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We bring you a very short, sweet and funny Zen story today. Short and funny however does not mean it is not a Zen story. Think about it.
More after the story –
A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.
Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replied,
“I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
Where are we going?
We wake up, get up from the bed everyday and jump into an endless cycle of things that just repeats daily. Same things go on over and over without an end.
What does this all lead to?
Do we know?
No we don’t.
Life brings us new situations everyday and every other day but we tend to stick to what we are. We rather not change and just react to everything that comes in. We complaint, regret, feel guilty and sometimes proud to have chosen the right thing but essentially we have not.
We don’t change rather we just let the changes pass by. We don’t grab opportunities. We cannot even blame life for the endless vicious cycle because it is not about the life, it is about us.
A couple of people were asked that same usual question – Why are you doing all this?
Most of them didn’t know the answer while the smart ones replied – “To be happy.”
Is it true?
Are we doing everything for happiness?
We earn, we drag ourselves at work everyday, we perform our duties, we take care of our kids and family, we travel and we support them. We fulfill everything but we are not full yet. We feel so empty inside.
Happiness evades us no matter what we do.
Back to the story –
The story is very symbolic. There is no master and no disciple, only fellow travellers. It is a very subtle indication that should be contemplated deeply.
A traveller sitting on a horse is passing by the road and while another traveller watches him. When the horse rider is asked – “Where are you going?”
He replies with something that should be understood well. He says – “I don’t know. Ask the horse!”
This is true. The man on the horse indicates towards the kind of life that we all live. We chase happiness but never find it. The horse drags us wherever it pleases.
Who is the horse?
The horse is your mind. It runs endlessly in different directions and chases things that appear lustrous from the outside. While the person sitting on the horse is you.
Who is driving? You are driving the horse or is the horse driving you?
Think about it. The horse does not need you rather you need the horse more than anything. You have become a victim of your own mind. It is only from the outside that you appear to be in control but things are quite opposite actually.
You saw a beautiful car passing by.
A thought passed by your mind. “What a car! I should have this!”
And the chase starts.
Then you tend to think more and more about the car. Your horse is running behind the car now. Day in and day out you become obsessed with the car. You want to have it at any cost.
You want to buy it, borrow it or even steal if it comes to that. But you want it.
Why? Because you allowed to give attention to that passing thought.
Only if you had just let that thought pass by, it would not have troubled you. Thousands of thoughts are passing by your mind every now and then. You witness a scene on the outside and become involved. This is the horsepower. Your attention and involvement gives the power to the horse. Your attachment with that thought makes it a part of you. Then it covers you and attacks you from all direction like a whirlwind until you possess it.
What happens when you posses it?
You might love and drive that car for some time. You may even take selfies and post it on Facebook to let people know that you have such and such car.
What happens then?
The car goes in the background after a while and you start chasing something else. This is going on for ages.
It is time to literally ask the horse!
Question the mind!
Technique and Contemplation –
Ask the horse.
Whenever your mind starts chasing something – wait.
Ask – What do you want?
Why are you chasing this?
The mind will reply – “Only then I will feel happy and peace.”
Then tell the mind – “You said the same thing last time. When have you felt happy after achieving something? When was the last time you were at peace?”
The race goes on and on. It is important to talk to your own mind and understand that chasing things on the outside does not give you happiness.
Rather when you take possession of something, the thought/dream that was filling the mind completely withers away for a moment and you get a glimpse of Zen.
This is where the happiness comes from. Zen is the source of happiness. Zen is not on the outside or inside. It is your very core.
There are no preconditions to achieve Zen. Just wait, let the horse down and relax. Then, Zen may find you!
I love you dear papa. I have not said that often and neither have I said sorry enough but I still love you.
You are wonderful. I cannot imagine my life without you dear papa. I remember sitting on your shoulder when you carried me for miles without complaining. I remember my tantrums when I wanted something and you brought it for me in spite of anything to make me happy.
You taught me to eat, to walk and to talk. I grew up observing your wonderful knowledge, qualities of talking and convincing people, getting things done on time and leading the way. I owe all this to you. You are an epitome of love, wisdom, devotion, service, compassion and leadership.
You are a tall pillar under which our family stands tall and sleeps peacefully. You are the lighthouse that ensures that none of us can go astray. With your presence we have nothing to worry about. Nothing ever went wrong in your leadership.
You led our way all the time while teaching us the rights things to do. You showed me the path whenever I was confused and bewildered. You gave me my first mantra and you are my first guru. Without your support there would have been no growth in my life.
