Let us start with a small story that will help us in understanding this topic much better.
There was a king of a vast and prosperous kingdom. A leader who had got all, be it money, fame, personality, charisma, strength, or a beautiful queen. He had complete authority over the people. If at all a word came from his mouth, even by mistake, it got converted into a law.
It was going all good until his popularity and prosperity fell into the eyes of a neighbor’s wicked king. The king knew that the wicked king was getting jealous of him and planning to attack him but he felt that his army was too strong to become concerned about the same. He ignored the repeated warnings of his ministers about the threat which the wicked king may potentially have.
It did not take much time for the wicked king to launch an attack. One night the wicked king with his mighty army, and complete preparations, armed with the latest ammunition and additional force which he seemed to have borrowed from another kingdom, finally barged into his kingdom. It was like a no-match, it seemed to be a one-sided battle. His army was given an option by the other king to run away if they wanted because they were anyways going to be killed. All the warriors along with all the trusted ministers ran away and some also joined the opposition.
Everybody except the beautiful queen stood by him. She urged the king to succumb and accept the defeat. But the king stood there without any emotions on his face. He stayed peaceful and calm, though there was a little trace of fear of being shot by a ferocious arrow by the warriors. When the queen could not persuade the king, even she ran away. The king did not stop her. The fear of the king increased when he heard the warriors entering his palace. His fear of getting killed finally exceeded the limits. It was too late for him to run now, so he decided to close his eyes and was prepared to be shot down.
With closed eyes, he focussed on his breath. With every inhalation, he felt that he was drawing all the beauty, peace, and calm within himself. And with every exhalation, he was getting rid of his emotions of fear and anxiety. This was the time during which he experienced brief enlightenment. That moment was unmatched, more precious than all the glory and his possession, he had in his life.
“I have had what I wanted, now I don’t mind getting killed,” he yelled when his wife woke up and inquired whether he had seen a dream. It was a dream alright, but the king was fortunate that at least he knew that there was something like enlightenment in life. It was a brief moment, but it is something that people yearn for all their life.
Is it so simple? Can we experience Nirvana just by closing our eyes and letting things happen as they do? Of course not, it’s a process but the gist is we need to be attentive to what we do. Anything done without awareness is like living a reactive life. It is like sitting on a horse and letting the horse take control. Or letting a robot do repetitive tasks which never allow human emotions to blossom.
It is a huge topic for sure, as whole books are written about it. The beautiful Zen philosophy is all about living mindfully. It is a process that begins from a mind which is FULL and needs to be transformed into a process called MINDFUL. Like what the king did, we need to get rid of the outside noise. People will come and go, and so will all our wealth and other possessions. Even if we possess all this, it might make just a little difference or no difference at all. Living an aimless life, going in circles will not take us in any direction.
It is important to be aware of each and every moment. “Awareness” is the key to living mindfully. A moment if lived with awareness will become a precious moment. The moment cannot be judged in terms of minutes or hours. Doing it will pollute the whole idea of the moment. But even if you do, consider a moment as a minute, you will realize that how many minutes you have lived a reactive life at the same time you will also become excited that there are so many moments available to us in a bank.
To repeat the concept again, Mindfulness is all about awareness, awareness of each and every moment. Welcoming things as they come and letting them go and being just a witness to them. The transformation will take time, for sure, because reactive emotions have become very deeply ingrained in us. The criteria for judging how much progress we have made; is how we react to different situations. How influenced do we become by external events? Mindfulness is about here and now. There is no past, no future, it is all in the present. You cannot go into the past, you will experience the future when it becomes into the present.
Who are we going to attach labels to things or events? Who has decided the criteria for a good person or a bad one? Who are we to call the thing shining in the sky as a Sun? Although for reference it is quite OK to give names and labels but otherwise it is universal energy manifesting itself which includes ourselves. It is like something is happening in the universe, some biochemical changes are happening in our body and we need to acknowledge it rather than becoming too involved with them.
For our introductory understanding of mindfulness, this is enough. We will dwell deeper into the mindful concepts as we explore more about them in our future discussions. Till then just focus on your breath. Imagine as if with every breath you are drawing the beauty, grace, and bliss of the universe and with every exhalation, you are letting go of all the negative emotions in your body.