The Parable of the Colored Rocks

“Say to yourself, ‘I have certain attitudes and ambitions. I also have friends and allies in these attitudes. But what would happen to me if they suddenly withdrew their support of me?’ Do this and you will understand one kind of fear – the fear of standing all alone. But you can stand all alone, which is the only stand having no fear. Stand in the light of your own lamp and see for yourself. Self-discovery is really a lot of fun.”

-Vernon Howard

Once upon a time there lived a woman called Maya in the land of Leela. In this society, children are given small colored rocks to carry around in a sack on their backs. It starts with a small rock which they come to believe represents them.

Over the years, the rocks accumulate and the weight of the sack can become quite uncomfortable.

Maya accumulated her colored rocks just like everyone else. She held her body in various ways and learned to walk with a slow and crooked gait. The pain spread.

People said well this is just the way life is.

Her doctor prescribed medications for pain and depression and that helped for a while. It helped her to get through the days, but the pain would always return.Natural Mosaic - Digitized Velvia Slide film
Creative Commons License photo credit: Alan Vernon.

She asked her friends for help. “Get a husband, that’s what you need. Have a normal life, get married, have kids, and work hard, and forget about the pain.”

She did and it only seemed to help for while.

“Go shopping.” “Get involved.” “Eat donuts.” “Have a drink!”

These solutions were only temporary.

A spiritual friend said, “It’s your karma. You have to work off your bad karma. I went to India and lived in an ashram and collected these beautiful rocks of spiritual concepts. Here have some.”

A philosopher said, “This too shall pass. Here have this rock of pithy sayings.”

A friend who was into new age stuff said, “You have to think positively. Ignore the pain. Just think happy thoughts. Think of a luscious green valley with beautiful butterflies and the sound of happy birds, and the universe will provide for you.”

Maya tried all of these various things. For a time, she could pretend away her unease with these solutions. But deep down she knew that collecting more rocks, no matter how beautiful and appealing they seemed, was not the answer. She realized that exchanging and shuffling around rocks of beliefs didn’t change anything.

Maya was a courageous woman and she decided to stop pretending.

What if I just remain present and watch? What if I just allow and feel and observe? Is there a way I can be honest with myself? What if I observe, without trying to figure it out? I will observe my thoughts and emotions and sensations in my body. I will not judge or ignore or recoil or pretend.

Soon, Maya realized that avoiding pain was avoiding healing. And soon, she realized that lightening her burden was as easy as chucking away the rocks on her back.

21 thoughts on “The Parable of the Colored Rocks

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Sure, I’ve taken anti-depressants. I suggest to people who have depression to use everything in their arsenal–medication, therapy, meditation, awareness, release, exercise, simplifying, anything and everything which works.

      I hope you’re well, Evan.

      light and peace,

  1. Jeff Lapointe

    A very nice parable. The path to ‘stop searching’ indeed is possible – for me, like a trickling tiny waterfall that over time gains momentum and mass little by little. I can not vouch for such an ‘immediate’ clarity and practice at the same time.

    I recently enjoyed a video by Gangaji called ‘The Moment of Choice’ however still feel confusion in the movement of my life which seems to require some direction. Even if I know that my body, beliefs and actions are not my trueness – somewhere I still operate in our world in this manner.

    Does anybody have any suggestions between feeling ones trueness in meditation or play and Being in one’s life around family, friends, success and tragedy?

    Thank you for listening and your comments in advance.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jeff,
      You bring up an excellent point. We tend to see awakening as “lofty goal” which is separate from our daily living. It seems that we attend to our daily lives and obligations and chores, and in our quieter moments, we attend to practice. At some point, however, there is an integration, so that we see everything under the umbrella of awakening. We remember and try to be present, no matter what the circumstances. We learn to accept, or rather forget to resist, not just the big things but the small ones as well. We learn to immediately identify our egoic reactions.

      There was time when I was confused about this–it seemed that awakening was a separate thing from the practicality of life. But an integration happens gradually.

      light and peace,

    2. Evan

      Hi Jeff, for me it is about being able to wait and check in with myself, then I know the direction I wish to take – the choice arises ‘spontaneously’.

      For me it is possible to take this attitude into parts of my life little by little. Some areas are quieter and less rushed than others – and in these it is easier for me to be attentive.

      I adjust slowly and don’t like having to hurry. If you like speed and intensity maybe you could a martial art class that integrates a meditative attitude in their practice (though from my impression these are very few and far between).

      Apologies to Kaushik – I know I’m hijacking the comments a bit and he may have quite a different perspective to me on this.

      1. Jeff Lapointe

        Hey thanks so much for taking the time Evan – i really appreciate it. I think little by little is the choice of words that resonate with me. Baz Luhrmann, in his famous ‘Wear Sunscreen’ song says ‘do something that scares you everyday.’ I think of these words when I am attentive, realizing I have heard the ‘spontaneous,’ and now must actually carry it out.

        The point from which I am attentive to the point where I put it into practice can be some of the most exquisite and terrifying instances in my life.

