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Revolution means a thing comes back

I Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the folly of a Guru who never gets around to planning a picnic. Look it up. The students kept asking for a picnic. Yes, the teacher would say, we will have a picnic, but then he would never plan the picnic.

Year after year, so much mindful industry, so much building and working, so much mind turning, so much retreat.

Year after year, event after event, so much devising the new world they would have after the mind's revolution, but no picnic.

Then one day the teacher and his attendants are out doing commerce-things.

They pass by a funeral procession in the street, he and the now head student, who has asked for a picnic year after year.

What is this? He asks the student.

It is a picnic, the student says.


I used to think that spiritual practice had something to do with a revolution. There are some teachings about swimming upstream; swimming against the current of conditioning's herculean force.

Some days it feels like change is up to Hercules. Virya. Heroism. A Revolution. Some days we realize that it feels more like a picnic.


Revolution is a phenomenon that few of us actually understand.

Stand below a flag for a while and you start to actually believe something is real.

You start to believe that a nation has lines around it, like it does on a map.

You start to believe that a nation-state means something, that it has a fence.

Fences are important in revolutions, like walls. Because one must know what one is jumping over, or tearing down.

Jumping over fences is a nighttime activity, for sleepwalkers, insomniacs, and imaginary sheep.

It is not the actual turning. The thing just comes back.


Revolution means a thing comes back upon itself.

360 degrees means you are back where you started.

If you try to make something new but are staring at the flag the whole time, nothing new gets made.

If wanting is a rejection of what already is, then wanting is built from what you don’t want.

What you don’t want will never take you to what you want, because you never had a clear enough deck to know what you wanted.

You just stood there stupid and angry under that flag with your backpack and your fist in the air as if your frustrations were somehow new or somehow mattered.

Matters of the heart are never clear, they are by definition murky.

This is not to say that they don’t matter.

But if the definition of the revolution is to raise your murky fist at the flag.

And watch the crowd gather around you.

There is no turning. Just a thing coming back.


People build audiences and then pander to them.

Thought leaders become transfixed by the crowd before they decide where they are going.

They are not us, but not altogether unlike us either.

Meanwhile, grandparents will die and then parents will die and if you are unlucky a friend or two will die, or if you are very unlucky a child will die and you will still not know where you are going.

If you are very unlucky you will never plan a picnic.


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