Originally published: May 16, 2012 by remingtoncooney |
A monk and a mechanic walk into a bar.
The monk walks with soft steps over to the bar stool, takes his seat, and asks for an orange juice. The mechanic trudges along behind him, lifts his heavy-built body onto a stool, and orders a pint. The two begin talking but the conversation is short lived:
The monk talks about his day at the monastery; he tells the mechanic that he and his fellow monks have raised enough money begging, so that they can now build their community garden. He also mentions how their 2 hours of group chanting, brought him into a new state of bliss; a state he didn’t even know was possible!
The bored mechanic looks at the monk with raised eyebrows. He then sips his beer, hiccups, and burps under his breath, before launching into a lengthy description of how the carburetor that he ordered for Bill’s truck arrived today, but it turns out that the supplier sent the wrong one and it was only after it was installed into the truck, and turned on, that he realized it wasn’t right.
“Them Ford suppliers are bloody hopeless,” the mechanic concludes.
“Om….” is the monk’s only response. He has become disillusioned by the mechanic’s dull story, and focuses on trying to relive the blissful state he felt earlier today.
The bartender (who is also the owner of the bar) notices this very strange and awkward interaction occurring between the two patrons. He sees that the mechanic is now just muttering and swearing to himself, and the monk has his eyes closed and is making a deep, chant-like sound.
Being the bar’s master of ceremonies, the bartender takes it upon himself to try and break the ice between his two customers, and to get their conversation back on track. After all, he wants them to stay for more drinks. Business has not been good in these last few months of recession.
He approaches them and with a big grin on his face says, “How’s the evening gents?”
“Ah, them bloody Ford suppliers and their bloody no good carburetors, why I orta…”
Not dissuaded by these unusual, one-sided responses, the bartender continues:
“I must say you two are unlikely duo. What brings you two to my wonderful bar, on this fine evening?”
The monk stops ‘omming’ and replies: “not much actually. This seemed like a good idea at first, but now I realize it was foolish. I thought I could talk some sense into this grease monkey and find some common ground. All I’ve learnt is that we have nothing in common, whatsoever.”
The bartender turns to the mechanic. “Would you agree with this, sir?”
“…I shoulda tried Holden, you know? They’d never let me down. Ford on the other hand, why I orta…”
The bartender chuckles. “My good men, judging by the conversation I overheard earlier, I take it you are a monk and you are a mechanic. And while it is true that I have never before seen such a combination of personalities, I believe there IS one thing that you both have in common.”
“what’s that?” both men ask in unison.
“Well, you both meditate,” says the bartender.
“Huh,” the mechanic replies, “medi…what?!”
“Meditation,” replies the bartender. It’s the act of stillness; the act of presence; the act of being with the breath.
“Sounds more like sleeping to me,” cracks the mechanic and bursts into hysteric laughter at his own joke. He slaps the counter in front of him, and looks at the monk to see if he too, is laughing. The monk is sitting there very unimpressed.
No,no, no, no,” says the monk, “he does not meditate. I meditate” He points an accusatory finger at the sniggering man at his side and continues, “He drinks beer and watches television and asks his wife to iron his shirts. I meditate.”
The bartender replies,
“As a matter of fact you both meditate, it is just the type of meditation you do is very different. The bartender addresses the monk:
“For starters, you are aware that you are particpating in meditation, when you do so. You are consciously meditating.
He then turns to the mechanic:
Michelin man over here does not realize he is meditating, but he is. He is doing so when he is fixated on repairing a veichle, and has become so involved in the activity that the rest of the world around him has disappeared. In this moment, his breath is still, as he carefully tightens the nuts and bolts of the engine with his spanner. He knows that if he takes his attention away for just a split second, something could go wrong. He understands that all his energy and focus must be pin pointed in that present moment. Understanding this, he is able to channel that energy, and in doing so he meditates on that moment.
It is also in this moment that he enjoys his job most. He forgets about the fight he had with his work colleague earlier that day, or that the wrong carburetor was ordered. He is just here and now, at peace with the task at hand. When those nuts and bolts are tightened and the engine is secured, he comes out of his trance, and realizes how good he now feels and that his job isn’t so bad after all. It’s moments like these that makes us all feel good about working. It’s moments like these where everybody enjoys their job. It’s also a time when many meditate without realizing they’re meditating.
Tell me now, do you still not believe your bar-mate meditates?
The monk contemplates this for a moment.
“If he meditates, then why is he so vulgar? Why has he not developed spiritual attunement and sensitivity like myself and my fellow monks back at the monastery? I mean, look at him. He is not far beyond an ape.”
They both look at the mechanic who is now trying to flick toothpicks into the cleavage of a woman sitting on the opposite side of the room.
“It is because he does not meditate with the intention of expanding his awareness to the life that exists around him. Although he has moments of meditation in particular activities, these activities do not necessarily bring about mindfulness. Just because you participate in a meditative activity does not necessarily mean you are mindful. To be mindful, one has to be consciously meditating. They have to realize what the state of meditation is, so that they can tune their senses to the reality of that meditative state. Once mindful, sensitivity will soon follow, and with sensitivity comes compassion.
The mechanic turns around to see them both staring at him.
“Oh sorry boys, got a little sidetracked…but I’m still listening…you were talking about the medi..meditation thingy and how it’s real good for you, and stuff.”
“yes…” The bartender hesitates, “do you now see how you also meditate?”
“Na not really…all sounds a bit poofy to me. You talk like the guys who go to my wife’s yoga class. She invited a few them around for dinner once. Said they’d have a good influence on me. I thought, “oh what the hell, at least I’ll get to try out my new barbie.” So, I whack on these juicy T-Bones, and when it’s time to serve ’em up, they all tell me that they’re vegetarian. And they’re just sitting there, pushing lettuce leaves round their plate like a bunch of pansies, and…”
“With mindfulness comes sensitivity, with sensitivity comes compassion,” interrupts the bartender patting the monk on the shoulder. “He’ll come round.”
“Yeah, speaking of rounds, me and baldy here could do with another! “
“Coming right up, my good sir.” the bartender pours a fresh beer and orange juice and hands them over. As he walks away to serve another customer, the monk speaks again:
You, bartender, are a wise man. Would you be interested in renouncing your bar skills and joining my monastery?
“Thanks for your offer, but I’m already affiliated with a monastery.
“What is this monastery you speak of?”
My monastery is here,” and he points to the neon sign above the liquor bottles:
“Buddha Bar” it reads.
“Oh my, can it be, you are a great Bodhisattva? asks the monk.
“Well, I don’t know about that. Although, I do conduct all my sermons here. Most of my customers don’t remember them…but they seem to enjoy them at the time. And this is a good place for my practice. You’d be surprised how meditative pouring beers can be!”
“I will be back tomorrow with my fellow monks for another of your sermons. Thankyou, wise one!”
The monk bows, turns, and runs out, feeling as if he is on the brink of enlightenment.
Still seated at the bar, the mechanic returns to his toothpick flicking.