Sunday, December 17, 2017

Birth – Fully Savouring the Moment

The Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches this wisdom through the ceremony and meditation of tea (a Buddhist parallel to the Christian Eucharist):
“You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy. If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone. Life is like that. If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it. Worrying is worthless. When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment. Then you will begin to experience joy in life.”
Recently when I was in our ancestral village my chauffeur asked me why people in the village, in olden times, lived up to a very ripe old age without all the new diseases which are prevalent today. My answer was very simple, there was no pollution and then he said our village also has no pollution, the air is sharp, there is food and water. The answer to this is the following part of my article.
Pollution comes in many forms. It is not only what we generally categorize as ; air, water and food. Even in villages we have lost the art of providing snacks for children. The wholesome nutritious peanuts and sprouted beans have been replaced with packaged snacks which are very tasty but unhealthy. Milk which used to be plenty in our village is replaced with milk from the milk vendour of questionable quality. Water for drinking comes from bottled water. The second type of pollution is noise pollution. It is not the audible noise but the high frequency communication noise from mobile phones to TV screens. In cramped houses the children sit hardly a few feet away from the screen. The visual contents of television leaves much to be desired as it puts extremely high stress at the psychological level especially for young children. The third type of pollution is the stress pollution. Irrespective of wherever we are, whether in the village or the city, There are innumerable causes, such as family, social, religious, work place and personal expectations, which induce high levels of stress.
Practically no one lives without stress. These stresses are injected into individual from self-imposed expectations over which one has no control except the subject experiencing the stress.
Hence wherever we are we live in a highly polluted environment. This does not mean that we have to run away looking for a clean environment. This is impossible as we are the creators of the environment and wherever we go we take this environment with us. There is nice episode told to novices in meditation.
A young Buddhist monk in Tibet went to his master and asked him to teach him a very deep level of meditation which he saw the master practice. His master could sit for hours without any lack of concentration. Knowing the sincerity of the aspirant, the master taught him for many years but warned him that he could only guide him and it is up to him to master this intense spiritual practice. It was then, there arose a vacancy in a monastery in Kolkata for a monk to guide the spiritual seekers. The master assigned the task and told the young monk, who told his master that he has made great progress, to take up the position in Kolkata. On reaching the monastery in Kolkata and after a few weeks the monk called up his master in Tibet and told him that he could not meditate as there was too much noise in the environment. The advice the master gave him was that the noise was not in the environment but in the young monk’s mind.
This episode tells us that if we are not totally awake to each moment on what we are, whether drinking a cup of tea or juggling with any task given to us in the process of life, we allow the exterior pollution to dominate.
It is worth reflecting how time is defined in our life. We measure time in a calibrated way and keep track of it in our mind and generate our past and future with their associated worries and anxieties. If we live in the moment, time becomes highly nonlinear. With practice the graph of time becomes an inverted parabola or inverted bell curve from a straight line, which practically every one of us experience. Masters, like Buddha, who practiced extreme mindfulness are able to experience infinity. This is the great truth why infinite wisdom is hidden in the present moment.
In the Gospel of Thomas in Saying 18  Christ says:
The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Christ said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."
The end will be where the beginning is …..will not taste death. What a beautiful way of defining how to live in the present moment. Every moment is a birth of the Self and the true meaning of celebrating Christmas is to birth this renewed consciousness in our lives.

Love to you all

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