My effort here is to help you understand both, and to understand your capacity to misunderstand. And be alert; otherwise each word is going to create something else, something that was never meant.
A performing octopus could play the piano, the zither, and the piccolo. His trainer wanted him to add the bagpipes to his accomplishments, so he placed the Scottish instrument in the octopus’ room. Hours passed, but no bagpipe music was heard.
The trainer was disturbed. The next morning he anxiously asked the eight-tentacled creature, “Have you learned to play that thing yet?”
“Play it?” replied the octopus. “I have been trying to lay it all night!”
The octopus can be forgiven – you cannot be forgiven. But men behave in the same way, as unconsciously as possible. Even if they become conscious sometimes, their consciousness is also mixed with unconsciousness. Even if they are alert, their alertness is not pure. Even if they are watchful, their watchfulness has something wrong in it.
McBride and Kavanaugh were in a cafeteria sitting near the Watch Your Hat And Overcoat sign. McBride kept turning every minute, nearly choking on his food, to look at his overcoat.
Kavanaugh continued eating, paying no attention to his own coat on the hook. But McBride’s constant twisting began to irritate him. “You dope!” he said. “Stop watching our overcoats!”
“I am just watching mine,” said McBride. “Yours has been gone for half an hour!”
Man’s state is that of a mess, of chaos! Great work is needed to make you really alert. And the first sutra is the beginning of that great work: Do not live in the world in distraction and false dreams…
Your mind is continuously creating distractions. Just watch your mind, and you will understand what Buddha is saying. It never allows you to sit silently even for a few moments. If you sit silently it says, “Why not listen to the radio? The newspaper must have come, your post may have arrived. Why not go to a movie? Why not watch TV?” If you are in the shop your mind says, “Go home, rest – you are tired.” If you are at home your mind says, “What you are doing here, wasting your time? Go to the shop – you could have earned something!”