During my Buddhist training high in the Himalayas, we students would attempt to achieve enlightenment through meditation exercises, such as staring into puddles of water or sitting in the snow for hours on end dressed in nothing but a loincloth.
For years I practised these techniques until the day finally arrived when I was allowed to glimpse the ultimate attainment of self-realisation – Zen through the art of car maintenance.
My teacher would begin by changing the spark plugs on his old Austin Allegro, then move on to stripping the carburettor and finally replacing the cylinder head gasket, and all without using tools. Not a spanner, not a socket, not even a can of WD-40 for loosening those particularly stubborn nuts.
All I needed to know about life could be crystallised from what I learned with a tub of grease in one hand and a tin of Swarfega in the other and I shall attempt to enlighten you with a few simple lessons that routine car maintenance can teach you.
- The next time you pull up at the petrol pump, consider this – the destination we seek is not in the far distance, or in the future. It is in this very place and moment of our existence. We cannot travel until we learn to be still and tranquil in the now. Return to your car seat and meditate on this for several hours, or until the honking of angry, queueing motorists wakes you up.
- The blind man can see the horizon clearly because his view is not hampered by haze or fog or the setting sun. So let your washer bottle remain empty and your windscreen cloudy so that you may achieve perfect vision.
- The breath of life is within us and all around us – we take what we need to keep our heart beating and no more. Learn from this and let tyres find their own air pressure. If they are running low, it is because they wish to be closer to the earth from which we all spring.
- We can have no concept of where we are going without clear sight of where we have been. So remember, it’s ‘mirror, signal, contemplate’.
Finally, something to ponder: If a car alarm goes off in the middle of the night and the owner doesn’t hear it, does it make a sound?
The blessings of Zen and Haynes Manuals to you and remember, the zen garage of the holographic universe is your master mechanic within.