Thinking and Waiting…

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What are the things you can do? What features, strengths, and abilities do you have that will enable you to realize your desires and fulfill your dreams? What have you learned so far? What skills did you acquire during your long life that will be useful in this sense? What is written on the vehicle you will use to reach the future of your dreams? I recommend, before reading on, you answer these questions in your mind, or maybe even write them down on paper.

Many of you know the famous book Siddharta by Nobel Prize-winning German author Herman Hesse. Siddharta is the son of a Brahman; he cannot find himself or the way to absolute peace by purifying himself through sacrificing offerings to the gods or bathing in the sacred river like his father did. Despite the objections of his father, he tries to realize the complete self-awareness by joining the dervishes called “fakir,” who give up their earthly existences to reach this state. After remaining among them for three years, he sees that rather than destroying his ego, it has grown bigger instead, so he leaves them. He later meets Guatama Buddha, but he is impressed not by his teachings but more by the perfection in his movements and his ways. He says, “Buddha did not reach enlightenment by applying his teachings. Teachings cannot give it to me. Even learning and the quest for learning and teaching are the biggest obstacle to enlightenment.”

At this point, Siddharta decides to listen to his heart. His heart draws him to the city he has long avoided, the normal people he looked down on, and the bodily temptations he tried to suppress. Wearing only a piece of rag, he meets the beautiful Kamala and becomes her protégé. Impressed by her words and poems, Siddharta becomes Kamala’s student. Kamala tells him he needs three things to survive in this life: beautiful clothes and shoes, fragrances in his hair, and money in his pockets.

“Is that all?” says Siddharta, “This will be a very easy job. How can I easily find them?”

“Here” says Kamala “is the question everyone asks and wants to know the answer to. A poor man’s only way to make money is to do what he knows best, and he will make money in return. Siddharta, what can you do?”

Siddharta responds: “I can think, wait, and fast.” Kamala replies disapprovingly, “Is that all?”

“Yes, that’s all,” he says. Later, Kamala finds out that he can read and write, so she finds him a job with the city’s wealthiest merchant. When they talk later, Kamala says, “Siddharta, how lucky you are. A few days ago, you were just a fakir, and now you have beautiful clothes, beautiful shoes, and a job. Soon you will have a lot of money in your pocket. Did you perform a kind of magic?”

Siddharta responds, “There is no magic, beautiful Kamala. When you asked me what I could do, I said I can think, wait, and fast. But you did not like them. When Siddharta chooses a target for himself, his thoughts are focused on that target only. Just like how a stone thrown into the water goes directly to the bottom without changing direction, Siddharta’s thoughts focus on what he wants; he does not allow another thought to enter. In doing so, Siddharta knows how to wait until what he wants happens. He is not worried about when it will happen, he waits as long as he needs to wait. While he waits, he knows how to fast, so he can do without or with very little food. Thus, until his desire is fulfilled, hunger or other reasons that appear before him do not divert him from waiting. You normal people think it is a spell, but there is no magic here.”

Did you include “to think” in your answers to the questions I asked earlier? Do you really know how to think? Or do you call it thinking when your mind jumps helplessly from one thought to another? After doing what you needed to do, can you just sit and wait for it to happen? Before responding to this, remember the last time when you were impatiently waiting for the phone to ring or were concerned when your spouse or child was five minutes late. Putting all this aside, when was the last time you lost yourself in despair and anger during a traffic jam? So, can you say no to other “opportunities” that show up while you wait for what you expect to happen? When was the last time you said, “Well thank goodness for this; it might not have happened at all”? When someone failed to do what he or she promised, not keeping to the agreement you made, did you keep your calm agreeably, or did you start grumbling silently or aloud to everybody?

Listen to Siddharta: “Siddharta thinks of a goal, waits, and fasts. As the stone passes through the water, in the world of things he goes by without disturbing anything… This is what the fools call magic; they think it is something that demons or angels bring. Nothing is brought by demons, because demons do not exist. Anyone can do magic. Anyone can reach their goals if they can think and wait, and while waiting, not settle for anything less.”

Note: The quotes about Siddharta are not excerpts from the book. They come from the summary that I have memorized based on my own interpretation.



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