Today, I sit before a blank screen wondering what to share with you. Again. Of course, this by no means is the first time that I am looking at a screen painted grey but my mind is particularly quiet today. I use OmmWriter for my distraction-free writing but it’s not distractions that’s the issue here. In fact, they often provide me with a much-needed break.
Truth be told, sometimes I feel like I’m working like a machine. It’s unceasing and unrelenting. Then again, that’s the wheel of samsara. So the challenge is not that I have nothing to say but it is if I’ve got anything new to say.
What do I tell you that you don’t already know? But we both know that a lack of “new” can’t be the excuse. After all, it’s not like you eat a new dish every night for dinner or that you never wear the same garment twice (hopefully, washed). We live among old emotions, things, and people. And yet, most of our challenges never seem to grow old, have you noticed? They remain as daunting and imposing as ever.
So, can we peel the old and unearth the new in us? Is there a way to change ourselves or others around us? The short answer is umm… yes. A more truthful reply would be: it depends. To know the long and real answer, continue reading. First up, a story by Idries Shah from Wisdom of the Idiots.
There was once a woman who had heard of the Fruit of Heaven. She coveted it. She asked a certain dervish, whom we shall call Sabar: ‘How can I find this fruit, so that I may attain to immediate knowledge?’
‘You would best be advised to study with me’, said the dervish. ‘But if you will not do so, you will have to travel resolutely and at times restlessly throughout the world.’
She left him and sought another, Arif the Wise One, and then found Hakim, the Sage, then Majzup the Mad, then Alim the Scientist, and many more……
She passed thirty years in her search. Finally she came to a garden. There stood the Tree of Heaven, and from its branches hung the bright Fruit of Heaven. Standing beside the Tree was Sabar, the First Dervish.
‘Why did you not tell me when we first met that you were the Custodian of the Fruit of Heaven?’ she asked him.
‘Because you would not then have believed me. Besides, the Tree produces fruit only once in thirty years and thirty days.’
So it is with change. You can’t force it. Sometimes to change yourself or the other person, you just have to wait for the time when the bearer of such change is ready. The willingness to change must be accompanied by readiness or it won’t last. Besides, all great things take time. The teacher or master can have all the knowledge to impart but if the student isn’t ready, nothing will get through.
Sometimes, we must trek the hills and vales of life on our own just to be sure that it’s not climbing Mount Everest that we seek but a simple cup of tea by a crackling bonfire with our loved ones. 1
An engineer was fixing a bell outside a house. Mulla Nasrudin came by, stopped and asked:
‘What is that thing?’
‘I’ve seen them before – they don’t work,’ said the Mulla.
‘What do you mean?’
‘The bell rings all right, but the fire burns just the same.’ ((The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin by Idries Shah.))
People and incidents in our lives can merely trigger the change. Thereafter, it is up to us to work on it. At any rate, change is an arduous, inward, and long journey.
As they say, when you realize the difference between the container and the content, you will have knowledge. 2
Sometimes, we spend our lifetime trying to change the container whereas what’s being poured out of the container is the content it carries, if you see what I mean. It’s the acid in the container that’s burning you. And other times, we keep replacing the content when, in fact, it’s the container that needs our attention. Paper bags can’t hold liquid for long just like a plastic bag can’t hold burning coal.
The wisdom to know whether it’s the container (us or the other person) or the content (ours or their beliefs) that need cleansing is revealed only in an epiphany sprinkled with grace and insight. It’s in that rare moment when the heart opens somewhere on your journey that this change makes its way into your soul.
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.
I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again. ~Eric Roth 3
And you know what, people don’t change other people. Things don’t change people. So what does? Time, my friend, time alone changes the order of things. Planets, species, cultures, countries, empires, you name it, the wheel of time changes everything. It floats on the breath of life, runs down the mountains of challenges, travels over the sands of memories, it goes through absolutely everything.
Never lose hope or give up on your dream, because when it comes to time, you just never know.
P.S. I’ve an important announcement to make. Just kidding… no announcements today for a change.
|↟1||I couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful poem by J.R.R Tolkien with you.
I sit beside the fire and think
In summers that have been
I sit beside the fire and think
For still there are so many things
I sit beside the fire and think
But all the while I sit and think
|↟2||This quote is attributed to Idries Shah and first appeared in The Book of the Book. Vedic scriptures state something similar. In fact, they call it developing a sense of discrimination (buddhi) where you first differentiate a container from its content. It’s referred to as drishta (seer) and drishya (sight).
As you progress on the spiritual path, you realize that it’s one, that both the seer and sight are one. Further is nirvikalpa (one without any other option) that not only the seer and sight are one, but everything is one. The same divine dwells in all. That, the container, content, consumer, and creator are one. They deemed it pratpara gyana, the highest wisdom.
|↟3||Eric Roth from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.|