Two friends, Stan and Eric, get up early and meet down at the quayside, having hired a boat to go sea fishing. They plan to spend the whole day on the ocean and Eric, being the less experienced fisherman, is especially excited at the prospect. They take the boat out of the harbour, switch off the engine, bait their hooks and cast into the deep. Several hours go by and neither man has any luck at all. Not a single tug on either fishing line. Eric becomes more and more impatient. This isn’t what he signed up for. Stan tells him not to worry. It’s often like this, but part of the fun of fishing is that you never know what may bite. Eric, unable to hide his disappointment, disagrees and sure enough by sunset they return home without a single fish to show for their pains.
A week later Stan phones Eric to invite him out again, assuring his friend that this time they are bound to have better luck. Eric accepts the invite but insists that this time they should take no chances. He knows of a place where salmon are farmed. They are reared and kept in a pen until large enough to be sold to a supermarket chain. For a small fee you can get one step ahead of Tescos, because everything you catch you can take home with you. Stan just laughs at the thought. He’ll take his chances on the ocean.
I recently came back from a retreat at which I was teaching the three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. It always amazes me at these events how new insights come quite effortlessly, to everyone in the room, including me. No matter how complete I imagine my understanding of the Principles to be, new thoughts, new insights are never far away. In fact it often feels as though my ‘students’ are teaching me, and not the other way around. I put this down to a newfound willingness on my part to let go of the notion of teaching and simply share my feelings, trusting that Mind will guide me, and everyone else in the room, towards an understanding of the Principles.
Traditional methods of teaching don’t work this way. Knowledge resides in the mind of the teacher, and the students are there to absorb it, or perhaps question it. But if you know, beyond any doubt, that all human beings share the same inner wisdom, the dynamic is very different. Anyone in the room can have a new thought, based on their own experience but prompted by the group discussion, and that thought can often be profound, shifting everyone’s consciousness to a new level, even mine.
I was driving home from the retreat when a thought popped into my head unannounced. I had a sudden vision of a fish-tank. I’ve used the metaphor of fishing many times in my coaching to get across the idea of the Three Principles. The ocean is Mind, the fishing rod is our connection to it, (or Consciousness), and the fish represent Thought. The ocean has no boundaries, so when we cast our line we have no idea what we will catch, or if we will catch anything at all. It occurred to me that a human being with set ideas, unable to quiet their mind long enough to have a new thought, is like a fisherman who, instead of the boundless ocean, casts into his or her personal ‘fish-tank’ of thoughts. They know what’s in there, and they are comforted by the certainty of what they will catch. But that certainty, that sense of comfort, is the very thing that’s holding them back, shutting out new thoughts as surely as the glass of the fish-tank stops the fish from escaping.
Wisdom is inside each one of us, but we have to be open to it. We have to allow it to come to the surface in its own time. Meditation will help this process along. Hearing, and sharing, the message of the Three Principles that underlie all human experience is the best way to have a new thought, and possibly bring about a transformation in your life.
Eric fished for salmon all day and caught more than a dozen. However, after the pleasure of catching his first one he quickly became bored, (just as his wife did later on with the taste of salmon). Stan caught a couple of red snappers in the morning then hooked a young thresher shark, which nearly capsized his boat before it got away. In the afternoon he drifted with the tide and watched the sun slowly set. A perfect day’s fishing.