I gulped. “What the hell?” I was terrified. “How would the tiger know I am a monk or a saint and why would he forsake a good meal? Do tigers respect holy men?” I tried being sarcastic but my heartless smile was a poor disguise for pure fear.
“Oh young man, you for sure don’t know the rules of the jungle,” the old man said wisely. “The animals see saffron or red, and immediately see it as fire. They stay away. That’s why the holy men who lived in forests in the days of yore, wore red cloth. But if you are in the ocean, avoid red. The sharks will mistake it for blood and attack you immediately, even if they are hundreds of miles away.”
I hastily began my fearful journey out of the forest then. Mercifully, the sun rose bright and the sight of other morning walkers with their long sticks, gave me relief.
Since then I go for my walks only after sunrise.
The incident changed the way I thought about my thoughts. I realised that day how little I knew the science of mind. I gave classes on fear and the mind, yet I was not immune to its tantrums. I learnt first-hand that there’s a huge gap in the information I possessed about the mind and what I had actually internalised. I had a long way to go.
Thus began my second innings as a monk.
I began to spend more time with myself, searching for the truth within. If a spiritual saying impressed me, I paused to consider whether it merely pleased my mind and senses or was it touching me deeper on the level of the soul. Is there more to me than my mind? Can I quell the mad, sudden outbursts of my mind? Can I get it to cooperate with me? Is it really my friend or an enemy?
Often we live in fear of the unknown. If we could recognise our fears, and improve our awareness of them first and then accept ourselves the way we are, we will make giant strides towards victory over the restless mind. And if we nurse pure and noble aspirations, we will live beyond the mind.
The application of three principles
In the past, I’d often tell my friends I was ordinary. I thought I was modest and gracious when showered with praise. That morning in the forest however, I was woken up from my slumber. I ‘knew’ I was ordinary.
But was I ready to ‘Accept’ this sudden ‘Awareness’?To be continued…