One day, shortly after his transformational experience under the Bodhi Tree, Buddha was walking along a river where some children were playing. Among them was a nine-year-old girl named Nandabala. She recognized that Buddha was no ordinary monk and approached him, offering a small tangerine fruit as a gesture of respect. Buddha, in his grace, accepted the tangerine and blessed her.
Nandabala, curious to hear more from him, asked if he would give them a discourse, offering her dakshina (teacher's offerings) in advance. Buddha agreed, but instead of speaking to her alone, he gathered all the children to listen.
Addressing the children, Buddha posed a question, "Do you all have tangerines for yourselves?" He noticed that each child held a tangerine. He then began to explain the significance of being present in the moment.
Buddha said, "When you peel a tangerine, you can eat it with awareness or without awareness. In life, there are two ways to do things: with awareness or without. Doing things with awareness means you are awake; doing them without awareness means you are asleep. Most of our reactions happen without awareness."
He went on to illustrate what it means to eat a tangerine with awareness: "When you eat the tangerine, you are fully aware that you are eating it. This is what it means to be in the present moment."
Buddha described how he ate the tangerine Nandabala had offered him. With each bite, he savored the experience, understanding the preciousness of the fruit. By remaining fully present, the tangerine became something real and meaningful.
The Nemesis: Multi-Tasking vs. Mindfulness
Being mindful and aware of the present moment requires focusing on one activity at a time and avoiding the distraction of multitasking. Rushing through tasks mindlessly is the opposite of mindfulness.
To achieve mindfulness, one must slow down and immerse themselves in the current task. Imagine peeling an orange, savoring the sensation of removing a segment, and relishing the burst of flavor as you bite into it. This is what it means to eat with awareness.
Imagine if you could apply this level of mindfulness to everything you do. It doesn't require more time; it's about doing each task with complete awareness.
Zen Practice: Cultivating Mindfulness
Zen practice involves breaking the automaticity of our actions and infusing them with mindfulness. Through mindfulness, every action becomes a form of meditation, leading to inner peace.
In a state of Zen, the mind is perfectly quiet, free from chatter, ruminations, or distractions. It allows you to gain profound insights into the nature of things and your own life. Your mind serves you, coming into action only when summoned, rather than intruding incessantly.
While thinking is necessary for many daily tasks, there's a difference between intentional thinking and incessant mental chatter. Zen means aligning your mind with your intentions, actions, and speech.
Living in mindful awareness means residing in the present moment, with your mind and body fully engaged. Practicing mindfulness allows you to perceive hidden beauty and experience life's completeness effortlessly.
Conclusion: The Beauty of Mindful Living
When you embrace mindfulness in your daily life, you undergo a profound transformation. You start noticing aspects of life that were previously hidden from view—beauty, bliss, and completeness. Every small, beautiful detail becomes magnified for those who are aware.
Life, when lived mindfully, is abundant with beauty. Just like savoring a tangerine with awareness, mindfulness unveils the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life.
— Om Swami