by Clark Strand
many years ago my college girlfriend and I went hiking in the mountains.
After walking a long way, we stopped for lunch beside a small spring-fed
lake. We had brought food, but nothing to drink. When I complained
about this and wanted to head back, she said it wasn't necessary.
There was water all around.
at the pond and found nothing very appetizing about the condition
of the water. Moreover, as a child I had been indoctrinated against
drinking pond water by countless camp counselors and scoutmasters.
But Sally slipped out of her clothes and waded right into the lake.
She would swim underwater for twenty or thirty seconds, coming
up in a different place each time. Finally, she emerged from a
place about ten yards from the far shore and shouted, "Here
sure what she meant, but I took off my own clothes and swam to
where she was. She took my hand and we swam down a dozen or so
feet until a wave of cool water struck my face. She had found the
spring that fed the lake.
later I discovered that our minds are just the same. Quite often
the surface looks green and murky, but at bottom there is something
clear. Sally had found the spring by swimming in the direction
of the coolest water. You can find clarity the same way when you
you notice you are sleepy, simply stay with that thought. The part
of your mind that notices you are sleepy is, by definition, the
part that is the most awake. After a few moments of thinking how
sleepy you are, you will find your mind is much more
from Meditation without Gurus. Copyright ©2003 by
Clark Strand. It is used with permission from Skylight Paths.
Strand is a former Zen Buddhist monk and a contributing editor
of Tricycle:The Buddhist Review. The author of Seeds
from a Birch Tree: Writing Haiku and the Spiritual Journey,
he currently leads the Koans of the Bible Study Group in Woodstock,
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