Often people believe that meditation and stillness are boring, and that there is nothing to do when you are in this space. This zen story gives us another perspective.
One day, a young man climbed to the top of a mountain where an old woman was meditating.
When he saw her alone he asked, ‘What are you doing up here alone in such an isolated space?’
The old shaman replied, ‘I have lots of work to do.’
The young man was shocked to hear this and asked, ‘How can you have work to do up here?’
The woman replied, ‘I have to train two hawks, one eagle, assure two rabbits, discipline one snake, motivate a donkey and tame a lion.’
Shocked by her answer, the young man replied, ‘And where are all these animals you train, I do not see any?’
The woman smiled and said, ‘I have them all inside of me.’
‘The hawks help me see what I need to see in myself and in others. They open my eyes to see the truth in life and what is true in me.’ These are my eyes.
The Eagle is my perspective and opens my heart to love myself and everything around me. This is my heart.
The rabbits want to move all the time. They are never still, and they never want to face difficult situations or suffering. I train these rabbits to be here, to slow down and to be present with everything. This is my mind.
The donkey is always tired and stubborn and refuses to carry the load, and so I teach the donkey to move, adapt, and to connect with the flow of life. This is my body.
The most difficult to work with is the snake. The snake is always ready to bite and poison anyone around them. I have to discipline the snake each day. This is my tongue.
The Lion is proud and vain. He always believes he is the King and above everyone else and so I have to tame him. That is my ego.
And so you see, young man. I have lots of work to do.’