A long time ago, a man was lost walking through a forest. As he was cursing his misfortune, he stumbled upon an old sage.
The sage offered the lost man a demon servant. The servant would take him from the forest and do whatever he asked. However, if the demon was ever left idle, even for a minute, it would devour the man.
In despair, the man accepted the offer. Upon being presented with the demon, he told the creature to take him home. In the blink of an eye, they were out of the forest and back home.
Understanding the demon needed to be kept busy, the man instructed it to tidy the house. Before he could even lay down, the demon reappeared beside him, with everything sparkling clean.
Since the man did not immediately give the creature another chore, it grabbed him. Panic stricken, he quickly asked for the first thing he could think of – an iced drink. In a flash, the demon returned with the drink.
Realizing a bigger assignment was in order, the man ordered the demon to build a castle. Barely finishing his drink, the demon returned. The castle was complete.
Two weeks passed this way. The man was driven to distraction keeping the demon busy; barely eating, sleeping, and constantly in danger of being eaten.
Finally, he had enough.
The next time the demon appeared, the man said, “Take me to the old sage!”
In a blink of an eye, they were back in the forest again beside the sage.
The man quickly described his problem.
The sage said “Have the demon fetch a monkey hair.” Confused, the man instructed the demon to bring a monkey hair. When the demon returned, the sage told it to straighten the hair.
The demon pinned the hair to the ground with one finger, and with the other finger, rolled it out flat. Once done, the demon stood up to attack the man.
However, as soon as the demon let go of the hair, it curled up again. Frowning, the demon sat down, and re-straightened it. As soon as it let go, the hair curled up again.
For minutes, the man watched in awe, as the demon repeated this process.
The sage said, “When you have a task, take the hair away and give it the task. When the task is done, return the hair and say 'straighten this.'”
From then on, the man was no longer distracted by the demon. All thanks to a little monkey hair.
Interestingly our mind is like a demon.
It demands attention, requires engagement, needs stimulation, and desperately seeks to be preoccupied. And it will nag and distract us until it gets it.
In order to concentrate, often we need to appease or quite this demon mind of ours. We need to preoccupy it, otherwise it will constantly annoy, pester, and divert our attention away from what we want or are trying to do.
So at times, concentration involves preoccupying some part of your mind so the other parts can focus.
How can one do that?
I'll discuss that in the next post.