Meditation: The Art of Witnessing.
One hot summer day, Buddha along with his disciple Ananda is walking through a forest. He says to Ananda, “We passed a stream of water a few miles behind. Can you go back and get me some water? I am getting exhausted and feeling quite thirsty. I would also like to rest a little.” Ananda immediately nods his head and goes back to the stream. When he reaches the stream, he finds that a few bullock carts and a group of people have crossed through the stream. The whole stream is muddy and covered with leaves and dust. The water is too dirty to drink anymore. Ananda returns without water. Buddha asks, “What happened?” Ananda explains the reason and asks if Buddha can wait a little longer so he could bring water from a big river a few miles ahead while Buddha is resting.
But Buddha insists Ananda to go back and bring him water from that same stream. Ananda is puzzled. He does not conceive of why Buddha wants him to go back to the same stream when there is a big river ahead. He is a little frustrated as he has to walk back again 3-4 miles where he clearly knows the water is undrinkable. But he knows he cannot disagree with his master.
As he is leaving, Buddha says, “Ananda, do not come back empty-handed this time. If the water is dirty, you do nothing. Simply sit on the bank of the stream, and watch the water. The time will come when the dirt will wash away and the water will be clear again. Do not come back without the water. You take your time and I will wait for you over here.”
When Ananda reaches the stream, he sees the water seems almost clear. It’s not as dirty as before, the dust and leaves have cleared. Since the water is not entirely clear, he sits on the bank and simply watches the stream. Gradually, the dust settles down, the leaves move, and the water becomes clear. Buddha is right. Ananda clearly understands the reason behind Buddha’s insistence. He fills up the water in the begging-bowl given by Buddha, runs back dancing overjoyed. He touches Buddha’s feet, gives the water to him and thanks him.
Buddha says, “I should thank you for the water, why are you thanking me?” Then Ananda replies, “Bhagwan, now I understood why you wanted me to go back and get the water from the same stream. At first I was mad because of the absurdity of walking back 3- 4 miles on this hot day when I knew the water was dirty. I was angry, but I didn’t have the courage to bring it out. Then I didn’t understand the hidden message behind your persistence. Waiting and witnessing the water, dust, and leaves made many things clear to me. Now, I can relate this to my mind as well.
While I was sitting on the bank, watching and waiting for the water to clear in that stream, I become aware that what I had been doing wrong so far. If I had jumped into the stream and tried to clear it then I would have made it dirtier. Similarly, if I fight with my mind, if I jump into my mind, I will create more problems. I will cause more disturbances and my mind will be more unstable then before. Sitting on the streams’ shore, I understood the fundamental key to be in meditation. Simply watching the thoughts, the noise inside there, and just waiting for it to be clear.”
– From SpiritualPub.