The Unhappy Monk

by Kino MacGregor

How you think, feel and act influences the kind of interactions you have in the world. While there might not always be an easy causal relationship between thought, action and experience, if you dig deep enough the connection is almost always evident. There is an ancient Zen parable that tells of a young monk-in-training who searches the world for a true master and a peaceful place, but finds only angry, unhappy people everywhere he goes. After roaming through many towns the young aspirant meets a Zen teacher in disguise who asks the traveler what he has experienced during his journey. When the teacher hears the report of anger and misery from the young monk, he replies, “I think that you will only find more of the same anger and unhappiness where you go.” The would-be student neither recognizes the teacher nor the teaching and leaves angry and unhappy himself.

The young monk who sees anger and unhappiness everywhere himself actually carries the anger and unhappiness within himself. Whatever and wherever you are on the inner plane translates to the physical world through experiences and interactions. If you decide that the world is a dangerous place you will see evidence of your choice everywhere you look. But if you decide that the world is a peaceful place then you will literally see evidence all around that the world is peaceful. It would make sense then to gain control over the mind and its many layers of emotion and thought. With careful direction of the mind there is nothing that a person cannot achieve. Yet with out such direction one often experiences a tumultuous turn down a havoc-ridden highway.

If you carry the seed of anger or unhappiness inside yourself you literally attract experiences that match your internal vibration. Thoughts and emotional states have the magnitude of gravity in that they literally bring situations into being. If you are not aligned with peace and happiness on an internal level then there is really no way you will experience it truly in your life. It augurs well for everyone to pay careful attention to the emotional baggage and unquestioned assumptions lying dormant within. The yoga practice gives us a chance to see ourselves clearly under the mirror of self awareness. It is often through an injury, a challenging relationship with a teacher or other hard circumstances that students of yoga learn the most about their tough emotions and inner judgments. One of the most transformational aspects of a daily committed yoga practice occurs when you come face to face the ugly inner reality that you’ve been carrying around inside. It is only then that you can literally move through it, not by fighting, fixing or talking the problem away. But by accepting, breathing and just being with whatever you’re going through.

Seeing deeply held emotional patterns in the clear light of consciousness dissipates the ghostly power these largely subconscious reactions have over your life. Imagine that you’re the young monk in search of inner peace and all you experience in the world is a series of conflicts. At some moment your daily practice will direct the finger that you’ve been pointing at the world towards yourself. If the law of attraction states that like unto itself is drawn, then the best thing you can do for changing your life experience is seeing exactly what you’re really like on the inside. You can’t bring lasting peace to the world if you’re angry inside. You can’t share true love while your heart is filled with hatred. And you can’t live in truth if your mind is riddled with delusion.

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