Monthly Archives: Februari 2011

On Autopilot

There is a zen story that I want to share. The story roughly like this:

There is a zen student that is going to be graduated to be a master. This student then goes to hut where his master lives. He open the door, put down his umbrella and sit in front of his master.

His master then ask, “In which side of the door you put your umbrella?”

The student stunned with that question and feel ashamed that he doesn’t remember it. Then, he go back to his hut and return to his study and forfeit his graduation.

Zen teaching is about awareness. It is awareness about our surrounding, and aware about what we do. This student is simply on autopilot mode. He do that every time. Put his umbrella, take off his sandals, and enter the room, on and on again until all this become habit. And suddenly, he is not aware in what he did.

Autopilot can be a good thing. We can let our autopilot mind do whatever we regularly do, when our mind wanders about something else. But sometimes our autopilot fails.

Our autopilot mind is very much specific. Do this, then that, then that. Any little change in environment then autopilot will fails. As I was in the bathroom, I usually put my dirty clothes in one place and my new clothes in another. If I somehow swap those arrangement, as I did in my case, I ended up wearing my dirty clothes and left my clean clothes untouched. My autopilot mode is not recognizing this subtle difference.

Weird isn’t?

But as its definition, I have no control in my autopilot mode, I just do it. That is what zen master try to teach to his student.