Be Yourself – The biggest gift

A lot of people I meet seem to be overcome by desire and seem to revel in misery where none exist. Even when they get something for gratis they wished they got something better especially if someone else got it better.  “People seem to enjoy things more when they know a lot of others have been left out of the pleasure”  We don’t realize that we are blessed as you are till something hits you hard…Wearing other’s shoes’ pinches harder is a lesson that we seem to learn the hard way. Read on

Once upon a time there lived a stone-cutter, who went every day to a great rock in the side of a big mountain and cut out slabs for gravestones or for houses. He understood very well the kinds of stones wanted for the different purposes, and as he was a careful workman he had plenty of customers. For a long time he was quite happy and contented, and asked for nothing better than what he had.

Now in the mountain dwelt a spirit which now and then appeared to men, and helped them in many ways to become rich and prosperous. The stone-cutter, however, had never seen this spirit, and only shook his head, with an unbelieving air, when anyone spoke of it. But a time was coming when he learned to change his opinion.

One day the stone-cutter carried a gravestone to the house of a rich man, and saw there all sorts of beautiful things, of which he had never even dreamed. Suddenly his daily work seemed to grow harder and heavier, and he said to himself: ‘Oh, if only I were a rich man, and could sleep in a bed with silken curtains and golden tassels, how happy I should be!’

And a voice answered him: ‘Your wish is heard; a rich man you shall be!’

At the sound of the voice the stone-cutter looked round, but could see nobody. He thought it was all his fancy, and picked up his tools and went home, for he did not feel inclined to do any more work that day. But when he reached the little house where he lived, he stood still with amazement, for instead of his wooden hut was a stately palace filled with splendid furniture, and most splendid of all was the bed, in every respect like the one he had envied. He was nearly beside himself with joy, and in his new life the old one was soon forgotten.

It was now the beginning of summer, and each day the sun blazed more fiercely. One morning the heat was so great that the stone-cutter could scarcely breathe, and he determined he would stay at home till the evening. He was rather dull, for he had never learned how to amuse himself, and was peeping through the closed blinds to see what was going on in the street, when a little carriage passed by, drawn by servants dressed in blue and silver. In the carriage sat a prince, and over his head a golden umbrella was held, to protect him from the sun’s rays.

‘Oh, if I were only a prince!’ said the stone-cutter to himself, as the carriage vanished round the corner. ‘Oh, if I were only a prince, and could go in such a carriage and have a golden umbrella held over me, how happy I should be!’

And the voice of the mountain spirit answered: ‘Your wish is heard; a prince you shall be.’

And a prince he was. Before his carriage rode one company of men and another behind it; servants dressed in scarlet and gold bore him along, the coveted umbrella was held over his head, everything heart could desire was his. But yet it was not enough. He looked round still for something to wish for, and when he saw that in spite of the water he poured on his grass the rays of the sun scorched it, and that in spite of the umbrella held over his head each day his face grew browner and browner, he cried in his anger: ‘The sun is mightier than I; oh, if I were only the sun!’

And the mountain spirit answered: ‘Your wish is heard; the sun you shall be.’

And the sun he was, and felt himself proud in his power. He shot his beams above and below, on earth and in heaven; he burnt up the grass in the fields and scorched the faces of princesas well as of poorer folk.

But in a short time he began to grow tired of his might, for there seemed nothing left for him to do. Discontent once more filled his soul, and when a cloud covered his face, and hid the earth from him, he cried in his anger: ‘Does the cloud hold captive my rays, and is it mightier than I? Oh, that I were a cloud, and mightier than any!’

And the mountain spirit answered: ‘Your wish is heard; a cloud you shall be!’

And a cloud he was, and lay between the sun and the earth. He caught the sun’s beams and held them, and to his joy the earth grew green again and flowers blossomed. But that was not enough for him, and for days and weeks he poured forth rain till the rivers overflowed their banks, and the crops of rice stood in water. Towns and villages were destroyed by the power of the rain, only the great rock on the mountain side remained unmoved. The cloud was amazed at the sight, and cried in wonder: ‘Is the rock, then, mightier than I? Oh, if I were only the rock!’

And the mountain spirit answered: ‘Your wish is heard; the rock you shall be!

And the rock he was, and gloried in his power. Proudly he stood, and neither the heat of the sun nor the force of the rain could move him. ‘This is better than all!’ he said to himself. But one day he heard a strange noise at his feet, and when he looked down to see what it could be, he saw a stone-cutter driving tools into his surface. Even while he looked a trembling feeling ran all through him, and a great block broke off and fell upon the ground. Then he cried in his wrath: ‘Is a mere child of earth mightier than a rock? Oh, if I were only a man!’

And the mountain spirit answered: ‘Your wish is heard. A man once more you shall be!’

And a man he was, and in the sweat of his brow he toiled again at his trade of stone-cutting. His bed was hard and his food scanty, but he had learned to be satisfied with it, and did not long to be something or somebody else. And as he never asked for things he had not got, or desired to be greater and mightier than other people, he was happy at last, and heard the voice of the mountain spirit no longer.

As His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of  The Art of Living says “Accept People and situation as they are” – it includes accepting ourselves the way we are too.

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Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo