When I walk , I walk
MEGHA BAJAJ tells a beautiful simple story about a monk and his disciples, and relates this to her own experiences of the power of now, the present.
Stories can teach in ways that only stories can teach. For days I had held a question in my mind about how I can progress on the spiritual path. Last evening, finally, the answer came with the birth of this story. Through me, and for me, this story has become a milestone. A realization has become my realization. Perhaps, it can become yours too.
Years ago, when finding peace was still the most important quest for all, there lived a great Buddhist monk. High above the mountains iced by snow, and sprinkled by cherry sunrays, was his little monastery. People sought him from all over the world. The scaling heights, the brazen winds, the wild animals – nothing could stop them from flocking to the monk – for they knew he could pave the way to peace for them. However, after a few days, many got restless and left. The reason? The monk hardly spoke. He just carried on in his usual fashion. For many, this was hard to deal with.
If I can learn to do what I am doing,
and immerse myself in it completely,
meditation will cease to remain a part of my day.
It will become a part of me.
And gradually, it will become me.
The great monk had a merry laugh and a twinkle in his eye. He seemed ancient and yet just like a child. He never invited anyone and he never refused anyone, and when someone did come he made sure his home was their home. Many came, many went – but a few, a small group of eleven, stayed behind. The monk knew he had finally filtered the ‘seekers’ from the ‘questioners’. This was the group who had left everything to find peace, and they wouldn’t return knowing about peace, they would return knowing peace ! The monk did all that he needed to in a day, while the group followed around, hoping to get a cue as to how they too could be in constant blissful union with their Lord.
In the evenings the monk would sit under a tree, while the group gathered around him. Some put their head in his lap and he caressed them lovingly, while others were content to just watch him from afar. The seekers asked questions and sometimes the monk would answer at length, and sometimes he would choose silence to speak. Either way, the night would rise only when all the doubts had drowned.
During one of those twilights, the youngest girl in the group, Mira, asked him, “Beloved one, tell me the secret to your peace. I want to know.”
Knowing that the words that would follow could change their lives the entire group moved closer.
Silence fell over them as the monk replied, “When I walk, I walk.”
The seekers moved closer still. They wanted to know more. They wanted to transform. Something told them that the answer would be revealed. The monk, however, spoke no more. He just sat with his eyes skywards, wondering at the stars.
The seekers were disappointed. They had thought some profound, complex secret would be revealed. But no, the monk had just spoken a single sentence: When I walk, I walk. What could this mean? All of them went to sleep that night with questions chasing his words around … answers nowhere in sight.
The beauty about this moment is that when you are in it,
completely and absolutely, nothing else matters….
All that exists is the activity that you are involved in and you.
Get immersed even further and nothing but the activity remains.
You dissolve. And in those moments,
when there is no ‘you’, what is, is. And that ‘is’ is peace!
The next day, the monk went about his day as always and the seekers followed step. As he plucked the weeds out of his tiny garden, the group helped. The monk smiled to himself as he sensed a peculiar restlessness in the air. However, no one said anything. They had already learnt that answers would come only when answers would come. Usually one amongst them would stumble upon the answer to the monk’s words and share his realization with all the others. The group would internalize it, ponder upon it, and wait until the realization became a part of them. Today, however, revelation didn’t seem to be in the mood of befriending any of them.
The guru chuckled silently and asked the young girl, “Mira, what are you doing right now?”
Surprised by the monk’s question, she replied, “Helping you pluck out the weeds, beloved one.”
He smiled and asked, “What else?”
Mira spontaneously replied, “Nothing else!”
The monk asked, “Are you sure you aren’t doing anything else?”
Mira thought for a minute and said, “Well, I am thinking about your words.”
“And?” asked the monk mischievously.
“Umm … wondering what is there for dinner tonight,” replied Mira with a giggle.
The monk smiled and said, “When I am plucking weeds, I am plucking weeds.”
And with that he went back to doing this chore with the same intensity that he used to meditate, or eat, or watch a sunrise, or speak with them.
The entire group spontaneously burst into smiles. This was the first time that they had all understood something together. Restlessness changed into excitement, and within moments, excitement became peace. The little group of twelve – one master and eleven disciples – plucked weeds as they plucked weeds, that afternoon.
Ever since this story wrote itself out, the very perspective with which I look at life has changed. Queen of multi-tasking, I believed I should not waste a single moment of my life. I packed in as much as I could in every second. I watched movies while exercising. I had breakfast while reading books. I enjoyed a sunrise while chatting on the phone. At any given point I was involved in at least two or three activities … and I wondered why I wasn’t enjoying any.
When I walk, I walk. So simply answered the master. Since yesterday I have been doing this. When I ate, I ate. When I was with my husband Arun, I was with Arun. When I listened to music, I listened to music. Initially it almost appeared too difficult to do just a single thing at a time. I felt restless. I felt irritated. But I didn’t give up. As I pursued a single activity long enough and gave myself to it completely, I realized something within me suddenly shifted. No longer was I living in the past or the future – rather I fell into the coveted ‘now’, the ‘as is’, the ‘present continuous’.
The beauty about this moment is that when you are in it, completely and absolutely, nothing else matters. The unpaid bills, the chores for tomorrow, the aching knee, the worrisome child – in the now none of these exist. All that exists is the activity that you are involved in and you. Get immersed even further and nothing but the activity remains. You dissolve. And in those moments, when there is no ‘you’, what is, is. And that ‘is’ is peace! It sounds almost too simple to be true, doesn’t it? Too commonplace. I always believed finding peace was a treacherous, arduous, difficult process, however I now realize that it is so simple that we miss it.
I always wondered what the difference was between me and a monk. Now I know. Even while meditating I am thinking, planning, scratching and wondering. A monk, even while thinking, planning, scratching and wondering is meditating. If I can learn to do what I am doing, and immerse myself in it completely, meditation will cease to remain a part of my day. It will become a part of me. And gradually, it will become me.
Usually when I write it is while sipping a masala chai, chatting on Facebook and checking my mails. Today, as I write, I write. I can feel the difference. I can almost experience you sitting beside me, a friend, a fellow seeker, as together we live this message: When I walk, I walk.
Article by MEGHA BAJAJ
July 31, 2019
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