A String of Coloured Beads
The Infinite Joy of the Infinitesimal
In a village on the verge of sleep one evening, I was walking with my daughters when a sense of simple peace appeared. Just being with them in the golden light of the setting sun, in the quiet air between the trees, brought to me an immense yet weightless happiness. And it came to me that happiness, and its inherent, eternal renewal of hope, comes to us most dependably in little things, and in outwardly unremarkable moments.
The big things in life, even wonderful events to which we have long looked forward, carry within them the seeds of disappointment bound to be germinated by incompletely fulfilled expectations. And even when untainted by anticipation, life’s big prizes still eventually let us down, because there is always a downside: they are just too big, too complex, to be straightforwardly and simply good.
But the little things in our lives that bring us sudden, fleeting, unexpected joy, those tiny moments of absolute happiness, of total connection or immersion, of complete realization – of love – are small enough to be purely perfect. These tiny specks of unalloyed gold can, in a flash, cast a new light over life, perhaps just when the darkness might seem at its heaviest.
And these infinitesimal joys come endlessly to us, if only we reach out our hands – without asking, but rather in an attitude of readiness without expectation. If we allow them, they will carry us through life from moment to moment, like a string of brightly coloured beads that we pass slowly through our fingers. The big things (good or bad) we need not much concern ourselves with, for their reality exists only in the little moments of which they consist.
But the flow of these moments can bring us happiness only if we are truly there to catch them as they happen. The tiny joys of life exist not in the past or the future, to which we so often look for happiness, but in the present. This is where we need to be: to be fully here, absolutely conscious and aware, in the present moment.
Crossing the rushing river of life, one can easily be thrown off balance by the immensity of the distance to the other side, doubting one’s capacity to navigate across. But we will not be daunted by the obstacles and difficulties that stand between us and the far side if we simply focus on each stepping stone, each present moment, one at a time. All we need do is to look only at the very next rock, and take the next small step.
If one does not gain his object in spite of effort, or succeeds to a very small extent only, and yet remains calm and collected and does not feel troubled in his mind, he is said to have contentment.… Contentment is had from Nam.… On getting contentment mind gets all and asks for no other boon. All desires vanish on getting wealth of contentment. Owing to his being desireless, worry disappears and mind becomes restful. Those who desire nothing are real kings.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol.III