Sunday, February 8, 2009

A 'Focus' Story....

Many of us find it difficult to focus, let alone concentrate. Unless we lead a simple life with no cravings or desire for one's attachment, our Mind will forever be in a flux.

City lights, neon lights, bright lights and countless lights fan the imagination of one. Mass media bombarded us with adverts - beauty products, slimming products, health products, branded products and many many more - these are to feed our vanity and build our EGO. It is these that we have the saying ' You look upon the highest and step on the lowest'. Birds of the same feathers flocked together.

For City folks like us, we are afraid of loneliness. We must party, drink, associate and move around in circles that we said 'we belong'. In the process of doing so, we lost our self. We began to want things, desire things, chase after dreams not realizing that we actually need very little. In the process of chasing dreams, we accumulated debts of emotion and monetary and it makes us unhappy. We no longer look at things we need. We look at things good to have but not must have. This is how samsara is created.

For all my stories, there are morale teachings behind them. To each his own...

There is a village and life here is simple and down to earth. Villagers work in the field in the day and return home in the evening. They pass their time gathering in small community watching puppet shows, listening to storyteller telling them what happened in the outside world from his travelling experiences and chit chatting with each other. Because it is a rice growing village, every household plays a part in exchange for food. The younger and stronger men and women will work on the field. The older men and women work at home by separating rice from husks.

In this village lived an old lady. No one knew whether she had any relative or children. Her house was humble but neat and clean. Everyday she will get up early in the morning, washed her clothes and cooked her meals. She then proceeded to do her daily chore of separating rice from husks.

The amazing thing was the rice grain jumped by itself from one basket to another leaving behind the husks. The old lady would stared at the grains and mumbled to herself. Every mumble, grains jumped. She did not lift a finger to separate them. She has been repeating this as long as she could remember and she never felt that the grain jumping was anything special. She thought it happened to everyone doing the same job.

One day a travelling monk from far saw a very bright light from a distance. It formed a round circle of light hovering over a certain place. He was curious as the light was so clean and bright. Only folks with very high concentration and meditation power will achieve such. He decided to find out for himself. Thus he followed the direction of the lights. As he walked closer, he came to a village. He asked the villagers was there someone special living in the area. 'No' was the answers. So he continued his search. As he walked further into the forest, he saw the light again and it was coming from a small hut. He walked up and knocked on the door. An old lady opened the door. The monk asked....

Monk: Good Mother, may I stay over for the night as it is getting dark. I am a travelling monk. I only need a place to sleep.
Old Lady: Venerable Master, I have a humble hut and if you don't mind, you can stay with me.
Monk: Thank you Good Mother.

The monk walked into the hut. There was a wooden bed made from tree trunk, a small square table and two stools. There was a reclining chair made of wood too. He looked around for family members but it seems there was only the old lady.

Monk: Good Mother, do you live alone?
Old Lady: Yes, Venerable Master. I have no more family as my Old Man died ten years ago.

Monk was curious as to who was the one with such high power meditation that emitted that pure light. However he decided he will find out the next morning. The monk sat on the bed and meditated. To high practitioners, this is the way they sleep.

Next morning when the monk woke up from his meditation, he smell cooked rice fragrance and saw on the table a bowl of hot porridge and some vegetables and beancurds. The old lady was no where to be seen. He quickly finished his breakfast and walked out of the hut. He looked around the surrounding and came to a backyard. He saw the Old Lady bending over a basket. He walked over but the Old Lady did not make any move to acknowledge him. She was deep into meditation. As the monk walked closer, he saw the jumping rice grains. He was amazed and with a mixed of awe and surprise, he bent down next to the Old Lady. He watched her and saw that she was mumbling. Every time she mumbled, the rice grains jumped from one basket to another. The monk bent even closer and he wanted to hear what the Old Lady was saying. He heard 'Ohm mani padme nui, Ohm mani padme nui, ohm mani padme nui. He sat there for a long time. The Old Lady woke up from her concentration and saw the monk.

Old Lady: Good Morning Venerable Master, hope you have a good night. I left some food on the table for you.
Monk: Thank you Good Mother for your hospitality. May I ask what did you chant when you are separating the rice grains and the husks?
Old Lady: It is something I read from a book. It said this is the heart mantra of Chenrezig. As I am not educated I tried to figure out the syllabus and it is 'Ohm mani padme nui'. I have been chanting that ever since.
Monk: Oh, you chanted it wrongly. It is 'Ohm mani padme hum' and not 'Ohm mani padme nui'.
The Old Lady was sad that she actually chanted the mantra wrongly. She corrected the mantra to 'Ohm mani padme Hum'. As she needs to remember them anew, she lost her concentration. The rice grains did not jump anymore. It slowed her down.

The monk left the hut after he told the Old Lady the correct way to chant. As he walked deeper into the forest, he turned back to see the light. There was no light. He was puzzled and it suddenly occurred to him that he made a mistake. He had deprived the Old Lady of her concentration and now she has lost her focus. He quickly made his way back to the hut and explained that the Old Lady was right. It was not how you chant it, it is how focus you are in chanting it. To the Old Lady 'Ohm mani padme nui' represents Chenrezig. The Old Lady was happy again and she continued her routine and the grains started to jump again.

Monk left the hut with a peaceful mind. He was happy that the Old Lady had attained such high level of concentration. After certain distance, he turned back and looks into the sky and he saw this big, clean, clear white light like a moon. He clasped his hands and bowed in the direction. He met Bodhisattva Chenrezig.

So, this story is telling us the power of concentration. Our mind is like a monkey. It is never still. It is very good in thinking and making up stories in our favors. This come about because we absorbed what we hear from others or perceived what we believe is true. That is fantasy. This World is a make believe. It exists as long as you exist. We think that it is a 'real' world. It is a conditioned World.

We should focus and concentrate, not only in meditation but also in our daily life as we go about doing our work and dealing with people. We should do it all the time - walking, sitting, eating, doing our business in the toilet, talking etc.

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