Butter, Rope, $20, and Happiness
The question is not: “Is what’s happening in the world today caused by karma?”
The question is: “What is not caused by karma?”
Satsangis often like to discuss karma, blaming karma for various events and occurrences. But do we really understand karma? No, we do not. Consider for a minute that this entire world (and beyond) is nothing but a massive, interconnected sphere of karma, choreographed into a perfectly integrated dance of events. The subtlety and enormity to carry this out in one continuous, fluid motion is beyond our comprehension. Every action brings forth a multitude of reactions that ripple out across people, places, and things like a stone thrown into a still pond. Is it important that we gain a better understanding of this all-pervasive and encompassing law of action and reaction? No, it’s not. Our simple understanding of the law of karma is sufficient to guide us through life. There is no need to get complicated. The following story illustrates all we need to understand.
A Pound of Butter
There was a farmer who sold a pound of butter to a baker. One day the baker decided to weigh the butter to see if he was getting the correct amount, and he discovered that he wasn’t. Angry about this, he took the farmer to court. The judge asked the farmer if he was using any measure to weight the butter. The farmer replied, “Your honour, I am a simple farmer. I don’t have a proper measure, but I do have a scale to weigh the butter.” The judge asked, “Then how do you weigh the butter?” The farmer replied;
“Your honour, long before the baker started buying butter from me, I had been buying every day a one-pound loaf of bread from him. Now, every day when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him the same weight in butter. So you see, if anyone is to be blamed, it is the baker.”
The Moral of the Story: In life, you get what you give.
The popular expression used today is, “What goes around comes around.” So, what more do we really need to understand? Our actions cause reactions. “As you sow, so shall you reap,” as the Bible says. The accumulation of all our past actions form the events of our lives today. To avoid adding to our karma we only need to follow the four vows, thoughtfully provided by our master, and one simple rule: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Bible, Matthew 22:39)
It also helps if we can remember that in life, we get what we give. So let’s give out love and forgiveness with both hands.
Hazur Maharaj Ji has explained that when you keep the company of the mystics, the teachings become so simple to understand. You think: Why do I remain in delusion at all? Why didn’t I realize the simple truth before?
But to follow the path is not so simple. To follow a simple thing is very difficult. To live a simple life is very difficult; to live a complicated life is perhaps very easy. To accept simplicity in a simple way is very difficult for us – we always like to be told the truth in an intellectual way. If you tell an intellectual person something in a complicated way, then he tries to think about it; but if you tell him a simple truth in a simple way, he doesn’t accept it at all, doesn’t understand it at all.
The teachings become very simple to us when we go to the company of the mystics and saints. The Lord has brought us into their company because he wants us to understand the teachings. He is the doer, and he wants us to follow them, so the teachings become simple for us.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #152
Ties That Bind
It seems for most people, life doesn’t always go the way we plan. From a very early age we experience our share of disappointments and failures. Things we pinned our hopes on just didn’t work out. Life has its ups and downs, wins and losses, yet we are expected to carry on and keep trying. However, sometimes these disappointments make a strong impression on our mind, consciously or subconsciously. These impressions can stop us from attempting something new without our even realizing it. Even when it comes to the path, sometimes our past efforts for improvement didn’t yield results, and these failures can influence our making renewed efforts. The master has said many times that we all have the ability to succeed on this path or else he would not have initiated us. While we can face up and recognize our conscious hesitations to take a positive step forward, what about our subconscious fears of failure that stop us from even trying? Perhaps we can learn a lesson from the following story.
The Elephant Rope
A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp when he noticed that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages, and all that was holding them back from escaping the camp was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.
As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why these enormous elephants didn’t simply use their strength to break the rope and escape from the camp? They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try at all. Curious, he asked a trainer standing nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape?
The trainer replied: “When they were very young and much smaller we used the same size rope to tie them. At that age the rope was strong enough to hold them. As they grew up, they become conditioned to believe they cannot break away, that the rope can still hold them, so they never even try to break free.”
The Moral of the Story: Never let a failure from the past hold you back in the future.
The only reason that the elephants didn’t break free was that, over time, they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible. No matter how much the world tries to hold you back, or does not reward your efforts, always continue to believe that what you want to achieve is possible. Believing you can become successful is the most important step in actually achieving success. The master never loses faith in us. He only sees our potential. He ignores our failures and rewards our efforts. And with effort he himself steps in and helps. See what Soami Ji says about how the master helps the disciple:
I carry your burdens in my own heart
so that you may be free of worries…
I shall myself help you put in the effort,
I shall myself take you to your ultimate home.
