“Live without pretending,
Love without depending,
Listen without defending,
Speak without offending.” – Buddha
I heard a story of a king once. The king had 4 wives. His fourth wife was the dearest to him and he used to pamper her with many precious gifts. His third wife was beautiful and he used to take pride in showing off her to other kings and important people. His second wife was wise. He used to go to her for counsel, whenever he needed any advice on any matter. His first wife was the most faithful and followed him everywhere. She selflessly served the king and always took care of him throughout his life. But the king neglected her, took her for granted and hardly paid any attention to her.
One day the king fell ill and the doctors could not find any cure for his ailment. He felt miserable. He called his beloved wives one by one and asked them if they would travel with him to the other world after his death. The fourth wife left without speaking a word. The third wife told him that she would remarry someone after the king’s demise. The second wife also refused to go with him and told him that she couldn’t help him this time. The king was depressed. It was then that his first wife came and assured him that she would travel with him no matter where he went. The king then realized his mistake and rued the fact that he never took care of his first wife when could have.
In reality, this story is an allegory. All of us are the living our lives like the king. The fourth wife is our body – we adore it and adorn it with many precious gifts and items of pleasure. The third wife is our wealth and possessions – we love to display our wealth and prosperity to others, because it inflates our ego. We are disillusioned enough to believe that the measure of wealth we possess is the only measure of our success. The second wife is our friends and relatives – we often go them when we need help and advice. It is great to have good friends and relatives, but they cannot go with you everywhere. You have to live your own life, take your own decisions and do things without anyone’s help many a times. The first wife who we often ignore is our soul – We do not have the time or patience to look after our own soul, to nourish her, to take care of her, to spend time with her. But, she is only one who will always be with you. She can be your greatest source of strength should you choose to take care of her. Only she can make you happy in the truest sense.
This story always forces me to dwell on the true nature of ourselves. In life, we always run after money, wealth and things we can possess. That is how we define success. Once you possess them, you have gratified your ego. But does it translate into peace and happiness?
Let’s say I want to buy a car. I try hard to earn as much money as I can and finally I buy the car. There is bound to be a great sense of joy. But how long will it last? It is momentary. The euphoria will last for a few days, may be a couple of months. After that, my mind will move on to something else, may be an iPhone 10! The list of things we want to possess in life is endless.
So wait. What am I saying really? Should we not possess anything at all? Then we would have to live like hermits.
That is not what I mean. The problem is not with possessions. The problem is with our need to gratify our ego. Even if we choose to live like a hermit, unless we have learnt to control our ego, it will come in the way of our happiness.
What do you do then? Is there a solution? The answer is yes.
Feed your soul and not your ego. Nurture and nourish what is truly important in life and not the rest.
How do you feed and nourish your soul?
This is the fundamental question that brings forth the subject of spirituality. Spirituality and religion are not synonymous. Even if you feel you are an atheist, you can still be spiritual. Spirituality is simply a way to connect with your inner self, the consciousness that resides within you.
How do you connect with your inner self, your soul?
Seek solitude – Go to places where you can be alone. When you are alone, it helps you to listen to your inner voice. I am not advocating the life of a recluse, but it is good to be alone in a peaceful place from time to time. It helps you to calm down; it helps to still the noises going on inside your head. That is when you can listen to yourself.
Meditate – There are lots of stuff available on meditation, so I don’t need to talk much about it. Just pick up one thing or a thought and focus your mind towards it for some time. No distractions. Just focus on one thing. Start with 5 minutes, and then gradually increase it to 10, 15, or 20 minutes. It’s amazing how much clarity you can gain from this practice.
“A quiet mind is all you need” – Buddha
“Silence isn’t empty, it is full of answers” – Unknown
Read – If there is one thing we all should crave for more, it is knowledge. Learn as much as you can. Read as much as you can. Read as much variety of subjects as possible. Knowledge is the best way to know not only about the world, but discover your true self. Knowledge helps you to control your ego.
More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego.” – Albert Einstein.
“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”- Zen Proverb.
Be kind – Kindness ignites something special within you. When you are generous or kind to someone, not only do you touch someone’s life, but you are transformed on the inside. You feel the greatness of the inner consciousness.
“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a kind heart that listens.” – Buddha
Forgive – The surest way to connect with your soul is to forgive. Forgive everyone, no matter what they did to you. Above all else, forgive yourself. If you are not able to forgive, the poison inside you will ultimately destroy your happiness. You will never be able to feel inner peace.
Practice Gratitude – One of the things we often forget to acknowledge is that how fortunate we are to be alive. The very fact that we are alive is nothing short of a miracle. We fail to acknowledge what we have and always end up in a never ending pursuit of what we don’t have. It’s important to feel and express gratitude every day, even for the little things in life. I feel thankful for the fact that I am able to spend time with my family – not everyone is blessed with this beautiful gift in life.
“Gratitude is the wine of the soul. Go on. Get drunk.” – Rumi
Dive into your passion – What are you passionate about? Music, Painting, Acting, Writing, Poetry, Photography, Sculpting, Fitness, Sports, Social Work, Conversation, Culinary Science, or Business – anything that ignites your passion is worth your time. Learn more about it; put your heart into it. Express yourself through your passion.
Become the best you can be – not to accumulate wealth, but because you can. Your passion then turns out to be a blessing for others. That will be real success.
Success in life is not measured by how much you accumulate. It is measured by how much is given away.