Meditation – A Story

I heard this funny story from a Swamiji.
Those were the days when the government took over the temple trusts. Executive officers were appointed to administer the temple expenses. One overzealous officer took over and started scrutinizing the expenses of an ancient temple. The priests, sweepers and other staff of the temple were completely dependent on the temple and their needs were well taken care of by the trust before take over by the government. The trust would distribute rice everyday to the temple staff as part of the wages. The newly appointed officer asked for the list of people who received rice everyday. He started reading out existing list of beneficiaries: 1.Head priest: Six pattais(pattai in Tamil is a measure for rice; It’s roughly a scoop of rice taken with a standard measuring cup). 2. Deputy priest: five pattais; 3.temple cook: four pattais; 4.Sweeper: three pattais 5. The monk who sits around idle: one pattai.

The officer, in his anxiety to cut down on cost, declared a revised list for distribution. He arbitrarily cut down one pattai from each beneficiary. This meant that the monk doing nothing would get nothing. This decision was implemented from the following day onwards religiously. The monk did not complain for 2 days but on the third day he got curious and wanted to know why he was getting nothing. The officer explained that he didn’t deserve anything since he was just sitting idle. On his part, the monk defended himself saying that he was after all doing contemplation. The officer said: Contemplation is not work. The monk challenged him and asked him to sit and do contemplation for a whole day.

The officer took the challenge and sat down in the temple premises exactly at 8am on the following day . He was required to sit for 10 hours from 8am onwards. Within half an hour he became restless. He spent the next 30 minutes tying and untying knots with his dhoti and then with his sacred thread. He started fidgeting and checking time on his watch which was showing just 9am. The monk snatched his watch away saying he had no business checking time while doing contemplation. The officer spent another one hour, became highly restless and confessed to the monk that it was not easy to do contemplation. Immediately, he announced: Chumma irukkara samiyarku rendu pattai, meaning, the monk who does nothing gets 2 pattais of rice instead of his earlier share of one pattai.

Clearly, contemplative life is not for everybody. It’s only for the initiated few who know how to contemplate. We play different roles in our lives everyday. Each role presents its own challenges and problems – some easy to solve and some have no solutions. Therefore, even after we exit from all these roles and sit down for meditation, we’re troubled by the hangover of the roles. They do not go away easily. The frustrations will linger and keep popping up in the mind. That is why meditation requires guidance and initiation.

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Published in: on February 12, 2016 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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