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Monday, October 02, 2006

Noise and Meditation.

I closed the laptop and decided to meditate. Not more then a few seconds after making this decision I heard a loud humming noise break the silence across the street. Upon further investigation I discovered that a carpet cleaning truck was operating at the appartment complex there. The next thing I knew I was saying to myself, "Oh no. Now I can't meditate with that annoying humming going on!!" However, on the heels of that statement came a thought to remind me of what I had just been taught a day earlier via an online dharma talk I heard by Ajahn Amero of the Abhayagiri monastery.

The talk was titled, "Abiding in the Refuges." At the beginning of the talk Ajahn spoke of one of his fellow monks who was on retreat in a lovely, secluded location with a beautiful, humble cabin to reside within. It was dusk as this monk settled into meditation when he heard this bird. The bird put up quite a racket for the rest of the night and interrupted his perfectly serene moment.

Isn't that like life said the monk to Ajahn Amero. Just when we think that we have everthing the way that we want it, something comes along and "messes everything up."

Remembering this story I set out to meditate realizing that there is never a perfect moment to meditate or a perfect anything. I started my session with a reflection of impermanence. Breathing in I recognize the hair on my head. Breathing out I realize the impermanence of of the hair on my head--and so on.

Then I focused on the humming noise and said to myself, "breathing in I realize the humming noise, breathing out I realize the impermanence of the humming noise." I was accepting the noise and allowing it to just sound--not judging it or fighting its presence. I was realizing the interconnectivity of sounds as I heard the birds at our feeder chirping away their beautiful song at the same time as the truck was humming away. Neither is any better or worse then the other. All sounds have the same value as any other. It is us who judge them as annoying or bothersome or good or soothing. Soon I was hearing the humming noise without any of my usual judgements and it began to sound as soothing as a kitten purring. And then just like that the humming stopped. Impermanence indeed. :)

~Peace to all beings~

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Steven Crisp said...

A great lesson in there -- on acceptance, on judgment (or lack thereof), on perfection, and on impermanance.

And the lesson comes from everyday affairs -- the carpet cleaning truck next door.

It's easy to see beauty and "perfection" in pristine natural surroundings (well, relatively easy). But how about in a congested city block. Or in the slums of Old Delhi.

Our best teacher, then, wouldn't you say. I hope you had a chance to thank the carpet cleaner ;-)

"James" said...


So true. It's also a matter of perspective as well. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of how we need to be grateful for the sensations that we can experience. Saying that a deaf person would most likely love to hear any kind of noise. Thus, that humming of the carpet cleaning truck would probably be music to his/her ears. :)

Angela Ferreira said...

Beautiful writting... and so true!

"James" said...


Thank-you. :) I hope you had a great day.

dragonflyfilly said...

ah hah! ahnickcha (sp?), eh...i don't know if i am spelling that correctly, is it not great that all things are not permanent?

"James" said...


Yep. Some people see change as a punishment and painful. Yet, however, I see change/impermanence as a great gift. :) Namaste.

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