I have said too many things and done too much that should not have said or done, but I ask for your forgiveness papa. Please forgive me. I am learning and life has taught me a lot of new lessons that helped me understand your point of view. I feel more comfortable at understanding your situation, problems and decisions now. No amount of words can ever be enough to thank you for all that you’ve done for us. We all owe you papa. Our life is incomplete without you.
May god forgive me for all the wrongs that I have done and give me strength and wisdom to not repeat the mistakes. I feel more confident in expressing my thoughts to you that will ensure that there is a natural flow of thoughts between you and me.
May God bless you with wonderful health, love, devotion, peace, courage, laughter, happiness and prosperity. May you fulfill your true goal and achieve the purpose of life.
Thank you papa once again for being in my life.
Thank you mamma and papa for being in my life.
I am proud of both of you to be my parents.
I am proud to be your son.
Love you both!
Happy Fathers Day!
We bring you another Zen story today that is so powerful that if contemplated properly and applied completely, it can change your whole life; just because your life is nothing but a part of you.
More after the story –
Once there was a monk who specialized in the Buddhist precepts, and he kept to them all his life. Once when he was walking at night, he stepped on something. It made a squishing sound, and he imagined he had stepped on an egg-bearing frog.
This caused him no end of alarm and regret, in view of the Buddhist precept against taking life, and when he finally went to sleep that night he dreamed that hundreds of frogs came demanding his life.
The monk was terribly upset, but when morning came he looked and found that what he stepped on was an overripe eggplant. At that moment his feeling of uncertainty suddenly stopped, and for the first time he realised the meaning of the saying that “there is no objective world.” Then he finally knew how to practice Zen.
The story revolves around a monk who has studied Buddhist precepts. He has been practicing and learning Buddhism by reading and remembering all the rules and regulations that are there. He knows not the experience but the facts and formulae.
“If this happens you do that and if that happens you should do something else and things like that.” This is all he has. Once he steps on something during the dark and hears a squishing sound, the kind of sound that comes if you squeeze the juice from a juicy orange using your fist.
He is unable to see what he has stepped on but he only hears. This gives him an imagination that he has stepped on a pregnant frog and has sinned. This is a sin as per the precepts that he knows. His mind starts to haunt him from then on. He cannot sleep or rest. All he can see is thousands of frogs crawling up on him and questioning his sinful act.
One false imagination and the mind has all the luxury to paint an entire new world around it. You see that world more and more and continue to believe in each of its fragment causing your bondage in your own web.
What exactly had happened? Did he know? No.
He did not know what had happened. He just thought about it. Rather a thought came and he thought that only this thought is right. Why?
Because it came to him!
This happens to all of us. This is our story.
Thoughts are just visitors. If you decide to host them and feed them, they enjoy it.
Imagine the example of a coat that is hung on the back hook of the door. In the dark, it appears to be like a thief standing behind the door.
When you switch on the light what happens?
The thief runs away.
It was not there from the beginning.
Another example –
You walk on a lonely road and two branches from a tree intertwine to form an outline. You see a ghost. But there is no ghost. Your mind is the only ghost there is.
There is no objective world. Nothing is fixed. Don’t assume that what you see is what others see. No. They see a completely different version of the world. Rather everybody sees and lives in his own world.
We all carry our little, false and illusory world around us, all the time. We live in it, breathe in it and stick to it.
Subject (mind) works like a projector and projects its own movie everywhere. It sees what it wants to see, hears what it wants to hear and feels what it wants to feel.
This is dangerous. Because you have not experienced what is present, you have experienced your own false mind.
To the answer –
How to come out of it?
Turn on the light!
There is nothing to be done. No fighting and no running away. Just watch. The light of awareness burns down all that is false.
The knowing itself is the remedy.
Back to the story –
Next day, the monk comes back to re-examine the spot and re-spect it.
He comes to know that it was an eggplant and not an egg-bearing frog. This knowing strips him of all that was haunting him. He comes to know Zen for the first time.
He knows the experience. When all that is false withers away, the bright experience which is always there shines forth.
This is realization.
Last thing (Contemplation and Application)
Meditation / Sadhana
Whenever you see, hear or feel anything in your mind, question it.
Re Look at it.
Don’t label immediately. Do not be in a hurry to form a judgment.
Ask yourself – Is this exactly what happened?
Am I 100% sure that this is exactly like I think?
Ask yourself a couple of times and this questioning will dissolve all that is false. Right questioning is the technique. For the first time, you will know what is. The Zen!
