The Man With The Stick


Many centuries ago there was a city where the inhabitants had amassed much wealth, all except for one man, who had always been deemed a bit odd by everyone else.  He was an old mystic who lived alone on the outskirts.  Early one morning there was an earthquake, and the city started to crumble.  The citizens were in a blind panic and in their desperation tried to rescue what they could from their wealth of possessions.  With their arms full of diamonds, gold, money, artefacts and treasures; all were running for their lives.  Amongst all the chaos and clouds of dust the old mystic ambled along with just his stick, seemingly oblivious to what was going on around him.

One disturbed citizen stopped and said to the old man, “what are you doing?  The city is crashing down around us and we are trying to rescue what we can of our wealth, but you are just walking with your stick, as if you are taking a morning stroll.”  The old mystic laughed and said, “the stick is my only possession.  You have all measured success by the impermanence of objects, I on the other hand have the greatest wealth of all; awareness, which I carry within me.  But you are right about the morning stroll, I always take a walk at this time of the morning.”

As the flustered man continued running the old man shouted, “you can’t have a painting without the canvas!”

Indeed, you cannot start a painting if you do not have something on which to paint.  In the same way that it is a complete and utter waste of time to base your life, values and ambitions etc. on objects; even if they are objects of wealth.  The important thing is to prime the canvas (inner world) before chasing objects in the outer world.  Without these foundations in place there is nothing to support us when our own personal world comes crashing down; which it invariably does from time to time.  The old mystic was a realised soul and remained completely unmoved by the chaos around him.

The nature of the egoic mind is such that it can never be satisfied.  So, whether you crave left-handed spanners or vast amounts of money, the ego’s thirst for these things will never be quenched.  Seek first the Secret Garden of the Soul; once you are centred within this awareness, worldly objects can then be enjoyed as they were meant to be enjoyed, without fruitless obsessions.

The Man On The Hill


As you know, if we see a snowflake in the UK the whole country grinds to a halt, and today we have a little more than that (hope you like the pics and short video of my back garden).  So, it is appropriate, that since my place of work sits up on high ground six miles from here, and my place of work is shut because of the snow, I have got the chance to write a blog post called, “The Man On The Hill”.  It is an old Zen parable, but I have put my own spin on it and will relate it in my own way of speaking.

Three friends were out walking, and in the distance, high up on a hill, they could see a man, seemingly just standing there.  As they walked, they started to speculate amongst themselves as to what he was doing.  The first man said, “I think he is looking for his dog”.  The second man said, “no, I think he is looking for his friend”.  The third man said, “no, you are both wrong, I think he is just getting some fresh air”.  As they walked, they continued to have the discussion and eventually they found themselves following the path leading up the hill.

After a while they reached where the man was standing and curiosity got the better of them.  “Excuse me”, said the first man, “but we couldn’t help but wonder what you are doing, are you looking for your dog”?  “No, I’m not”, came the reply.  The second man spoke up, “then are you looking for your friend”?  “No”, came the reply again.  The third man then asked, “are you just enjoying the fresh air”?  For the third time, the man answered, “no I’m not”.  The three friends, completely baffled, then asked, “If you are not engaged in any of those things can you please tell us what you are doing”?  “I’m just standing”, replied the man.

“Just standing”, could be “just chopping wood”, “just washing up”, “just cutting the grass”, but what the man is really saying is, “I’m just being”.  The three friends are typical of the monkey-like chatter of the egoic mind.  It didn’t even occur to them that the man could be “just standing”, they had to pigeonhole what he was doing.  So, they created several imaginary stories as they speculated their way along the path.  It is no    coincidence that there are three of them; the three friends being symbolic of the holy trinity of the physical world.  We can also relate the three friends to the three states that we experience in this world of matter; waking, dream and deep sleep.  The man “just standing” represents the “God-state” of Turiya, which exists beyond all triads.

This is what makes Zen so wonderfully unique in relation to other religions.  Zen, “The Experience of Pure Knowing”, will awaken within you when you are ready.  A Zen master will simply give you the key to open up the knowing that has always existed within you.  Whereas, a teacher of religion will fill your head with knowledge based on the past.  Knowledge = Non-sense; Knowing = God-sense.

I will just finish off by sharing with you something rather ironic that occurred to me as I was pondering writing this post.  All the great spiritual masters who founded the religions of the world, were exceptional souls who broke the mould.  They did not follow the crowd; on the contrary, they were inspirational leaders and exceptional individuals.  But to be a follower of an organised religion means that you have to be the exact opposite of the religion’s founder; in other words you have to conform to convention.  To be a Christian for example, you have to be an Anti-Christ, you have to become a sheep and follow the crowd.  Christ himself did not advocate hierarchy; all were equal in his eyes.  Now there are hundreds and hundreds of Christian cults and sects, all run by committees and people (mainly men) with titles, who dictate to the masses in accordance with their own limited understanding.  This is an indication of the man-made, egoic nature of organised religion.  I have written many times about this.  The spirit evolves via the adventure of experience, not by conforming to outdated, fear-based, man-made rules, regulations and rituals.  CAN I GET AN AMEN?  Maybe not…