True Story: I once convinced a dorm full of people to come milk a cow with me. I thought it was an AWESOME idea. After the dorm-load, I do not think the cow agreed. (One cow for 300 people. You would not be happy either.)
And, for the record, an udder is not what I imagined it to feel like. But I’m glad I had that experience.
Now, I share this story (minus the udder digression) because I believe we should say ‘yes.’ Not to who we believe we are or to our script–chock-full of pretense and tomfoolery. But ‘yes’ to different experiences. To letting go of our stuff. To finding new things out. About us. I can milk to that!
Yes. To handstands. To helpfulness. To having an OPEN MIND.
To here. To now. To life.
From Thich Nhat Hanh:
One day the Buddha was sitting in the wood with thirty or forty monks. They had an excellent lunch and they were enjoying the company of each other. There was a farmer passing by and the farmer was very unhappy. He asked the Buddha and the monks whether they had seen his cows passing by. The Buddha said they had not seen any cows passing by.
The farmer said, “Monks, I’m so unhappy. I have twelve cows and I don’t know why they all ran away. I have also a few acres of a sesame seed plantation and the insects have eaten up everything. I suffer so much I think I am going to kill myself.
The Buddha said, “My friend, we have not seen any cows passing by here. You might like to look for them in the other direction.”
So the farmer thanked him and ran away, and the Buddha turned to his monks and said, “My dear friends, you are the happiest people in the world. You don’t have any cows to lose. If you have too many cows to take care of, you will be very busy.
“That is why, in order to be happy, you have to learn the art of cow releasing (laughter). You release the cows one by one. In the beginning you thought that those cows were essential to your happiness, and you tried to get more and more cows. But now you realize that cows are not really conditions for your happiness; they constitute an obstacle for your happiness. That is why you are determined to release your cows.”
We have to ask what is really essential to our happiness. We believe that things are essential to our happiness, but we have to look again. Many of us have cows, many cows that prevent us from being happy. That is why we have to learn to release our cows. Also there are many cows inside, so many preoccupations! Many things to worry about, to be angry about, and there’s no space at all inside.
How can you be happy in such a state of being? That is why to release the cows around us and to let go of these preoccupations inside is a very essential condition for happiness. That is the space we are talking about when we practice. I am space; within and out. I feel free.