Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Genie and the Mind - Part IV

On hearing that the young man had a clue about where the treasure was, the Genie’s master expressed a huge sigh of relief. The young man, the Genie and his master sat down next to the container to plot their next move.

The young man said, “There were several things that the wise old man told me. As I remember them, some of what he said back then makes sense now in the context of the treasure and other things are very much a riddle. In fact, most of what he spoke was misunderstood by people who came across him. Since he had a reputation of being a kind old soul who did not expect anything from anyone, he was left alone without being ridiculed. I once asked him why he did not speak in a manner that would be easily understood by everyone.”

The wise man replied, “The knowledge of the truth that I have acquired is freely available to anyone who seeks it. The price I paid for this knowledge of the truth that pervades everything is complete detachment and deep introspection.”

The young man asked, “What path did you follow?”

The wise old man replied, “When I was young, I was confused about which path to follow. I read a lot and listened to what learned folk from different lands had to say. Everything I read and heard spoke of the truth, the essence of which appealed to me very much. The destination was spoken about, but not a proven roadmap to get there. When I asked several people about how to get to where they were talking about, there was no clear answer. Every time I came across a path that appealed to me, I found another one that seemed to hold more promise. After wasting a few years following various paths, I decided to shut my eyes and contemplate on what Lao Tzu said; Seeker follow no path, because all paths lead there, truth is here. There is nowhere to go, you are already here.”

The wise man continued, “To me that meant that following a path to the truth was going away from myself, learning what is missing in what I see within myself, and coming back to myself to discover that I was not looking deep enough. The deeper I looked within myself, the more emptiness found. This emptiness is very different from emptiness in the worldly sense, it is not a void created by the absence of something. In fact, is is quite the opposite. Greater the degree of emptiness, the fuller it seems. You can fill this emptiness with one thought, a million thoughts, all the stars and planets in the universe. This emptiness contains everything, including what you see and don’t see. If this emptiness within contains everything, how can you miss something outside? This emptiness has no boundaries. If you see a boundary, you are not seeing this emptiness. Seeing yourself as separate from everyone one or everything around you is seeing this boundary. Human nature is to include some people and some things within this boundary and exclude other people and things outside the boundary. What is within this boundary is considered ‘mine’ and what is outside is considered ‘not mine’. Fear of losing what one considers ‘mine’ and a tendency of the mind to run towards (our likes) or away (our dislikes) from what the mind considers ‘not mine’ leads to misery. It is natural for the mind to think this way just as it is natural for water to flow from a higher to a lower level. It requires energy and effort to move water from a lower to a higher level. The same is required of the mind.”

The wise man continued, “I see this truth everywhere I go, in everyone I see and everything I touch. The harder I seek it, the less I see, the less I seek it, the more I see it. As I close my eyes, this knowledge burns brighter than the sun. Sharing this knowledge through words is as difficult as looking directly at the sun. As one looks at the sun, the natural reaction is for one’s eyes to close shut. The same eyelids open wide in darkness. The minds of people who have not directly perceived what I have seen will close shut if I try to talk about it. The darkness that comes with ignorance of this truth opens the mind to the temptations of the world which ultimately leads to misery and unhappiness.  Directly perceiving this truth insulates the mind from this misery.”

The young man then asked the wise old man, “What is the basis for this knowledge you speak about? A scientist depends on facts and a magician depends on a concealed trick. You are neither a scientist or a magician. What do you depend on?”

The wise man replied, “What supports the earth? What makes it spin in a predictable manner? A ball as big as our earth cannot simply spin around by itself. Scientists may have unravelled some of the mechanics of this mystery but I seek its source. Just as you have faith that you will find the world around you will not change from the time you go to bed each night to the time you wake up in the morning, I have the same faith that the truth I seek will never change. “
The wise man continued, “Everything that we need on earth is supplied by the same earth we live on. We don’t import anything from the heavenly bodies around us except for sunlight. All we do is redistribute amongst ourselves whatever we find on this earth, generating happiness and sorrow in the process. In the last several million years, life on earth in various forms has come and gone, seasons have changed, the appearance of the land and seas may have changed, but the intensity of the sun’s rays have not changed much and will not change in my lifetime or yours. Life in the form of the body and the mind is a gift and this precious gift of life is the the only life boat you will ever have on the rough seas of this world. In order to steer yourself in the direction of this truth that is common to all irrespective of who they are, two things are required. One is supplied by your body and the other supplied by your mind. The physical body is capable of hard work and the mind is capable of righteous thinking. It is never too late to marry hard work and right thinking, even if disease and doubt have set in. After all, even one step in the right direction has more value than a thousand in the wrong direction. Each step in the right direction will bring incrementally more happiness than the previous one. Behind every great invention or discovery, the basic foundation is a human body and a mind. Instead of being inspired by the greatness some people have achieved, we tend to waste our bodies and minds pursuing trivialities. Despite wasting time chasing down objects of the world, our inner potential will always be there as long as we have life in the body and the mind.”

The wise old man continued, “The mind and the body can be compared to a lock and a key. The mind is the lock and the body is the key. Everybody has this lock and key. Just as each lock is unique and different from another lock, each individual mind is unique. All locks serve one purpose, that is, guarding something of value. The lock of the mind has to be opened to see the treasure within. This treasure is freedom from our mental propensities which drag us in different directions. Just as a key can only work with a lock it is meant for, our bodies and minds are fitted to work well with each other. What goes on in the mind affects the body and what happens in the body affects the mind. When one opens a lock, a key is inserted and the palm of one’s hand changes orientation from facing downwards to facing upwards. Similarly, in order to unlock open the doorway of the mind to inner riches, the hands of the body have to first face downwards, willingly giving what we have and serving others, before we can expect to turn our palms upwards to receive the happiness that we have locked up within ourselves. Whether you open or close a lock, the lock has to be kept steady with one hand as you guide the key with the other. It appears easier to keep the mind occupied when it is engaged in worldly thought. It is very difficult to keep the mind still void of worldly thoughts. An easy method of keeping the mind calm and steady is to engage the body in righteous work.”

The wise man continued, “Since the nature of the mind is to dwell on the external world there is a constant danger of the mind slipping back to old habits. When one climbs a tall mountain, the path gets narrower and more dangerous as one nears the summit. One foot slipping even a few inches at the top of a mountain could results in a fall of several thousand feet. A mountain climber depends on a harness, rope and other equipment for safety, the value of which increases as he or she climbs higher. The best safety harness to prevent the mind slipping back into old habit patterns is to constantly engage the mind and body in good thought and action.”

After listening intently to the young man’s recollection of his time with the wise old man, the Genie’s master said, “Now it is becoming more apparent to me that the treasure is somewhere within myself. Why then was I put through the trouble all these years of trying to fill this container with water? Did the wise old man give you other clues?”

The young man replied, “Yes indeed.” He then brought out two glass statues that were given to him by the wise old man. He said, “I have carefully preserved these all these years. I was given specific instructions on what to do with these.”

To be continued...