The other day I chanced upon a beautiful poem by Corey Mohler illustrated on his website (here). Although it was titled Two Brothers, it could have been easily called The Truth of Human Existence. I found the poem so profound that for a moment, I even contemplated on just sharing it as my post today sans all the commentary or my own thoughts. Without further ado, here it is:
Two sons were born beneath the old tree.
They grew together, both loved and free.
They traveled the fields, they roamed the hill.
They crossed the river, explored the mill.
They fought with dragons and giants tall.
Mighty warriors—they conquered all.
At each day’s end, they slept safe at night.
A loving father tucked them in at night.
The father aged and then he died.
The eldest wept and the youngest cried.
The farm, of course, would be run alone.
So the youngest left, to find his own.
They looked into each other’s eyes.
Beneath the old tree, they said goodbyes.
The eldest tilled fields, beneath the sun.
With his sweat and work, the farm was run.
A wife soon came to his warm, safe home.
He was always loved, but would not roam.
Each day, he dreamt of his brother free.
Always regretting that it was not he.
Years flew by, at last they met again.
Beneath the old tree stood two old men.
He told his brother of farming life:
No adventures — only work and strife.
Oh, how he dreamt of the open road
And how he felt trapped in his abode.
The brother told of the life he led,
Of the long and weary road, he said:
Many lonely nights in driving rain,
It was a single thought that kept me sane.
That my brother was home, safe and warm.
A loving home, far from rain and storm.
Hard work I could stand, but this I swear:
The days alone were too much to bear.
His heart grew sad as he bowed his head,
And to his brother, the elder said:
What a tragic tale then, for us two:
That you had not my place, and I you.
His brother sighed, then smiled wide,
Thought for a moment, before he replied:
You’ve missed the point of this little tale.
For I’ll tell you, brother, without fail:
Whoever would roam, whoever would stay,
We both would regret it, either way.
(Do visit Corey Mohler’s Existential Comics if you wish to see the poem depicted as beautifully as its words are.)
Past the fake, or illusory, Facebook smiles most people live through a silent despair life brings with dawn every day. As if each one of us is carrying a weight inside us. It’s not always the weight of emotions. Sometimes, you are not angry, jealous, envious or discontent and yet you are not happy either. You don’t feel okay, fulfilled or complete.
Some days you may feel that life is perfect but it’s not a long lasting feeling. Almost everyone I know longs for a somewhat different life. Something different ought to happen, we feel. This fond longing quickly turns into a kind of melancholy. Consequently, feeling that our present life is inadequate and incomplete, we increasingly harbor regrets and grudges and go on to make dumb choices hoping it would erase the sadness within. All of this springs from just one perspective, one emotion: discontentment.
Arjuna once asked Krishna, “Who is a true yogi, Lord?”
“The one who finds contentment in the present moment and knows the way of moderation is the greatest yogi.”
Krishna did not call a meditator a true yogi, he did not call his devotee a yogi. He did not say that those who follow a certain belief system or practice rituals are yogis. Instead, he just simplified it. If you are content and tranquil, you are a yogi.
It is so easy to be obsessed about a pursuit. With a self-centered attitude, our obsessions lead to a sort of blindness. You fail to see the good around you. And this in turn creates frustration which ultimately brews anger. Clearly, you can’t be at peace or think clearly when angry. In such a state, it’s impossible to shed our maniac tendencies or find contentment in the present moment.
Gau dhan gaj dhan vaaji dhan aur ratan dhan khan, Jab aave santosh dhan, sab dhan dhoori saman. (Saint Kabir) IAST: godhana gajadhana vajidhana, aura ratanadhana khāna, jaba āvai saṃtoṣadhana, saba dhana dhūrī samāna. Your possession of cows, elephants, steeds, even a whole mine of precious stones is worthless compared to the wealth of contentment.
In my view, on the journey of life, contentment is the greatest blessing. By using the word blessing, however, I’m not suggesting that some of us are born with it and some others aren’t. Or that it is bestowed upon us by some external force. By blessing, I simply mean it’s the most divine emotion you can have. When you are truly content, you are compassionate and giving naturally. You spread happiness, goodness and kindness.
Like other emotions, contentment has to be cultivated in our consciousness. Anytime you step out, you will find people with better homes, cars, bodies, talents and wealth. They are all around you. When you see them, you may feel jealous, envious or inspired. Either way, it makes your present look lackluster. I’m not saying that anyone should sit idle and twiddle their thumbs. Each one of us is free to chase whatever matters to us. Having said that, every pursuit has a cost.
