Captured in Blessings
Here are two, heartrending situations. Once, a poor farmer was about to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. A mystic saw him and stopped him just in the nick of time. He asked the farmer why he would want to commit such an act, and the farmer replied that he was so poor that he felt he could not bear to continue living.
The second case is about a disciple who ran to his Master crying that he was in desperate need of help, or he would lose his sanity. He said that his whole family lived in a single room: wife, children and in-laws. Life felt congested. Their nerves were on edge; and they yelled and screamed at each other all the time. The room is not a home, the man cried – it is more like hell.
Both stories reveal circumstances which lead people to terrible extremes. We may feel that life is unbearable and even blame the Lord for our misery. Blinded by anger and emotion, we forget that we are connected to the Lord, because we have a soul, which is a particle of God and eternal, like him.
Blaming our karmas, the mind, the creation or even the Lord for our sufferings will not relieve our pain. The farmer who wanted to commit suicide because he was poor was saved by a mystic, who promised to help him. The story goes that the mystic told the farmer to wait, while he made an arrangement to get him as much money as he wanted. Soon, some disciples of the mystic arrived. One of the disciples had only one eye. The mystic asked him how much money he would pay to get one eye from the farmer. The disciple replied he would pay 500,000 rupees. The mystic asked another disciple with a bad arm how much he would pay to the farmer to replace his bad arm for the farmer’s good one. The disciple replied that he would pay 200,000 rupees for the farmer’s good arm. The mystic asked the farmer if 700,000 rupees would be sufficient, or if more body parts should be sold. Appalled, the farmer replied that he was not ready to sell any of his body parts for any price. The mystic then asked the farmer how he could possibly be poor if each of his body parts had such a high value. Realizing his mistake, the farmer fell at the feet of the mystic and thanked the Lord for the gift of a whole and healthy body.
In the second case of the disciple who was terribly disturbed about his whole family living in a single room, his Master had another solution for him. “Do you promise to do whatever I tell you?” the Master asked him. The man said, “I swear I shall do anything.” “Very well. How many animals do you have?” The man replied, “A cow, a goat and six chickens.” So the Master advised him to take all the animals into the room with him and then come back after one week. This disciple was horrified but promised to obey. So he took the animals in and a week later he came back, a pitiable figure, moaning, “I’m a nervous wreck. The dirt! The stench! The noise! We’re all on the verge of madness!” This time the Master said, “Ok, go back and put the animals out.” The man ran all the way home and came back the following day, his eyes sparkling with joy, saying, “How sweet life is! The animals are out, the home is a paradise – so quiet, clean, roomy and spacious!”
Both stories illustrate that even in life’s worse-case scenarios, we are surrounded by blessings in ways we do not realize. The farmer may have been poor, yet he was blessed with a healthy body. Through the mystic, he learned to appreciate that he would not trade a single eye or arm to eradicate his poverty. He would rather live life with his body intact. The second man learned that happiness is relative; the same space can be hell or paradise depending on how we adapt to our circumstances.
Happiness and suffering result from our involvement with the creation and its elements, like the mind and the body. However, in the Jap Ji Sahib Guru Nanak explains that the basis of all human existence is the soul and not the body. The Supreme Lord has sent souls to the world to merge back into the Supreme Lord.
The Lord has showered his grace upon all of us in more ways than we can absorb. Were it not for His grace, we would never even think of our separation from him, nor would we desire to return home. But for his grace, we would neither meet the Master nor follow the path. The Lord creates the desire within us to meet him and pulls us from within. With his grace, we develop faith in the Master. With his grace, we put forth the effort to practise meditation with love and devotion. And with his grace we reach back to his level and merge with him.
We need to recognize the blessings he surrounds us with. The Jap Ji Sahib explains that we should ask only that he allows us to submit to his divine will. Then the love of the Lord will capture our mind, and we will become conscious of the grace he constantly showers upon us – that we are indeed captured in blessings.