I have the incredible good fortune and experience of hanging, playing and teaching now and again with a grace filled Buddhist monk.
In all the years I’ve known him, he really hasn’t ever offered anyone another idea for happiness or relief of suffering other than meditation. We sat in a Yoga Studio a few years ago and this man came up to us after a meditation class and was crying and so broken and desperate for some sturdy happiness.
The monk has this ability to express his love in the form of this radiant deep listening he seems to have mastered.
When he finally spoke, I was surprised by his answer “My dear, before we talk of these issues again, let’s agree to practice meditation for six months and then we’ll sit down and determine how to work this all out.”
When we got in the car I was mad. I knew he could have helped him right then, even just a little and in that instant I thought he was full of crap, the whole gig of adding more love to the world and being this servant to humanity… I was convinced his cold response negated that all and I said as much to him:
“That man was really struggling and so sad, why didn’t you help him more right now? “
“Upasaka, when the day comes that you don’t desire things, that day you know you are dead. When the day comes that you don’t have compulsive attraction towards things that don’t serve you, that day you know you are dead. We spend way too much time believing we need to rid ourselves of these desires. Rigorous meditation is the only thing I know that helps you identify the nature of those compulsions and be able to live in observance of them rather than acting on them.”
“But you could have given him a little comfort now, some wisdom to help him get started, why didn’t you?”
“His mind is so clouded and his heart so guarded we must first create the space for him to hear and feel, that requires meditation. Do you realize how much peace he will find in the sacred silence of a meditation space? Don’t you realize how much it will fuel his heart and soften him mind? If he commits to 6 months of practice, even if he hardly does it at all, when we meet again we’ll have very little to talk about other than the results of the practice. I’m just a simple monk, it’s all I know to offer but it works every time so far.”
And drinking salt water are one and the same.