Many people ask me these question: “Why do you close the door and not allow any late comers to enter the class? Why should we come to the class on time?” Everyone has a reason for coming late. Every reason sounds good and valid 🙂 “I came in early but couldn’t find parking place”, “My vehicle did not start on time due to some issue”, “My house lock didn’t work properly”, Some honest reasons as well: “I woke up late”, “I snoozed my alarm more number of times than I always do” 🙂 etc., etc.,
Whatever be the reason, we do not encourage late entry to the class. Let us understand the reasoning behind it.
Now let us ponder on what our mindset is when we come to the class on time as against that of the one where we come whenever we feel like it. Our mind gets into an enormous amount of preparation when we commit to be on time. The first criteria in order to learn something is commitment. Just reiterating to ourselves that we will be on time brings in commitment. This opens the mind for better learning by making it more receptive and alert. It is indeed a beginner’s mindset, just like in all the examples I gave earlier. Famous artist Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist.The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. Beginner’s mindset is like that of a child, always eager to learn new things. Once we start learning and become more confident we become carefree, and lethargic. This is when learning ceases.Before we go further let us think about a few questions: What is the mindset of the person going to attend an important interview or meeting? What is the mindset of the person going to meet his/her love after a long time? What is the mindset of a person attending a new job on the first day? What is the mindset of a person all excited to watch a movie first day first show? In all these cases, why do we always ensure that we are on time for our appointment? What changes at other times? When we want to begin something new in our life, it could be a job or relationship, we are more eager to start and learn more. This mindset is called “Beginner’s mindset” in Zen philosophy. When I think of all these, I feel that time is not a physical but a mental entity.
Apart from this, the first five minutes of the class is spent on preparation, that is., sitting quietly, focusing and connecting with our breath, chanting omkara and prayer. All this is helpful to get composed for the class. Whatever be the mindset before coming to the class, this preparation at the beginning is essential to get focus on the practice. Mind becomes calm and enables to have a single minded focus on the practice of the day.
Now think about what happens when you enter the class and put your mat while everyone else is trying to get composed for the practice. Not only will you not be able to get focused but will disturb everyone else’s attempt too.
Coming to class on time has to therefore become a part of our culture such that everyone can benefit from the practice. As such, the more I think of it, the more it makes sense to enforce the rule of not allowing any latecomers for practice more strictly. Don’t you agree?