Once Buddha was going from one town to another town. A few of his followers were also with him. This was in the initial days. While they were traveling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”
The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!”
So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake.
This time too he found that the lake was muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same.
After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back. The disciple reached the lake to find the lake absolutely clean and clear with pure water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “What did you do to make the water clean? — Nothing. You only let it be…. and the mud settled down on its own and you got clear water.
“Your mind is also like that! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
There are two aspects to this technique. Firstly, as Buddha says, it takes some time for the mud to settle down. Similarly it takes some time to get the mind cleared. Mind is not attached to any thoughts, feelings or emotions. It is fickle and keeps on changing. As a child, whatever thoughts, feelings and emotions we entertained in our mind and intellect are no more there. They have now been replaced by a new set of thoughts, feelings and emotions. They will also subsequently be replaced by newer and newer sets.
Secondly, when we stand in the balcony and watch the road, we see the traffic moving along with the people, but we are a passive witness to these movements on the road. They don’t affect us. If something bad happens to anyone on the road it doesn’t affect us. At the most we may sympathize and say, ‘it shouldn’t have happened’. Why, because we have given zero value to them. In life we observe that only those things and beings, to which and to whom, we have given any value, whether positive or negative, will affect us. Their presence or absence will affect us. A change in their quality and behaviour will affect us. So the more things and beings we give zero value to, neither positive nor negative, the less our mind will be affected.
Those things and beings with whom we are attached to, will affect us. These attachments are cause of our greatest miseries. The more intense the attachment, the more miserable we will be. The absence of things and beings, to which we are attached, and a negative change in their quality and behavior, will make us miserable.
Understand that nothing in this entire creation is permanent. Everything is temporary, ephemeral, a passing phase. There is no point in holding on to something which will eventually slip away. Experience and enjoy it as long as it is there. Once it slips away, moves away or ends, either slowly or abruptly, it is time to move on.
Time heals almost everything.
Give time time.
Don’t hang on to the past. We can’t change a single moment of our past. Forget the past events and experiences, but remember the lessons learnt from them. Don’t worry too much about the future. Live in the present moment.
Life is not lived in the tomb of the dead moments of the past, or in the womb of the unborn moments of the future. It is lived dynamically in the present moment.