I am eating lunch with a friend. I am not in a good mood. I witnessed a recent encounter that did not flow the way I wanted. Two sleeping individuals crashed into each other, thinking each are awake. Each of them, certain that the other is in a dream state, fought with monsters of their own creation. Naturally, they surrendered to those monsters which no bullets or words could penetrate. Conversely, I am now struggling with my own monster.
My wise friend figures out the situation and pauses between her bites of food. She stares at me with intensity and concern and asks, “My friend, what are you doing right now?”
I try to figure out her question in between my struggle. After that I try to tell her about my two dear friends fighting in their dreams and nightmares. I mention how these two cannot see the truth; how they accuse each other for the things they did, and how they fight with their self-created monsters and continue in defeat. I also complain about how they refuse to listen to me and fall in love with their own drama, and how they have been feeding on it. Then I turn to myself and grumble about how I did not fulfill my duty in this matter, and how I feel helpless and weak.
My friend listens to me attentively and with concern. Maybe her eyes are searching for a little sparkle of awakening in me. When this seems futile, she probes, “Okay my friend, where is your monster right now?”
I try to avoid her question.
She repeats, “Where is your own monster torturing you right now?”
“Right next to me. At the back of my neck. Got me from my neck.”
They’re talking constantly; shouting out certain and sharp ideas about how to support these people, messing with me for the things I could not manage. I created an out-of-reach ideal; it is out of reach, yet standing right in front of me. It attacks me and my ideal with everything in full force; everything must always be done in a right way. Although I’ve learned from experience that my efforts are fruitless to fit this ideal, sometimes my idealist, internal monster overtakes me. Even this last sentence seems to fit perfectly; my monster is sneaky! I see my dream.
My friend realizes I am awakening and says, “Look around you,” and then asks, “Is there any moment besides this moment?”
I struggle to understand.
“Now show me your friends and their problems.”
She is not making sense. She sees that I did not get it, so she explains further.
She asks, “Where does this thing exist that worries and bothers you right now?”
I reply with a sense of agony, “It is in the past. I feel the pain of my inability to go back and change it. My dear monster uses all my weak points.”
My friend asks me, “My friend, all the things that you mentioned, all your regrets, unhappy incidents…are left in the past, aren’t they?”
I answer, “Yes.”
“In other words, you cannot change them right now.”
She tells me, “Do you realize that we have not had time to chat together for a long time?”
I smile while remembering our long talks about literature, philosophy, economy, psychology and management.
“And in this moment, you prefer to stay with this past, unhappy incident, instead of being with me.”
Slowly, slowly, an awakening creeps through my body. Suddenly, I return to my body, to the present moment and present place. I look around for the first time with amazement. I haven’t realized the trees and the flowers around me; likewise, I did not hear the noise from the construction site. I feel like I was transported to this place only a moment ago. I stare at the curious face of my friend for the first time. She also saw that I was transported back into my body.
She continues with the power of my awakening.
“Also, how do you know that what you have done or what they have done was bad, wrong or worthless? How do you know that this dispute will cause serious awakening for both of them? How do you know that the friendship between these two is beneficial for them, for you, or even for the world?”
Hmmm, a nice point. A voice deep inside me says, “Go on, go on!”
“My friend, do you realize that your ideas about the ideal is already pushing you away from here, from this present opportunity, life and being in this moment? Who decides what you consider good is indeed good and what you consider evil is indeed bad? Can you realize the consequences of dealing with your opinions about what everything should be like, instead of being with the present situation?”
I glance at my monster. Now it seems so small to me. Right now, it is posing as an innocent, little kitten.
I inhale first through my nose, then into my lungs. My throat is filled with the smell of snow. I take a bite from my meal. I sense the faint olive oil taste mixed with a slightly sour aroma. My eyes catch the harmony of flowers sewn on the white table cloth. The music in the background whispers softly in my ear. I soon realize my back started to hurt from sitting funny.
I recall a quote from Shakespeare: “Awakening is merrier than the happiest dream.”