I like this metaphor- and, what would happen if we allowed it to keep going? Chickens have been let out of their coops all around rural New England recently, and it’s OK. They don’t stray far. They stay together. The rooster make a little extra noise and shows off its wings if a stranger approaches, but they don’t freak out. Allowed to roam free and fend for themselves and they don’t cause any trouble. They retreat for the coop on their own when they sense a threat. They pause and listen without running away if you talk to them kindly.
Feelings arise within the state of calm. The mind is experiencing feelings and calm at the same time, without being disturbed. When there is calm like this, there are no harmful consequences. Problems occur when the chicken gets out of the coop. For instance you may be watching the breath entering and leaving and then forget yourself, allowing the mind to wander away from the breath, back home, off to the shops or any number of different places. Perhaps even a half hour may pass before you suddenly realize that you’re supposes to be practicing meditation and you reprimand yourself for your lack of mindfulness. This is where you have to be really careful because this is where the chicken gets out of the coop – the mind leaves its base of calm.
Ajahn Chah, What’s What
photo erik christensen