One day, God was walking through the world to see how his children were doing. He came upon an old monk who had spent his entire adult life practicing mental and physical disciplines. Because the monk had gained a certain level of clarity, he realized that the man casually walking by was fully aware of his inner Divine Self. Rising from his meditation pose, he bowed before God and asked, “Great-Souled One! I see you are an illumined master! Please tell me how long it will be before I realize my inner Divine Nature!”
God smiled and replied, “You are doing well, my son! At this rate, you will achieve your inner Divine Self with just one more lifetime.” The monk was appalled at the thought of having to go through another lifetime of boredom and pain, and lashed out at God calling him a fraud. God smiled tenderly at him and walked on.
Soon, God came upon a simpleton who was splashing in the river, laughing, and singing. He loved God and life so much and didn’t care about his personal needs. The simpleton noticed the stranger smiling at him, came out of the water, bowed before him, and said, “How wonderful! God has sent to me a Great-Souled One! I have been enjoying myself so much that I nearly forgot that I have a purpose. My quest is to realize enlightenment, but I have become distracted by the constant joy welling up inside of me. Seeing you reminded me. Could you please tell me how long it will be before I realize my inner Divine Nature?”
God laughed and replied, “You are doing well, my son! At this rate, you will realize your inner Divine Self with just seventy more lifetimes!” The simpleton cried out with glee, “Seventy lifetimes more?!? How wonderful!” He was filled with so much joy at the prospect of another seventy lifetimes of such bliss that the last doubt he ever had disappeared and he attained the highest state of enlightenment instantly!
(This story was modified from the book “Ascension!” by MSI.)
How many of us work very hard to become so enlightened that we forget to just enjoy life as it comes? I’m sometimes guilty of this myself. I’m a sponge for wisdom and knowledge and there’s so much I want to learn, that I sometimes forget to just let the joy flow.
Life can be hard for so many people and my heart goes out to them. How can we feel joy and happiness in the midst of such turmoil? I have a saying: “You don’t have to be happy with your circumstances, but you can be happy in your circumstances.” Is it easy? For some…maybe. It’s just we humans who make it so difficult. We think that life has to be a certain way before we can be happy, but we have it backwards. We should feel happy and joyful, and that in turn, will attract so much more good into our lives. Count our blessings and be grateful for all the good we do currently have and experience.
The problem is that we want everyone around us to change first before we can feel joy and happiness. We blame the outside world for our feelings. If you’re always waiting on someone or something outside yourself to transform, then you never will find that joy within. Gandhi says “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Don’t wait for others to change. Ride the adventure of blissful transformation! Yes, you’ll have your ups and downs, but the more you practice, the more up’s you will experience.
I’m basically a happy person, but even I have my days where I don’t even want to face the world. Yet I’ve experienced those moments of total spiritual bliss where I feel at one with God (Universe) and everyone and everything in the world. I’ve felt that connection with the pure, unconditional, perfect love of the All-That-Is, which flows through all in life. I know what it feels like even though I can’t always stay in that state of mind. Since I’ve felt it and know what it feels like, it gives me something to aspire to. The more I try to aspire to it, then the more I feel it. It’s possible for all of us to be in that state, just like the simpleton in the story above who had nothing.
Lao Tzu said, “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper November 6, 2015.