Enshrined in Blessings
Consider these two heartrending situations:
There was once a poor farmer who was about to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. A mystic saw him and stopped him just in time. He asked the farmer why he would want to commit such an act, and the farmer replied that he was so poor that he could not bear to continue living.
The second incident is about a disciple who ran to his Master crying and in desperate need of help. He said that his whole family lived in a single room – wife, children and in-laws. He complained that he could not continue living this way. “Everyone’s nerves are on edge and they all yell and scream at each other all the time. Our room is not a home, it is hell!” he cried.
Both stories reveal circumstances in life that can lead people to terrible extremes. We can become disturbed to the extent of not being able to bear it any more, and thus, lose our balance. In such circumstances, we turn in anguish towards the Lord and blame him for our misery. Overcome by anger and emotion, we fail to hear the inner voice of reason that reminds us that there is an unbreakable link between us and the Lord and he is aware of everything we are going through.
That link is our soul – a particle of God, which is present in every living thing. The soul is as eternal as God himself. Since the soul was knotted to the mind when it entered creation, whatever actions one performed at the bidding of the mind entangled the soul into the world of karma and suffering. Therefore, whatever circumstances one goes through in life is just a result of one’s own actions. It cannot be changed. One simply has to go through it. What we have the power to change is the attitude and the way that we perceive our situation.
So, what happened to the farmer who wanted to commit suicide because he was poor? He was saved by the mystic who promised to help him. The mystic told the farmer to wait, while he made arrangements to get him as much money as he wanted. Soon, some disciples of the mystic arrived. One of the disciples had only one eye. The mystic asked him how much money he would pay to get one eye from the farmer. The disciple replied that he would pay 500,000 rupees. The mystic asked another disciple with a bad arm how much he would pay to the farmer to replace his bad arm for the farmer’s good one. The disciple replied that he would pay 200,000 rupees for the farmer’s good arm. The mystic asked the farmer if 700,000 rupees would be sufficient, or if more body parts should be sold. Appalled, the farmer replied that he was not ready to sell any of his body parts for any price. The mystic then asked the farmer how he could possibly be poor if each of his body parts had such a high value. Recognizing the wisdom of his words, the farmer fell at the feet of the mystic and thanked the Lord for the precious gift of a whole and healthy body.
In the case of the disciple who was terribly disturbed about his whole family living in a single room, his Master proposed an exercise for him. “Do you promise to do whatever I tell you?” the Master asked him. The man said, “I swear, I shall do anything.” “Very well. How many animals do you have?” The man replied, “A cow, a goat and six chickens.” So the Master advised him to take all the animals into the room with him and then come back after one week. The disciple was appalled. But he had promised to obey so he did as he was told and a week later came back a pitiable figure, moaning, “I’m a nervous wreck. The dirt! The stench! The noise! We are all on the verge of madness!” This time the Master said, “Okay, now go back and take the animals out.” The man ran all the way home and came back the following day, his eyes sparkling with joy. “How sweet life is! The animals are out and now our home is a paradise – it is so quiet, clean, and spacious!”
The underlying message in both stories is undeniable. Even in life’s worse case scenarios, we are surrounded by blessings in ways we do not realize. The farmer may have been poor, but he was blessed with a healthy body. Through the mystic, he learned to appreciate what he had, rather than complain about what he didn’t have. While the second man learned that happiness is relative. His tiny room could have been both hell or paradise depending on how he looked at it.
Saints explain that happiness and suffering are emotions that emerge from our involvement with the creation and its elements. The focus of the human experience is the soul and not the body. The Lord has sent souls to the world for a specific purpose, and that is for the soul to merge back into the Lord and unite with him. Without the fulfillment of this purpose, one cannot attain true and permanent happiness.
The Lord has showered his grace upon all of us in more ways than we can absorb. Were it not for his grace, we would never even think of our separation from him, nor would we desire to return home. But for his grace, we would never have met the Master nor followed the path. He creates the desire within us to meet him and he pulls us from within. With his grace, we develop faith in the Master and put forth the effort to practice, and attend to meditation with love and devotion.
We need only to recognize the blessings that he not only surrounds us with, but also enshrines us with, to fully appreciate our situation in life. So, if we were to ask for anything, we should ask that he bestow his love on us and dye us in the hue of Nam so that we can have the wisdom to accept everything that comes our way with a grateful heart and submit to his divine will.