Last week I found myself doing what I have done nearly every morning for the past six decades: taking a shower. The routine of the shower, what to do, where to stand, which way to turn, are all so familiar to me. I shower on autopilot, almost without any thought at all.
But then, as I almost always do, I began thinking. The voice inside my head powered up. The shower quickly vanished. I found myself getting keyed up for the day ahead, my inner voice rehearsing a conversation that has never, will never, go the way I want, trying to score the points that only I can imagine will bring me comfort and satisfaction.
And then something strange happened. Partway through my inner speech, I caught myself. As I began the next round of scrubbing, I picked up the soap and silently greeted it. “Hello, soap!” My eloquent, impassioned diatribe against the injustices in my life was gone.
I felt the water raining down on me and greeted it too. “Hello, water!” I felt transformed. Back in the shower. With everything I needed in that moment. And a feeling of gratitude for the simple joys of a too-often taken-for-granted morning shower.
Perhaps it could also be “Hello thought”. It seems that we have little or no control over the contents of thought; thoughts “come and go, speaking of Michelangelo”. But then a sense of ‘me’ seems to claim ownership or to rail against thoughts, but surely a vast web of causation and condition has to do with the arising of any thought. I suppose that for most of us, the discipline of letting go of thoughts and returning to present experience like awareness of breathing, is necessary in order to appreciate that arising thoughts needn’t be rejected (nor, of course held onto). Also, it does seem to me–and I think I read this somewhere–that in any ‘present’ encounter, whether of sensory perception or thought, the falling away is almost simultaneous with the arising.
And the soap and the water said “Hello” back,