The phrase "Placing the Stones" is a concept that is frequently applied to emphasize that the forcing of a solution, rather than to follow the already establish natural flow (i.e. the process of life), is awfully time consuming, effort intensive, a waste of energy, expensive and an unnecessary process complicator - which in the end - frequently don't deliver the harmonious results that we attempt to introduced into our lives.

This principle (placing the stones) was formulated based on the following incident...

Some years ago - then a lecturer in Educational Psychology at the University of Zululand - I visited a school to assess some of my student's "practical teaching" lessons. The school was a U-shape building with the administration in between the two rows of classroom blocks. The headmaster decided to establish an "eye pleasing" garden - in the centre of the buildings - with a prominent water feature surrounded by a couple of nice flower beds. The "forced" rule at the school was that no learner should cross the garden "space" to the classrooms on the other side. They should either walk all the way around on the veranda's of the school buildings or they should cross by using the pathways as designed and provided for walking through the garden.

The rule - the "forced rule" of following the paths as dictated - wasn't really accepted well within the school environment, mainly because another "natural rule"... "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line"... tends do dictate that tired school going children won't choose to follow a carefully laid out designed path, especially when it is going to result in a bit of a detour. The school environment wasn't harmonious any longer... when the bell rings, the headmaster sprinted from his office to the veranda and - with a megaphone - "direct/steer" the learners - which is trying to sneak the shortest route through his garden - to follow the new rules as laid down and to reinstate "harmony" into the school environment.

When I was visiting the school - while smoking my pipe outside in the garden - this whole ritual comes into play. The headmaster seriously reprimands the learners and the learners trying to sneak across the garden without being noticed. Next to me the gardener - while observing the ritual - was just shaking his head and mumbling something. I was curious as to what he was thinking and asked him. He replied... "This happens everyday, making life difficult for both the boss man and children. Why doesn't he put the stones (walking stones) where the path is already?"

I was a bit puzzled at first by what he meant, but when I observe the ritual again, I noticed... there was already a number of "natural crossing paths" established that the children use to cross to the opposite classrooms. The headmaster - in his wisdom - rather than incorporating and accommodate these "natural paths" into his garden design; decided to "design an eye pleasing garden for occasional visitors" and then force the children - which is at school everyday - to follow these carefully designed new routes. This just created a disharmonious situation that is much more frustrating and energy consuming than "placing the stones" where the natural paths already were. When you incorporate the new and use the present "natural" structure as a foundation, then you will end up with eye pleasing design (i.e. nice garden) which is practical to use (i.e. shortest route to travel). Authentic Harmony!

key First determine what the natural flow of things presently are, and then decide what could be done to enhance or improve it. DO NOT change it completely! Thus, don't fight what is there and "working"; rather improve the present conditions (i.e. deal with change in context).

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