I work in a busy office with many people and thin walls.
Sometimes the noise level drives me crazy and I annoy myself further by judging me, for how bad I still am at not hearing things that distract me. I really wish this would at least improve on the meditation cushion, but it really doesn’t. If you are a meditator, you might have made the following experience, too:
You finally manage to get a moment of peace and you sit down on your cushion to meditate.
As soon as you close your eyes the kid next door decides to practice the drums. Obviously he has to do this, since Murphy’s law is as always fully applicable.
Also, this will reliably drive me mad even though that by now I really should know better. It will drive me even further up the wall to realize that an experienced meditator sitting next to me, after twenty minutes of deafening drum practice, would probably turn to me saying: “Drums? What drums. I didn’t notice any drums.”
So, a simple thing as sound can move my mind up the wall… This I find very interesting, since we do know that this is not true.
There is no sound that moves your mind.
There is only a mind that goes and decides to perceive a sound and then decides to get moved. Remember what is written in the Dhammapada verse 1:
Manopubbaṅgammā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā
All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind.
If I don’t move first, nothing is going to happen. Ever.
I recently found this very idea, described in a much nicer way, in a letter written by Sayadaw U Jotika to one of his students.
“A friend reported to me that when he was meditating and was aware of sound, at first he experienced sound as coming from somewhere at a distance. Later when he became more mindful he experienced sound in the ear, happening in the ear. And then when he became even more mindful he experienced sound happening in the mind. Without mind there can be no sound.”
[Sayadaw U Jotika – Snow in the Summer – A collection of letters by a monk]