9 Powerful Life Lessons From Studying with a Monk

July 2, 2012 | By | Reply More

Robert Piper, Tiny Buddha
Waking Times

When I was 18 years old, I suffered from anxiety and stomach problems. A compassionate physician and practicing Buddhist referred me to a Taoist monk who specialized in meditation and martial arts. I ended up healing myself of anxiety and stomach issues by doing meditation, and went on a great journey of self-discovery.

Here are 9 lessons I learned while studying with a monk:

1. Keep trying until you get it right.

The most important life lesson I learned was trying something three times (maybe even four times) before you stop trying and move on. Also, this monk taught me that, even after multiple tries, you should work on different angles to approach things that are difficult.

If you keep trying, you’ll eventually get where you’re going.

2. The answer to your question is inside of you.

As part of the original monastery training, a monk didn’t answer direct questions from a student unless it was a well thought-out question. A Chinese proverb says, “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Some forms of Zen Buddhism use a very similar style of training. An old saying (by Taoist monks) goes like this: “In making a four corner table, the teacher shows the student how to make one corner. It’s the student’s job to figure out how to make the other three.”

They did this because they were preparing a student to deal effectively with problems in the real world.

I traveled to South Korea one time, and I found it fascinating how much you have to rely on your intuition when you don’t speak the native language of a country. I remember one instance, I had trouble explaining to the cab driver where my hotel was, and he didn’t speak English. So I had to get out of the cab and ask several people until I could find someone to tell the cab driver in Korean how to get to my hotel.

In life, whenever we try new things, we have to go into new places with only a small amount of information. The real world doesn’t give us all the answers. The greatest teacher is inside of us.

3. Real wisdom in life comes from doing something and failing.

Prior to starting meditation, I used to get upset when I’d try something and fail.

I’ve been in sales since I was sixteen. I remember going to work and getting so angry with myself because I didn’t get a sale. If I ever got rejected, I’d get upset with myself, and I’d want to quit my job. But I just keep failing over and over—until I became good at it.

I remember, when I first started doing meditation, I ran into several problems. For example, at first it was difficult to calm down; but if you stick with it, its gets easier and easier. I tried for only a few minutes, and then every day, I added more time onto my meditation.

When we struggle, we learn about ourselves and what we need to do to become stronger.

4. When you start to do meditation you recognize the egotistical mind.

Everything in the ego’s world is the result of comparing. I compared myself to other salesmen and would blame myself because I wasn’t making as much money as them.

When I started doing meditation, I began to build separation from this egoistical mind, which is consistently making these comparisons. A lot of us try something and get rejected, so we give up. Even worse, we blame ourselves for a long time and get depressed. When I started to do meditation, I began to identify my ego and was able to build separation from it.

That’s what happens when we meditate: We separate from the part of ourselves that dwells on comparisons, and start learning to live a life that isn’t driven by our egos.

5. We must be both compassionate and resilient.

The monk wouldn’t meet with me to train unless I called him a minimum of three times. I hated this part. I used to call and call and he would never answer. But this is how life is. How many times do you have to call or email someone to get something done in the real world? It’s usually several times.

Most of us blame ourselves when we try once to do something and fail. At the time, I hated this part of the training, but now I think it was the most important life lesson.

There’s a Taoist proverb that says, “Cotton on the outside, steel on the inside.”

It reminds us to be compassionate, but not weak.

6. Patience is a virtue.

The monk always made me wait—and I dreaded this.

For example, when I got to his house to train, he’d make me wait for a minimum of a half-hour, sometimes longer. We’d go out to dinner on Friday nights and he’d show up at the restaurant an hour late.

He’d tell me to meet him at a particular restaurant at 7:00. I’d get there and find out that he wasn’t there. So I’d usually be sitting in the restaurant by myself fumbling with my phone, acting like I was texting someone, while worrying about what everyone at the restaurant was thinking about me.

Keep in mind, it’s not like I could call him; I don’t think the guy ever turned his cell phone on. Then he’d show up at about 8:15 and act like nothing happened.

His first question was always, “How’s your mother and father?” (Of course in my head I’m thinking, “What do you mean, ‘How’s my mother and father?’ I just waited here for an hour and fifteen minutes.”)

But after a few years of this, it never bothered me; and not only that, it spread to every area of my life. Because of this training, I can honestly say that I very rarely get upset about anything. I never get agitated anymore when I have to wait in a long line or when someone cuts me off on the highway.

Patience is the gift of inner calm.

7. Detach from your ego.

At first, it’s hard to sit at a restaurant by yourself. You’re constantly worrying, thinking that people probably think you’re a loser because you’re sitting by yourself. But the reality is, you will never be happy if you care about what people think you!

Prior to starting meditation, I’d get upset over just about anything. Now, nothing really bothers me. Recently, I was in the airport and there was a several hour delay on my flight. I just used that time to do meditation. Ten years ago, I would have become extremely upset. An airplane delay would have ruined my day.

When you let go of your ego needs, it’s easier to accept and even benefit from whatever comes at you.

