The Drummer Boy
It’s when we start to meditate that we realize our mind is never still. It chatters constantly, jumping from one thought to another. Many teachers have suggested different ways to achieve a state of quiet calmness, and many of us may have tried one technique after another. But it’s only when a true mystic shows us how to turn inwards that we can check the agitation of the mind.
By way of illustration the modern Sufi author Idries Shah has a charming story to tell:
There was once a small boy who banged a drum all day. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did. Various people who called themselves gurus, and other well-wishers, were called in by neighbours and asked to do something about the child.
The first told the boy that he would, if he continued to make so much noise, perforate his eardrums; this reasoning was of course too advanced for the child. The second told him that drum beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only on special occasions. The third offered the neighbours plugs for their ears; the fourth gave the boy a book; the fifth gave the neighbours books that described a method of controlling anger through biofeedback; the sixth gave the boy meditation exercises to make him placid. Each of these remedies worked for a short while, but none worked for very long.
Eventually, a real Guru came along. He looked at the situation, handed the boy a hammer and chisel, and said, “I wonder what is inside the drum?”
What will take us inside, of course, is the hammer and chisel of meditation. And eventually we’ll find that’s where our real home is.