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Another longer conversation with the Master

Talking with the Master 2

I turned over and looked at the clock, a device my master claimed I didn’t need. How he arose at exactly the same time everyday always amazed me. I could stay in bed all day, if it was allowed. I woke up worried and tired. I had tossed and turned the whole night. The master had wished me a good sleep and said that we should go into town tomorrow. We never went to town on a Thursday. I must have forgotten something. I got up and tore off my pajamas and threw on jeans and a t-shirt. The Master wouldn’t be up for an hour and I could see what we needed before we went.

As I ran into the kitchen, I stopped short being somewhat embarrassed by inappropriate haste. The Master was sitting at the table sipping from a cup. I looked over at the counter and looked at the half empty french press. I was really in trouble now. I always made coffee and it bothered me that he had to make his own.

“Good morning. Such a one - so beautiful – you felt the need to rise early as well?” The master sipped his coffee and looked very happy. Maybe I had dodged a bullet.

I smiled and walked to the pantry, catching my breath. “Good morning. Yes. I thought I would check the pantry and see what it was we needed.”

“Oh. Is that what made you wake early?” He smiled over the rim of his cup. “Or did you set your alarm?”

I walked into the pantry and perused the shelves. It seemed to me that we were well stocked, everything was neat and in perfect order. I went over, in my head, what I planned for meals and was satisfied that we would be fine until Monday, our normal shopping day. I checked the soaps, light bulbs, medical needs, and paper products - all just fine. Since I was the one who made our ‘needs’ list and did the cooking, I had no idea what the Master would need in town. I felt set up and knew a lesson was not far off. I grinned to myself and walked back into the kitchen.

“Pour yourself some coffee. It isn’t as good as yours, but it’s not bad. I would have waited until you got up, but I decided to try it myself. It’s always good to try new things.”

I made my coffee and sat down across from my teacher. “It didn’t set my alarm. I tossed and turned all night wondering why we needed to go to town. I felt as if I had made a mistake or something.’

“What mistake would you have made that would have upset you so?” He set his cup down and looked at me with concern on his face.

I’m sure it was real concern, but I also knew that it was never what I thought it was. “I thought you might be upset with me.” Before he could say it I recited one of his favorite sayings, ‘It’s none of my business what you think of me!’ - I know.”

“Would I not have told you if I was upset?”

“Sure you would. Of course, even if it was a little thing I would still have thought I had failed in some way.”

He smiled. “Such is the level of your integrity and for that I am honored.”

He was setting me up for sure. “Then why are we going into town?

He didn’t answer, he got up and washed out the french press and his cup. He dried them and put them away. He turned and looked at me, turning he waved at me to follow him. I picked up my cup and followed him. He stopped short at my bedroom door. He just looked at me with an unreadable face.

“Do you want to go in?” I asked -he nodded - and I began to sweat. “Master, my room is a mess – are you sure you want to go in there? What could you possibly show me in there?” He didn’t move, he just smiled one of those awful smiles. I opened the door and jumped in before him, snatching up clothes and throwing them into my closet. I ran over to my bed and threw up the covers, doing my best to smooth them out on the bed surface. The random piles of paper stopped me cold. If I mixed up the projects it would take me forever to sort them back out. I looked up to see the Master standing in the doorway.

“Is it safe to come in?” He began to laugh as if he had just heard the funniest joke in the world.

I was embarrassed and hurt, so I sat on my bed as my smart-ass teacher walked in, wiping the joyful tears from his eyes. He sat down in a chair I kept by the window. He said nothing for several uncomfortable minutes.

I could bare it no more. “It is my room. I can keep it as messy as I want. The rest of the house is spotless and my kitchen is immaculate.” I flushed red at the immature and petulant sound of my own, too loud, voice.

The master just smiled at me with obvious affection. I was getting confused and agitated. I looked around at the chaos that was my bedroom. There was clothing thrown everywhere, I had piles of papers in corners and on tables, coffee cups and glasses were on every flat surface. And for the first time I noticed the smell. I dropped my head in my hands in shame.

“What’s wrong?” His voice was soft and caring.

“My room is shameful. It’s as if I just noticed it for the first time. If my kitchen looked like this, I would not eat anything prepared in it –I’d be afraid of getting sick.”

The master looked around and shook his head. “I see nothing wrong in here. It has a very organic feel. The clothes seem as if they were leaves cast down by trees. The cups and glasses like stones cast upon a field. The odor is earthy and reminds me of loam.”

“You’re being sarcastic.’ I bristled. “Okay, I get it!”

“What is it you get?”

I had fallen in it for sure. I had no idea where this was going to go. Why couldn’t he just say ’Clean your room’ – like my father used to yell at me? How hard would that be?

All I could think to say was, “I don’t know!” Then I slammed my eyes shut, because I knew what was next.

“Then who do I ask?” He cocked his head in that annoying way he does when he has me on the hook.

I was for it now. “I’ll clean my room up.”

“What makes you think I would want, or even require, you to clean up your room? As you said - it’s your room.”

“Then why did you want to come in here – you’ve never asked to come in before.”

He smiled, “I wanted to see what had you so upset.”


“You come into your kitchen with a good spirit and that spirit is infused into the food you prepare. It is a joy to eat what you prepare. Yesterday I had decided to forgo my morning meditations to watch you cook our breakfast. I had the expectation that it would be wonderful and as beneficial as my meditations – such is your mastery. Instead you were sullen and internal, of course you have every right to be sullen and internal, after all, my coming into your morning space could be too different and upsetting to you. I left you to your work and your mood. Do you remember what created such a mood, or do you often start each day in such a terrible state?”

