“I went to see Luang Por Chah and said, ‘I can’t meditate here’, and he started laughing at me and telling everyone that, ‘Sumedho can’t meditate here!’ I was seeing meditation as this very special experience that I’d had and quite enjoyed and then Luang Por Chah was obviously pointing to the ordinariness of daily life, the getting up, the alms-rounds, the routine work, the chores: the whole thing was for mindfulness. And he didn’t seem at all eager to support me in my desires to have strong sensory deprivation experience by not having to do all these little daily tasks. He didn’t seem to go along with that; so I ended up having to conform and learn to meditate in the ordinariness of daily life. And in the long run that has been the most helpful.
It has not always been what I wanted, because one wants the special, one would love to have blazing light and marvelous insights in Technicolor and have incredible bliss and ecstasy and rapture. Not be just happy and calm – but over the moon!
But reflecting on life in this human form: it is just like this, it’s being able to sit peacefully and get up peacefully and be content with what you have; it’s that which makes our life as a daily experience something that is joyful and not suffering. And this is how most of our life can be lived – you can’t live in ecstatic states of rapture and bliss and do the dishes, can you? …
Now reflect: one can observe breathing, so what is it that can observe? What is it that observes and knows the inhalation and the exhalation – that’s not the breathing, is it? You can also observe the panic that comes if you want to catch a breath and you can’t; but the observer, that which knows, is not an emotion, not panic-stricken, is not an exhalation or an inhalation. So our refuge in Buddha is being that knowing; being the witness rather than the emotion or the breath or the body.
This way you begin to see a way of being mindful, of bringing mindfulness to the ordinary routine things and experiences of life. I have a nice little picture in my room that I’m very fond of – of this old man with a coffee mug in his hand, looking out of the window into an English garden with the rain coming down. The title of the picture is ‘Waiting’. That’s how I think of myself; an old man with my coffee mug sitting there at the window, waiting, waiting.. watching the rain or the sun or whatever. I don’t find that a depressing image but rather a peaceful one. This life is just about waiting isn’t it? We’re waiting all the time – this experience of waiting. So we notice that. We’re not waiting for anything, but we can be just waiting. And then we respond to the things of life, to the time of day, the duties, the way things move and change, the society we are in. That response isn’t from the force of habits of greed, hatred and delusion but it’s a response of wisdom and mindfulness.”
Source: Being Nobody
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