Having done meditation in one form or another for most of my life, I have come across lots of analogies concerning it. The most common of these being, “the reflection of the moon.” In this analogy the clarity of a meditation practitioner’s mind is likened to the clarity of the reflection of the moon on a puddle of water.
When someone begins to meditate for the first time, their mind runs wild with lots of random thoughts. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the beginner to clear his/her mind. In the moon analogy, the moon barely looks like a white circle on the surface of the water, due to the choppiness and muddiness of the water caused by the constant wind. As the meditator continues with his/her training, the random thoughts tend to lesson.
Over time there might be large gaps with no random thoughts. The moon is now visible as a moon in the reflection. The wind has stopped, except for an occasional gust, the surface of the water is flattening out and the dirt is starting to settle. Sometimes the moon can even be seen in perfect clarity as if it was being observed directly. Otherwise, the wind kicks up some small waves on the water and causes the reflection to distort. The wind is short lived however, and the water calms down again. This dance of wind and no wind plays out randomly as do the thoughts of the meditator.
After years of practice, the water is crystal clear and so is the reflection of the moon. One would be hard pressed to tell if they were looking directly at the moon or at a reflection of it. At this point the meditator sits with no random thoughts for extremely long periods of time.
The second most common analogy is, “the pine tree through the window.” This analogy starts with the beginner looking through a frost covered window at a pine tree. Initially, all he/she can see is a green shape in a rough form of a triangle, due to the frost on he window and the bad winter storm outside. As the frost starts to melt and the storm subsides, the experienced meditator can finally start to see the pine tree. Once all the frost has disappeared the master meditator can see the tree in all of its beauty. All the minute details are visible: the individual pine needles, the pine cones and even the true texture of the bark.
My favorite analogy wasn’t presented to me in a long story or even in some Hollywood like mystical setting, as the other two were. I was simply sitting and waiting for one of my instructors to speak after a round of meditation. When, after expecting a 30 minute talk on meditation, he came into the room and simply said, “Dust Happens!” and then left, I was very surprised. At first I thought, “that’s it?” But, over the years I have developed a strong love (and sometimes hate) for those two words. Think about it for a moment, “Dust Happens!” No matter what you do, you will have dust. You can clean a room for hours and hours until every surface is dust free. If you leave for a few days and come back, even if no one goes into the room when you are gone, there will be dust. There will be even more dust if the room is used for those few days you are gone.
So what is one to do? The only thing that can be done: clean on a daily basis. We can even purchase equipment to make the cleaning faster and more efficient, but if you want to keep up with the dust you must clean daily. You can probably guess how this relates to meditation. The beginner enters a room that hasn’t been cleaned in years and starts cleaning. The problem is that because there is so much dust/dirt the very act of cleaning stirs up lots of dust into the air and will simply settle someplace else a few moments later. After lots and lots and lots of cleaning, the room is finally clean. However, taking a break now would definitely be a mistake, because when you finally returned to cleaning, the room would be dirty again. Granted it wouldn’t be as dirty as in the beginning, but it would be a lot dirtier and take a lot longer to clean then if a little time had been spent cleaning on a daily basis.
So the advantages of cleaning daily include the small amount of dirt and the short time required to clean it. The same is true for meditation, once the mind has been disciplined, daily practice is essential. It is much better to practice daily for a short period of time than to practice weekly for a long period of time.
Something to think about…