Out of all the definitions I’ve read about meditation and its benefits, there is one story from Thich Nhat Hanh that I keep remembering and quoting whenever I’m in discussion with people about the topic.
Today three children, two girls and a little boy, came from the village to play with Thanh Thuy (pronounced ‘Tahn Tui’). The four of them ran off to play on the hillside behind our house and were gone for about an hour when they returned to ask for something to drink. I took the last bottle of homemade apple juice and gave them each a full glass, serving Thuy last. Since her juice was from the bottom of the bottle, it had some pulp in it. When she noticed the particles, she pouted and refused to drink it. So the four children went back to their games on the hillside, and Thuy had not drunk anything.
Half an hour later, while I was meditating in my room, I heard her calling. Thuy wanted to get herself a glass of cold water, but even on tiptoes she couldn’t reach the faucet. I reminded her of the glass of juice on the table and asked her to drink that first. Turning to look at it, she saw that the pulp had settled and the juice looked clear and delicious. She went to the table and took the glass with both hands. After drinking half of it, she put it down and asked, “Is this a different glass, Uncle Monk?” (a common term for Vietnamese children to use when addressing an older monk.)
“No,” I answered. “It’s the same one as before. It sat quietly for a bit, and now it’s clear and delicious.” Thuy looked at the glass again. “It really is good. Was it meditating like you, Uncle Monk?” I laughed and patted her head. “Let us say that I imitate the apple juice when I sit; that is closer to the truth.” (pp.3-4 The Sun My Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh, Berkley, California, Parallax Press, 1988.)
There is a Youtube video from Thich, that I unfortunately couldn’t find anymore, where he describes the same story as above, slightly differently. In the video, Thich said something along the lines of “Thuy had come up with a better explanation of what meditation was than I ever had.” 2 Things that were so fascinating about this story, was the wisdom a young child had to offer to one of the world’s most renowned Zen masters – and his willingness to learn that wisdom.
I’d love to chat with you about this on Twitter:
This is one of my favorite stories that I’m excited to publish: “What happens to us when we meditate?” http://t.co/4YMKOo6shg
— Leo Widrich (@LeoWid) December 29, 2014