When I was 18 years old I had stomach issues and was anxious. A tenderhearted physician and Buddhist recommended me to a Taoist monk who was specialist in meditation and martial arts. I found myself practicing meditation which helped me to heal my anxiety and stomach problems.
This monk taught me 9 incredible lessons:
- Keep trying until you get it right
Always try something three or four times before you leave it aside and moving on with your life. The monk also told me interesting advice on this matter: even after 3-4 tries, you should try working from different angles to approach the difficult things.
Keep trying and you will surely be successful.
- The answer to your question is inside of you
The monk never answered a single question from a student if it wasn’t well thought-out question. This is a part of original monastery training. An old Chinese saying goes: “Teachers open the door, but you have to enter by yourself.”
Zen Buddhism uses analogical training style. The Taoist monks have an old proverb that goes: “in order to make a four corner table, the teacher shows the student to make one corner. The student must understand how to make the other three corners.”
Their goal is to prepare the student to face the problems in the real world more effectively.
Once I visited South Korea and I was amazed how important intuition is when you don’t speak the native language of a country. I had problem with my taxi driver because i didn’t know how to explain him where my hotel was. So, I got out from the car and started to look for someone who understands English. I found a guy who translated the address to the cab driver.
So, in real life we are trying new things and visiting places without any significant amount of information. We cannot have all the answers, so we must find them in our selves.
- Real wisdom in life comes from doing something and failing
Before I started with my meditation, I used to get nervous every time I failed to do something.
I’ve been a salesman for years and I was always getting nervous when failed to sell something. The rejections were making me very nervous, making me to quit my job. But those fails only made me a better salesman.
When I began with my meditation I ran into few problems. At the beginning I was unable to relax and calm down; but if you try hard and stick with it, it will become easier and easier. At the beginning I tried with several minutes and endured for longer as the days passed.
When it is hard, we learn about our personality and what is necessary to do in order to become endurable and strong.
- When you start to do meditation you recognize the egotistical mind
Everything in the ego’s world is directly related with comparing. I used to compare my results at job with other salesmen and blamed myself for being unable to achieve their results.
The meditation helped me to separate the egoistical mind which was making these comparisons. Many people are trying with new things and are constantly rejected, making them to give up. Soon they become depressed because they keep blaming themselves. The meditation helped me to recognize my ego and to separate from it.
This is exactly what happens during meditation: we separate from our comparison part and learn how to live our life without egos.
- We must be both compassionate and resilient
I hated that I had to call the monk at least three times before he answered my call and schedule my training. But, it is same in the real life as well. You have to email or call someone twice thrice or even more times before getting something you need from him.
Many people blame themselves when fail to do something. Today, I think that this is one of the most important lessons, although I hated this part at the beginning.
A Taoist saying goes like: “cotton on the outside, steel on the inside.”
This means that we should be compassionate, but strong.
I always had to wait for the monk.
For an instance, when I would arrive to his house for training, I would wait for him 30 minutes, even longer. Sometimes we were going out for a dinner on Friday nights and he would come an hour later.
The deal would be to meet him at the restaurant at 7:00. When I would arrive at the restaurant he wasn’t there. So, I would sit in the restaurant alone, playing games on my phone.
I couldn’t call him because his cell phone was normally turned off. They he would arrive at 8 and act normally, like nothing happened.
He would ask me: “How are your parents?” I would just wonder myself, “how do you mean how are my parents? You are late for one hour.”
But as the time was passing I got used to this and it only made me deal with this in every area of my life. This training taught me to be calm and relax about everything. Waiting for someone is not a big problem for me, or when someone cuts me off on the road.
Patience is a gift of inner calm.
While waiting the monk in the restaurant, I used to get worried about what people would think about me. I was sitting alone in the restaurant while everybody around me had company. But the truth is that we will never be happy if we worry about the people’s opinion about us.
Before I start with my meditation I would get nervous by everything. Today, I’m not bothered by anything. Not long ago, I was in the airport and my flight was late for few hours. Guess how I spent my time. I meditated! If this happened 10 years ago, I would become very nervous.
When you let go of your ego needs, it is easier to accept and even benefit from whatever comes at you.
- In Taoism, they say, “No self, No enemy.”
This enemy within that causes all of our greatest fears, worries and insecurities, will affect your whole life. It is the identification with the “self/ego” that leads to all of our problems.
How many times the fear stopped us from doing something we like? Think about all the fears that are accumulated in your mind. If you win the fight against the enemy within yourself, you will not have enemies outside yourself.
- Happiness come from within, and also comes from outside
I observed the Buddhist Physician and learned this one. Sometimes, before meeting his patients in the office, he used to do meditation. I have never met someone so compassionate and happy.
He created happiness inside and spread this emotional state to other people around him.
We must create our happiness within, and try to share it with other people around us. The monk once told me: “everyone has a purpose and mission in life.”
Everyone must create the happiness within, and discover the purpose on the outside.