White marble, black marble and how we see the world

“Long ago there was a Brahmin called Ravi who examined his mind at all times. Whenever a bad thought arose, he would put aside a black pebble, and whenever a good thought arose, he would put aside a white pebble. At first, all the pebbles he put aside were black. Then, as he persevered in developing antidotes and in adopting positive actions and rejecting negative ones, a time came when all his piles of black and white pebbles were equal. In the end he had only white ones. This is how you should develop positive actions as an antidote with mindfulness and vigilance, and not contaminate yourself with even the smallest harmful actions.”

~Words of My Perfect Teacher

Two summers ago, I first read this story as I was beginning my journey of mindfulness and awakening and it really resonated with me. I liked the idea of using a simple but effective reminder to bring awareness to thoughts that didn’t serve me. I recounted this story to one of my closest friends, and then he and I spent the summer saying “black marble” (somehow the pebble got warped into a marble) whenever we’d catch ourselves “running our mouths” about situations or people, making fun of others, losing our cool, or thinking or voicing things that did not come from a place of love. I’ve always considered myself a fairly nice person, but when I actually began to tune in and listen to myself think and speak… well, lets just say that maybe I wasn’t as nice as I thought.

Now I have had many a person say to me, “So what? So I like to make fun of others. So I run my mouth. It’s not like the person hears me in most cases. Big deal. It’s funny.” Ummm… I guess?!? But do you know what I think is even more funny and fun? It’s seeing the beauty in others. It’s accepting people and things as they are and not feeling the need to criticize them in order to feel better or somehow make myself look better. It’s recognizing when a situation or person is toxic and then choosing to remove myself from that situation and into a positive one instead of lamenting about it. It’s seeing the wonders and joys in the world and letting that fill your heart with a warmth that spills over into a quiet and loving mind. It’s seeing the hobbit hole because you’re looking for the magic that always there, only even though it’s sometimes harder to find. Where and how we focus the lens dictates the picture that we see. So just try out this idea for an hour a day for a week and see what happens. Just play. Just play awakening.

Now it’s two years in and it’s safe to say that my white marble stack towers over the stack of black marbles. And while I try to accept everyone as they are, the people that I can choose to spend my free time with also have towering stacks of white marbles… many shining lights focusing on similar objects makes for a bright world. I’ve also begun to draw awareness to my thoughts in another way. But I’m going to save this part of the story for another day, after I’ve given you a chance to play white marble, black marble.

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