Thursday, January 12, 2006

Background noise

I took a minute yesterday and realized how much background noise there is in my life. Some of it I invite, like John Hiatt strumming his guitar as I write this and some of it not quite as invited such as the UPS truck delivering down the way. (Is that BROWN noise?)

I was teaching a meditation course at the temple years ago when someone asked what about outside noises? A lot od people think that one must have perfectly serene conditions to meditate. I related that since Buddhist monks don't go around killing things (often) that stray dogs sometimes find the space under temples a convenient place to live. So there you are on a Zafu when the floor begins to growl and snarl. Does one stop practice? Heck, no! You meditate before the guy with the Kesaku (I probably didn't spell that correctly) walk by.

We have tons of background noise in our lives. If you stop and listen to it you'll be amazed. Even siting outside this morning nature tossed a few woodpeckers and Cardinals my way. THe real challenge is what noise you listen to and what noise is important. THe sound of a pot of water boiling is important if I'm cooking. THe sound of a gear grinding is important if I'm trying to discern why a locomotive isn' performing correctly. The sound of an old dog's whine is important to prevent "accidents."

Other sounds aren't that important. The sound of a movie soundtrack that I've watched too many times. THe sound of a neighbor repeating a rant he heard on some talking head show. THe sound of a politician tryin to be clever.

Beany Smarm told me once, "It's not the snort of a bull you need to hear. It's the sound of the hooves getting closer."

I think he's got a good point.

Enough background noise.