I’m keeping track of a large daddy-longlegs parked in one of the upper corners of the music room. At first, I thought it might be dead because it hadn’t seemed to move for a couple of days. I decided to determine if it ever moved. Sure enough, it apparently walks around at night. Each morning, it poses in a very slightly different position.
Perhaps the daddy longlegs is able to remain in one place because it has a pinpoint size brain. The arachnid fascinates me because it appears to be very patient. In any case the small creature seems to possess composed stillness.
Perhaps you’ve also paid attention to other tiny creatures that sit still for hours on end. A garden spider on her web is absolutely calm until the very instant a gnat collides with the web. Then she springs into action to collect her meal. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience such a state of composed stillness, even though our diet does not consist of insects?
The popular view of meditation is that people think we must empty our minds of all thoughts and sensations. Of course, this is not true, unless one is drugged or sleeping. A mind that is empty of thoughts and feelings is not a sharp, keen, meditating mind. That sort of mind is a dull mind. A dull mind is not advantageous to the life of anyone nor anything. If the daddy longlegs has a mind, dullness would cause it to starve to death.
In a similar way, a dull human mind is not conducive to skillful meditation, nor a vibrant, happy life. The discovery of and the enjoyment of life requires our minds to be silent yet active. This silence or state of quietness is enabled when we let go of preconceived notions, beliefs, and opinions.
The daddy longlegs doesn’t know that it is a daddy longlegs. It just exists without introspection and self-analysis. It doesn’t have a vocabulary. It just remains alert and conscious n the moment.
Even though I have a vocabulary and I know a little bit about the creatures that are classified as daddy longlegs, I don’t need to run that information through the mind as I view and observe the little creature. I can just settle back and watch it for awhile.
The time spent observing the daddy longlegs is short because my mind is so active. Even though the arachnid is intriguing, the mind wants to focus elsewhere. The mind wants to have another sip of coffee and resume writing something for this blog.
After writing for awhile, my active mind wants to sneak a peek at the daddy longlegs, just to satisfy some lingering curiosity. There is an aspect of my mind that wants to discover, first-hand, something about that creature. I want to go beyond what centuries of propaganda and tradition say about tiny eight-legged creatures. With Wikipedia, I can discover even more information about them. I learn that they are an order of arachnids known as “harvestmen”. There are perhaps more than 10,000 species of these things, worldwide.
I don’t need to know these data in order to simply enjoy the fact that this particular daddy longlegs is sharing my work space today.
My opinions, beliefs, and concepts about arachnids are simply the reaction and result of what I have been told and what I have read about them. Unconsciously, I reiterate to myself and to others what is my experience.
To retain authenticity of my own experience, I need to question the validity of my beliefs. By this questioning, I can look and listen attentively to what my mind is telling me. Must I hold traditional opinions about daddy longlegs, or anything else?
While I can remain calm and motionless on the outside while observing the arachnid or while meditating at my shrine, my mind is not asleep. The mind is quite active and focused. This dual quality of composed stillness is the state of mind that allows for a richer quality of life.
In short, to live life fully, the mind can be calm and objective. To satisfy our urge to investigate we have the added quality of alertness.