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Motion – A Funny Spiritual Story by Anthony de Mello

To the disciples who were always asking for words of wisdom the Master said, Wisdom is not expressed in words. It reveals itself in action.

But when he saw them plunge headlong into activity, he laughed and said, That isn't action. That's motion.

This spiritual story is from the book One Minute Wisdom by Anthony de Mello.

What is the Spiritual Moral / Meaning of the “Motion” Story?

At the heart of this story lies a profound spiritual truth that transcends mere words and concepts. It reminds us that wisdom is not something to be merely spoken or intellectualized but rather something to be lived and embodied through our actions. The Master's guidance serves as a gentle reminder that true wisdom reveals itself not in the eloquence of our words but in the authenticity and integrity of our deeds. It calls us to move beyond the realm of mere talk and into the arena of conscious action, where the essence of wisdom is truly manifested.

Moreover, the Master's laughter in response to the disciples' frenetic activity offers a poignant reflection on the nature of true action. It highlights the distinction between genuine, purposeful action and mere busyness or motion for motion's sake. In a world that often glorifies constant activity and productivity, this laughter serves as a wake-up call, inviting us to pause and reflect on the quality and intention behind our actions. It reminds us that true action arises from a place of centeredness and clarity, rather than from a compulsive need to fill the void with endless tasks and distractions.

Furthermore, the Master's playful rebuke challenges us to reevaluate our relationship with action and movement in our lives. It prompts us to consider whether our actions are driven by a genuine desire to contribute to the greater good or simply by the need to keep ourselves occupied and distracted. In doing so, it invites us to cultivate a deeper awareness of the underlying motives and intentions behind our actions, guiding us towards a more conscious and purposeful way of living.

Additionally, the Master's guidance underscores the importance of inner stillness and contemplation as a precursor to meaningful action. It suggests that true wisdom arises not from a restless mind constantly seeking external validation or stimulation but from a quiet, receptive state of being. In this state of inner silence, we become attuned to the subtle whispers of intuition and guidance, allowing us to act from a place of alignment with our deepest truths and values.

Moreover, the Master's words invite us to consider the quality of our presence in each moment of action. It encourages us to cultivate a state of mindful awareness as we engage with the world around us, allowing us to infuse our actions with intention, purpose, and authenticity. By bringing our full presence and attention to each task and interaction, we are able to channel the essence of wisdom into the fabric of our daily lives, enriching both our own experience and the lives of those around us.

In essence, the spiritual significance of this story lies in its invitation to embody the essence of wisdom through conscious and purposeful action. It calls us to move beyond the limitations of mere words and concepts and into the realm of lived experience, where the transformative power of wisdom is brought to life. Through mindful awareness, inner stillness, and authentic presence, we have the opportunity to become vessels for the expression of divine wisdom in the world, illuminating the path of love, compassion, and awakening for ourselves and all beings.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflect on the Master's statement that wisdom is not expressed in words but revealed in action. How does this perspective challenge your understanding of wisdom and the ways in which it can be embodied in daily life?
  2. Consider the distinction the Master makes between action and motion. How do you discern whether your own activities are rooted in purposeful action or simply a flurry of movement? What criteria do you use to evaluate the quality and intention behind your actions?
  3. Contemplate the disciples' eagerness for words of wisdom. What does their constant seeking reveal about the human tendency to rely on intellectual understanding rather than lived experience? How might this story inspire you to move beyond the realm of mere words and into the realm of embodied wisdom?
  4. Reflect on the Master's laughter in response to the disciples' frenetic activity. How does his laughter invite you to reevaluate your own relationship with busyness and productivity? What insights might it offer about the balance between action and stillness in your life?
  5. Consider the role of presence and mindfulness in the practice of true action. How does the Master's guidance encourage you to cultivate a deeper awareness of the present moment as you engage with the world around you? What practices can you incorporate to enhance your ability to act with mindful intention?
  6. Contemplate the idea that wisdom reveals itself in action. How does this perspective challenge traditional notions of wisdom as something to be acquired or attained? What shifts in perception might be necessary to embrace the idea of wisdom as an ongoing process of engagement and exploration?
  7. Reflect on your own experiences of seeking wisdom or guidance. Have you ever found yourself relying solely on intellectual understanding or seeking answers outside of yourself? How might this story inspire you to look inward for the wisdom that already resides within you?
  8. Consider the significance of the Master's role as a guide and mentor to the disciples. How does his laughter and gentle guidance serve to illuminate the path of wisdom for those who seek it? What qualities of the Master do you admire or resonate with?
  9. Reflect on the idea that wisdom is not expressed in words. How might this perspective shift your approach to seeking guidance or insight in your own life? What new possibilities might open up when you embrace the idea of wisdom as a lived experience rather than a static concept?
  10. Contemplate the overarching message of the story and its relevance to your own spiritual journey. What personal truths or insights have emerged for you as you reflect on the Master's guidance and the disciples' journey toward wisdom? How might you incorporate these reflections into your daily life moving forward?