In my experience Spirit have a great sense of humour and of irony. The selection of the topic for this next piece illustrates both. I picked a story ‘at random’ out of a newspaper. I was expecting war, crime, politics…I got a story about noisy neighbours. At the time of writing, I *had* noisy neighbours – ones who stomped about above me and builders who’d been working next door for over a year. At times I felt they’d drive me crazy, and yes I’d often cite them as the reason I ‘couldn’t’ meditate, or write with spirit, or work on my book as I’d planned to do…
Clearly, spirit thought I needed a little pep talk about this more than I needed to produce a piece on social injustice. And as it turned out, so did the rest of the class (need the pep talk, I mean ;)). So I thought I’d share it with you, too. Given my state of agitation when it came to said noise, I wanted someone calming to write with. So there I was, asking Buddha to talk to me about noisy neighbours. I felt a bit bad bothering him with such a trifle but he didn’t seem to mind.
Noisy neighbours – Buddha, 19 July 2014
Tolerance is a strange thing. It is something that may be learned consciously but it is something that may also be learned unconsciously.
Think of your noisy neighbours, my child. They may be making the same degree of noise but, depending on how you are engaged at the time, your response is different.
If you are sleeping and their noise wakes you, you feel irritated. You assign to them feelings or beliefs that have no basis in fact. You feel they are inconsiderate. They may well consider themselves to be dutiful and fruitful – carrying out their work at the prescribed time.
Now, when you are happily occupied – absorbed in conversation or activity, or the company of friends or family – you may not even notice that same noise. Consider also the times when you have lived beside a busy road. At first you could not imagine sleeping through – how did you describe it – such a racket. And yet, before too many weeks had passed you slept undisturbed.
The mind, body and soul are interlinked, of course. Each has mechanisms for coping with disturbance. After a time your conscious mind can choose to ignore the disturbance, just as your soul will always choose to note the noise, accept it, learn what there is to be learned from it and move on. It is your mind, your ego, which chooses to label the noise ‘a disturbance’ – to assign emotion to the fact, to react to it emotionally.
It is your choice whether or not to be disturbed. Are they noisy neighbours – or are you simply hearing noises that your neighbours are making?
This concept has much broader applications. Much of human life is busy, loud, challenging. There are myriad opportunities in every day of your lives to be disturbed, distracted, irritated; to feel put upon. And yet, none of them *must* disturb you.
No matter how crowded your day, mind or environment, there is always peace and space within. Choose the peace, the space, which does not depend on others, which is not affected by others – and you will not be disturbed unless you wish or choose to be.
Sometimes distraction is a good and valuable thing. Sometimes it breaks you away from unproductive activity or from negative or destructive thoughts. There is much wisdom in the adage ‘you need to get out of yourself’. You are human; you require interactions, social contact, to fully experience your life and to know its joys.
But when the outside world begins to feel noisy or distracting, step away from the labels, from the judgment of others’ activity, and seek the peace within. It is good practice, healthy practice, for you to be able to move from one state to the other – from interaction to stillness – with ease.
To be human is to be flawed in such perfect ways. To be human is to seek learning from the peace of spirit, just as to be spirit is to seek learning from the noise of what it is to be human.
There is no such thing as a noisy neighbour. There are only people being heard by you. How you respond is indicative of how you view the world and to what extent you are in contact with the stillness that forever resides within.
Peace to you all.