Listen to what Radha Soami has to say:
All will be worked out…
Sar Bachan Poetry, Bachan 33, Shabd 16; p.331
It is clear that our success is guaranteed!
What Are You Worth?
If someone asked you to put a value on yourself, would you put a high or low value? What criteria would you use to assess your value? Consider this: If you went out walking in nature and saw a rough, dirty stone, would you bother to pick it up? But what if you were a jeweller accustomed to working with diamonds in the rough? You would recognize immediately what type of stone it was and could see past the rough exterior into the core of the diamond. The difference here is that we have not developed the insight to see past the externals, but the jeweller has. The master is the jeweller who looks past our rough exterior and sees only our potential, our true value. In the eyes of the master-jeweller our value never diminishes. The next story explains in a very clear and simple way how we should always value ourselves.
You Still Have Value
A popular speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. A crowd of 200 had gathered to hear him speak. He asked, ‘Who would like this $20 bill?’ 200 hands went up.
He said, ‘I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.’ He crumpled up the bill.
He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’ All 200 hands were still raised.
‘Well,’ he replied, ‘What if I do this?’ Then he dropped the crumpled bill on the ground and stomped on it with his shoes. He picked it up and showed it to the crowd. The bill was now crumpled and dirty.
‘Now who wants it, he asked?’ All the hands still went up.
My friends, I have just shown you a very important lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives, life crumples us and grinds us into the dirt. We make bad decisions or deal with poor circumstances. We feel worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!
The Moral of the story: Our worth never diminishes, no matter how rough and unpolished we are.
Our soul, the shabd within, is our true nature, our sparkling diamond of great value. Nothing we can do will ever change that. We can cover it with layers of ego, desires, less-than-exemplary behaviour, but such actions never change our core value. If the master values us, shouldn’t we value ourselves too?
Soami Ji says:
The Master and Shabd constantly look after your best interests – they are the protectors of your body and mind. Be grateful and keep them always in your heart, they will drive away all pain from your life.
Sar Bachan Poetry, Bachan 18, Shabd 8, p.185
Are You Happy?
How many of us can say we are truly happy? If you can, then God bless you because it is no small task. Too often we seek happiness in the things of the world: That new car in the colour I like will make me feel better; that trip to the beach will help my spirits; remodelling the kitchen will certainly improve my life. In themselves, there is nothing wrong with any of these things but we often fool ourselves into thinking that if we make enough such changes, our life will be better, we will be more happy. It is easier to change our car than to change our perspective. We all know true happiness comes only from within, but how many of us apply our efforts inwardly to achieve this? Here’s a simple story about looking in the wrong place to find something that exists elsewhere.
Stop Chasing Happiness
An old man lived in the village. The whole village was tired of him because he was always grumpy and gloomy. He constantly complained and was always in a bad mood. The longer he lived, he only became worse. People did their best to avoid him because his bad mood was contagious and often created a feeling of unhappiness in others.
But one day, when he turned eighty, an incredible thing happened. Instantly everyone started hearing the rumour: “The old man is happy today, he isn’t complaining about anything! He even smiles and his face is fresh and relaxed!”
The whole village gathered around the man and asked him, “What happened to you?”
The old man replied, “Nothing special. For eighty years I’ve been chasing happiness but it proved useless. Today I decided to forget about trying to find happiness and just start enjoying life. That’s why I’m happy now.”
The Moral of the Story: Happiness cannot be found outside through things or situations. Happiness comes only with acceptance and contentment.
How did Hazur Maharaj Ji define contentment?
To be happy to go through our destiny; not to have any desire, and not to pray to the Lord for anything in the world. We are happy with whatever he gives us; we are contented to go through our life. We just see the drama of our life as a spectator in this creation. So we are contented with whatever he gives us. In other words, we live in the will of the Father – that is also contentment.
Spiritual Perspectives III, #291
When you cannot change the events of life – you have to face them, you have to swim along with the waves – then why not accept them smilingly? Why howl and cry, why have a sorrowful face? There’s nothing much to weep about, because the events of our life are not going to change. If they are not going to change, then why worry? Take them as the will of the Lord.
Spiritual Perspectives III, #273