8. In Taoism, they say, “No self, No enemy.”

It’s the enemy within that causes all of our fears, worries, and insecurities. If you come to terms with this enemy within, it will impact every area of your life. It’s the identification with the “self/ego” that causes all of life’s problems.

How many times do we not go for something because of fear? Think about all the fears that we have conjured up in our minds that stop us from being truly happy. If you can conquer the enemy within yourself, you won’t have an enemy outside yourself.

9. Happiness come from within, and also comes from outside.

I learned this from observing the Buddhist Physician I met. He used to do meditation in his office before he would interact with his patients. He was one of the happiest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met.

By creating happiness inside, he was able to increase that emotional state by spreading it to others.

We must cultivate happiness from within, and work to spread it around to everyone we interact with. The monk used say, “Everyone has a purpose or a mission in life.”

We have to find happiness within, and also find our purpose on the outside.

About the Author

Robert Piper is a meditation instructor & the creator of monkinthecity.com. He studied with a Taoist monk for 9 ½ years & traveled to Asia & Australia in search of other meditation teachers. Robert is currently writing a book on meditation to make it more accessible for stress relief, health & happiness.

~~ Help Waking Times to raise the vibration by sharing this article with the buttons below…

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Community, Consciousness, Evolution, Ideas, Inspiration, Meditation, Meta-physics, Mind, Peace, Philosophy, Self, Society, Spirituality, Time & Space, Transformation

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

Who Stole the Weather? Chemtrails and Geoengineering

Who Stole the Weather? Chemtrails and Geoengineering













Zen Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

The increasing existence of these persistent contrails we see in the sky regularly behind high flying jets has rapidly become commonplace knowledge. Ironically these were first called “chemtrails” in military program literature, but this term was soon demonized as “conspiratorial” by these very same … More

June 3, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Half of the World’s Food Is Thrown Away

Half of the World’s Food Is Thrown Away













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

That old bunch of carrots or pot of soup that sat for too long in your fridge, then ended up in your trash, doesn’t seem like much. But when multiplied over an entire year and expanded globally, the problem of food waste becomes one of epic … More

June 2, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Understanding the Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio

Understanding the Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio













Fractal Enlightenment
Waking Times

The Fibonacci Sequence

The Fibonacci sequence is possibly the most simple recurrence relation occurring in nature. It is 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, 144… each number equals the sum of the two numbers before it, and the difference of the two numbers succeeding it. It is an infinite sequence which … More

May 30, 2014 | By | Reply More
The End of the Amazon – Ecuador Approves Oil Drilling in One of the Most Biodiverse Regions on the Planet

The End of the Amazon – Ecuador Approves Oil Drilling in One of the Most Biodiverse Regions on the Planet













Dylan Charles, Editor
Waking Times

In 2007, Ecuador, a country already heavily invested in oil development, surprised the world by announcing the Yasuní ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) Initiative which aimed to indefinitely refrain from exploiting the oil reserves contained within one of the most biologically diverse regions of the Yasuní National Park, … More

May 30, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More
All Wars Are Well Planned Banker Wars, Including World War 3

All Wars Are Well Planned Banker Wars, Including World War 3













Jamie Lee, Contributor
Waking Times

When the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, There Will Be Peace. – Jimi Hendrix

The Cause of War

Wars start when one nation moves into the territory of another; depressions occur when markets take unexpected downturns; inflations occur when prices are driven … More

May 28, 2014 | By | 6 Replies More

Activism Works

Monsanto’s Roundup Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples

Monsanto’s Roundup Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples













John Deike, EcoWatch
Waking Times

A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.

Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile … More

May 27, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
How to Bring Minerals Back Into the Soil and Food Supply

How to Bring Minerals Back Into the Soil and Food Supply













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

There are now many studies clearly documenting that if you eat processed foods, you’re being exposed to toxic herbicides. These toxic chemicals have been found in everything from breast milk to umbilical cords and placentas.

This of course means that children are now born with a … More

May 26, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
After the March Against Monsanto, Momentum Favors the People

After the March Against Monsanto, Momentum Favors the People













Jefferey Jaxen, Contributor
Waking Times

It is clear that we have just witnessed the largest single worldwide protest against a company and their products. What’s also clear is the major public disgust for anything bearing the words ‘Genetically Modified Organism’. Monsanto’s only refuge lies in the massively funded mouthpieces of … More

May 26, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
The Natural News Food Lab – Corporate Food Checkmated

The Natural News Food Lab – Corporate Food Checkmated













Jeffrey Jaxen, Contributor
Waking Times

Shortly after Mike Adams (The Health Ranger) appeared on the scene with his website Natural News, it quickly became a leader in virtual alternative health news for a growing number of people who were hungry for knowledge about their food, health and wellbeing. Those … More

May 13, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
Texas Family Awarded $3 Million in Nation’s First Fracking Trial

Texas Family Awarded $3 Million in Nation’s First Fracking Trial













Brandon Baker, EcoWatch
Waking Times

It took three years, but a Texas family finally emerged victorious in a case that could long impact fracking companies and the impact they have on the communities in which they operate.

A Dallas jury favored the Parr family, which sued Aruba Petroleum back in … More

April 24, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More