The monk sat in a lotus position. Looking out over the courtyard. His eyes were closed. He was trying to meditate, and be present. But the sounds of the courtyard, and the kids that came to visit the monastery annoyed him. He couldn’t be mindful of all this noise.
The monk got up and made his way to the master. The master was in the courtyard teaching the kids from a nearby town about meditation. The kids were attentively listening to the master. The monk waited for the class to be over and then stepped up to the master.
‘Master… Why can’t I seem to experience this presence of mind you were talking about the other day? Why can’t I seem to be more present?’ The monk asked his master.
The master smiled and looked at the monk. ‘Why do you think you aren’t living in the present moment?’ The master asked.
The monk looked around, trying to think of a reasonable answer. ‘I can’t seem to be more present because I keep on noticing my mind wander away in thought. Besides all the noises of the kids in the courtyard were disturbing my peace. That’s why I can’t be more present.’ The monk answered.
The master looks away and observes one of the kids running around in the field. Playing with the grass and dancing joyously. ‘Do you see that child?’ The master asked softly.
‘Of course, I do.’ The monk answered unsure of what the master was trying to tell him.
‘Does that kid look mindful to you? In other words, is she living in the present moment?’ The master asked.
‘Yes she does, she seems happy, and free. After all, she is a child without a spec of worry on her mind.’ The monk replied.
‘Then why do you still think that you aren’t living in the present moment? If even a child can do it, why can’t you do it?’ The master asked. He didn’t wait for an answer before continuing. ‘The child doesn’t make a difference between being present and listening to her thoughts. She knows that both are happening at this very moment. If she wanders away in her imagination or thoughts, she doesn’t say to herself that she shouldn’t, that she isn’t living “mindfully”. The child knows perfectly well that nothing can happen outside of the present moment. Not even thoughts, or imagination.’ The master looks at the monk and sees a slight smile on his face.
‘My friend you’ve been making such a big deal out of living in the present moment that you forgot what it is really all about. To pay attention. That’s what the child does best, she pays attention to everything. And she marvels over everything. That’s all you can do to live in the present moment.’ The master says.
The monk smiles. ‘Thank you, master.’ He says and bows. ‘I didn’t do anything, it was you who came to me. So go on, and pay attention. Be as free as that child, and live as joyous as her. It’s all you can do as a human being.’
The Moral of The Story
This is a small story that changed the way I looked at mindfulness and living in the present moment.
The moral of this story is that many people believe that being present in life is the highest form of being alive. Therefore placing a lot of emphasis on this matter.
But what we then don’t realize is that being present happens in every moment, there is no moment where we aren’t here. Kids know this because they can think, and wander away in thought yet that isn’t a bad thing to them. They are still paying attention to here and now, only their here and now is sometimes filled with thought and imagination.
We cannot be more present or learn to be more present. There is but one simple practice and that is to pay attention to what’s happening right here and now. If you do, you’ll know that meditation isn’t just sitting in a lotus position, but that we can meditate anywhere.
For in this very moment we are alive. Let’s make the most of it, by falling in love with it. Because today we live!