Once upon a time there was a beggar. He sat at a street corner, pleading for scraps. Anything – pennies, food, clothing. For thirty years, he had lived in dire poverty. One day a young man came along and asked him, “What is it that you sit on?”
“It’s an old wooden box.” mumbled the beggar.
‘Shall we have a look inside it?’
“It’s not worth looking at. I found it in a rubbish heap years ago.”
‘Ever looked inside?’
“No. What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.”
‘I can help you dust it down if you like.’
“Can you spare some change for me please?”
‘Yes. After we’ve looked at the box you sit on.’
“If you insist…”
They took the rotten old blanket off the wooden box and managed to pry it open. With utter disbelief, astonishment and elation they saw a heap of glittering gold-coins within.
While we look for scraps of pleasure, fulfillment, validation and security outside of us, the true wealth of deep unshakable peace and the radiant joy of Being lies within us. Inspired by “The Power of Now”, a book by Eckhart Tolle, I’ve been practicing making this moment the focus of my attention, surrendering to what is and saying ‘yes’ to life, noticing the direct relationship between inner resistance and pain, observing the subtle life-force that flows through my body, witnessing my emotions arise and cease as sensations in my chest and tummy. I have learnt to trust myself. I have found glimpses of freedom from my mind and felt my presence as one with the Universe. Who would’ve thought this possible?
Earlier this week I had the honour of sharing some of the theory, practice and research on this subject through an on-line presentation entitled “Making Friends with Now”. Many thanks to The Compassionate Friends for making this teaching accessible to many.
T: It came to a point when she couldn’t bear to celebrate Christmas with her family. Her brother and sister and their respective spouses could roll out one child per year effortlessly while she had been through all kinds of tests and procedures, and nothing. Absolutely nothing but heartache and multitudes of unbelievably negative pregnancy tests to show for it. Six years of nothing.
S: Yes. I suppose nobody’s got it all. Some of the missing stuff is obvious and some not. Surely, even those who appear to have it all have their painful stuff hidden away. Who said everyone has to have everything?
T: It’s hard for her to watch other people with their babies. Intolerable. I can understand.
S: Isn’t that like saying no one should walk in front of a man in a wheel-chair? They might be offended. Let’s all pretend we can’t walk. Poor man! It might be intolerable for him.
T: That’s harsh. That’s a completely different situation.
S: It is an extreme example. Yes. It’s all about comparisons though. Isn’t it? You have something that I don’t. By right I should have what you have. Everyone should have it. But everyone is different. Their life path is different. The lessons coming their way are different. Her unhappiness comes from ‘yours’ and ‘mine’, ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’. Kids come with their own brand of drool, cackles, dirty nappies and tantrums. Those things are there for everyone.
T: But her sister’s kid is not hers. That is fact.
S: Indeed. However, the kidness of the kid belongs to the whole world. It’s okay to be jealous – nothing wrong with it. It’s also okay to know there are other possible routes to take, other possible responses to make. She could choose to recognise jealousy as the most conditioned and expected response and embrace it. She could also be present to the pastness of the past, the kidness of the kid, the sisterness of the sister, the aliveness of her life, the heartfulness of her heart and work with that. See what happens. She might be surprised. There might be a beautiful garden behind that wall.
T: It’s hard though.
S: It’s worth a try. There are more Christmases on the way and they want to be happy.