Once a young monk fell asleep in the Meditation Hall while the monks were chanting the Buddha Name. The monks had been there in the hall since the early hours of the morning with the chant of the word “Amitofuo” resounding through the temple. Unceasing, the chant continued into the late afternoon.
When the Master noticed a young monk asleep he asked him: “Why are you sleeping during the chanting, my son?” “Master, I do not see the purpose. I have chanted and chanted and nothing has changed. Maybe I am not suited to this practice.” “Then come with me replied the Master.” The kindly Master led the young novice to his room. “Bring me your water glass”, demanded the Master. The novice went inside his room and returned with his glass full of water. The Master took the glass and went to his office. Taking a calligraphy brush he rolled it with some water into the ink stone then dipped the brush into the young monk’s glass of water. Suddenly there were swirls of black in the clear water. The young monk stood transfixed as the clear water turned completely black.
“Now, my son, remove the ink without tipping out or refilling the glass. If you can do this then you will have wisdom of the dharma.”
The young monk seemed to fumble for words now wishing he had not fallen asleep during the chanting and wondering what punishment the Master was going to mete out. “But Venerable Master I cannot do this.” “Good reply”, came the Master. Then the old Venerable took the novice back outside to a place just under the eaves of the tiled roof of the monks’ quarters. The old Venerable look up then down as if to be positioning the glass. Then with deliberate precision he placed the glass full of inky black water on walk way. “There, my son. Sit here and contemplate and meditate on the glass until I tell you to move.” The young monk did just as the Venerable had asked him.
One hour passed . . . then two. . . then three. The young monk focused with concentration on the glass of inky water contemplating how he could remove the dark water without tipping it out. While doing so large dark rain clouds began to amass overhead. There were distant rumblings of thunder. Soon small droplets of rain began to fall then a deluge broke loose. Rain began to fall in torrents upon the tiled roof sending streams into the spouting. Before long droplets of rain water began to fall into the glass precisely where the Master had positioned it. Droplet after droplet after droplet the drops fell into the glass. Soon the glass was full to the brim and began to over flow with the inky water gradually being displaced. Each raindrop sounded like the “tock” of the ‘muyu’ – the wooden fish the monks strike in time with the chanting. The young monk watched with glee as gradually the inky water was displaced by the droplets of cool clear rain water.
Eventually the rain stopped. The young monk sensed the presence of the Master and looked up at him with a glowing smile. The Venerable smiled in turn knowing that enlightenment had come upon the novice. “The rain removed the inky water, Master” came the novice. “And removed the ignorance from your mind as well” returned the Master.
The sounds of flowing water connects us to the circle of nature and reminds us that nothing stops still in life and that change is a natural part of our lives. The soothing sound of flowing water blocks out other harsh noises and helps us deal with our own mental chatter.
The peaceful sounds of flowing water can help us calm our mind and release tension from our bodies. It can also improve our general mental and physical health. Water droplets produce beneficial negative ions, so, if we are close to flowing water we will inhale these negative ions which are then absorbed into our bloodstream. Negative ions are known to improve our wel-being, and our physical and mental capacity by accelerating the delivery of oxygen to our cells. That is why we can feel so refreshed and invigorated after a spring storm or by standing next to a waterfall.
Using Flowing water whilst meditating.
Try this meditation if you have been stuck inside your office or place of work for a long period of time or where the air is not particularly fresh or healthy.
If you have any flowing water nearby then sit on a cushion or chair near it or us a miniature water fountain.
Sit on a cushion, a chair or the ground near the water source.
Breathe normally and focus on the sound of the water for five minutes. Try to empty your mind of all thoughts. When thoughts intervene, dismiss them as passing thoughts and immediately return your focus to the sound of the flowing water.
With each in-breath, allow the sound of the water to deepen your relaxation in body and mind. Notice if you feel better physically when you are next to the flowing water.
Meditate for about ten minutes more and when you feel ready end your meditation.
Drink a large glass of pure fresh water and remind yourself to drink enough water everyday.
The five elements of the ancient Chinese are metal, wood, water, fire and earth. These elements interact with one another i8n specific and fascinating ways. For instance, when we burn logs, we can see that wood produces fire. When the fire burns out and only ash remains, we say that fire produces earth. When we think about a mining operation, we say that earth produces metal. When water condenses on a metallic surface, we say that metal gives rise to water. Finally, when we onserve trees requiring water to grow, we say that water gives rise to wood. This completes tyhe cycle.
In Chinese culture, people apply the five elements to everything from acupuncture, medicine and feng shui to human reactions. They illustrate the cyclical nature of the world and our dealings with one another. They also give us a glimpse into the workings of karmic connections.Why is it that some people benefit you but not others? Why is it that a friend of a friend may be someone you do not particularly like? The five elements can give you insights into various life situations.
Five Chinese Elements – Diurnal Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Think about your nature. Which element best describes your primary mode of being? Are you down-to- earth? Do you have a fiery temper? Are you nurturing like water? Do you possess a steely resolve? Are you in tune with nature like wood? Think about the people who have always been good to you, and match their nature to the element that is beneficial to yours. Let the five elements help you find the harmonious optimum in your relationships.