Lessons from a burnt Chappthi
Sometimes the simplest of our daily life chores teach or give life insights. Two , such simple incidents, on a single day , gave me such an insight.
The first one : While making chappathis for breakfast – after putting a chapathi on the pan, I started thinking of something of the past moment in my life and lost in those Thoughts for a few seconds. The result was a burnt chapathi on hand!. The burned chapathi experience has taught one of the greatest lessons of my life – “Don’t ruin your present by living in the past”.
The second one: An innocuous comment from my spouse, about the taste of vermicelli Kheer prepared at home, casually she said that , it would have been better , if it had some kajus in it. I, think, this is the way, many of us react , when we eat, something , wherever it is. The comment , triggered my thoughts about, how most of us don’t live the moment . We always compare, the present situation with our past experience of similar nature. That’s how, we fail to appreciate the moment at hand. Too often, the beautiful moments of our life are drowned out by the cacophony of self-consciousness and anxiety. Life unfolds in the present. But very often, we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about what's past.
Many of you might have experienced , similar type of experiences , in your daily lives. Can’t we just experience the moment , without bringing in the past ? I think, the day , one starts living in the moment, one will start experiencing life in a different perspective and experience peace with everything. Most of the time , we don’t take our thoughts in awareness. Thoughts control us. To Live in the moment is also called as Mindfulness. When , we live in the moment , we do not judge them. Everyone agrees, its important, but , how to live in the moment on a regular basis? It’s a difficult proposition, because of our habits , accumulated over the years. My search for helping and guiding me to be in the moment, ended with what Buddha had propounded on the subject (maybe I am a bit partial to Buddha’s teachings!)
Right Mindfulness is one of the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddha. Meditation requires – effort, mindfulness and concentration. Among them , mindfulness plays an important role in the acquisition of both calm and insight. Without mindfulness one cannot be fully aware of one’s behavior. This right mindfulness has be applied to each and every thing one does. Whether we walk, stand or sit, speak, eat, drink and in all other activities , we should be mindful and wide awake.
Arousing of Mindfulness:
The Buddha said that the fourfold Arousing of the Mindfulness is one and the only way, along which the liberated ones have safely gone.
1. Mindfulness of the Body
2. Mindfulness of feelings or sensations.
3. Mindfulness of mind or mental process.
4. Mindfulness of mind objects or qualities.
Its being fully aware of our body, sensations, mental processes, and aware of the phenomena all around us.
(for a detailed study on Right Mindfulness and the Noble Eightfold path, you have to refer books on the subject. My ref; is The Budhha’s Ancient Path by Thera Piyadasi)
Mindfulness reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing. If we are sitting in meditation, it brings us back to the focus of meditation. If we are washing dishes, it reminds us to pay full attention to washing the dishes.
In mindfulness, we see things as they really are, without any judgement.
The descriptions of each type of mindfulness ends with the words: “ he lives independent of clinging to nothing in the world” . This is the result aimed at by the meditator. Hard indeed , it is to live clinging to nothing in the world, and our efforts to reach , such high levels of mental life , may not be a success. Yet , it is worth while striving for it.
Someone has said—
Sow a Thought, and you reap a Deed.
Sow a Deed, and you reap a Habit.
Sow a Habit, and you reap a Character.
Sow a Character, and you reap a Destiny – for character is destiny.
Changing the mental habits and the conditioning of a lifetime, is not that easy, as said. The practicing Buddhists say that , it will not happen during Meditation , but practicing it throughout the day.
The teachers advices that , It can also be helpful to choose a particular activity such as preparing a meal, cleaning the floors, or taking a walk, and make an effort to be fully mindful of the task as you perform it. In time you will find yourself paying more attention to everything.
Zen teachers say that if you miss the moment, you miss your life. How much of our lives have we missed? Be mindful!