The desert has been one of the most practical places for concentration; it is even better than the mountains, because in the mountains there is so much to see – the birds are there, the animals are there, the trees are there, beautiful peaks with snow are there – there are many possibilities for distraction. But in a desert, as far as you can see there is only desert, and desert…
But meditation can be possible even in the marketplace, because it does not have to concentrate on anything. Meditation cannot be disturbed, it is all-inclusive. Concentration is exclusive; it excludes everything and just keeps the mind on one point.
Meditation is all-inclusive. The car passes…the mind in meditation is fully aware of the horn. The birds start singing…the mind is fully aware of their singing. There is no question of distraction; nothing distracts. Everything – the mind is no longer there – is simply watched. You are only aware that there is a horn, a car is passing by – but it is not a distraction.
Distraction comes only when you are trying to concentrate, then anything – a small ant crawling up your leg – will be enough to distract you. But when you are in meditation, you simply know that the ant is crawling up your leg. If you like it, you allow it; if you don’t like it, you throw it away. But there is no distraction – your silence remains unscratched. How can the noises on the street distract you? You simply listen to them – they don’t make any impact on you. They come and go, and you remain just a witness.
Meditation is possible in the hubbub of a marketplace…Ta Hui has heard some man of meditation talking, but he has never meditated himself; all that he knows is concentration of the mind.
Vimalkirti said, “It is like this: the high plateau does not produce lotus flowers; it is the mire of the low swamplands that produces these flowers.”
He is quoting Vimalkirti, but he is not commenting on it. He is just throwing names in to decorate his sutras. I don’t think he has understood what Vimalkirti means.
Vimalkirti was one of the strangest people who came in contact with Gautam Buddha. He never became a sannyasin – he remained a layman – but even Gautam Buddha respected him. He used to come to listen to Gautam Buddha, and he was meditating, but he could not see that there was any need to renounce the world and become a sannyasin and a beggar. He was such a genius that he was the first layman to become enlightened. The first sannyasin to become enlightened was Manjushri, and the first layman to become enlightened was Vimalkirti.
But Vimalkirti was a very strange person. For a few days he had not come, and Buddha was concerned…is he sick, or is there some trouble? – why is he not coming? So he asked that one of his disciples should offer to go to Vimalkirti – he lived in the city – to inquire about his health and why he is not coming.