A Watched Pot…
…does actually boil. I know because I watched mine this morning. The old adage is not about temperature or water or pots, but you knew that already. The old adage is about patience, how standing over something, willing it to grow or boil or take flight, doesn’t help the process go any faster. If you’re like me you’ve interpreted this to mean, do something else while the pot is heating up—that way you won’t waste time. This is how I’ve mostly lived my life, multi-tasking, slipping 5-minute jobs in between longer efforts. Now, as I enter and activate this slowing down period of my life, I wonder if I haven’t missed a great deal of life by trying to pack everything in. It’s scattered and tense and timed and impatient. And isn’t that exactly what we’re being told about watching that pot. Don’t be impatient?
Have you ever watched a pot boil? It’s a lovely thing. From that first tiny bubble appearing on the bottom to the rolling boil across the top, it’s an amazing process. First the one, then several, then lots of bubbles appear and sit there doing nothing. Watch. You’ll get to see where the hot spots are on your burner because the bubbles will appear there early. And the coolest point will remain absolutely static for the longest time. All the surrounding bubbles will begin to vibrate while that internal space sits placid and uninvolved as if it disdains joining a movement. But then, the vibrations get stronger, more bubbles join in, you can feel the excitement mounting and you know something big’s about to happen. Next, like a lava flow, those trembling, pulsating, orbs begin to move into the blank spaces, filling them with life and activity and as soon as those spaces are overwhelmed, the pot boils. Oh, what a joy it is to watch!
I know I see things as metaphors for life, I talk about gardening and fishing and golf and baseball all as metaphors. I believe it’s part of the reason we’re attracted to certain activities; they teach us something on a symbolic level that does not require study and testing and making a grade. We learn as we enjoy. Yes, I enjoyed watching the pot. I enjoyed being present to the process.
I see it reflecting the changes that are happening in the world. You may think me new-agey and perhaps I am, but I see the world moving in the direction of consciousness. Yes, with all the upheaval and war and poverty and addiction and bigotry and you bring everything else you can think of that weighs us down, Yes, I see us moving toward consciousness. Twenty years ago there were a few bubbles in isolated areas vibrating, all alone, people spearheading change in their own quiet ways, creating paths and networks and spaces for the energies to build. Fifteen years ago I asked a shaman what if we didn’t do it, what if we chose not to become conscious. He told me, “Peace can not be stopped. It is the conscious people who are doing the work, the unconscious do nothing but resist.” Kind of like those blank spaces on the bottom of the pot, the unconscious sit there holding on to the past or their fear, guarding their territory. It is the joy, the love, the splendid excitement of becoming conscious that eventually brings all together. Gate gate pāragate pārasam gate bodhi svāhā. We all go together, none are left behind. There is no molecule that does not vibrate when the water boils. Resist how they might, they will be swept up into the joy, into the love, into the liberation and we will bless those who resist just as we bless those who led the move because each plays his or her part to bring us into consciousness. Smile when you understand this. It is the beauty of Divine Grace at play. Watch as this pot boils, stay present to your own part in the process and give it your whole attention.