Student: So you’re saying that I shouldn’t worry about distractions when I perform my meditations?
Teacher: Isn’t worry the source of your distraction?
Student: I suppose it is. But if these distractions—
Teacher: They are not distractions. They are phenomenon of the outer world— vibrations traveling in the ethers from sources you have no control over. That and nothing more.
Student: But these vibrations influence my mind and my ability to concentrate. Isn’t concentration a vital component of successful meditation?
Teacher: Again, what influences your mind are not external vibrations, but your reaction to them.
Student: So how do I change my reaction so I can be more successful in my meditations?
Teacher: Is this issue only relevant to your meditations?
Student: It’s during my mediations that I notice it the most.
Teacher: Do you notice the fear or stress that the external world brings you as well?
Teacher: Isn’t this fear akin to a distraction?
Student: I suppose.
Teacher: Yet without it, wouldn’t you have the tendency to lapse into complacency?
Student: I don’t think so.
Teacher: Fear, and all the so-called negative emotions, can represent distractions, but they are catalysts and instigators of action just as well. Are they not?
Student: I see your point, but these distractions and fears are leading me away from my spiritual studies and cause me to behave in a manner not consistent with a spiritual person.
Teacher: And how does a spiritual person behave?
Student: They are poised and benevolent. They are tranquil in the face of distractions and fears. They exude peace and exemplify compassion. They express divine love to all.
Teacher: You have adequately described a mythological saint, but you have not described a spiritual person. Even in total darkness, a spiritual person can discover light. They are truth seekers and they wear the countenance of a thousand different personalities. They are not truth tellers. They are not truth expressers. They are not saints. They are truth seekers.
Student: My definition is a little idealistic, I’ll admit to that, but why is this important to the discussion around fear and distractions?
Teacher: Isn’t your concern related to your view of what constitutes a spiritual person’s behavior and your perceived shortcomings relative to that image?
Student: You’re suggesting that all of this can be traced to this fundamental misperception?
Teacher: Yes. It is a significant part of what energizes your reaction to fear and distractions. It is a form of self-judgment that defines your response to the external world. As you cling to the image and behavior of what you believe defines a spiritual person, so do you adjudicate your comparative performance, and in this regard, you will dependably fall short.
Student: But if I’m frustrated as a result of my idealistic image of how I think I should behave, are you suggesting I only need to temper my expectations and my frustration will end?
Teacher: Why should your frustrations come to an end? For what purpose do you choose to experience contentment and calm? Did you incarnate into this world for the purpose of composure and regal repose?
Student: I’m only saying that I desire to demonstrate spiritual values—of which peace and contentment—
Teacher: Spiritual values are as much about turmoil and stress as they are about peace and contentment. Spiritual values are not monotonic nor are they benign.
Student: But you speak like spiritual values are undefined and encompass... anything.
Teacher: You started this dialogue with the opinion that you were frustrated with external noise that prevented your successful practice of meditation. I pointed out to you that the issue was not noise or distraction, but your narrow perception of what behavior constitutes spiritual conduct and what does not.