Korean Zen master Seung Sahn said that a good community is like dirty potatoes in a barrel—we rub up against one another to get clean. That barrel is where we learn to be with our feelings without becoming them. If a community is working, we’re going to feel the full range of feelings in it. If it’s okay enough, if it’s good enough, then we can learn how to stay. Then we can learn something; we can stop overidentifying with our feelings and actually change. Bear in mind that no one is going to be perfect. I often tell my students, “I will disappoint you!” And then I like to say, “And I’m committed to being with you in the disappointment.” This makes for a good beginning. We need to find a “good enough” teacher. We need to find a good enough community, which is one where you can be dirty potatoes in a barrel.


Excerpted from Untangled: Walking the Eightfold Path to Clarity, Courage, and Compassion by Koshin Paley Ellison. Copyright © 2022 by Koshin Paley Ellison. Reprinted with permission of Balance Publishing. All rights reserved.

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