543. an actual excerpt from 17: the way of the moon

the tortoise looked up at the moon and said, “the moon is such a mystery.”

the guru asked, “what do you mean?”

“well,” the tortoise replied, “think about it: why is it up there? what is it thinking? it is such a mystery.”

“maybe it is for some,” the guru said, “but i have spent a lot of time in moon meditation, and so to me, the moon is a dear friend.”

“what is moon meditation?” the tortoise asked.

“moon meditation is a way of making a friend who will be with you no matter what. if you know the moon’s face as well as your own, it will be your friend, and whenever you are lonely, you will be able to look up at the moon and have companionship.”

the tortoise said, “please teach me this moon meditation!”

the guru said, “first, you need to go outside at night. the day works a little, but not nearly as well as night. and then you find the moon.”

“it’s up in the sky!”

“usually. once you have found the moon, you should find a way to look at the moon without straining, whether that means using a pillow or resting against a tree. once you are comfortable, look up at the moon and say, ‘hello, moon.’

“once you have greeted the moon, begin to watch your breath as you breathe in and out. but while you are watching your breath, you should look at the moon.

“for the first few breaths, gaze at the entire moon. but once your breathing is regular and you are comfortable in your repose, focus on one spot along the moon’s edge. when you breathe in, narrow your gaze to this spot. when you breathe out, move the spot a small distance along the edge of the moon.

“do this over and over, breathing in and focusing on a spot, breathing out and moving your spot alongside the edge of the moon, until you work all the way around the moon and then, with each breath, slowly spiral toward the center of the moon.

“when you finally reach the center of the moon, you will have gazed at every bit of the moon. breathe in as deeply as you can and focus as tightly as possible on the center. and then, breathe out and gaze again on the whole moon.

“stare for as long as you can without blinking.

“and then, close your eyes and picture the moon in your mind. picture it as clearly and as distinctly as you can.

“when you open your eyes, thank the moon for your meditation. and then promise the moon that you will see it again soon. if you do not thank the moon, and you do not promise to see it again soon, your moon meditation will have no effect.

“but if you do, and you practice moon meditation regularly, then soon you will become fast friends, not only with the moon, but with everyone who has ever performed moon meditation, for you will have a friend in common.”

the tortoise said, “that sounds like a bunch of hooey.”

and the guru laughed, because he had to admit that it was, in a way.

but that night, a villager overheard the tortoise, looking up at the moon, whispering, “hello, moon.”

if you enjoyed this meditation, purchase 17 for whatever you are willing to pay.