While the master and the disciple were enjoying a walk in Nature on an ample sidewalk, a mother walked with her son in the same direction as them for a couple of seconds. They overheard the little kid saying: “I will clean up the front porch of the house, but if you want it done right it will cost you more than what you want to give me.”
The master decided to stop by a pond and asked: “ Would you charge me if I ask you to clean up my front porch?” The disciple was perplexed by that question but immediately said: “No, Master.”
The master said: “Why not?” The disciple said: “ I am grateful that I am your disciple and you do not charge me for that.” The master then said: “Your education is different from that kid who charged his mother to clean up the porch of the house.”
The disciple said: “ He is living in her house and obtaining many benefits but he doesn’t realize that. I wonder why?” The master responded:” He has been trained alright to know the value of coins and bills. He wants to get the maximum profit that he can. That was his education.”
The disciple said:”The word education can be understood in many ways, master. In this case, you are saying that the mother has taught that kid to act in that way…”
The master said: “ You said that. Let us talk about that word, education. What does it mean to you?”
The disciple who was versed in dictionary meanings said: “ Well, education is the process to acquire general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself intellectually for mature life.”
The master said: “Very well. What about acquiring beliefs, values, skills and habits. Is that education too?”
The disciple said: “Yes, master but that depends on the setting. Someone from a different country will have different values and beliefs.”
The master said: “Therefore education depends on a particular setting. Isn’t that called training or even indoctrination to fit into that particular country?”
The disciple said: “Yes, master. We could call that training too.”
The master said: “ Society has a way to train a person to fit into it. Society values the economy over any other thing. Therefore, that training will be geared towards that end. The development of reasoning and judgment will be centered in that value of economics. Do you see that?”
The master continued:” Even if you are well versed in languages, arts and sciences; you are only trained to fit into the boundaries of society. Thus, education in our society is just training to acquire skills to fit in, to promote the ways and beliefs of that society. However, Life or Nature does not fit into those narrow boundaries. Society has borders, Nature does not. What sort of training do you need to understand Life, to enjoy it? How does society prepare you for that?”
The disciple thought for a few seconds and said: “When I attended a University, I had a few courses in psychology, philosophy and religion. I guess that is the extent of my preparation for that Life beyond the boundaries of society along with my beliefs and values.”
The master said: “ Life does not usually use the language of reasoning. If you would like to understand Life, a vision based only on intellectual reasoning is very superficial and narrow. Thinking cannot see the whole for it is fragmentary. But why is it so important to understand Life, you may say? Well, most individuals want happiness and all they do is acquire, buy things, power and wills. They believe that happiness can be purchased. Most individuals want to feel at peace and what they do is prepare themselves to fight in case someone takes away what they have accumulated. Most individuals want fulfillment in this life experience but all they find is seclusion from their roots, from Nature, and rather live artificial lives surrounded by concrete, artificial food which they need to purchase, and dependency on a few coins which you must obtain to survive. Many in the world, have to work selling widgets 7days a week to survive. Imagine that life! No time to smell the roses. No time to feel! They will be closer to Nature only when they are depressed, or when they want to take something from it. If these individuals acquire more knowledge or training to have a better standard of living, they become slaves of their acquisitions and status, ever fearful that those could go away. In that conditioning, most speak about love, peace and happiness and even justice without knowing those through experience. Labels become their mental, reasonable reality; but there are no feelings no meaning behind those words. Those labels are empty, lifeless, but yet minds are obsessed with those words. Do you see the importance of that education and where it may lead you if you become unaware? That kid will work only because he wants profit. He does not know about the common good. On the other hand, you will work and you will do it with joy. Isn’t that another type of education? “
In a lovely afternoon, the rain was sparsely falling with utmost care. Its main function wihtout doubt, is to nourish all plants. That, we could say it is Nature’s responsibility.
Once the rain stopped, the master and his disciple observed some tiny hummingbirds, flying rapidly from flower to flower. They had another responsibility to fulfill as well.
The master asked: “ As you could see every being in Nature has a task. Something which they are responsible for. I have a question for you: What is responsibility? Search the answer in yourself. I will ask you that question again tomorrow.”
The disciple was confused. He knew that Spiritual teachings are different than merely finding a dictionary definition. But, just in case he read those dictionary definitions but also he looked up written material from spiritual gurus. He wanted to come up with a solid, informative, thought out answer for his master.
The day arrived quickly, and they met at the same place. The master asked: “What is your answer?”
The disciple said: “ Master, there are different views of that word. For most it is about fulfilling an obligation or duty and to accept the consequences of following certain path which was thought to be the best. Now, for a spiritual guru; responsibility is the duty that oneself has to dissipate darkness, and to be our own lighthouse.”
The master said: “ Alright. There is no point in repeating what others have said. Look in Nature. Do you believe that beings in Nature act based on a sense of duty or obligation?”
