January 8, 2014
Rob sighed as he tossed another frog across the river. It was nearly noon and he’d been at it since dawn. These weren’t just tiny tree frogs, either. In the town of Littleby where Rob lived, the frogs were a foot long and weighed ten to twenty pounds, which was a big job considering that Rob was, like most of the people in the town, no more than four feet tall. He did this every weekend though, and had done since he was little and his father had had to help him pick up the frogs.
Once all the frogs were on the other side of the river, Rob took off his gloves and stuffed them in his pocket. As he walked into town he passed many of his friends, also preoccupied with their weekend tasks: Jilly, who climbed trees; Gomer, who pet sheep; and Melany, who chased birds.
As he approached the town square he noticed an unusual man standing there. He was wearing a long orange dress and his long black hair framed his chubby face. Rob would have thought he was a woman if he hadn’t immediately called out in a deep, powerful voice, “Hello Rob”.
Rob was startled that the man knew his name, but he knew how to be polite, so he replied, “Hello sir, what brings you to town?”
“I am just passing through,” the man said. “I was wondering though, I saw you tossing frogs across a river. Why do you do that? For that matter, why is that woman over there moving bits of sand from one pile to another with tweezers?”
Rob was shocked. How could he not understand? “But…what else should we do?”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with getting out in the fresh air and exercising, but what is the purpose of throwing the frogs?” asked the man. “What do you gain from it?”
“Well, I guess I just enjoy it. My father and I did it every weekend while I was growing up,” said Rob. “But don’t the frogs need to be tossed?”
The man just stared at him, his dark eyes penetrating. Rob stood there awkwardly, not knowing what else to say. Why couldn’t the man understand that he was a frog-tosser? Finally the man said gently, “Why don’t you come by the inn tonight, where I am staying, and we can talk? Feel free to bring your friends with you.”
Rob agreed, and when the time came he, his wife, and many of their friends went to the inn. The man greeted them cheerfully and they all sat down on some couches in the lobby area.
“I called you here tonight,” the man said, “to show you a way to occupy your time that will bring you true happiness. “
“Thank you sir,” said Rob’s wife, “but I’m afraid we don’t have time for anything else. In my free time I already have to move one pile of sand to another pile with tweezers.”
“All these things that you do,” the man said, “are not getting you anywhere. If you, Jilly, do not climb the trees, what will happen? Or you, Lester, what does it matter if the pine needles are not collected?
There was a stunned silence. None of the townspeople had ever considered why they did their weekend hobbies; they just knew that they had to be done.
“We are already happy, what can you possibly give us?” one woman, who was a bench-warmer, cried.
“I will show you. First, sit upright, so that your back is straight.” They did as he instructed, some reluctantly. “Then close your eyes, take a slow deep breath, and let it out. Do that a few times, then start breathing naturally again, but keep paying attention to each inhale and exhale. When you inhale, think the word ‘hong’ and when you exhale, think ‘sau’. Practice this every day for an hour or so. If, after a year, you do not like it, then you can spend that time on your hobbies instead.”
They practiced this for about 15 more minutes, and then somebody exclaimed, “He’s gone!”
They searched and searched but no one ever found him. They did take his advice though, being naturally obedient people. A year passed and no one even suggested stopping the practice. They all saw that world went on just fine for that hour without them, but when they sat with their eyes closed, a whole new world opened up before them. Decades past and slowly an orb of light began to surround the town. It has become a place where people go for healing, and leave feeling as if they are in the prime of youth.
Give meditation a try. Experiment with even 5 minutes daily for 30 days. Put energy into the experiment and pay attention to your life as the days go by. At the end of 30 days, see if you notice any changes. Do you feel happier? More patient or calm? If you notice any positive changes, experiment with another 30 days. Meditation can work for you, but only if you make a commitment to yourself to try it.