Daily Tao / 282 – Focus

Chess Pieces on Chess Board

Two chess masters confront each other
Without music, chorus, or sound.
Chairs do not squeak,
Audience does not talk.
Why, then, do people meditate carelessly?

When two chess masters play, the audience is solemn. Everyone understands what is at stake. Everyone knows that the masters must be allowed utter silence and total concentration. But when it comes to people’s attitudes about meditation, they assume that noisy streets, inconsiderate roommates, foul smells, and dirty rooms have no impact. After all, isn’t meditation just a mental activity divorced from the realities of environment?

If that was so, there wouldn’t be meditation halls. If that was so, there wouldn’t be places of solace. If that was so, then people wouldn’t seek the quiet of secret gardens. Meditation is not a supplementary activity. It is not mere relaxation and stress reduction. It is the way to bring one’s very humanity into focus.

If we want to succeed in meditation, we must act in the correct setting. We need places where the air is fresh, nature is close by, and we can remain undisturbed. Then we can slip into serenity. If we can understand the need of the chess masters for uninterrupted focus, we can also understand the precise attention that we must bring to our meditation.