The disciple said: “No, master. I believe they have an intention guiding them to act. It is almost as if they were in tune, vibrating with what is needed.”
The master said: “ You know we are all one. Most humans do not experience that and they come up with definitions to support their collective individualistic view. In Nature; the intention of all beings is aligned with their actions. That is their responsibility. It is not a duty or an obligation as the dictionary may say. Observe how responsibility for humans, has been tinted with an accountable burden. It is that constant perception of separation given by their minds, which has distorted their feelings.”
The disciple smiled as he thought he gave the “correct answer.”
The master said: “Very good! But there is more.”
The disciple was surprised: “More?”
The master said: “Yes. When we are not conscious of our potential, we do not know our function and we could fall sleep in the belief that we are ‘good responsible people’ to the point where we forget to do what it is truly important. Therefore, discover your potential within; that is how you belong as a particular piece of the totality of Life. Then you will know your responsibility.”
If we are aware, we could learn many Life lessons from almost everywhere. Even from the dentist office!
The disciple went to visit the Orthodontist. He had one front tooth crooked and he wanted to fix it so his smile could look much better. The disciple thought that to fix only one tooth, would be a matter of a few weeks. He was shocked to find out that it could take half a year or even more.
The disciple went to see his master afterwards. The disciple exclaimed: “Master, to make only one tooth straight, it will take half a year! In the meantime I will need to wear braces which I heard could be messy after eating.”
The master smiled and said: “Naturally, you have the option not to do it. Remember that Nature designed your teeth that way. You will only pay the fair price to change things.”
The disciple said: “ Master, I want to have a nice smile!”
The master said: “ Alright. But let that smile come from a relaxed gut like a child. That is a frank smile which is appreciated by all. You could have perfect teeth with a fake smile. Remember to talk to your body, your mouth and give it a little massage and explain to it what you desire to do. In that way you will have its natural cooperation. It is not just to do it because you want it done. ”
The disciple couldn’t understand that advice. After all, those were “his” teeth. But he was going to follow his master’s advice anyway… just in case.
The master continued: “Remember that in Life things get worse before they get better. You may observe that some of your teeth move all around just to allow for that one tooth to be straight. That takes time and concerted cooperation. Most are used to fix things right away without obtaining consensus from others. That way of fixing is a violent fixation indeed. Everything needs time to accommodate. By being aware of the need for cooperation to reach a common objective, you are allowing for lasting, harmonious change.”
The disciple said: “Yes, master. I can see that many times even though we have an idea to progress, there has to be consensus by all involved. Although, I have observed that many times something good could turn into something bad as well. Why is that master?”
The master replied: “ Remember the game of duality. Good goes together with bad. You could praise someone many times. That is good. But then she could learn to expect that and become a tyrant. Therefore, here is another important teaching from Life: Learn when to stop. This not an easy lesson. It requires to have a sense of balance. Perhaps this lesson is of utmost importance to preserve ourselves: Exercise all you want, but learn when to stop. Eat all you want, but learn when to stop. Pursue your dreams, but learn when to stop. When you walk from point A to point B, it is a matter of moving forward. But when you walk in Life and become a Life walker or a seeker; it is not a straight path. You move two steps forward and then one backwards and perhaps a couple steps to the right and half to the left and then you stop and go at it again. It is a dance, not a walk! Therefore, remember to listen to the music being played so you can dance harmoniously, in balance. Those fixed in improving all the time and moving forward no matter what, believe that Life is a contest, a struggle where they need to win. They do not know when to stop. Moreover, they do not know how to dance. Thus, what joy could there be in their journeys, if there is a song playing and they do not listen to it ?”
Life means to experience. It is a learning experience of remembering, what paradoxically we already know. Many other beings are there around us to help us recall, if we just have the time and disposition to observe.
It was a huge park with a couple of lakes and walking paths resembling a figure 8 of about 2 miles long. It was surrounded by different trees and small wild animals. There was a “dog park” as well. The master and the disciple decided to walk by the dogs over there.
It was a party of barking dogs, but their attention went to a small dog who was attempting to defecate.
The master said: “ Observe carefully how that dog is trying to relieve itself.”
The disciple looked disconcerted at the dog and thought to himself: “what is so great about dog poop!”
The dog was laboring, squatting and putting most of its weight on its hind legs while arching its lower back and looking straight up. It took about half a minute.
When the dog was done, the master asked to his disciple: “What did you learn?”
The disciple was shocked as he wasn’t expecting such question. Nevertheless, he was trying to come up with something quick, maybe “spiritual” or “intelligent” to say, but he couldn’t.
After a few seconds the master said: “ A long time ago a philosophical friend of mine asked me a deep existential question: Why dogs don’t have to wipe and humans do? There is the answer. Did you see it?”
