Rajan Shankara: The red paint bucket

(Global Heart | Rajan Shankara) The story of the red paint bucket shows us that each moment can be a lesson in self-realization.

The Red paint bucket

As a young monk in the construction department, I frequently performed small chores around the monastery buildings. The structure was solid, but the surfaces needed tending to. I painted regularly and tended to the small upkeep of the windows, doors, hallways, and back maintenance areas. It was a peaceful experience that I began to perform without hesitation, but I also didn’t see my menial chores and tasks as profound. That is until an older monk explained my red paint bucket.

I was painting a staircase red one morning. I had my ladder, paintbrush, and bucket, and set out to finish the job given to me—and finish it well. About halfway into the job, one of the oldest monks had come up to me and watched for a moment.

He placed his tea on the ground, looked up at me on the ladder, and said, “You’re alive to face that red paint bucket.” I stared back at him with a blank look on my face, that of a spiritual nitwit who knew nothing about the meaning of what the monk was talking about. The monk, noticing my ignorance, continued.

The present moment

“The paint bucket is an example of the present moment, it’s what you have to face right now. In other words, it is the sum total of your entire life. Everything you’ve ever done boils down to this very moment.”

Being the “sum total” of our life is something that humans rarely get to explore because we are goaded on by novelty. Our “life” is simply a series of moments, and we don’t have the time to stop and inspect one moment to another…that is, until we begin living a meditative lifestyle.

For all I knew, my task that day was to paint a staircase red—not attain enlightenment. But for the older and wiser monk, he knew that each moment was a lesson in self-realization. If I could hold onto that perspective, then I wasn’t just painting a staircase red, I was facing all of the experiences that I’ve ever lived. It was the moment that was to teach me about who I was and who I was becoming.

And, it’s the same for all of us. No matter what you are faced with—from the mundane moments of eating to the profound epochs of our life (having a child comes to mind)—we are given the opportunity to transform into the person we’ve always wanted to be. Yes, even the challenging and hurtful moments of our life are there to teach us, to ask of us: Stop what you’re doing and pay attention, this is for you. 

The monk picked up his tea and walked into the main buffet area where the monks gathered for tea, coffee, and lunch. I could see him mindfully make his next batch and sit down by the window. I looked back at my work, the paintbrush, and the red bucket and smiled—never would I look at life the same way again.


About Rajan Shankara

Since 2010, Rajan has coached thousands of people on relationships, philosophy, meditation, self-development, and character.

Rajan Shankara left the world at 19 years old to become a monk and study his mind, find out what meaning and purpose was, and if meditation could take him to higher states of consciousness. Having lived as a monk for 12 years, he is now back in society as a world-yogi to teach others how to control their mind, body, and emotions.

Rajan was trained for 7 years in monastery landscaping, construction, electrics, carpentry, office work, and vehicle maintenance. During this period of his life, 2007-2014, Rajan went through exhausting measures of self-development, and the deep study and practice of Raja Yoga.

He spent another 5 years in the monastery office learning clerical skills, travel management and coordination, team leadership, editing, writing, and publishing – and being a part of the Hinduism Today international magazine team of senior monks and managing 16 pages.

From 2014-2018, Rajan began advanced yogi training and studied under the most senior monks in the monastery. He became a mentor to several hundred people around the world, and helped restore balance in their lives. This was a period of intense inner training in order to master meditation, and intense outer training to master fitness and diet, and the mind by studying history, psychology, military leadership, theology, philosophy, and the priestly arts of Hindu Agamic ritual.

After 12 enlightening years, Rajan Shankara left the monastery with his guru’s blessings. Rajan’s wish was to teach others what he has learned about the mind, meditation, ego, and soul. He is currently a meditation guide, award-winning writer, author of four books, self-development mentor, fitness and health expert, and business owner in California. Connect with Rajan via his website, www.rajanshankara.com, on Facebook, and Twitter @Rajan_Shankara.

Source: Global Heart

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