The parable of the umbrella, the Zen master, and the pupil exists in different variants and it presents an insight into the practice of mindfulness that I’ve taken to heart over the last several months. The story goes something like this.
After ten years of apprenticeship, Tenno achieved the rank of Zen teacher. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous master Nan-in. When he walked in, the master greeted him with a question, “Did you leave your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch?”
“Yes,” Tenno replied.
“Tell me,” the master continued, “did you place your umbrella to the left of your shoes, or to the right?”
Tenno did not know the answer, and realized that he had not yet attained full awareness. So he became Nan-in’s apprentice and studied under him for ten more years.
Prior to hearing of this parable, I would say I was far from any state of awareness in my daily life, let alone full awareness of my being and my surrounds. But now, I work to try to be more mindful as I live each day. And what has happened is a renewed appreciation of me and the world in which I live. I’m finding delight in as little as a leave blowing across the lawn to staring in awe images of our earth from the Space Station. Being mindful and having awareness of your activities will radically change your perspective and I suggest you give it a try.