The disciple said: “Well… Dogs are using their four legs. Humans are typically sitting in a water closet… ”
The master said: “Fantastic! Before the water closet was invented humans had to squat. Now that exercise is gone for most. The optimal posture needed is as dogs are showing us. Did you know that bowel movement from wild animals are beneficial for the environment but not the ones from domesticated animals?”
The disciple was turning his face red. He wasn’t expecting such a “crappy” conversation!
The disciple said: “No master, I did not know but I understand that pets eat mostly artificial food and that could have a detrimental consequence on the ecosystem.”
The master said: “Correct! That is why pet owners need to pick up their pets’ waste. Shall we now speak about the need to use toilet paper to wipe ourselves? What was used before that? Do you know that some cultures use the fingers of their left hand to clean themselves?”
The disciple felt very uncomfortable and his face kept turning red.
The master smiled and said: “ I see that you are turning red. What did you learn from that?”
The disciple felt awkward, but he gathered some courage and said: “This conversation about poop in general is getting on my nerves.”
The master observed his disciple, waited for a few seconds to respond and said: “ I understand. Observe the rejection inside you for such topics. It is merely another topic but your traditions, your conditioning is coming out and making a taboo out of this. This conversation is working you out. Most individuals do not observe their rejections through conditioning to different topics but accept them and even defend them; which in turn will close their perspective for new Life experiences. Now perhaps, you could understand to some extent the significance of the word ‘open minded.’ That word does not mean to do whatever another believes, but to acknowledge their opinions as if you were listening to the songs of a nightingale. Don’t need to say anything back, but just listen.”
The disciple asked: “Master, It seems like awareness is the solution to every problem. What is awareness? I gather it deals with being awake and to realize the underlying thing as it occurs, but is that all?
The master listened carefully and responded: “ Many times our conditioning is so strong that it will not allow us to consider other ways of looking at Life. To begin, when we refer to the word ‘problem,’ we have the conditioning of society, where Life is about solving problems. If there is something that we do not like, then we have a problem and we put our efforts to resolve that. Anything which doesn’t fit our vision of Life becomes a problem to solve. We usually do not believe in changing ourselves to fit the setting. Awareness inside society, is about the perception of a situation or a fact. However, the very act of perception is colored with our own conditioning. Therefore, there are many degrees of perceptions, some closer to the fact than others.”
The disciple asked: “could you be more specific, master?”
The master continued: “For example; for many individuals, Life is about survival. The economy has great importance even though that is a man made game. Nevertheless, we take that as a fact of Life, and many individuals could suffer if we don’t. For instance, if someone is hungry that is because she has no money. Money is a human creation, we are stuck in that mind game. Similarly with political systems. Individuals believe that there is a system which is the best. However, human beings run those systems and ultimately, human moral values have utmost importance behind any system where the common good is the objective, rather than group or party loyalty.”
The disciple said: “ I understand now. We have a socio-economical, political, religious conditioning which act as reading glasses and we see the world through those. We see problems there, and we try to solve those but we cannot take those glasses off.”
Then the master said: “It takes awareness to take those glasses off but at the same time, to be able to wear them when dealing with the world of those wearing glasses. They call that world ‘reality.’ That is the irony of Life to live in a ‘real’ world of individuals wearing distorted glasses.”
The disciple said: “ I understand master. But, is that the extent of awareness?”
The master looked at the disciple before responding to assess his readiness. The master said:” There is way more. That is just the most superficial layer. Greater awareness will take you into self knowledge and the nature of being and reality. This is not a study. This doesn’t deal with picking up a book and be informed with someone’s ideas. You need to experience all of those things under a setting of tranquility and silence, away from the conditioning of any system. Great deal of unlearning needs to take place first. The idea that “I know” will dissolve into oblivion. As you change, you will be wearing a different set of glasses, which others will not understand. Even though you will suffer a much lesser degree of nearsightedness, you will need to be aware that glasses are still being worn.”
The disciple said: “ Ah! The goal is to take those glasses off.”
The master smiled and said: “There is no goal. It happens when we are ready. Remember this riddle: The ‘problem’ is not the glasses being worn but the belief that there is someone wearing them. Awareness is required to figure that one out.”
The master and the disciple sat in a comfy bench near a small park, that had narrow walking pathways. A girl came close by while walking her little puppy dog. The disciple started playing with the puppy and the master smiled during that “free time.”
After the girl left with her puppy dog, the master said: “ That puppy is playfulness. Everything is a new experience for that dog. If the experience in front is comforting, the dog will wag its tail. If the next experience is not that comforting, the dog may cry. The response is clear and does not carry over for another time in the future. That dog has the capacity to move on unburdened, for a new experience in Life.”
The disciple said: “ Yes, master. The mood of a puppy is stable in playfulness.”
