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Self-Reflection (15) – Everything happens for a reason

Selective Watering

Through the practice of deep looking, we can identify the positive seeds that we want to water everyday, and train ourselves not to water the negative ones. This is called “selective watering”. The Buddha recommends methods for doing this, and even a few days of this practice can bring about a transformation. — Thich Nhat Hahn

It was just a small matter, but it actually allowed me to see clearly how our subconscious emotions can really affect the way we behave in our daily life.

When I was about to get ready for work this morning, Charlene called Elaine and informed her that she has forgotten to bring her birth certificate for the registration of her identity card. And she asked if either one of us could bring the birth certificate to the school for her.

Upon hearing that, I readily agreed to go (even though I will be late to work), knowing that there’s no other options as she needs to attend the morning assembly.

Elaine wasn’t happy with Charlene’s carelessness and pulled a long face. She then started to grumble about it while searching for a photocopy of her birth certificate. As for myself, I felt nothing and thought that it was just common for a child to forget something (let’s face it, we have been careless ourselves) and was truly amused by the different reactions we both had.

Ever since I started on the journey of inner soul searching and did a lot of readings, I have learned that no matter how upset I get over small or big matters, the reality is not going to change. I can only accept it as it is and do what’s really necessary and move on. There are so many things happening in a day and if I am to get upset over such a trivial matter, my life would be miserable.

As I walked towards the school, cutting through the concrete jungle, crossing the small roads, walking in the carpark and getting away further from the main road, I noticed that the surrounding was pretty peaceful and quiet. I could hear my working shoe landing on the tar road and making “knock knock” sound. I began to be mindful again, observing my breathing and enjoying everything that fell into my eyes. The air was cool and I literally strolled despite the fact that I was already late for work.

For whatever reason, words that I have read recently flashed through my mind, and I began to feel thankful for what has happened. The fact that I can hear my shoe knocking on the ground meant that I was still alive, that my ears were functioning well and I could hear what some people couldn’t. And when I became aware that I was walking, I was thankful that I have both legs to bring me to wherever I want to go, as compared to those people who are bounded by wheel chairs.

I felt thankful that I could see the clouds floating in the awakening sky, and I felt thankful that I could feel the morning air surrounding me.

But most importantly was that I felt thankful and glad that I am now in more control of myself, my emotions and my thoughts. I could have grumbled and felt unhappy with Charlene’s carelessness, and even hurried to the school, hoping that I will not reach the office too late.

A few weeks back, I began to choose to believe that things happen for a reason, for good or for bad, and it’s always beyond my control. What is in my control is how I react to it. In the past, I would have chosen to grumble like Elaine, making myself miserable and spoilt my day. Instead, I took it lightly today, thinking that the universe has created yet another opportunity for me to have a slow walk in the morning and practise mindfulness amidst the daily busy schedule.


Francis Lim


8 replies »

  1. So true – so wise! This is one off the aspects of mindfulness that I have managed to largely adopt – more than the one we discussed yesterday! 😉

    It’s all about “letting go” – what’s in the past is in the past. It is gone. It’s finished. You can’t change it” was one of the first things I learned from Ven Ajahn Brahm and it is possibly the learning that I have had the most benefit from, as I too, like you, would have gotten very upset, stressed and angry over such a thing in the past. And it would have ruined my whole day by setting off a chain reaction of negative interactions – as you bite the head off of someone for no reason etc. because you are stressed – spreading the negativity to others around you, like ripples on the water. I very, VERY rarely fall back into that behavior because it’s so liberating, and addictive, when you realise that laughing it off is a better way! 🙂

    I keep coming back to the “letting go” in my blog posts – here’s one that may resonate with you:


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