"Irwin, the frog who wants to become full must first let himself be empty. Are you empty, my son?" I was, indeed, feeling empty; my stomach was growling and I was very hungry but, somehow, I don't think that's what he meant. "Probably not, Sir," was the only answer I could come up with. In his usual manner, Dharma went on to explain what he meant by being empty. He told me to think about looking at life through a clear pitcher; there'd be nothing in the way of seeing people and situations clarly. Quieting the mind, he reminded me, is just like that. It allows us to see things in a new pespective, free from the color and drama of everyday life. When the mind become clear, it opens up new pathways for creativity to enter. New seeds of wisdom begin to germinate. Suddenly, where there were no answers, we now have wonderful and creative ways to solve even our most challenging problems.
"Who were you before all those thoughts got crammed into your head? Who would you be without them?" asked Dharma. "Think about it, Tadpole. When our vessel, or pitcher is full, we see life through the same old patterns, behaviors, and belief systems. Emptyness can leave us sitting on some very unfamilair lily pads." This was something I'd never thought about before, but I could see that it might raise more than a few interesting answers.
"But, Sir, how do I become empty? My little head is full, all the way right up to my bulging eyeballs!" Dharma smiled, then gave me a few ways to begin emptying my overflowing pitcher.
1. Remember this essential truth; emptiness is our true nature. We came into the world this way. By living authentically, we can return to a place of space, potential, and limitless possibilities.
2. Being empty invites us to befriend the unknown. This is a very scary thought for most of us. But when we allow old patterns to fall away, change happens. It's normal to feel fear when there are big changes, but we can learn to meet the fear lovingly.
3. Be careful not to confuse emptiness with boredom. Boredom feels flat and numbing. True emptiness gives us the capacity to be fully awake each moment. When we empty ourselves out, we feel less drama and less stress. In it's place is a kind of inner peace and knowing that all is well. Emptynes is an enegizing force.
4. Be compassionate with yourself. Remember that every moment spent in exploration and letting go is a moment of freedom. And when you fall back on old behaviors and ways of thinking, and you will from time-to-time, take a deep breath and begin to empty again. Dont remind yourself of all the others times you've already done this. All you need to be concerned with is the here and now. Each day starts new.
As Dharma finished up his tea, he quietly said, "Irwin, I want to leave you with this thought: Becoming empty opens us up to greater potential; to begin living from our inner intelligence rather than from the mind where our thoughts have been distorted by others througout our lifetime. Emptiness brings a sense of harmony with all life."
I hopped to edge of the lily pad and watched my teacher swim away. I was sad to see him leave but, as always, I was greatful to have him in my life. His lessons aren't always easy but they do help to make me a better frog. And now it's time for me to begin "draining my brain". I want to experience as much of life as I possibly can. And, thanks to Dharma, I know that in order to do that, I must first become empty.