The master then said: “ Have you observed that many people have lost that zest for playfulness in Life?”
The disciple responded: “Yes, master. As we grow older we tend to accumulate experiences in our memory and use the outcome of those to meet other experiences in our lives. If we get enough good experiences, we end up with an overall happy mood; but if our experiences are overall bad, then we could become bitter and revengeful.”
The master said: “Most cannot let go. However; all experiences are fleeting and the perception of good experiences, are followed by bad ones for this is the world of duality. Everything that you believe to be yours, will go away. Even what you believe to be, will change. Do you see this tremendous fact?”
The disciple nodded his head in agreement.
The master continued: “Intellectually we make sense of that fact. But we cannot process it when a challenging experience appears to make our theoretical learning practical. Do you know why?”
The disciple took a few seconds and responded: “ No, master. It is said that most people are just theory when challenges occur in their lives. If all of the sudden I lose everything I have, I will react and become bitter, angry and will fight to recover what is mine.”
The master said: “Correct. Even though we understand things intellectually, those do not make a change in what we are. Listen to this carefully: Human beings believe that Life is an intellectual experience. The mind always wants to understand. That procedure mostly works in society but not in Life. The Universe is not intellectual. It is more on the emotional side. Love is the way to understand it.”
The disciple said: “ But love is not an emotion, master.”
The master responded: “You are correct again. The Universe, Life is not to be understood intellectually. It is to be Loved. Probably that didn’t make much sense? Those are the limitations and nuances of language.”
The disciple said: “ Interesting master. But what is Love then?”
The master smiled and said: “Intellectually, when there is no difference between the observer and the observed. When the perceiver is the perceived… Everything. Just like the Universe, Life. If that did not make much sense, it is because it was said quite accurately. It is said that God is Love. Thus, Love is God. ”
The master perceived that his disciple was uncomfortable, for he was challenging some of his disciple’s deep rooted beliefs. Then, the master looked at his disciple with Love and said: “Love is not a romantic emotion. It is conscious presence. Open your heart to newness and clean your mind from the old, just like that puppy dog. That is the door to feel Love and thus, to know it.”
The disciple had a typical walk of about 3 miles before meeting his master. In his walk, the disciple witnessed how a person stole a cellphone from another, who was walking on the opposite side walk; then he observed that the amount of indigent people begging for money in the company of their small kids, had increased.
The disciple met his master and almost immediately asked him: “Master, are any of these things that you teach me useful to help solve the problems in the world? I see people stealing, I see people hungry begging for money and I hear that people kill one another for personal interest, and yet laws do not seem to help. There is a general idleness to do something real about it.”
The master said to his disciple: “Let me sit down to talk about it.” The master sat and observed the sense of emotional helplessness that his disciple experienced.
The master said: “ What you are learning is called spirituality by many. However, that is a very imprecise label. What you are truly learning is to live life in balance. Therefore, before knowing balance you must experience lack of it, disharmony. Once you are feed up, you will experience inner struggle; then you will be open to look somewhere else, to listen to something different. That is the process.”
“But master,” interrupted the disciple “that can take a long time for others and we need action now.”
The master observed the eagerness of his disciple to change things immediately, and said calmly: “Life has its own processes. There is a process of maturity for a a fruit to be ripe and ready to be eaten. Similarly is with human beings. When we do not understand that, we react and act violently to repress. In human history a reactionary movement has been used to suffocate something perceived as unfair. That is usually the task of politicians who experience that level of consciousness. Out of that struggle, something else happens one way or another, creating further friction which is met with further reaction. At this time, there are many individuals believing that laws and politics can change the world on a positive direction, however; they fail to observe that further struggle comes up, no matter what. That is what human beings label as problems.”
After a brief pause, the master saw the reaction of his disciple as if he was waiting for something else, a cure, a formula that will help everyone.
The master said: “ You are ready to look inside therefore your experiences will be different. Most humans are not ready. Many are always looking outside and trying to change things from an idealistic position. For example, many politicians believe in political systems as the necessary value to change the world; but they do not look at their own greed, their own violence, nor the ones following the ideal, the people. If they knew that, they could understand that any idealistic system that they choose will fail, for what they ARE is different from the ideal that they want to implement. Laws can force someone to DO something, but they cannot change that person to BE something else.”
The disciple was a bit disappointed with that reply and said: “Master, the systems implemented in the world have brought technological improvement and greater life expectancy. Something must be right.”
The master smiled and said: “The psychological and emotional profile of man has been the same or even degraded as time has gone by. Greater life expectancy is not the same as quality of life. Stress, anxiety, fear, anguish, restlessness, worry, neurosis.. with greater life expectancy, those will last longer as well. There is no balance there, and that is what human beings will learn to sense. Trust the process.”