The Story of The Two Monks

“Be where you are; otherwise, you will miss your life.”

Buddha

Does it ring true to you?

There’s this story about two monks.

One night, the monks were headed back to the monastery. The journey was long, and they had to do it on foot, armed with only a staff and a lamp. 

An hour into their journey, heavy rain poured. But the monks were determined to reach their destination before midnight. So the two kept on and walked as fast as they could.

Up ahead, they saw an old car stuck on the side of the road. It looked like it hit a tree.  

Curious, the monks ran towards the car and saw a woman behind the wheel. 

“Hey, are you alright?”. Asked one of them.

“I saw something on the road, tried to avoid it, but my car swerved and struck this tree.”

The woman must have hit her head; it was bleeding.

“We can’t leave you here in the dark and with this heavy rain. Let us take you to a clinic”.

The older monk helped the woman out of the car, carried her, and hurried towards the clinic. Soon after relaying the incident to the doctor, the two monks left and continued their journey.

A couple of hours later, the monastery was on sight. As they walked closer towards the door, the younger monk asked the older one, 

“Teacher, you carried that woman into the clinic.”

The teacher replied, “I did, and I dropped her off two hours ago. But you are still carrying her in your thoughts.”

Doesn’t this happen to us most of the time?

With our thoughts, we either linger in the past or chase and try to outrun the future. We do it on autopilot, forgetting that we have a choice.

sundaewrites

Being trapped in our head puts us in states of anxiety, fear, overwhelm, anger and despair. The opposite of that is precisely what we want, isn’t it? We call it a resourceful state. A state where we are calm, collected, confident, and creative. 

The good news is, getting to this state is very simple. We just need to “Be in the present moment.

So what does it look like?

  1. We focus our attention on what’s unfolding now. We are aware of our own breathing, we feel the energy (the life) in our body, we are alert, and we can zoom in on a task at hand.
  2. We tune in to a higher power that makes known what it desires from us at this very moment. In prayer, it can sound like, “Lord, I am here, and I am ready. What do you want me to do today?”.
  3. We acknowledge and believe that we have all the resources to produce an outcome. It has already been given to us. We just need to identify what’s necessary at any given moment and tap into it.
  4. We feel joy or enjoyment in the process and recognize that what we are experiencing is not inferior to the desired outcome.

Think about your desire to be happy. It seems elusive because of the stories you have of the past and the future.

Past: “He insulted me yesterday. How dare he? He really hurt me and ruined my day. I’ll never forgive him”.

Realize:

(1) How much suffering was caused by the actual event; and

(2) How much suffering was caused by your continuous story of how the person has hurt you. 

Future: “When I get the promotion next year, I’ll be happy and start spending weekends with my family.”

Realize how you’re postponing happiness and putting off family time (something you value) into a future that may not even come. Time as we know, is valuable and will cease at an unknown point.

Present: I choose to be happy now. End of story. 

Our lives are made up of a billion present moments. But where you are alive, and breathing is this moment right here. So choose it and notice how liberating that is.

sundaewrites

“That little girl dancing.”

brown haired kid on grass field
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

She moved closer to the older woman and rested her head on her shoulder. The two sat on the bench and waited for the movie to start. 

Zootopia- kids got hooked, adults too, with a bag of popcorn on hand and a slushy on the other.  

Moments later, a song played, and the girl took off her shoes, stood up, and danced.

Freedom, ahh, she got lost in her own world. Never mind the rest of us who quietly sat there smiling and watching as she hung to every beat.

She laughed as she twirled around, stomped her feet, and raised her hands while doing a combo of salsa, jazz, and ballet.  

“So that’s how it looks like,” the stranger next to me quipped. 

“To what”? I asked.  

He turned to me and smiled, “To seize the present moment.” 

“I think so too.”

 How many times do we find ourselves wishing we were somewhere else or in another time?

“Anywhere but here; Tomorrow; Oh if I could go back in time” the thoughts we entertain like the present moment is never enough.

If it were a person, it would have felt hurt by now.

And when people feel hurt, often they withdraw their cheerfulness and affection, and they tuck them away.

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.”

Deepak Chopra

The little girl dancing looked like she was suspended in time- never rushing, never delaying, but openly embracing what is.

She tripped a couple of times but rose again and twirled.

Finally, the old woman motioned her to sit down and said, “C’mon now, Lily. Finish your ice cream. It’s melting”. “I want to complete this song, Grandma. My body loves it,” she replied with a giggle.  

We were once like that when we were kids. But as we got older, we rushed to the next thing, and on and on we go, like everything is a means to an end. Then when situations knock us down, we lose hope and wish we were a child again, having no worries in the world.

During one of our coffee dates, a friend said, “Gosh, can we just be kids again and not care about anything?”

“I think caring is good, but the question is, do what we care about really matters” said another.

“Think you’re right, and when we choose to care, I think we can do it without being grumpy,” and we all laughed.  

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

My friend, if you’re carrying loads of worry right now, put it down.

If you’re feeling restless, impatient, and anxious, settle down.

When you think about this moment now, only this moment, you’ll realize that you are okay. 

You are all right.

You can find peace here…

and freedom,

and rest,

comfort,

even love.

“Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Present moment… embrace it. It’s all there ever is.