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the first day, or second, or umpteenth since the time you started chasing your goal.
It doesn’t matter what results you’ve achieved so far in the process. It also doesn’t matter who curses or who praises?
What matters then?
It matters that you drag your ass everyday, right onto your action area and be there with it. Available with your goal. It doesn’t matter whether you make a progress or not, it is important that you are available at pre-defined time. Fixed time, Flexible duration, Fixed minimum duration, Fixed place and Fixed Goal.
This is the first step towards your dream. Continuity is the key to success.
Unfailing Continuity in the right direction is the recipe for success.
Trust me. There are days when you would’t feel like doing it. Then there are uninvited guests. And there are other stupid reasons too.But whatever it is, stick to it. The more you do, the better you get at doing it. And if you are available, present, thoughts flow in the right direction. Your body, thoughts and feelings align to each other in the direction of your goal and works like a powerful magnet. This is real magnetism.Go for it!
I bring you a Zen story today which is simple yet very powerful. More after the story –
“Suzuki Roshi, I’ve been listening to your lectures for years,” a student said during the question and answer time following a lecture, “but I just don’t understand. Could you just please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”
Everyone laughed. Suzuki laughed.
“Everything changes,” he said. Then he asked for another question.
In this story, the disciple wants to know the summary of all the teachings of the master. He has been listening to the master for years but he hasn’t understood a thing. It can happen. There are two reasons.
One is, you may be listening on the outside but in actuality you are not. You are so full yourself. Nothing can go in. You are so busy talking inside that you do not listen to what is being talked outside.
Birds are talking, nature is creating thousands of new sounds every moment but you are not aware. Your inner chatter has to stop. Be aware and listen. Pay attention with full silence inside and outside. Then you may listen.
The second reason for this to happen is – Words from the master are contradictory. If you have not understood the essence of his teachings and if you have not understood the pointer he shows, then you will not understand because the experience cannot be said. The experience can only be pointed at. All the masters have been pointing to it, in different words and stories. It is like somebody using his finger to point to something. You may not see what he is pointing at but you might see his finger and just nod your head. And then you may form your own judgment and a relation between his body language, position of finger, time and space and words that he said and interpret a false meaning out of it. But that is not the point. You did not see what was being pointed at.
To the answer in the story now –
The master is asked to summarize Buddhism in one phrase. He answers but before he does, he laughs and so does everybody else apart from the questioner. There is a difference in the laugh from the master and that of everybody else. The master laughs at the stupidity of the mind. Master knows the ways of the mind and hence he laughs. The mind who has not been able to understand with millions of words with thousands of examples and stories that were said during years of lecturing, how will it then be able to understand with merely a phrase. Disciple is still not ready. Hence the master laughs.
Everybody else laughs because they are as stupid as the questioner. They think they the fool has not understood but they have not either.
The mind wants to know the shortcuts. The disciple is hungry and eager to know but he is full of his mind. He wants to listen and yet he is unable to. So, the mind plays the last trick. Give me a phrase. Give me an acronym to hold on. Give me a buzzword. Put it in a nutshell.
The master says two words –“Everything Changes.”
This says everything. Master knows. Hence he can point to it in any number of ways.
But what does this mean?
See around yourself. The time is changing. Weather is changing. Earth moves, Sun regenerates, stars move and your body is constantly regenerating itself. Cells are dying and being formed again. Sounds are changing. Your breath is constantly going in and out. Scenes are changing. Thoughts are changing. Your moods change. Everything changes. Everything is changing, constantly and unfailingly.
But amidst of all this caravan of changes, there is something that doesn’t change. There ought to be. Think of this. There has to be an observer who is always constant; an observer who doesn’t change. Only then will you know that everything changes. Otherwise who will say? Who will know the changes?
Take the example of a CCTV camera. CCTV records everything; everything that changes and moves in its perimeter. How is it able to record?
Because, the camera is constantly watching and it is not changing.
If it changed just like everything else, who would record? Then you wouldn’t be able to see a film of what happened.
If everything changes, then who is there is declare that everything changes?
Only one doesn’t change. That unchanging, constantly alive, constantly active force is the experience. That is where the story is pointing.
Master wants the disciple to know that everything changes and contemplate deeply on it. In deep contemplation, he will know that whatever is said, is truth. But, to experience this truth on your own, there has to be something constant, which doesn’t change. To reach that experience, that unchanging experience of life is the purpose of the story.
Questions for contemplation-
What doesn’t change?