Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason
their toys away, because they "forgot," can soon expect the parent to forget where she / he put
them, as well. In this case, the parent is taking responsibility for teaching responsibility at the
level the child designed.
Predictably, the immediate complaint from parents in our group was that they had to deal
with the tantrums that followed. To this, Kha-lib said this circumstance provided them with
another opportunity to teach their children about social responsibility. A quiet room, in this case,
was an appropriate place for the child to consider how taking care of their toys yesterday would
have avoided them disturbing the peace today. When a mother said her child’s tantrums often led
to them refusing to eat, K ha-lib rhetorically wondered how many six- year olds could hold out
longer than one meal.
This mother returned no more.
When another attendee implied that her leaving was due to K ha-lib’s uncompromising
approach, Kha- lib said that teaching anyone how to live responsibly required discipline and
continuity in proportion to how the student had unconsciously learned to behave poorly. In time,
proper practices were no longer an effort for them, but a way of life that had replaced their
former way of life. It could be no other way, for the responsibilities of freedom knew no
"That’s contradictory," Elani argued.
"We speak to responsibility boding no negotiation; you ma y compromise your freedom as
This statement was a head-scratcher that we explored into the topic of impeccable acts,
where I was again left behind.
As the weeks went by, and Bonnie continued to explain the responsibilities of freedom in
terms we had never entertained, it became abundantly clear that spiritual development was not
the passive endeavor many of us had believed it to be. Nor was it an adjunct to how we lived our
daily lives: it was how we could practice living all of the time.
For the most part, I was used to these no-nonsense encounters and I went with the flow, but
there came the time when a particular lesson put me on the defensive, as well: the session had
just broken up, and as I stood to leave, Bonnie caught my attention and nodded toward an accent
pillow on her couch.
"What?" I said.
"The pillow," she replied.
"What about it?" I said, puzzled.
"Is that where it was when you sat down?"
"O n the couch, sure."
"Wasn’t it propped in the corner between the side and backrest?"
"Two things." she grinned, making a peace sign. "Don’t guess, and you need to make a
practice of leaving things the way you found them unless it is an improvement. For the time
being, you don’t appreciate what constitutes an improvement, so it’s probably best that you leave
things as they are… if you can remember that much."
Understanding that she was already back in research mode—discovering what her student-
character’s response to any spontaneous circumstance would be—I returned to the scene of my
odious crime and positioned the pillow in the way she said it had been before my arrival. The
next week, I remembered the pillow lesson, but I didn’t put it exactly where it had been, touching