An ancient Sufi parable:
Two disciples of a great Master were walking in the garden of the Master’s house. They were allowed to walk every day, morning, evening. The walking was a kind of meditation, a walking meditation — just as Zen people do walking meditation. You cannot sit for twenty-four hours — the legs need a little movement, the blood needs a little circulation — so in Zen and in Sufism both, you meditate for a few hours sitting and then you start meditating walking. But the meditation continues; walking or sitting, the inner current remains the same.
They both were smokers. They both wanted to ask for the permission of the Master, so they both decided, “Tomorrow. At the most, he will say no, but we are going to ask. And it doesn’t seem such a sacrilegious act to smoke in the garden; we will not be smoking in his house itself. ”
The next day they met in the garden. One was furious — furious because the other was smoking — and he said, “What happened? I also asked, but he simply flatly refused and said no. And you are smoking? Are you not abiding by his orders?”
He said, “But he has said yes to me.”
This looked very unjust. And the first said, “I will go and immediately inquire as to why he said no to me and yes to you.”
The other said, “Wait a minute. Please tell me what you had asked.” He said, “What I had asked? I had asked a simple thing, ‘Can I smoke while meditating?’ He said, ‘No!’ and he looked very angry. ”
The other started laughing; he said, “Now I know what is the matter. I asked, ‘Can I meditate while smoking?’ He said ‘yes.’”
It all depends. Just a little difference, and life is totally something else. Now, there is a great difference. Asking, “Can I smoke while meditating?” is just ugly. But asking, ” Can I meditate while smoking?” — it’s perfectly okay. Good! At least you will be meditating.
Life is neither misery nor bliss. Life is an empty canvas, and one has to be very artistic about it.
Drop Mechanical Act
Story immediately it reminds us that we are obsessed with our habits. Because of our obsession we separate worldly life with spiritual life. But truth is it is not separate.
We’re all humans and we have a tendency to behave through habits. We react along well-worn routes of anger, retaliation and fear. This is a form of sleepwalking. To stop and look at ourselves with awareness is another way to deal with challenges. So that’s what being mindful encourages us to do – pause, observe, then make our choice.
Anything can be meditation. Enlightenment is what you find between thoughts.
Instead, take a look at your day and see where you could create a meditative practice from something you already do. Maybe it’s making your coffee or watering your garden or commuting to the office or going for an evening stroll. Any and all of these could turn into a form of meditation for you.
For example, if you drink coffee every morning, perhaps you can take this act of making the perfect cup of joe as a form of meditation. Where you are solely focused on the process of grinding the beans, boiling the water, and brewing the coffee. If you did this in the morning, away from distractions, and gave it your full and focused attention, making your morning coffee could be how you meditate.
And it doesn’t need to be a single thing. You could combine multiple practices into forms of meditation, to fit them into a busy day when the need arises. The key is to find things you already do and think about them a little differently.
Just a few small changes can lead you to meditation in a way that is uniquely yours.
Learning from the story Life Is An Empty Canvas: Drop Mechanical Act
Man ordinarily functions out of the past, and life goes on changing.
Life has no obligation to fit with your conclusions. That’s why life is very confusing – confusing to the knowledgeable person. He has all ready-made answers: The Bhagavadgita, the Bible, the Vedas. He has everything crammed, he knows all the answers. But life never raises the same question again; hence the knowledgeable person always falls short.
Buddha certainly says: Know how to sit silently. That does not mean that he says: Go on sitting silently forever. He is not saying you have to become inactive; on the contrary, it is only out of silence that action arises. If you are not silent, if you don’t know how to sit silently, or stand silently in deep meditation, whatsoever you go on doing is reaction, not action. You react.
Somebody insults you, pushes a button, and you react. You are angry, you jump on him – and you call it action? It is not action, mind you, it is reaction. He is the manipulator and you are the manipulated. He has pushed a button and you have functioned like a machine.
Somebody comes and praises you and puffs up your ego, and you feel so great; and then somebody comes and punctures you, and you are simply flat on the ground. You are not your own master: anybody can insult you and make you sad, angry, irritated, annoyed, violent, mad. And anybody can praise you and make you feel at the heights, can make you feel that you are the greatest – that Alexander the Great was nothing compared to you.
And you act according to others’ manipulations. This is not real action.
When somebody insults you, you have to become a receiver, you have to accept what he says; only then can you react. But if you don’t accept, if you simply remain detached, if you keep the distance, if you remain cool, what can he do?
Buddha said, ‘Somebody can throw a burning torch into the river. It will remain alight till it reaches the river. The moment it falls into the river, all fire is gone – the river cools it. I have become a river. You throw abuses at me. They are fire when you throw them, but the moment they reach me, in my coolness, their fire is lost. They no longer hurt. You throw thorns – falling in my silence they become flowers. I act out of my own intrinsic nature.’
This is spontaneity. The man of awareness, understanding, acts. The man who is unaware, unconscious, mechanical, robot like, reacts.
When you act moment to moment out of your awareness and watchfulness, great intelligence arises. You start shining, glowing, you become luminous. But it happens through two things: watching, and action out of that watching. If watching becomes inaction, you are committing suicide. Watching should lead you into action, a new kind of action; a new quality is brought to action.
You watch, you are utterly quiet and silent. You see what the situation is, and out of that seeing you respond. The man of awareness responds, he is responsible – literally! He is responsive, he does not react. His action is born out of his awareness, not out of your manipulation; that is the difference. Hence, there is no question of there being any incompatibility between watching and spontaneity. Watching is the beginning of spontaneity; spontaneity is the fulfillment of watching.
The real man of understanding acts – acts tremendously, acts totally, but he acts in the moment, out of his consciousness.