here's one mental habit that is really hard to root out. how about calling it 'replay-what-if syndrome.' a couple of days ago a situation that has been unfolding for a while suddenly takes an expected turn. i don't like it. by the way this 'i like it, i don't like it' thing' can really take me away from anchoring in the state of cool and calm which are the pillar attributes of my great self. so there i am. i don't like the way things are turning out. boom. before i am aware of it, the mind is like this color wheel on the screen when it keeps spinning but nothing happens. nothing is moving forward. something is stuck. it's kind of like that with my mind. what if i did this? what if i didn't do that? i should have said this. i shouldn't have said that. on and on. fortunately the cumulative power of practices give me a kick in the butt. come on, suk wah. this is not who you are. oops. so i take a deep breath, and on the outbreath decides to turn around. immediately a question comes up. what am i supposed to learn from this? just like that the stuck spinning wheel turns int a river of contemplation. i am back in the present. meanwhile the old habit tries one more time and criticizes, look what price you had to pay. right away a response springs forth. whatever the price, it's dirt cheap.
hey, now i recall something really precious. a story about 'dirt cheap.' it's one of those delightful and profound teaching stories that my guru often tell. i never tire of hearing it. let's see if i can tell it and do it justice.
here it goes.
a poor farmer has several daughters. they are beautiful and ripe for marriages. but the father cannot afford any dowry. in his desperation out of love for his daughters he remembers this guru who has many devotees. they always come for the guru's darshan bearing gifts. the farmer goes before the guru and pleads his case. the guru kindly says, i don't have money, i don't have possessions, but, here's what i suggest, why don't you stay with me a couple of days, whatever people give me they are yours. the farmer is thrilled.
one day goes by. nobody comes to see the guru. another day goes by. the same. nobody comes. a third day goes by. same again. the farmer is discouraged. he says to the guru, i'd better go home. the guru says, i'm so sorry but i can't let you leave with nothing. the guru removes his well-worn straw sandals, give them to the farmer. he says, take them and sell them. the farmer obeys and leaves.
the farmer is a short way from the guru's house thinking, maybe i can sell the sandals and get some food, when he notices a long row of camels and carriages coming in his direction. the man leading them is dressed in gold and silk and dripping jewelry. he stops his gorgeous camel, gets off, approaches the farmer and says, i'm going to my guru, but when i see you from the distance i sense his presence, the nearer i am to you the stronger i sense that. the farmer says, i don't know what you are talking about, i just left his house and he gave me this. the farmer takes out the sandals from inside his wretched tunic. the man's jaws drop, his eyes pop. he points to the long row of loaded camels and carriages behind him and says to the farmer, let me have the sandals and you can have all the jewels, gold, silver and precious incenses they carry.
a little while later the man pranames at his guru's feet and shows him the sandals he acquired. the guru says, how much did you pay for it? the man says, i give him a treasure. the guru says, that's dirt cheap.