Once, a sad householder went to a monk seeking solace and possibly some guidance. “There are so many issues I struggle with,” The householder said, “Such big issues that I constantly have to fight about at home, it gets really difficult. Sometimes, I feel like just leaving everything, running away and becoming a monk like you!” The monk was quite amused that someone might think that monkhood was just about running away from troubles and that they seemed to think that the monk’s life was one of eternal peace. On any other day, the monk might have unpacked that with this person, showing them a truth or two about monkhood, but this day, there was a particular issue that this person had come up with, and the monk really wanted to address that.
The monk looked around the sparse hut to see what could be illustrative, and spying a large brass pot, motioned to the householder to bring that pot over, and the householder happily acquiesced. Holding the brass pot, the monk said, “Imagine this is your relationship with your partner back home. Now, go look around in the compound and see if you can pick up things that are symbolic of what you are going through in your relationship, and put it in the pot!” The householder went around, and picked up some stones and pebbles of different sizes and shapes, some sharip, others rounded, most were hard though a couple were balls of clay. The monk put them all in the pot and shook the pot - they jingled and jangled in a very unpleasant way, till the householder could not take it, and said, “Stop!” The monk stopped, and it took a minute or so for it to all settle down.
They looked into the pot and, some of the pebbles and things had broken and even powdered, but most were as they were. “See!” The monk said, “All that rumbling around, and very little really changed, except the pot is dented and dinged from the inside.” The householder nodded. “Now, fill it with water, and try to do the same!” The monk encouraged, and when he tried, the pot was quite heavy, and he couldn’t move it much. The stones and things had settled at the bottom as well, and didn’t move much - a couple of the clay balls had softened and become a sediment.
“Do you see how a pot full of love holds the same bitterness and fights?” The monk asked, and the householder, feeling suitably chastised, left for home, but not before the monk got the mess cleaned up.
The story just goes to show that very often, the loud, jarring and unpleasant fights that people in relationships experience are like so many pebbles making a racket in an empty pot. Fill that pot with love and kindness, some of them just melt away, and others settle down - like the differences that will exist between any of us.
We can’t wish disagreements away, but we could keep the pot full.
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.