“The experiences of life, enobling some people and degrading others, can in the end affect our thoughts, desires and feelings only as we let them. It is for us to say whether they shall call forth our divinity of our brutality. Our attitude of mind helps to determined our experience of the world.”
– Paul Brunton
A Yogi grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt.
When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it.
‘How does it taste?’ the master asked.
“Bitter,” spit the apprentice
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked,” How does it taste?”
“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.
“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.
“No,” said the young man.
At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering:
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So, when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
Everything in life is relative. If we add an appropriate amount of salt to a dish, it will taste good. But if we put an excessive amount, it will be inedible. Life is much the same. If we expand our vision and choose to look at the bigger picture, thus increasing the scope of our experiences, we put things in perspective to include the good and bad, instead of only looking at the bad, and then somehow things don’t seem that bad. The monsters that seem so scary in the dark, seem to disappear in the light. Most of the time, it is not what happens to us that is of so much importance as what we do with what happens to us.
Another story that comes to mind is about the person who complained that his tent was too small to accommodate him, his wife and the children. He went to the wise man in the village to seek advice. The wise man told him to bring in his goats into the tent. Even though this did not make sense to him, he did it anyway, because he thought there must be a reason the wise man had told him to do so. After a few days of the smell and discomfort, when he could not stand it any longer, he went back to the wise man and asked him for a better solution. The wise man then told him to bring in the camel also. Now he was really confused, but again, he did as he was asked.
Two weeks later, he was at the end of the rope. He went to the wise man and ranted and raved about all these making things so much worse and that he did not understand at all why he had to do this and how this would help him. Besides the smell and lack of space, he could not sleep because he was worried that his children would be crushed under the camel or the goats.
The wise man then told him to put the goats and the camels back outside. He was relieved to hear that and rushed home to do so. The next day he told the wise man, that there was so much space in the tent, that he did not know why he had complained in the first place!!
Often, when we complain about our current problems or uncomfortable situation, and then find ourselves in an even worse place, we realize that what we had was not as bad as we thought it was.
Expressing gratitude for what we have and where we are in life, keeps us grounded in reality. It helps us to realize that things can always be worse. There are people who have more than us, and just as many, if not more who have a lot less than us. When we understand that we are in a situation to learn from that experience, are grateful and joyful in spite of our circumstances, we not only diffuse the pain but carve a path out of there.
Recently, I came across a saying that we ask God to take us out of the very situation in which He has put us, so we can learn. If we tackle that situation efficiently and joyfully, while learning the intended lesson, we will no longer need to stay there. These are temporary and not meant to last forever. When we are happy, time seems to fly. Yet the same clock barely seems to move when we are unhappy. While we cannot always change the circumstances, we can certainly accept them in a lighter frame of mind. Remember ‘this too shall pass’!!
In conclusion, know that good times or bad times, seldom last, but the lessons we learn and the character we develop, always do. Here are some quotes to remind you…
“It is an illusion to think that more comfort means more happiness. Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed”
– Storm Jameson
“If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d all be millionaires.”
– Abigail Van Buren aka Dear Abby
“Focus on the step, in front of you, and not the whole staircase.”
“Your attitude determines your direction. Bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere without it until you change it.”