Episode 24 – Show Notes
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One of the questions I get asked quite a lot is, is my meditation working? Is my spiritual practice working? I think this is a pretty interesting story to illustrate the spiritual journey and how it works.
While Frog was in his garden, Toad comes walking by, “What I fine garden you have, Frog.”
“Yes,” said Frog. “It’s very nice and it was hard work.”
“I wish I had a garden,” said Toad.
“Here are some flower seeds. Plant them in the garden,” said Frog. “And soon, you will have a garden.”
“How soon?” said Toad.
Toad ran home, he planted the flower seeds. “Now, seeds,” said Toad. “Start growing.”
Toad walked up and down a few times, the seeds did not grow. Toad put his head close to the ground and said loudly, “Now, seeds, start growing.” Toad looked to the garden again, the seeds did not start to grow. Toad put his head very close to the ground and shouted, “Now, seeds, start growing!”
Frog came running up the path, “What is all the noise?”
“My seeds will not grow,” said Toad.
“You are shouting too much,” said Frog. “These poor seeds are afraid to grow.”
“My seeds are afraid to grow?”
“Of course,” said Frog. “Leave them alone for a few days. Let the sun shine on them, let the rain fall on them. Soon the seeds will start to grow.”
That night, Toad looked out the window. “Drat,” said Toad. “My seeds have not started to grow. They must be afraid of the dark.”
Toad went out to his garden with some candles. “I will read the seeds a story,” said Toad. “Then they will not be afraid.”
Toad read a really long story to his seeds. All the next day Toad sang songs to his seeds and all the next day Toad read poems to his seeds and l the next day Toad played music for his seeds. Toad look to the ground, the seeds still did not grow. “What shall I do?” cried Toad. “These must be the most frightened seeds in the whole world.”
Then toad felt very tired and he fell asleep. “Toad, Toad, wake up,” said Frog. “Look at your garden.” Toad looked at his garden, little green plants were coming up out of the ground. “At last!” shouted Toad. ” My seeds have stopped being afraid to grow.”
“And now, you will have a nice garden too,” said Frog.
“Yes,” said Toad. “But you are right, Frog. It was very hard work.”
I love that story. I’m Steven Webb and this is Living Deeper Lives and I share that story because this is our spiritual practice. This is meditation. This is the desire to grow. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes nurturing, and sometimes, we just have to allow the process to happen. The thing is with meditation, we sit down and we try to make it a good meditation. We try to stop thinking. We try to create the perfect inner peace and that’s not what meditation is about.
Meditation is not about creating anything. It’s about letting go and allowing things to be what they are. In this story, Toad was working so hard to get the seeds to grow because he had all the expectations that he wanted a garden right now. He was sitting in meditation and expect to get to work. He was sitting there, wanting and longing and needing these seeds to grow to have this wonderful garden. In doing that, he was suffering. Meanwhile, he had no idea that seeds weren’t frightened, the seeds were doing what they have to do. Patience, they take time. Anything like this, anything worthwhile takes time to grow.
You know, anybody that has a brewery or anybody that has made beer at home knows these things. You know, some of the finest wines take longer. That’s why we look at these things and it’s takes so many years. This is like a 1972 fine wine. There’s a winery in France somewhere that they put all the grapes into a big vat, I think it’s called, and they bury it in the ground and it stays there for 20 years. Yeah, I have that right; 20 years. And then they dig it up and then they bottle it and sell it. And I often think, I wonder how many employees never get to dig up the one that they plant or the one they put under the ground. And it might seem like real bad business sense.
Just imagine going to the bank and saying to them, “I’m going to start a winery.”
And they go, “Okay, brilliant.”
“Yes, I’m going to get my grapes together and I’m going to put them in a vat. I’m going to put them in the ground and then in 20 years’ time, I’m gonna get it out and I’m going to sell this fine wine for a lovely profit.”
They say, “Well, what are you going to do in the 20 years?”
“Well, nothing. I’m just going to wait.”
Meditating is not about good business sense, it’s not about wanting something to be different to what it is. Meditation is about accepting an awareness of what things are and that’s the spiritual journey, the spiritual practice. The journey within is not to create anything. You’re not creating enlightenment, knowledge or wisdom; it’s all there already. You already have all these things.
You’re not creating a wonderfully spiritually enlightened human; you are already that. It’s about undoing everything that has been done to us, our experiences in life, our opinions, and beliefs. Everything that has built up over the years needs to be broken down. Can you imagine when you’re born you’re like a blank field? There’s no grass, there’s no anything, nothing has grown yet. And then, over time, over the months, you see some shoots growing and then, as time goes on, we learn about what we like and dislike. We stopped planting our tents and our hearts and then we build these opinions into beliefs and we start building concrete houses and we start building concrete houses and suddenly this landscape and then suddenly this landscape is full of this big city.
