If Buddha was a barber getting a haircut would be enlightenment.
This is one of my favorite quotes which I heard in the Creativity and Personal Mastery retreat a few years ago. And it remained with me like all the things that have a deeper connection. And I pondered on what it meant again and again until one day it clicked or at least one version of it.
Here’s a example which I am hoping might do a better job of articulating what the quote means. Let’s say you are a tree an apple tree like the one depicted in the image below.
So you are fully immersed into being an apple tree. As an apple tree will you give banana or will you give mango? How about if I prayed a three times a day, lit a candle every day and took 3 rounds around you [apple tree] then will you give me a mango?
I am sure some of you are wondering what kind of a silly question is this. Right? Well, it is a silly question. How can a apple tree give anything else other than apple? That is the true nature of the apple tree and there in lies the meaning behind the quote.
The true purpose of Buddha was to give enlightenment and he would do that regardless of anything, literally as that was who he was. So if he was a barber – getting a haircut would be like getting enlightenment because that’s what Buddha did.
What does it mean for us? Like Buddha each one of use as a purpose, something that is our true nature to do in this lifetime, in this little planet called earth among the trillion other stars in this galaxy. Nothing can hide our true nature, it might be masked like sun behind the clouds but it’s still there. And whatever our true nature we do it in everything we do.
Let’s take a few examples:
If you are a trader or a banker then anything that you do in your life, be it look at a dog or trip to new country you will see $$ everywhere – that’s how you think.
If you are in marketing or sales then you are always making a pitch.
If you are a storyteller then you talk in stories, think in stories and write in stories.
I am a project manager so I automatically think about the steps that need to be done, the timeframe and the resources we need – be it buying a dog, buying a house, parent’s visit – I have an excel sheet ready.
Next question is you might have a lot of different ways in which you think then how do you know what is your true nature? Let’s go back to our tree example – you are the apple tree again. And a three people come to you – beggar, multi-millionaire and a blind person. As a tree do you differentiate between them and say to the multi millionaire – “you are rich man, you can buy fruits from shops. I won’t give you any fruits.”
No, your true nature i.e. giving apples remains the same – it does not vary on who is getting the fruit, in fact the tree will give apples even if it was on a deserted island. Similarly, you don’t distinguish if the project that you are doing is a million dollar project or pro-bono you apply the same kind of a due diligence and care to each of them because project management is what you do.
So what is that you do even when there is no role, job profile defining you, something you do for the joy of it, it’s the act of doing that is important. Something that is so ingrained in your life that you don’t even know you do it.
And I cannot think of any other way to finish than with another favorite quote of mine: