All the great sages and scholars have vehemently taught the importance of living in the present. The Buddha explained, “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” This is a powerful statement since it is in the present moment in which the field of life unfolds itself. Though this is true, we have not truly understood the relevance of such teachings. We often impoverish the present moment by burying it with lamentations of the past, worries for the future, and current anxieties. If we really wish to function at our optimal best and to enjoy this journey, we need to practice being in the present moment.
Why do we lament for the past, the reversals, calamities, and catastrophes that have affected us? Let us not forget that these are all part of life. Let us reflect on this with a story. A woman came to the Buddha complaining that her son had passed away and demanded that he be brought back to life. The Buddha said, he would definitely oblige if she could bring him mustard seeds from a house where no death had ever taken place. She went to one house, then to the other, then to the third and returned unsuccessful. The Buddha said, “This is how life is, there is birth, disease, old age and death. Accept it without being disturbed.”
But you may say, “How can I prevent my mind from lamenting?” Consider this interesting example. A piece of wood went to a sculptor and said, “Can you make me beautiful?” The sculptor said, “I am ready, are you ready?” The wood said, “Yes.” The sculptor took out his tools and started chiselling. The wood complained, “Ah! What is this you are doing? It is so painful stop, stop.” The sculptor said, “If you wish to be beautiful, you will need to tolerate the pain.” So, the wood replied, “All right go ahead, but don’t do so much in a day. Do a little every day.” Now the sculptor began chiselling again. The wood kept on complaining, “Enough for today, I can’t bear anymore.” But the sculptor continued with his work and one day that wood became a beautiful “moorti,” a deity, and got established in the Temple.
In the same way, we wish to transform ourselves by getting rid of the ugliness within. We wish to transform into holiness and to become beautiful and adorned with the ornaments of virtue within us. The difficulties and hardships are God’s way of beautifying us. So, rather than lamenting over these reversals, we can see opportunities for enhancing our detachment in them.
It is like a child who was playing with his toys had forgotten the mother. Now, rather than fighting with the child, the mother arranged for the toy to be snatched away. When it was gone, the child remembered that he is hungry and called out to his mother, who responded by coming there and feeding him milk. In the same way, we have forgotten our eternal Mother and Father and are playing with the trinkets — the sense objects of the world, the material entities. These reversals are nature’s way of helping us turn away from the world to seek eternal life. Keeping that perspective, we can free ourselves from lamentation.
Watch this interesting video by Swami Mukundananda –
As regards anxieties of the present, all we need to do is to have faith. There was once a naval officer, who after marriage was going for his first voyage with his wife on the ship. Unfortunately, the ship got caught in a storm on the high seas and was getting tossed by the waves. Everybody in that ship was anxious except for this sailor. His wife looking at his calm demeanor said, “My dear husband, how are you so calm in such a difficult situation?”
He smiled and he took out his sword from the sheath and placed the blade on his wife’s head. He said, “My dear wife, are you worried?” She said, “No.” The sailor asked, “Why not? This naked blade is on your head and it can go right through your skull.” She said, “It is in your hands (the sword), and I have faith that you are my well-wisher. What is there to be scared about?” The naval officer said, “In the same way I have faith that this ship is in the hands of God, and whatever he does will be for my best interest, because he is my well-wisher.”
That kind of strong faith frees us from anxieties of the present and helps us focus on doing our best, and that ultimately is the way for building our future. So, rather than worry about the future, we can simplify the game of our life. Do our best and leave to God all the rest!
Let this be the message for the sixth day of the Life Transformation Challenge. We shall continue the journey with another extremely powerful self-improvement tool as we progress along.