Sunday, October 7, 2012
Is Perception the key to Happiness?
My Guruji once told us a very nice story: There was a man who had a fairly large family and all of them lived in a very small room. He went to a sage who asked him what was making him so unhappy. The man told him that they had just a small room in which his entire family slept and he was finding it difficult to find peace as sleep was never forthcoming….what should he do? The sage smiled and said that his problem would be solved if he would, henceforth, keep his camel also inside the room where slept with the family. The poor man wondered as to how this could help but thought since the sage was an enlightened one, perhaps there was something to it…..he, therefore tied the camel inside his room and tried to sleep, but the night was miserable, since whenever the camel shook or turned its neck, the bell (placed around its neck) would jingle and make it impossible for them to sleep. The following morning he went to the wise one again , who seemed very amused by his predicament and asked him to keep his dog, in addition to the camel, inside when he went to sleep. The poor man was shocked but did not question the wise one and did as he was told. Needless to say, the whole night the entire family kept tossing and turning…what with the dog barking at the camel and the bell around the camel’s neck adding to the din. No one could sleep a wink and the next morning, the man went to the sage again and told him his story. The wise man laughed and told him reassuringly, ‘don’t worry, your problem will be solved” and asked him to simply remove both the camel as well as the dog from the room, to tie them outside and to sleep without them. That night the poor man had a very peaceful sleep and looked ever so happy when he met the sage next morning and thanked him profusely for having solved his problem Most of the times we are unhappy because of our perceptions…can we not try to find a better way of looking at things? Every situation presents us with two sets of perspectives…..one which is its negative aspect (which makes us unhappy if we dwell on it) while the other one can make us forget our predicament if we so desire. To give you an example…we set out to do something but fail in our endeavour. We can look at it from two viewpoints…one that we failed and the other that we have learned something from the incident and are better informed and better prepared for the next time. It is very wisely said “Failure is the stepping stone to success”. We know how many times Thomas Edison had failed before he finally succeeded. Every failure gives us a tremendous learning experience. Our thoughts play a very important role in keeping us happy. It is said that negative thoughts and feelings attract stressful events and troublesome people while positive thoughts and feelings, as well as harmonius ones attract joy, happiness, love and success. The “half full glass” is also a case in point. Like energy attracts like. We also know that matter is made of energy and energy follows thought. It is this energy which makes us do things ….which we do according to what we think. Our thoughts are very powerful indeed as they decide our karma. Our perception of a so called “problem” is important. Stress affects us depending as how we “see” the particular situation… stress itself is not harmful, as it has been created by God to help us progress in life. “Your stress level is determined by what you think (your beliefs and expectations), not by the stressor itself…. (Dr Rick Levy….The Happiness Sutra). Hans Selye was the first researcher to prove this. If a so called problem is perceived as a challenge, it is productive as it helps in one’s progress but if it is not seen as such, it becomes distressful, and , therefore, a source of unhappiness, harm and ultimate dis-ease culminating in an illness. The story as mentioned above brings out another important thing…..it proves that the sage was, indeed, very wise….but what had made him so? He was enlightened so could “see” things which the ordinary unenlightened one could not. An enlightened being is “happy without a reason”, to quote the Dalai Lama. As one ascends on one’s spiritual journey, one gradually becomes happier and happier as one becomes wiser and wiser and more in tune with everything around. At the same time one sees everything in its proper perspective and one’s perception about things also changes. A truly enlightened being, merged in Spirit is completely enveloped in Divine Love and is in complete bliss…in fact he becomes bliss, the ultimate stage of happiness. Is it not, therefore, important to change our perception about things from negative to positive by practicing spirituality, and gain happiness in the process?