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Buddha And Ananda: Sit By The Side Of Your Mind To Be Meditative

One day Buddha is passing by a forest. It is a hot summer day and he is feeling very thirsty. He says to Ananda, his chief disciple, “Ananda, you go back. Just three, four miles back we passed a small stream of water. You bring a little water — take my begging bowl. I am feeling very thirsty and tired.” He had become old.

Ananda goes back, but by the time he reaches the stream, a few bullock carts have just passed through the stream and they have made the whole stream muddy. Dead leaves which had settled into the bed have risen up; it is no longer possible to drink this water — it is too dirty. He comes back empty-handed, and he says, “You will have to wait a little. I will go ahead. I have heard that just two, three miles ahead there is a big river. I will bring water from there.”

But Buddha insists. He says, “You go back and bring water from the same stream.”

Ananda could not understand the insistence, but if the master says so, the disciple has to follow. Seeing the absurdity of it — that again he will have to walk three, four miles, and he knows that water is not worth drinking — he goes.

When he is going, Buddha says, “And don’t come back if the water is still dirty. If it is dirty, you simply sit on the bank silently. Don’t do anything, don’t get into the stream. Sit on the bank silently and watch. Sooner or later the water will be clear again, and then you fill the bowl and come back.”

Ananda goes there. Buddha is right: the water is almost clear, the leaves have moved, the dust has settled. But it is not absolutely clear yet, so he sits on the bank just watching the river flow by. Slowly slowly, it becomes crystal-clear. Then he comes dancing. Then he understands why Buddha was so insistent. There was a certain message in it for him, and he understood the message. He gave the water to Buddha, and he thanked Buddha, touched his feet.

Buddha says, “What are you doing? I should thank you that you have brought water for me.”

Ananda says, “Now I can understand. First I was angry; I didn’t show it, but I was angry because it was absurd to go back. But now I understand the message. This is what I actually needed in this moment. The same is the case with my mind — sitting on the bank of that small stream, I became aware that the same is the case with my mind. If I jump into the stream I will make it dirty again. If I jump into the mind more noise is created, more problems start coming up, surfacing. Sitting by the side I learned the technique.

“Now I will be sitting by the side of my mind too, watching it with all its dirtiness and problems and old leaves and hurts and wounds, memories, desires. Unconcerned I will sit on the bank and wait for the moment when everything is clear.”

And it happens on its own accord, because the moment you sit on the bank of your mind you are no longer giving energy to it. This is real meditation. Meditation is the art of transcendence.

Osho

What Is the Spiritual Moral / Meaning of Osho's “Buddha And Ananda” Story?

One of the profound spiritual morals we can derive from this story is the importance of patience and trust in the journey of spiritual growth. Just as Ananda had to wait patiently for the muddy water to clear up, we, too, must trust in the natural process of clarity and transformation within ourselves. Sometimes, the answers we seek and the healing we long for take time to reveal themselves, and it is in our patience and trust that we allow the divine flow of life to unfold.

Another spiritual lesson we can draw from this story is the power of observation and mindfulness in navigating the complexities of our inner world. By sitting silently on the bank of the stream, Ananda was able to observe the natural flow of the water without disturbing it. Similarly, in our spiritual journey, cultivating mindfulness allows us to observe our thoughts, emotions, and experiences without judgment or attachment. Through this observation, we gain insight into the nature of our mind and can begin to transcend its limitations.

The story also emphasizes the importance of surrender and non-resistance in the process of inner transformation. Despite initially feeling resistance towards Buddha's instructions, Ananda ultimately surrendered to the wisdom of his master. In doing so, he allowed himself to be guided by a higher intelligence, leading to a profound realization about the nature of his own mind. Surrendering to the flow of life and trusting in the guidance of the divine can pave the way for profound spiritual growth and awakening.

Furthermore, the story highlights the significance of clarity and purification in the spiritual journey. Just as the muddy water of the stream became clear over time, our minds and hearts have the capacity to transcend confusion and turmoil and attain clarity and peace. Through the practice of meditation and self-reflection, we can cleanse the mind of negative patterns and conditioning, allowing our true essence to shine forth.

Additionally, the story underscores the importance of self-awareness and self-observation in the pursuit of inner peace and liberation. Ananda's realization that he could observe the stream of his own mind without getting entangled in its turbulence is a powerful metaphor for the practice of meditation. By cultivating self-awareness, we can disidentify from the fluctuations of the mind and connect with the deeper truth of our being.

Moreover, the story encourages us to embrace the practice of meditation as a means of transcending the limitations of the mind and accessing higher states of consciousness. Just as Ananda learned to sit silently and watch the stream of his mind, we too can cultivate the art of meditation to transcend the noise of our thoughts and connect with the stillness and wisdom within.

Furthermore, the story highlights the transformative power of self-discovery and inner exploration. Through his experience by the stream, Ananda gained profound insight into the nature of his own mind and the path to inner clarity. Similarly, through our own inner journey, we have the opportunity to uncover the depths of our being and awaken to our true essence.

Additionally, the story emphasizes the importance of detachment and non-attachment in the pursuit of spiritual liberation. By sitting silently on the bank of the stream, Ananda demonstrated a state of non-attachment to the fluctuations of the mind. Similarly, by cultivating detachment from our thoughts and emotions, we can transcend the egoic mind and connect with the eternal presence of our true self.

Lastly, the story reminds us of the inherent wisdom and guidance available to us when we surrender to the flow of life. Just as Ananda was guided by Buddha's wisdom, we too can find guidance and support on our spiritual path when we surrender to the divine intelligence that dwells within and around us. In surrendering to the flow of life, we align ourselves with the higher purpose and wisdom of the universe, leading to greater peace, fulfillment, and spiritual awakening.

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. Have you ever experienced a situation where the solution seemed absurd or impractical at first, only to realize its deeper significance later on?
  2. Reflect on a time when you were asked to wait patiently for clarity or resolution. What did you learn from the experience?
  3. How do you typically react when faced with uncertainty or ambiguity? Do you tend to resist or embrace the unknown?
  4. Consider the role of trust in the story. How does Ananda's trust in Buddha's wisdom ultimately lead to his own realization?
  5. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were asked to trust in a higher wisdom or intelligence, even when it seemed illogical or challenging?
  6. Reflect on the concept of non-doing or non-action as portrayed in the story. How does Ananda's act of sitting silently on the bank symbolize a shift from striving to simply being?
  7. Consider the significance of observation and mindfulness in the story. How does Ananda's practice of silently watching the stream reflect the practice of meditation?
  8. Reflect on the metaphor of the muddy stream as a representation of the mind. How do external influences and internal disturbances cloud the clarity of your own mind?
  9. Consider Ananda's realization about sitting by the side of his mind. How can you apply this practice of observing your own thoughts and emotions with detachment?
  10. Reflect on the idea of meditation as the art of transcendence. How does the story inspire you to transcend the noise and distractions of the mind to connect with a deeper sense of peace and clarity?