Build a Dam

September 15, 2020 • Conversations on the Spiritual Path, Learn

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The rate and volume at which information comes at us today is unparalleled in human history. It seems that wherever we go there is a barrage of information thrown at us – warranted or not, it’s forced upon us. 

It’s not only information but things and people as well. It’s easier to meet more people these days. We are no longer living in small villages with a population of a few hundred people surrounded by a barrier of jungles or desert that naturally keep others away.

Today, we meet people via email, online, via text and more. 

More physical things are being created each day. Most of them none of us need. More things are being given to us. Sold to us. We buy because we lack discrimination. Most can’t discriminate between what they need and what they want. Needs are an essential part of living. Wants are outpourings of our desires which quite often when left unchecked leaves us with more stuff than we need. 

What to do?

Build a dam!

Build a massive dam. 

Every dam has a gate and a controller that controls how much water gets to go through the dam and out the other side. The water in this case is the infinite amount of information, things and people that are coming our way. Knocking at our door. The damn is our mind and the controller is our wisdom in handling what comes our way. 

What determines our wisdom? Our ability to process experiences, learn the lesson and apply the learnings in a timely manner in our experiences in life to create positive outcomes. My guru puts it more eloquently, “Wisdom is the timely application of knowledge.” How beautiful is that. 

Wisdom in the context of this article would be having the clarity of purpose in life and the priorities that are defined as a natural consequence of knowing one’s purpose. The resulting outcome – the ability to discriminate between what we want to engage with and what we do not what to engage with. 

We can’t control what comes our way. But we can certainly control what gets through to us. Hence, we build a dam. And we choose how much of that gate we want to open and let through. We can wisely choose not only how much but more importantly what type of information we allow into our minds. 

What type of people we allow into our lives and how many of them. 

When I was a young monk in my guru’s monastery, I asked a visiting monk (who was at that time a 110-years-old), “What is the one quality a monk should cultivate?”. He gave a single word answer, “Discrimination.”

He elaborated after a short silence. “The ability to discriminate between what is good for you and what is not good for you.”

That sage advice is relevant to all of us … monks or householders.

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