My friend Sarah brought cookies by this morning. I didn’t go to sleep till nearly three this morning so I wasn’t up yet when she left them on the ledge by the front door. But I was grateful to get them. I love cookies.
I’m more grateful for small things these days than I used to be. I used to have big expectations and was disappointed when they didn’t materialize. I’m seldom disappointed by anything now, since I no longer have expectations. Is this a bad thing?
For forty years, a swami lived in a cave high in the Himalayas, seeking enlightenment. For forty years he sat meditating in complete isolation, naked except for a blanket, never seeing another living soul, eating only rice and drinking plain water.
When the forty years were over, the swami’s mind was as clear and still as a mountain lake, at peace at last. “I have achieved enlightenment,” he said to himself. He decided to come down off the mountain and attend the Maha Kumbh Mela, the great Hindu pilgrimage to the Ganges, which only occurs once every 144 years.
The crowd was so great that the swami was caught in the tide of humanity and swept along as though he had fallen in a river. The noise deafened him, the colors blinded him, the press of people took his breath away, but he was at peace. Until a beggar stepped on his foot and he yelled, “OW, get the #$%*& off my foot, you *%^@_!”
Richard Alpert, better known as Ram Dass, spiritual seeker, teacher, and author of Be Here Now, suffered a stroke in 1997 that nearly killed him and left him barely able to speak. He reports that when the stroke happened and he realized that he was probably dying, his entire lifetime of faith and understanding flew out the window and he became a whimpering coward. What courage it takes to be able to admit something like that.
I think of both those stories often, especially when someone tries to convince me of the rightness of his philosophy. Or when I think I have it all figured out myself.
I used to know stuff, but no more. In fact, in most ways I used to be a better person than I am now. I used to have prescient dreams. I meditated. I played music, painted, and believed things. I read everything and wrote what I wanted. I loved and had passion, and even when I was sad, and afraid, and grief stricken — and I often was — I was basically a cheerful little person.
Now I know nothing, nor do I understand anything. Yet I’m not pessimistic,or optimistic either. It’s more like I am whatever tide or emotion or event is happening in this moment.
And this moment I am very happy for cookies.