To consider for March 19, 2017
As you know, the title of the retreat at Tassajara has changed from “Finding Equanimity in a Difficult Profession” to “Finding Stillness Amid the Storm of Legal Practice.” This notion of stillness is central to a useful law practice, I believe. It is not a static or sort of dead stillness. It is instead alert and willing and ready, yet balanced and grounded.
I am reminded of the wonderful lines by T.S. Eliot in “Burnt Norton,” the first of the “Four Quartets:”
At the still point in the turning world. Neither flesh not fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
You can think of writing a brief or questioning a witness or interviewing a new client or negotiating a contract as a dance. It can be movement from stillness, balance. There can be an openness to myriad possibilities, and alertness to potential movement, when you are ready and then move from there.
Early in my career I had experiences that seem emblematic of this dance from or of stillness. Both times, I had no expectation of winning. I rather expected to lose. So, I was unconcerned with outcome, I believe. I just did my job, once in a small trial before a judge and once in a personal injury deposition. There was a feeling of freedom. In both instances, I prevailed. I think it was due to doing my job, not to some mystical experience. But, what stays with me is the freedom I felt because I was not ego-involved. I was not attached to an outcome. I just did the dance and let go of everything else. You could say that I let the dance come to me.
I wonder if you have had such experiences, perhaps of being well prepared and then just letting the matter flow seemingly of itself? Note the reference to being well prepared. Eliot refers to a still point in a turning world. It is not about getting off. When you are prepared, you can relax. Then you may dance at the balance point.
What do you think?
Practice For Lawyers
Law Dharma offers lawyers meditation-based programs intended to deepen their practice of law. Too often we are so entangled in our emotions or our view of a case that we cannot see clearly. We cause ourselves and others to suffer when we lash out in anger or we fail to see opportunities because we are so blinded by our own attachments to emotions or views. The meditative perspective helps to keep us grounded and able to see clearly.
Law Dharma founder Mary Mocine studied law at Hastings College of the Law. She was admitted to the California bar in 1971. Ms. Mocine practiced legal service, litigation and labor law for 18 years. In 1989 she left the practice of law to become a Buddhist monk.
Law Dharma offers a monthly meditation/discussion group. We meet at 9:30 for a half-hour meditation then have a discussion of a topic of interest for about an hour then have a potluck brunch.
There is an MCLE retreat led by Mary Mocine held at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. Details can be found below and registration information at www.sfzc.org.
Articles by Mary Mocine
Dharma Group for Lawyers
One Sunday per month, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Meetings will be held at Rochael Soper’s office at Ideo, 501 The Embarcadero in San Francisco. Metered and lot parking in the area and near BART and other public transportation. Folks are asked to bring their own cushions or benches if they do not want to sit in a chair. After the discussion, we have a vegetarian brunch. Coffee and tea are provided.
Meditation instruction will be offered. A teaching donation will be requested.
May 10-14 Tassajara Retreat
December 10 (holiday brunch)
2017 Law Dharma (pdf)
Finding Stillness Amid the Storm Of Legal Practice
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
May 10-14 2017
4 Hours MCLE
(2 hours ethics, 1 hour Competence Issues and
1 hour Recognition and Elimination of Bias)