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Monday, May 16, 2022

52. Keeping Still

The Lines
Bottom. [6] At the very beginning is the time to stop and consider the direction one is about to take. It is in the time before a man becomes involved in all the complications and possibilities that are thrust upon him, that he can see things clearly and disinterestedly, i.e., with a mind that looks at things objectively and is not overridden by personal interests. If a man carefully considers the way before him at this time, he is not likely to go wrong. If the man sets his sight on a path that is honest and true, he will be able to identify the right path . But halting at the beginning does not mean that he procrastinates or wanders around aimlessly. It is essential that he begin in a timely manner and stick conscientiously to the work that lies before him.
2. [6] If a man is working for someone else, he does not have control over his overseer. There is a tendency for the subordinate to be swept along by whatever direction the leader takes. Even if the leader heads down a wrong path, the subordinate cannot stop him, and, indeed, can only with great difficult prevent himself from going down the same path. If the leader is a strong man and determined to go ahead with the path he has chosen, there is nothing that a subordinate can do about it. At most, he can refuse to follow him.
3. [9] When practicing quiet meditation, it is absolutely necessary that a man not try to quiet his mind by forcing it to stop entertaining thoughts. Such rigidity can be very dangerous, and will increase tension and anxiety, rather than decreasing them. A man must let thoughts pass through his mind like birds flying through a belfry. He should let thoughts come and let them go without holding onto them. He should observe them as they enter, and as they leave, without dwelling on them and without chasing after them. When a man does not actively pursue thoughts, when he does not use a time for meditation in order to plan the day's activities or to think through some interesting topic, then he will experience an inner composure and be perfectly calm.
4. [6] Keeping the mind free of self-centered concerns and desires is the first step towards a mind that is liberated and free to contemplate the world and the universal forces that act upon the world. Practicing meditation leads the man in that direction. What he is able to do in meditation, he is eventually able to do in other activities where the thinking processes are not needed. Thus, meditation that frees the mind from the wordy thought processes helps free the man from the dominance of self-centered ideas. Even if a man's meditation is imperfect, even if he is unable to carry it over into other daily activities, an approximation of the meditative state still affords some benefits. Moreover, early attempts at practice can lead to improved performance later on.
5. [6] Learning how to quiet the mind helps a man learn how to quiet his tongue. Often, when a man is involved in a tense situation, he babbles on with his mouth as a result of his nervousness. But if he can learn to relax and free his mind from anxious thoughts, he can avoid those situations where he may chatter on, sayings things that cause him embarrassment and later regrets. When he learns the techniques of meditation, his speech will be relaxed and the words he deliberately chooses to speak will have greater effect.
Top. [9] When a man achieves the highest meditative skills, the tranquility of his mind pervades his entire life and personality. He not only is able to remain calm and collected in ordinary situations, but he has a calm acceptance of himself and every aspect of his life. This pervasive tranquility is the mark of a superior man. His presence emanates a sense of peace, and his calm and settled counsels bring good fortune to all who associate with him.
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