Why an epiphany is personal

A student comes to his master and says, “Everyday I have to sweep the floor, prepare my gruel and do laundry. How can I escape this routine?” The master replies, “Sweep the floor. Prepare your gruel, and do your laundry.”

After you read the paragraph above, did the clouds part for a shaft of light to come down upon your head? Probably not. This is because revelations are personal.

To me, those words pointed to a kernel of truth. They taught me an important lesson.

But the Buddhist koan above won’t have the same effect on everyone. To some, it might seem like a fun paragraph. Others might find it interesting, maybe even wise.

But many won’t see its message as a bolt from the blue because of the way the brain works.

Why are some tidbits of information highlighted and remembered more than others? How do we filter through the countless pieces of information we collect throughout our days making sure to only file away the important ones?

We use our emotions to prioritize certain pieces of information over others. This is why epiphanies are personal. Information can only be strung together when it’s something we care about.

That Buddhist story made sense to me because, like the student in the story, I find daily routines monotonous. Like the student, I sought freedom from the monotony by studying spiritual and religious paradigms.

Had I not been the one that does the laundry in my household, the master’s response would not have hit me the same way.

This is why we all have to gather our own information when searching for answers that are truly useful. It’s part of the process. Our personal inclinations filter not only what information we take in, but also the way we interpret it.

It may seem unfortunate sometimes that we all have to do our own homework, but the rewards are those “Aha!” moments — moments, when you’ve broken through the shell to the nut and the achievement is only yours.

Advertisements

About genemyers

Gene Myers is a New Jersey poet, music journalist and columnist who learned to walk twice. His weekly column is called The Joy of Life. He was awarded first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing by The New Jersey Press Association.
This entry was posted in The Joy of Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s