Big Rocks

A popular story going around the Internet these days is about a time management expert who was speaking to a class of business students. He did the following “consciousness exercise” on them.

“Okay, let’s have a pop-quiz.”

He put a large, one-gallon, wide-mouthed jar on the lecture table. Then he brought out a box full of various “ingredients.” To start, he took apple-sized rocks and put them, one at a time, carefully into the jar until it was filled to the top, and no more rocks would fit.

“Now,” he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone in the class pretty much nodded or shrugged out a “Yes.”

“Really?” He asked.

He reached into the box and started to put scoops of gravel into the jar while he shook the jar to get the gravel to work down into the spaces between the rocks.

“Now, is the jar full?” He asked, but, of course, these future business types were already waiting for that question.

“Nah,” one of them snickered.

“Right!” he said.

He continued to shake the jar while putting in scoops of sand.

“Now, is this jar full?”

“No!” said the class, as they were again well ahead of him.

Smiling, he said, “Good.”

Next, pulling out a large bottle of water, he poured it in and filled the jar to its lip. Then he stopped, scanned the class, and asked, “Why am I doing this demo?”

Quickly, someone who hardly disguised his boredom, “It doesn’t matter how tight your schedule becomes; if you’re smart you can always fit some more things in it!”

“Nope,” the speaker said, “that’s not the reason.

“Here it is: Put the big rocks in first, or you’ll never get them in at all. Be sure that, on all your projects, the ‘big rocks’ go in first. For that project you call your life, rocks are children, loved ones, values, education, dreams, a passionate cause, teaching others, loving what you do, finding time for yourself, health, your life partner. These rocks need a place in your life, and being BIG they need to have first priority, or you’ll never get them in at all. Call each day a jar to fill.”

Ask yourself:

Do these kinds of stories touch me very deeply? Can I learn a deep life lesson from “just one shot” like this? What if I could find 365 of these kinds of stories, would that improve me if I read one a day? How much? What would be better?

What is the most important rock of life?

Are any of these rocks more important than my ability to be conscious? If I were in a coma, what value would any of these rocks have to me? Would I even “be there” without consciousness?

Am I putting consciousness into my life first? Is that the first rock that goes into my jar? How much bigger is it than anything else? Will it even fit into the jar?

Can I “grab consciousness?” Is this metaphor applicable to this kind of “rock?” Do I need a “bigger” definition of what my “jar” is?

If I don’t know consciousness as a pure and separate entity, how can I “grab/prioritize” it? How do I go about taking care of my Self– my consciousness? Can it be exercised, increased, manipulated, or what?

How would a character in a dream go about improving the dreamer’s ability to dream?