I heard a story once that went something like this:
Once there was a monk who lived in a beautiful, serene ashram. The environment was quiet and peaceful and perfect for meditation. One day the monk found a little kitten and decided he wanted to keep her. He needed to get a cow so that he would have milk to feed the little cat. Then he needed someone to take care of the cow so he brought in a man to tend to the cow. The man got lonely and wanted a wife. The wife wanted a child. The child grew up and wanted a motorcycle. The next thing you know the ashram was anything but quiet and peaceful.
The moral of the story was if want to meditate don't get a cat......
I was reminded of this story today. I made sure not to waste time. I wanted to meditate in the quiet of the early morning before the household began to stir. No such luck.
Of course, the moral of the story is not as simple as not getting a cat. In my humble opinion it's a metaphor for not following your thoughts.
When you start meditation you may have a little thought. "did I remember to turn off the iron?" If we just let the thought come and let the thought go we can come back to meditation. If, however, we have the thought "did I remember to turn off the iron?" and we allow the thought to carry us to the next thought. "I always forget to turn off the iron". Now we need a cow to feed the cat. "I should just start ironing at night". Then the cow herder is needed. "I should just buy clothes that don't need to be ironed". And a wife. "I wonder what kind of fabric doesn't require ironing". And a child. "I think I got a new catalog in the mail yesterday" And finally, the motorcycle. "Maybe I should order some new clothes"...... And the meditation is lost.
So.... the moral of the story...... If you want to meditate don't get a cat. aka: Don't let the thought carry you away or meditation will be impossible. The moral of my story? Get up a half hour earlier.