s–I think the most profound thing is the rupture of the idea of touch, you know, the idea of proximity.  All these things will become so laden with risk and fear for a long, long time.”  Time and Space.

Meditation can helps us with this “transit lounge” Roy refers to.  We only have HERE–no space and NOW–no time.  

Bill McGibben,  a distinguished scholar at Middlebury College, says the worst thing we could do is to go back to how it used to be–where the main driver was economic success.  It worked for the most part of the past 75 years and brought millions of people out of poverty, but Mother Nature has been telling us to pay attention to her.  Robert Frost wrote many of his great poems in Vermont.  One of his most famous poems talks about 2 roads diverging in the woods.  McGibben says we probably should take the road less traveled this time.


As in most posts on, italicization of words refers to the words of either Jiddu Krishnamurti or Albert Low.  The website writer’s words are in regular text.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *