Lessons

The Beautiful Lessons we Discover in Life

Kriya Yoga ArticlesAs we go through life, we inevitably learn a few lessons which make us laugh at ourselves for not recognising them earlier. We had to learn them the hard way…through experience; but it is truly worth it. Here are a few of those lessons:

1) The richest person is one who desires little and already has more than he desires. Ajahn Brahm joked that he is disappointed with Forbes for not listing any monk as the richest man in the world. A person is rich if he already has everything that he desires. A millionaire will not feel rich if he is still craving for things that his wealth cannot buy him. Wealth is a concept and is determined more by one’s mental attitude rather than one’s possession. Wealth cannot bring happiness unless one is contented.

2)The most important things in life cannot be bought. Money cannot buy unconditional love and respect from your loved ones. It is your unconditional love for them that gives you that. I have talked to many friends who came from poor families and there is one consistent theme: They often remember the sacrifices their parents made for them and not the things they lacked. A friend shared with me that he could still remember the school bag which his father bought for him even though they were having difficulty putting food on the table. He is now a father and he could feel the love that his father had for him when he decided to buy him the bag despite their difficulties.

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Money cannot buy us or our loved ones wisdom. Actually, it is better to put it the other way round: We do not need to be rich to be wise. Without wisdom, we will never find happiness.

3) Living a simple life leads to inner-peace. The more toys we have, the more distracted we become. Take the example of a person who owns a few properties as investments. He has to worry about renting out and maintaining those properties. Putting his savings into fixed deposits may earn lower returns but is far less complicated. This is not a financial advice on how to invest; it is merely an advice on inner peace.

4) We chase after things that we think can bring us happiness that we forget how to be happy. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we know this but somehow, we refuse to acknowledge it because…

5) We concern ourselves so much with what others think of us that we blind ourselves to what we truly want out of life. Many go into professions that their parents want them to be in and not what they enjoy. We chase after ‘status symbols’ in order to gain respect from others. By doing so, we continuously live our lives based on the standards and expectations set by others and not by those that we determine ourselves.

Our expectations of our children are reflective of what we think others deem as honourable.  When I was young, every parent wanted their children to be doctors because they make a lot of money and command a lot of respect. Is it a coincidence that most parents had that expectation or is it an expectation shared by society as a whole at the time?

We often compare ourselves to others and make ourselves feel inadequate. If we do not stop comparing ourselves to others, we will never become the person we are meant to be. No benefit will come from comparing ourselves with others. If we compare our weaknesses, we feel inferior but if we compare our strengths, we fill ourselves with pride. One who seeks for inner-peace should just stop comparing oneself with others.

All of us try to live up to the expectations of others and therefore, it appears to be the right thing to do; but at the expense of our current happiness. Our happiness is pushed forward into the realm of imagination. That is, we imagine that we will be happy and blissful… later; even though we know that ‘later’ will never come. There will always be something to chase after.  The biggest driving force that makes us chase for material objects is the seductive child of desire; envy…..

6) We are envious of others because we do not see that everything comes with a sacrifice. A friend shared with me that he once asked his multi-millionaire relative, who is already over 80 years old, if he is happy with how he lived his life. He said that his biggest regret is that he did not spend enough time with his children. He was concerned that he may have spoilt them by giving them everything they want to compensate for his absence during their growing up years. He may have left them with a lot of money but he deprived them of wisdom and true happiness.

My friend added, “It saddens me to think that his children may be looking forward to his death because of the inheritance that they will receive”.

We want to be the top in our field because of the fame, power and wealth that comes with it. A person at the top may be respected but he may also have many who are jealous of him and therefore, wish him ill-will. When he falls, he may have to face the bitter lesson of how many fine weather friends he has, that is, those that will be in his friends only in the good times.

7) When we learn to thank God for what we have, we will realise that we already have everything that we want. If we develop the habit of thanking God every morning before getting out of bed for the ten things we already have, we will soon realise that we already have everything that matters to our happiness.  All of us already have everything that is truly important to us.

8) Most arguments are unnecessary. We get into petty arguments because we want to convince the other person of our point of view. We do not stop to question ourselves if it really matters whether or not the person shares our point of view. Our opinions make up part of our ego and when another person rejects them, we feel like our entire being is being rejected. That is clearly not the case.

We are not our opinions. Our opinions change all the time. We may hold strongly to one opinion one day and completely reject it the next day but we are still the same person. If we adopt the habit of ‘agreeing to disagree’, our life would be far more peaceful.

9) Our negative emotions seem to have more power that they really do. A negative emotion is like a small dog with a loud and deep bark. It is barking in the dark and we cannot see it. We are terrified because we think that it is huge and dangerous. It is only when we shine a light at it that we realise that it is just a cute and harmless puppy.

Kriya Yoga ArticlesOur negative emotions are merely sensations in our body. A pinch hurts more than the sensations brought about by the negative emotions. But many of us give it so much power that sometimes we blame our actions on the negative actions. We may say, “I was so angry that I could not help myself!”  When we give our negative emotions the power to control our actions, we become helpless to the force of our karma. We get into countless fights and arguments because our anger tells us to. What a waste of valuable energy!

When we shine the light of awareness on our negative emotions, we will realise that it is just a small and harmless little puppy. That is when we regain our power over our negative emotions.

10) Our sufferings often turn out to be blessings when we look back at them. Read the article on Steve Jobs. We can relate it to our own life and see the blessings that came from those seemingly bad events. Steve Jobs calls it ‘connecting the dots’.

When Steve Jobs was removed from Apple, the company he founded, he was devastated. He was shattered because Apple had become part of his ego. The ‘ego’ or ‘I’ was the accumulation of his thoughts, knowledge and experiences. But later, he realised that being the CEO of Apple was merely a concept of himself. It was part of his ego but not him. He has not changed at all. The love for whatever he does was still driving him. He moved on to form Pixar, the creator of Toy Story. Apple subsequently bought Pixar and he was back as the head of Apple.

What is the difference between a person who can change negative events into blessings and those who can’t? The answer is wisdom. With wisdom, one can see pass the false mental suffering created by the ego and move on with one’s life. Had Steve Jobs clung on to his lost identity, he would have just given up on life.

And yes, the super-rich can have wisdom too!

11) The above points lead to this one conclusion: Our state of mind determines our happiness. All spiritual practices are meant to train our mind. We learn to strengthen our concentration and awareness so that we can understand the ego or the ‘I’. When we are able to watch our habitual thoughts and reactions to external stimuli, we begin to understand the true causes of our suffering; an untrained mind which breeds desires.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. balachandran
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 13:16:56

    life is a grinding wheel,either it grounds you down or it polishes you.the knocks and falls,are part of life.If you inherit wealth,you dont learn much,you may learn frm the finest universities in the world,you may achive PHDs and what so ever,write good books and earn millions more but it is all inheritence.what about the boy who had to leave the comforts of his home so that he could support his father when he was fifteen,so that he could help his brother to achive his Bsc.this little boy of fifteen had to dig graves to earn a living in the seventies,but when he came home to give his egotistical father the hard earn money,the response was “did you rob to get this money”how would this little boy of fifteen feel?Rejected for doing something so noble!It didnt stop this little boy of fifteen,he went on earning more money with the skills he aquired and the little boy of fifteen grew to be a man,knowing what hardship is unshaken with what ever situation he was in.

    Reply

  2. Sathia
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 11:54:57

    Whatever we do, someone has an opinion of us. If we think a monk is rich because he has everything he needs, some say -God would not have placed us on earth to live by just praying and depending on others for food and shelter. If we work to earn a living or more, we are seen as people with unending desires, Most talk of the middle path – a balance and living without atachment. Reminds me of the elephant and the six blind men. Each thinks he is right and do not see the whole.
    I think I am one of the blind. Yes! There comes a time when we can reflect and look at the way our ego works. Then we have to try to annihilate that ego. Back to what some see as – a negative approach to Life and the beautiful world the Lord has gifted us.

    Reply

  3. Dorian Fisger
    May 07, 2012 @ 17:48:55

    Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

    Reply

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