How to catch the carrot

Pause for a while, be patient and mindful, and let go of your desires, and you just might find the very thing you have been looking for all along.

‘Perhaps man was neither good nor bad, was only a machine in an insensate universe – his courage no more than a reflex to danger, like the automatic jump at the pin-prick. Perhaps there were no virtues, unless jumping at pin-pricks was a virtue, and humanity only a mechanical donkey led on by the iron carrot of love, through the pointless treadmill of reproduction.’

T.H. White. The Once and Future King.

How to catch the carrot
Photo Credit: nist6dh via Compfight cc

Buddhist donkeys know how to get that carrot! They run like hell after that carrot, putting maximum effort (viriya) and concentration (samādhi) into moving that cart as fast as they can. Of course, the carrot moves just as fast, always remaining a couple feet in front of the donkey’s mouth. At this point, the Buddhist donkey lets go of desire. They suddenly stop! Because of momentum, the carrot swings even further from the donkey, arcing up further than it has ever been before. But this donkey has faith (saddhā) and wisdom (paññā) and so waits patiently with mindfulness (sati), since effort and concentration have done their work. Patiently observing, the donkey sees the carrot swing away to the extreme, and then sees it begin to swing back again. “Rising and falling,” notes the donkey. Soon the carrot has fallen back to its usual position but, oddly, it is now traveling toward the donkey and at some speed. Practicing patience, the donkey does nothing. It is the carrot that does all the work as it comes closer and closer. At the right moment, the donkey simply opens its mouth and the big juicy carrot comes in all by itself. Crunch! Munch! Mmm! That tastes sweet! This is how donkeys who know the Dhamma catch the carrot.

Ajahn Brahm. Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond.