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Resting in the River
dear friends, suppose someone is holding a pebble and throws it in the
air and the pebble begins to fall down into a river. After the pebble
touches the surface of the water, it allows itself to sink slowly into
It will reach the bed of the river without any
effort. Once the pebble is at the bottom of the river, it continues to
rest. It allows the water to pass by.
I think the pebble reaches
the bed of the river by the shortest path because it allows itself to
fall without making any effort. During our sitting meditation we can
allow ourselves to rest like a pebble. We can allow ourselves to sink
naturally without effort to the position of sitting, the position of
Resting is a very important practice; we have to learn the
art of resting. Resting is the first part of Buddhist meditation. You
should allow your body and your mind to rest. Our mind as well as our
body needs to rest.
The problem is that not many of us know how
to allow our body and mind to rest. We are always struggling;
struggling has become a kind of habit. We cannot resist being active,
struggling all the time. We struggle even during our sleep.
is very important to realize that we have the habit energy of
struggling. We have to be able to recognize a habit when it manifests
itself because if we know how to recognize our habit, it will lose its
energy and will not be able to push us anymore.
Ten years ago I
was in India visiting the ex-untouchable community of Buddhists. A
friend who belonged to the caste organized the trip for me. I was
sitting on the bus, enjoying the landscape outside, contemplating the
palm trees and the vegetation. Suddenly I turned and I saw him looking
very tense. There was no reason why he had to be tense like that. I
thought that he was trying to make my visit pleasant and maybe that was
the reason he was so tense. I told him, "Dear friend, I know that you
want to make my trip pleasant, but I am already very happy. I've
already enjoyed the trip. So why don't you sit back, smile, and relax?"
He said, "Okay," and he sat back and he tried to relax.
pleased and I turned my face toward the window again and I enjoyed the
palm trees and other things. But just a few minutes after when I looked
back at him he was as tense as before. He was not able to relax, to
allow himself to relax. I knew that he belonged to that section of the
population that had been struggling for many thousand years. He was
discriminated against. He had suffered so much, his ancestors and
himself and his children. So the tendency to struggle has been there
for many thousand years. That is why it was very difficult for him to
allow himself to rest.
We have to practice in order to be able
to transform this habit in us. The habit of struggle has become a
powerful source of energy that is shaping our behavior, our actions and
When an animal in the jungle is wounded, it knows
how to find a quiet place, lie down and do nothing. The animal knows
that is the only way to get healed—to lay down and just rest, not
thinking of anything, including hunting and eating. Not eating is a
very wonderful way of allowing your body to rest. We are so concerned
about how to get nutrition that we are afraid of resting, of allowing
our body to rest and to fast. The animal knows that it does not need to
eat. What it needs is to rest, to do nothing, and that is why its
health is restored.
In our consciousness there are wounds also,
lots of pains. Our consciousness also needs to rest in order to restore
itself. Our consciousness is just like our body. Our body knows how to
heal itself if we allow it the chance to do so. When we get a cut on
our finger we don't have to do anything except to clean it and to allow
it the time to heal, because our body knows how to heal itself. The
same thing is true with our consciousness; our consciousness knows how
to heal itself if we know how to allow it to do so. But we don't allow
it. We always try to do something. We worry so much about healing,
which is why we do not get the healing we need. Only if we know how to
allow them to rest can our body and our soul heal themselves.
there is in us what we call the energy of restlessness. We cannot be at
peace with ourselves. We cannot be peaceful. We cannot sit; we cannot
lie down. There is some energy in us to do this, to do that, to think
of this, to think of that, and that kind of restlessness makes us
unhappy. That is why it is so important for us to learn first of all to
allow our body to rest. We have to learn how to deal with all our
energy of restlessness. That is why we have to learn these techniques
of allowing our body and our consciousness to rest.
I would like
to offer you some instructions about walking meditation. The first
thing we shall do early tomorrow morning is to practice walking
together, which we call walking meditation. Walking meditation means to
enjoy walking without any intention to arrive. We don't need to arrive
anywhere. We just walk. We enjoy walking. That means walking is already
stopping, and that needs some training.
Usually in our daily life we
walk because we want to go somewhere. Walking is only a means to an
end, and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking
meditation is different. Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every
step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow
yourself to enjoy every step you take.
The Zen master Ling Chi
said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin
air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. You breathe
in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still
alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. That is already
performing a miracle. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive. We
have to awaken ourselves to the truth that we are here, alive. We are
here making steps on this beautiful planet. This is already performing
But we have to be here in order for the miracle to be
possible. We have to bring ourselves back to the here and the now.
Therefore each step we take becomes a miracle. If you are able to walk
like that, each step will be very nourishing and healing. You walk as
if you kiss the earth with your feet, as if you massage the earth with
your feet. There is a lot of love in that practice of walking