I was taken aback. I honestly couldn’t remember why I was in a bad mood. “I don’t remember. I remember that I scorched the omelets and had to clean up and make them again. I was pleased when the second try was perfect.”

“May I ask - when you prepared the first omelets were you aware of what you were doing?’

‘No, I was thinking about my book project – I was frustrated.” I got up and went to the pile of papers on the table by the window. I lifted up the top sheet and looked at it. Then shuffled through the other papers not finding what I was looking for. I walked over to my nightstand, to another pile of papers and rummaged through that pile - still not finding what I wanted, I sat down and sighed.

“How are you feeling - right now?”

“I’m angry and embarrassed. I wanted to show you what I had written and I can’t find it, because my room is a mess.”

“You believe it is because your room is a mess?”

I didn’t answer, but it felt like the right answer – but somehow I knew it wasn’t.

“Because your attention was elsewhere you scorched the eggs – were you upset then?”

I looked back at my feelings. “A little, but it didn’t matter to me. I knew I would make perfect eggs, if I paid attention.”

“Because your kitchen is well organized and works just as you have designed it to work?”

“Yeah!” The conversation seemed a ‘so what’ to me.

“What in this room do you give such attention?”

I looked around and my eyes fell on my bookcase. I had every book in a particular order. I realized that I could find anything there that I might have needed, at a moments notice. I turned to my teacher. “My book case is like my kitchen – the rest of the room I have no attention on.”

“Do you go to the kitchen when you are upset or here to your room?”

“My room.” The light was coming on.

He sat back, indicating to me that the groundwork for the lesson had been laid. It was just the body language he used. I only learned to notice because it was always a big relief.

“Do you agree that there are an infinite number of ways this room can be messy?” I nodded. “And there is only a finite way for this room to be neat?”

“I guess that makes sense to me.”

“If I came in here and straightened out your room to my satisfaction would it satisfy you?’

“Maybe. I’m sure I would have to change some things.”

“Because you are the creator in your universe. By having order in your universe you can let go of it, then there is little effort, for you, in its presence. Like your kitchen – everything is as it should be because you gave your attention to it. When something needs to be corrected, it is a small thing. If your kitchen were a mess, what weight then that scorched egg. Our minds like order and despise chaos. It is in the nature of humans to rearrange, not for it’s own sake, but for peace of mind. We can live with chaos, but not well. The harmony of the outside world affects the harmony of the internal world.”

“Master, I don’t know. You have always said that nature is beautiful, but it is messy and chaotic.”

“Is it? Or do we perceive it to be so. I would suggest that the Creator is just fine with how it is all put together. Since we cannot grasp it all, we can only find order where we are, where we stand, where we live. Is it possible that you come to your messy room to be upset, not because you are upset, and you go to your well-ordered kitchen to find peace? For all it’s fussing and fuming the mind can be quieted, by giving your world, your universe, some attention. That which you have attention on - can be let go, that which you do not - is a weight that requires effort and energy, and may well produce great upset. It is why I have often told you to pray on the run.”

“You can’t control everything. I’m already exhausted thinking about all the straightening up I need to do.”

“Do you need a nap?”

I had that coming. “Sorry! I’m not sure I get this completely.”

“Make ordered what occurs to you, that which is in front of you. That is enough. It is a process of awareness, a function of living. You enjoyed cooking and so that space became a universe that required your attention and you gave it a comfortable order – your personal version of order. Your books are important to you and you gave them your attention and a comfortable order. So it is within your power - in your space.”

I did understand and smiled. “I can see where both extreme tidiness and extreme sloppiness are troubling - a dis-ease. There is less energy expended when things are tidy than when they are messy. “

The Master stood up and stretched. “ We’ll go to town tomorrow. Let’s rest this afternoon.”

I smiled at him. “After I straighten up a bit. Maybe I’ll find that paper I wanted to show you.” My original concern, suddenly, came to mind. “Why do we need to go into town? We have all the supplies we need.”

“Oh, that. I wanted to rent a couple of those ‘Harry Potter’ films. I hear they are quite entertaining.

end of part 2

ken lehnig(c)2009

Why is doing what you love the hardest thing to do? Is it because failing what you thought defined you would be too devastating a thing from which to recover? If so, we stay where mere accident has left us.

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The following comments are for "Talking With the Master part 2"
by jonpenny

I got a new Outsiders and finally, another addition of Talking With the Master. I love this story. I have a question though, when I read the first one, I pictured an elderly Asian man and his apprentice. I pictured ancient China perhaps. Now I'm reading about a french press, harry potter movies, jeans and a t-shirt that the student threw on. So I'm curious, what is the master teaching the student exactly? I mean, one student living with a "Master" is not so common these days. I'm just trying to get a picture in my head. Is it something that is explained later in the story? What is the Master a Master of? You know, stuff like that.

As for this piece, I'm gawking and staring again. It makes me wonder about myself, cause I don't really keep anything neat and tidy. I'm a horrible housekeeper in fact. I never thought about cleanliness as being a function of living. This is an interesting take. Keeping things orderly suggests an orderly mind. Yet things too orderly suggest laziness just like things being to sloppy. Or maybe I miss the point, in any event, you've definatly got me thinking again. Great story my friend,


( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: September 9, 2009 )

The master
All will be revealed, Grasshopper! (Hopefully the contemporary spin will make sense) Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much!

( Posted by: jonpenny [Member] On: September 9, 2009 )

Oh, I like this..
Very nice indeed, right up my grasshopper reading alley, JonPenny;-)

Tashi Delek!

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: September 15, 2009 )

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