Friday, April 10, 2009

Things are not always what they seem......

A young man was serving as an apprentice to a wise zen master desiring to learn the ways to enlightenment. Part of the apprenticeship was taking care of the master - making his meals, keeping the house clean, and various other daily chores.

However while the apprentice was sweeping the floor or making a fire, he would suddenly feel a swift blow to the back of his head from the stick of his master. He was surprised and hurt by this treatment. It happened again and again when he least expected it and he never saw it coming.

One day the master was squatting by the fire stirring some soup completely absorbed in his cooking. Frustrated from the repeated blows from his master, the apprentice decided to teach the master a lesson. He crept up slowly and silently behind the master with a big stick intending to strike the master as he had been stricken so many times.

Just as he was bringing the stick down on the master's head, without looking up, the master took the lid from the pot, brought it up behind his head and blocked the apprentice's intended blow. The apprentice was amazed at the swiftness and calmness of the action.

Then it dawned upon him that the master had been trying to teach him how to be truly aware and sensitive to everything around him. The blows from the master came from compassion, not from malice. The master wanted the apprentice to learn a much deeper level of awareness than the apprentice had ever imagined.

Practicing a particular yoga pose may seem uncomfortable and sometimes a bit crazy. But the intention of the pose is to create more strength, openness and freedom. The message from the pose may seem obscure but by being aware we can begin to appreciate the pose and gradually go deeper, both physically and emotionally.

You can be focused on one aspect of the pose but still have a sensitivity the bigger picture. There needs to be a balance of inner and outer awareness. We need to connect with our core and our inner beauty while at the same time realizing that we are just as connected to others and to our surroundings.

As we journey through life, we want to be sensitive to others and our environment. There are lessons to be learned from the most unexpected sources. Teachers come in many guises and the road will often twist and turn in unforeseen ways. Appreciating and accepting this truth gives life its joy and meaning.

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