  2. Janice R.

    Hi Mr. K.,
    I really like the little girl and the rocks story. It hits a nerve for me. I have been kinda disappointed lately. It seems that my thick head is slowly realizing that I cannot make awakening happen. I have told myself that these wonderful moments have been my “heart slowly cracking open”, but not really. I have learned so much from you about awareness and release. I got carried away and thought Wow! if I can practice awareness and release maybe I can have awakening too. I enjoy my quiet time, some of the time, I enjoy reading various books on the subject and I love this website. But, I think I need to just stay with practicing awareness and release. Adyashanti, Steven Bodian, Tom Stine, Tolle stuff all talk about “closing the gap”, pain bodies, and lower chakra wounds, etc. these are issues I have had all my life and when I say I have tried everything to work through those issues, I am not being dramatic. For now or until further notice, I will stay on the Awareness & Release program. I don’t mean to sound discouraged or full of self pity but I am trying to face my reality. The truth for today is non-judgemental awareness, gentle honesty and releasing to my best ability. And actually that is a ton better than before I met you and everyone who visits this site.
    Love & Light,

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      I think disappointment is a natural and even a necessary part of awakening, because as you say, we can get carried away with it, and then it is another pursuit of accumulation. It does take patience, and we perhaps we have heard this so often that we may dismiss it. It’s good to remind ourselves to go back to the basics periodically. The basics for me are the same as for you: awareness, release, gentle honesty, patience.

      Thanks for bringing this up, Janice. It’s an important point.

      I hope you are well!

      light and peace,

  3. HappinessandWisdom

    Love your previous comment — “pursuit of accumulation.” I fear that many of us, in seeking to let go, actually just pile on, in the ways Janice mentions. Thought provoking. Thank you.

  4. Brenda (betaphi)

    I love the humanity shining through these comments — Jeff questioning how to better Be in this sometimes maddening world, Janice struggling so hard to be the best human she can Be, Evan offering thoughtful advice because he cares so much, and you Master K, Being the wonderful father-figure you are with such sound advice and encouragement. I send loving, healing thoughts to all of you, for right now I am strong. It comes and goes and it’s all good, always, no matter what it is. It is life. You just gotta love it. Cause what you love loves you back. Love your life. That’s my advice. Lightness of Being and love to all. 🙂

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Ah, Brenda, very wise words. It comes and goes. We are born, and we die, and some stuff happens in the middle. The middle stuff is life, a game, and we can watch it come and go, and feel the deep mystery and love in that.

      And everyone is finding their unique way through that. It is all love.

      I hope you are well, my friend.

      love and peace,

  5. Janice

    Dear Brenda,
    thanks for the love, I actually felt it when I read your words.
    Love & Light back to you all.

  6. Liara Covert

    All perception, friends and attitudes project certain aspects of oneself. Notice what lessons are presented. How does the ego personality and its judge fit into things? How is it all inviting one back to allowing the experience of loving unconditionally? Acceptance and rejection are key.

    1. Jeff Lapointe

      Hi Liara,
      I really had to look at your words carefully and perhaps either of you(Mr. K) can expand.

      All perception, friends and attitudes project certain aspects of oneself. – Yes..I am the world and the world is me.

      Notice what lessons are presented. – Resistance to what is through the boundary I perceive myself as.

      How does the ego personality and its judge fit into things? – By judge do you mean the ego…or I took it to mean our observer that sees our ego. There is still judgement here. The opportunity to let the ego know that it’s focused resistance is not so singular. Eventually the observer must also fade – in these invisible moments I would say we are as close to love as a definition exists.

      How is it all inviting one back to allowing the experience of loving unconditionally? Lost you here. I don’t feel the word acceptance – without either knowledge (of a greater perception -ie larger picture) or compassion – sharing one’s pain and identifying it with my own.

      Perhaps you mean to say acceptance as one’s acceptance to face everything regardless of good, bad, indifferent. In this light we are not stopped or extra motivated by what life presents us. The truth will shine whether you take an analyzer like myself or an emotionally gifted one who feels more than they think. The mind will have to surrender to all its measurements and judgements and the emotionally gifted who will have to accept pain and pleasure.

      I would be interested to know how both of you define the concept of love (can there be any other kind then unconditional?) in your best wordly attempt.

      I enjoyed this exploration..I leave my words (relevant or not) as a trace to my thought process should it be helpful for others (or not.)

      Thank you.

      1. Kaushik Post author

        Hi Jeff,
        I’ll address the love part of your question. I think Anthony de Mello treats this subject very well.

        Love is the complete absence of all fear.

        It’s a negative definition, that is, it says what love is not rather than what it is, because love already is, and it is expansive and natural. It is not something the mind understands easily. The mind, through beliefs and concepts, looks for value in love; it looks for approval, control, security or sense of completeness in love, and it wants to constrain love to specific people and things and circumstances. Love is an experience, a way of being.

        Thanks for opening up the discussion!

        love and peace,

  7. roger

    hello Mr. K
    what a nice story you sgared to us, and it touched my whole being. sometimes i cant understand my feelings i thought i was wearing a wrong packaging as a boy. sometimes i tend to pretend that im ok but deep inside im not ok.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Roger. In my experience, the best way to understand our emotions is to release. Releasing brings about clarity so we can hear what is true.

      love and peace,

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