23 September 2018
When I was small, one of the things I liked to do was drawing. But then, my mother didn’t approve of my endless scribbling as she thought I was wasting precious papers. So instead I started to draw imaginary water color paintings in my heart with the clouds in the sky. I loved to dream and describe my feelings in writing in the secret diaries only to tear away soon after I’ve outgrown the intensity of each emotion. And yet, I still managed to keep some of my buried artistic abilities because I often hear that I am a good story writer. Am I?? Maybe yes, maybe not. What I think I am really good at it is drawing water color like paintings with our common human emotion in the heart so that we can see the beauties from our seemingly insignificant or ordinary every day ins and outs. Life seems so colorless and flat without adding some flavors with our imaginative creativity.
I just came back from the 3-days of meditation retreat lead by Bhante Kovida, the monk whom I’ve met two years ago. He is a Canadian-Jamaican monk in Theravada tradition who loves to travel around the world especially the South East regions of tropical countries. I met him when I was going through one of the most difficult time period. Inspired by the meeting with him that happened in a totally unexpected way, I learned much and came to term with many issues in life that were uncertain and unresolved previously. When I got to know of him back and were to lead the retreat, I immediately signed up for it and off I went.
Was it he or me? I am not sure. But certainly we both have changed much since. He had become like a laughing Buddha constantly laughing and giggling energetically while leading the retreat. I have become much more receptive and empty-minded that I could flow together with focused relaxation, quiet eagerness and great enjoyment during the entire retreat. I could experience timelessness, spaciousness and complete present awareness. More than anything, I could see my thoughts and able to step aside from it, thereby experiencing blissful ‘sati’ ‘awareness of present moment’ and how to attain or live the freedom that I sought for so long. Then it dawned on me that the Yoga meditation teacher training course I took almost 30 years ago was just like this.
At that time, I was young, ignorant and going through much pains in life; thereby I wasn’t able to enjoy as much though I did become better by the end of the course. This time, I was much different and I gained a lot more in just 3 days than last one that lasted for 6 months. But the patterns and conditions were so similar. Another striking realization was, in both cases, astrologically, it’s the Jupiter’s time I was going through, the planet responsible for my aptitude with teaching and learning spiritual lessons. How interesting, I thought.
He was often using stories to illustrate his points during the talks. One of the stories was about a tailor who kept dreamt of finding a bag of gold buried under a water fountain in a far away land from his home.
“After dreaming the same dream for many nights, he thought it must be true. So he set upon his travel miles away from where he was staying. After arriving in the town, he waited until everyone fall asleep in a full moon day just like the dream and started digging the largest water fountain with a shovel. After much digging, there was no gold to be found. So he dug some more fountains that were nearby, one by one. But there were no gold even after digging all the fountains in the beautiful garden of the town. After digging for whole night but still no signs of any gold, he was exhausted at the same time angry to himself to have come all the way just because of the stupid dream. Regretting and startled to realize what he has done to the beautiful gardens, he started run away before anyone wakes up to learn of his vandalism. Upon his way, he came across a mosque of which door was open as though welcoming him in. He let himself in and fell fast asleep in the prayer hall as he was so tired from the all night’s labor. While he was sleeping, a thief happened to come in and soon got chased by people and police. The tailor heard the all the noises and commotion but he couldn’t make himself get up as he was too exhausted. Not before long, the chief police officer seeing the sleeping tailor covered with dust and rag, thought he was also with the thief and about to arrest him together with the thief. In his shock after realizing what’s about to happen to himself, he still managed to beg for his innocence while relating his unbelievable stupid dream story to the chief officer. Seeing his dirty and sorry state, the chief felt a streak of compassion in his heart. So he told the tailor to go back and concentrate on his tailoring instead of committing such stupidity again to believe a mere dream, just like how he does. The chief told him that he also dreamt of a tailor who found gold in his own backyard but never believed such silly dream. Just be thankful of his safety and own life, the tailor rushed back to his hometown. In and out resuming his regular business again, he completely forgot about the chief officer’s dream for many days until one night he saw the full moon in the sky. Suddenly remembering the chief officer’s dream, he started to dig his own backyard surely to find a bag of gold buried under!!”
So the moral of story is you don’t have to travel far to find gold because it’s in our backyard, truth in our own heart, the monk and other retreat participants who enjoyed listening the story concluded.
I added to him, “but he still had to travel find that out! He still had to go through the process!” “Yes, you are right, he had to travel!!”
That was the point. We still have to travel. We still have to go through the process even if we know the truth. After living this long, searching for Truth to understand life better, now I realize that we all already knew the truth deep in our heart; how to live the most out of our given life for maximum happiness and fulfillment. But we all have to go through the process, travel the journey so that we can appreciate what we already have in our home. People often strive far and wide in the pursuit of grander purpose and meanings of life. However we always have to come back right where we have started. The universal truth, whatever born will surely die one day, we come with empty hand and leave with empty hand…yes, they are all very true. But what is living? Not to become this and that, or, not to have this and that, but just to experience fullness and contentment in every step of our lives. So that we don’t leave with any regrets of not having started the journey out of fear or laziness or ignorance.
What are you looking for in life? What do you want from your life and how far are you willing to travel for that? Or you think you already have it or are already it? Fear of unknown, uncertainty and change…they always occupy the top list of our shortcomings in walking the journey of life. If I have known that it will take this long to realize the same truth I’ve learned thirty years ago, would I have started the journey in the first place? Yes I would. Again and again I would. Because in the process I have learned much and have become much more than before I started the journey. Most of all, I wouldn’t be here and now, sharing my passions and stories of life with you. And yet, nothing in me externally or internally has changed much. I am still the very same person who used to dream a lot and draw water color paintings in the heart out of my imaginations or stories I’ve heard. But then, one thing for sure, I have become much more patient, loving and compassionate than before. Of course, wiser as well. There is much more space and timelessness in me to hold more love, humanity, patience and wisdom. I also like myself much better than before because, now, there is a smile at the corner of my mouth of which I used to not have. I feel ever grateful with the life journey I am walking on because it presents me with endless lessons to enrich my life, your life and our lives. What else in life is there? Is there?