The moment we say soul it feels like a thing, some static thing. Buddha says man is a flow, a continuous current, something like the flame of a burning lamp. The flame can be seen, but it is not a static object; each moment it is changing, it goes on changing. Buddha says that except change nothing is eternal; the only permanence is change. And there are no things, only ongoing processes.
So this is the essence of meditation. As Hotei said: “Walk on!” Mind always wants stability, so it always looks for a destination and is prepared to call anything the destination so that it can stop there. One mind stops at money, another at success, and another somewhere else; the point is that it finds somewhere to stop and settle in. This is the mind’s whole desire – to find somewhere to settle down. The day you are free from this desire, the day you cease to ask for a destination, you have arrived. In that moment of arrival, all tension will vanish from your mind. If there is nowhere to get to, how can there be any tension?
Have you ever noticed how relaxed and free of tension you are when going for a walk in the morning? Later you may walk along the same road, following the same direction, on your way to the shop or the office, but now there is tension. The road is the same, the direction is the same, you are the same, but now you are going somewhere, you have a destination. If you are late, or don’t get there for some reason, there will be problems, so now there is tension. But in the morning, although you walked the same road, you were not heading anywhere. You strolled freely, lighthearted, and with no hurry. Whether you reached a certain place did not matter because you were not set to reach anywhere, and the route you took back home was not important. The happiness found in going for a walk is not available when you are going somewhere.
Playing can also give you great happiness. But make a profession of your playing and you will no longer find the same happiness in it. Playing chess or cards, you are simply playing; winning or losing is all the same to you. Your interest is not in winning but in playing; then it is one thing. But if you are employed as a player it is entirely a different matter. Your playing is no longer play, it has become business. As soon as there is a motive, business enters; as soon as there is a goal to be reached, business has come in. Now this will be a little difficult to understand, because we normally think that if a man has given up his shop and has gone to the Himalayas, he has left all business. But if there is still a motive in his mind, then he is still doing business behind. If he is thinking he will attain to the divine by sitting in the Himalayas, then he is just continuing his business. As long as there is some end result on which his eyes are focused, his business continues.
If, on the other hand, he is blissful just sitting there in the mountains, irrespective of whether or not he finds the divine – content if he does find, content if he does not – then his sitting in the Himalayas has become a religious act, where the means has become the end, where being here is being at the destination.
This, to say it in other words, is supreme contentment.
The meaning of contentment is where the means is the goal.