I was at the coffee shop one of the past mornings, forgetting that this place is favoured and haunted by many as a favourite gourmet choice, be it breakfast or lunch. The tables were full as usual so both Lai Fun and I were hunting for a place to squeeze ourselves in. After waiting for not too long, we managed to acquire a space for both of us to sit, from the kind permission of this gentle looking elder man who was waiting for food to arrive. There was a young child accompanying him, probably around the age of four, which to my assumption, is his grandchild.
Lai Fun went to make her order while I awaited her return making sure that the seats were not taken over by anyone else. I scanned around the stalls to decide what was I to have for my breakfast when suddenly I was attracted to this particular noodle stall close to where I sit where the owner was awaiting customers to place orders, a rare scene compared to the many other stalls that were busily taking in orders. Since I was hungry and did not wish to wait any longer to make order and wait for my favourite food to arrive, I immediately placed an order with this stall.
What came later was a surprise, or rather judgment, to be precise. The bowl was big but the food in it was pretty little. What shocked me was the price of it. It was an extra ringgit more compared to the usual rate most caterers were offering. Immediately there sprung judgment in my mind–it is of no wonder that people were not ordering from this stall! How else could my mind think otherwise when the thought arose without needing me to even think about it? In the past, I would have reprimanded myself for having such unwholesome thoughts, but now with a little wisdom from my teacher, I was encouraged to question my idea behind this thought.
It is pretty amazing how the mind find ways to imitate the truth by covering it up with meanings. The first that came to me was what if that one ringgit was used to settle a parking fee; would I complaint? A resounding no came into me and I thought this had easily resolved my annoyance as what I have been continuously working on in my journey now is peace – to make peace with myself. But I knew the issue is yet from over. True enough, just a few minutes later into my eating, the food which the elder man ordered arrived; huge quantity, probably a double of what I was eating.
And you can guess what happened next – the mind started the task of seeking evidence. Isn’t this something familiar that the mind does all the time? It wanted to know what the price of the elder man’s meal was; not out of curiosity sake, but to make the caterer whom I was unhappy with, guilty. It was just waiting for an opportunity to attack, to punish and confirm that what he (the caterer) did was wrong; and all this was happening in the field of my mind, not even in speech – what an insane storyline the mind was creating!
When the price came to my knowledge – twenty cents cheaper and double the quantity than what I was having; the war of evidences began. I could practically see how painful the meaning it has created for itself. The condemnation, the judgement, the punishment and the guilt it imposes onto others. It doesn’t matter whether the person was aware what was going on in me or not. Simply a coward’s expression of anger and frustration, complaining all the way through.
It was time for another inquiry – obviously the process of car parking ticket did not work at all, an impostor way of covering up what was much deeper that what I was unaware of. So I threw a question in my mind – questioning myself what idea was the mind running that continued its story of condemnation. My job was to question and not to give an answer to it as each answer would be just a camouflage of what I am not ready to listen. I just needed to question and hear deeply – deep enough for the answer to automatically pop up when it is ready. And it doesn’t take long when I am authentic to resolve it within my mind, and not seeing wrong in the world. The voice came clear and crisp – cheat. Aha! this was the rooted idea that was more true running within my system than the thought that the food quantity does not consummate with the pricing, everyone trying to make a living and that it is their right to charge whatever they wish, or many more other storylines that the mind loves to tell as consolation. All those stories were merely lies to keep me away from recognizing this idea. How I could be sure that these were all lies and not compassion was that if given another chance, I would and will not reorder food from this stall again.
Finally the cat was out of the bag – cheat. Surely this idea has long been rooted in me which I had not acknowledged and obviously it had been reinforced again and again exactly as what I was experiencing during the incident, if not for my awareness. The meaning of cheat had to revisit me so that I could release it – it cannot be otherwise but, what I did was reinforcing it instead. I was using my idea of cheat to make another wrong. I took the idea as my gospel truth and had again and again, made others wrong – that was not the first and neither would it be the last. I will be subjugated to the unnecessary journey of hell if I did not acknowledge that the beginning of this idea was the whole cause of discomfort in me. By being with this truth, peace can only be possible. It does not matter whether the idea can be overcome ultimately, but merely by being authority to my own idea is the beginning of peace, of finding my way home to freedom.