Contentment sprouts from mindful living, a sense that I don’t have to do something just because others are doing it. If you are not able to live in the present moment and find beauty in it, future is not going to be any better. For future is nothing more than present moments unfolding. My past in the afternoon was my future in the morning.
Life is like a river, ever changing, ever flowing. You can step into it again and again, thinking you are bathing in the same river. It is anything but true. The water that was there earlier is no longer there. Every time you take a dip, it is in new water. No two moments are alike. It is ignorant to cling to your past or a future. Life runs its own course. The river may be muddy in monsoons or cold in winter. It may be pleasantly warm on some days and crystal clear on other. At any rate, as long as the source does not dry up, it will continue flowing. Much like life.
Since we are already on the journey of life, we may as well walk with grace, with contentment. Whoever would roam, whoever would stay…
Flow if you want to merge in the ocean.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Let us look at few topics that commonly fight for attention in our everyday lives with contentment. Contentment vs …
Contentment vs happiness
In all human endeavors, in everything that we do, often our real goal is to eventually experience happiness. Which, at times, we mistake for fireworks and spurts of energy in the form of pleasures.
The secret of happiness is that there is no secret. It’s all out in the open. You think, speak and act in a manner that fosters happiness and you’ll be increasingly happy.
So, while there’s no secret of happiness, there are some guidelines. Here’s my two cents’ worth; five principles of happiness:
The Fifth Principle. Read more on each principles here.
Contentment vs complacency/purpose of life
So, are you going to keep living like you’ve always lived or are you going to find your mojo by devoting ten years to learning something you’d always wanted to.
Scientists and researchers, in scores of studies, have long proven beyond any doubt that practice alone makes champions in any field. Whether it’s music, chess, meditation, writing, painting, programming, anything, if you put in an effort of 10,000 hours, you will become an expert in that field. Or, in other words, if you invest three hours on a daily basis for ten years, you will reach the pinnacle of that skill.
The clock is ticking and probably twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more years of your life have already gone. Maybe you are satisfied with how life’s turned out or maybe you wanted to do or be something else. Well, it’s never too late to start. Let me ask you the most important question I alluded to earlier in the post. On what will you devote the next ten years of your life? Where are you going to invest the next 10,000 hours? Read more here.
Contentment vs contentedness
What if I told you that there is indeed a way to bring meaning and joy to life? Yes. It is called Ikigai.
Ikigai is the “Japanese secret for a long and happy life”. The word roughly translates to “the reason to jump out of bed each morning”, and a thing you could do for the rest of your life every day. Or like the French say: raison d’etre.
On a video call from Spain, Miralles offers tips on how to find one’s Ikigai, on living every moment, and the path you might want to chart for a happy life. To listen to the interview. Watch here.
Contentment vs ambition
What is the sum total of human life? Are we to keep working towards eternally elusive and expanding goals? I say this rhetorically. At the same time, however, I do believe that in our continuous effort to be more productive and ever progressive, we tend to lose sight of the beautiful side of life — its simplicity.
And, simplicity requires great mindfulness and determination because it’s so easy to keep adding clutter in our world of gadgets and devices. It takes no effort to complicate our lives in this uber-connected world. Each one of us, an Alexander of our own world, seems to have embarked on an endless spree of material acquisitions. By no means I’m saying that you strip yourself off your wealth or that you don’t aim for material growth. Read more here.
Contentment vs satisfaction
More and more of us are becoming increasingly impatient, distracted, depressed, unhappy, and dissatisfied with where who and what we are. We are doing everything we possibly can to be happy, to be at peace, yet happiness and peace look like the ever-elusive summer clouds.
Why are we unhappy? And, how do I stop being unhappy? Read more here for the answers.
Contentment vs laziness/boredom
Personally, I believe there is nothing wrong with feeling bored. If this feeling was so baneful, we would still be living in the stone age. Somewhere in our evolution and growth, boredom played a significant role. Some of the greatest inventions did not just take place out of necessity, but out of boredom, simply because someone was bored and wanted something new. Read more here.
Contentment vs emotions
When a positive emotion is triggered, you feel happy, good, important, motivated, and strong. You feel like you can take on the whole world. You are the same you, but something within you changes when you experience a positive emotion.
The four negative ones are the exact opposite of the above. They make you feel low, pensive, crippled, and weak. They are triggered when you feel perturbed by displeasure, criticism, loss, and dreadful words.
All emotions are temporary, though. It is when you do not know how to come out of an emotional state that such emotions take the form of fears, addictions, obsessions, and diseases, both physical and mental. And emotions are subjective. Read more here.