Today I would like to share a story from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. The book is about a ‘warrior’, Socrates, and the young man, Dan, that is learning from him. The following excerpt is from a part in the book where they travel to a park for a picnic:
“We took the bus up to the park and walked cross country over crackling leaves scattered in thick piles among the pine, birch and elm trees surrounding us. We unpacked the food on a grassy knoll in full view of the warm sun. I flopped down on the blanket, anxious to roast in the sun, and hoped Joy would join me. (Joy is another ‘warrior’ in the book)
Without warning, the wind picked up and clouds gathered. I couldn’t believe it. It had begun to rain – first a drizzle, then a sudden downpour. I grabbed my shirt and put it on, cursing. Socrates (the name given to the warrior by the young man) only laughed.
“How can you think this is funny!” I chided him. “We’re getting soaked, there’s no bus for an hour, and the food’s ruined. Joy made the food, I’m sure she doesn’t think it’s so…” Joy was laughing too.
“I’m not laughing at the rain,” Soc said. “I’m laughing at you.” He roared, and rolled in the wet leaves. Joy started doing a dance routine to “Singin’ in the Rain.” Debbie Reynolds and the Buddha – it was too much.
The rain ended as suddenly as it had begun. The sun broke through and soon our food and clothes were dry.
“I guess my rain danced worked.” Joy took a bow.
As Joy sat behind my slumped form and gave my shoulders a rub, Socrates spoke. “It’s time you began learning from your life experiences instead of complaining about them, or basking in them, Dan. Two very important lessons just offered themselves to you; they fell out of the sky, so to speak.” I dug into the food, trying not to listen.
“First,” he said, munching on some lettuce, “neither your disappointment nor your anger was caused by the rain.”
My mouth was too full of potato salad for me to protest. Socrates continued, regally waving a carrot slice at me.
“The rain was a perfectly lawful display of nature. Your ‘upset’ at the ruined picnic and your ‘happiness’ when the sun reappeared were the product of your thoughts. They had nothing to do with the actual events. Haven’t you been ‘unhappy’ at celebrations for example? It is obvious then that your mind, not other people or your surroundings, is the source of your moods. That is the first lesson.”
Swallowing his potato salad, Soc said, “The second lesson comes from observing how you became even more angry when you noticed that I wasn’t upset in the least. You began to see yourself compared to a warrior – two warriors, if you please.” He grinned at Joy. “You didn’t like that, did you Dan? It might have implied a change was necessary.”
Everything in life is neutral. My mind (and I know I’m probably not alone) has a tendency to create stories about my everyday life. If I can continue to practice and understand this I am able to ‘get out of my head’ and more in touch with my Self. To have an awareness of when my mind is on ‘auto-pilot’.
Our minds can be a great tool, when used properly. If not used properly we can struggle through daily life. Stressful thoughts reflect a conflict with reality. Stress happens when the mind resists what is. When we resist what happens, our mind begins to race; the thoughts that assail us are actually created by us….
The next time you find yourself angry, upset, fuming etc. about something, try this: Don’t just simply take it for what it is, don’t continue to run with it, don’t keep building onto the story with more thoughts. DO see if you can stop, step out of your mind for a second and notice where the reaction began. Just by starting to notice, we can begin to adjust our thought patterns. Which in turn will help us to struggle less on a daily basis. Will help us to just be, to a feel a greater sense of peace and happiness that is already within us, waiting to be tapped into.