Both the monk and the homeless man are starving and begging for food but their state of mind is very different. If you were in the same position which mind would you embody? To answer this question let’s explain the difference.
The homeless man has one thing on his mind. He’s starving and he needs to survive. When he’s begging and someone chooses not to help, he reacts with anger, disappointment, sadness, fear, etc. This is logical because with every passing moment he becomes more hungry and more desperate. Desperation leads to an endless spiral of negative thoughts and behaviors.
The monk is able to observe all of these feelings through his sensations in a detached way. While he acknowledges that these sensations exists, he also knows that these sensations don’t control him. When he’s begging and someone chooses not to help, he maintains the balance of his mind and has nothing but love and compassion for the other person. The monk knows that this body isn’t permanent and he trusts that the path of dhamma will like his life in the right direction. He has a faith-based on his own experiences that gives him the strength and confidence to refrain from judging or disliking. He continues to focus on the present moment waiting for the next person to walk by. There’s no need to resort to hope. Just the observation of the present moment as it is.
So which mind would you carry if you were in the same situation? I wish I could say I would maintain the strength of the monk but at some point I believe I would fall into the same negative behaviors as the homeless person. As I continue my meditation practice I believe I’ll become better at carrying the mind of the monk. Time to go sit.
One thought on “The Monk And The Homeless Man”
Living in India- we see ascetics, “sadhus”, the “Holy Men”, who are homeless, and they are supported by society, though modern days see the masses’ faith in them dwindling, and the number of phonies increasing. However, it is still a profound difference from what one may witness in the USA with regards to homeless people and the idea of “holy people”. I often wonder if one could live as a sadhu, in the USA; depending on the goodwill of others and in turn demonstrating to them a higher, detached, simpler way of life? Even the Bible tells us that food and survival is taken care of- that we have higher aspirations and potential as human beings. That said, I think once one attains to the balanced state, one can live as a monk anywhere, regardless… I have witnessed such a man in Atlanta, for example. A “homeless” man, with an eternal smile- not struggling, just at peace, and without a “home”. Having spent time with sadhus in India, I too, often long to renounce the world of the householder and live free as a bird, with the open sky as my home. Perhaps this would help in my practice, but I am more of the mind that I should continue my practice, and if and when it arises, the opportunity would be clear to discern.
Besides that, I was advised, by a lovely Sadhu, to get married and live as a householder. He said, “Family life is Sadhu life.” Much more on this topic…!
One Love brother, keep the fire burning!