Do you know the story of Banzan? Before he became a great Zen master, he spent many years in pursuit of enlightenment, but it eluded him. Then, one day, as he was walking in the marketplace, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. 'Give me the best piece of meat you have,' said the customer. And the butcher replied, 'Every piece of meat I have is the best. There is no piece of meat here that is not the best.' Upon hearing this, Banzan became enlightened.
I can see you are waiting for some explanation. When you accept what is, every piece of meat — every moment — is the best. That is enlightenment.
ECKHART TOLLE The Power Of Now
I love this story. What I like most about it is the setting: an ordinary, humble butcher's shop. It's not about enlightenment dawning after many months of rigorous meditation under a banyan tree, or after years of wandering and soul searching in the mountains and deserts, or as a result of disciplined study and ascetic practice under a yogi or other spiritual teacher. No, it's about enlightenment dawning suddenly, and when least expected, in a prosaic, everyday setting. To me this has the ring of authenticity. Perhaps we are mistaken in walking so endlessly and so earnestly the caminos of this world in pursuit of spiritual illumination, when we are more likely to find it — if we remain aware, open and receptive — in the moment NOW, in our own ordinary home, in our wilderness back garden, in the local streets and shops of our town or village.
So, when you're at the butcher's this week picking up your Christmas turkey, sausage meat, gammon joint and pork pies, be sure to eavesdrop on the conversations going on around you. You never know, it might be the start of a whole new life.