Well, that city is our ego. It’s who we are, it’s who I am. It’s my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences, my stories. the story I tell people, the person I become when it comes to ‘I’m a doctor’ or ‘I’m a worker’ or ‘nurse’ or ‘I’m an accountant’ or any of those other things. Well, what are these things apparent is all part of this big, big city. And while we’re trying to protect that city from anybody else coming in and planting their city, we don’t realize this city that we built in our minds, this neuro network is really just a combination of everybody else’s and our experiences.
And meditation is about recognizing that this is just something we built. And below that is fertile wisdom, an experience that goes beyond our limits of our opinions and beliefs. And there’s a freedom and there’s the unconditional love, there’s the acceptance below all of this that we create in our minds. And this is where the attachment comes in. When we become attached to our city, when we become attached to our beliefs and opinions and all these neuro networks, we get offended if someone disagrees with them. “I disagree with that building you put there,” which really is, “I disagree with that thought or opinion.”
And the problem is the more we get reinforced, the more we go down these data mining or conspiracies or thoughts and opinions, religions. Take Facebook at the moment. If you put a post on Facebook and you get like likes and loves, we get these little endorphin hits. These endorphin hits happen whether or not we have a great orgasm in sex or whether we have a little like on Facebook, they’re just a different degree of it and we are addicted to these little feel-good factors. We’re addicted to feeling better in the moment and feeling better in the moment, gives us these little endorphins, these little endorphin pills.
So whenever we find someone that agrees with our opinion, we reinforce all these thoughts and the spiritual journey is about slowly breaking these down and going, “Well, okay, I’m aware of these endorphin pills. I’m aware of my thoughts and beliefs. I’m aware they could be right and they could be wrong and they are only mine.” And we lose that attachment to them but it takes time and it takes nurturing and allowing to grow. This is what this story is about with the toad and the frog. Instead of trying to force something to happen, instead of trying to force letting go.
If you try to, I need to let go of this. If I give you a thought of a pink flying elephant, and I tell you to let go of it, by reminding you of it every day, if I find you every morning and said, “Have you let go of that pink flying elephant?”
You’re going to go, “Well, no because you’re just reminding me again?”
So the cycle continues. So forcing ourselves to let go or forcing the seed to grow, forcing these things that we’re not really in control of, just add more suffering and angst to our lives instead of just allowing things to be where they are. If Toad went about his life and just enjoyed the fact that he’s going to have a wonderful garden, it’s going to happen anyway. And no amount of singing and dancing, no amount of screaming and shouting is going to force these things to happen.
How do you know your meditation is working? How do you know your spiritual journey is working? Ken Wilber answered this beautifully when a woman stood up and says, “How do I know my practice is working?”
And he, first of all, joked about, he said, “Well, first of all, you will be spending more and more time alone. And if you’re a single now if you struggled to find a date before, you will find it nearly impossible now because we find it harder to get along with people that are not working in the same way as we are in the same direction on the spiritual journey. It’s very lonely. And you might feel more alone.”
But he said, “More importantly, you’ll feel things deeply, but you will suffer less.”
So you will feel the pain of others, you’ll feel the pain of the world, but you won’t carry the weight of the world. And this is what’s really important about meditation. It’s about suffering less. And we don’t get rid of the suffering by getting rid of the feeling, we get rid of the suffering by recognizing the feeling and be able to do something with it. So as you see, Toad is suffering because he wants to get something from it.
You know the spiritual journey fundamentally leads to less suffering, but if we sit down to get less suffering, we will be suffering because we’re longing for to remove the suffering. And if you’re longing to remove something, you have to pay attention to it. And it’s about our motives. And there’s a wonderful quote by David Hawkins: ‘Spiritual development is not an accomplishment but a way of life. It is an orientation that brings its own rewards. And what is important is the direction of one’s motives.”
So really, if you can drop the motives, if you can drop up the need for the seeds to grow, then imagine if Toad just put the seeds in the ground and wasn’t bothered whether they grew or not. Perfectly happy with whatever comes. I’ve got 10 seeds, if none of them grow, it’s absolutely fine. If all of them grow, it’s absolutely fine. How does that feel? Feel so much better, right? Instead of going and getting seeds and planting 10 and expecting 10 of a certain color, that’s what we do. We sit down to meditation and expect something from it.
So let’s not expect something from our time at the moment. Let’s not have a motive behind everything. Just allow things to be what they are when we sit. Just sit and take time out. I’m Steven Webb and you can head over to my website to download Five Simple Practices for Inner Peace. The website is steven.give. Just to make it really easy. All you need to do is have a look in the show notes below or go to the URL and type Steven dot give, it’s spelt with a V. That would be amazing and thank you for listening to the podcast. Thank you for spending time with me today. And if this helps you, if it helps you to understand meditation a little more, helps you on your spiritual journey or helps you to have a little more inner-peace, share it with your friends, give them a little bit of this as well. Take care.