A wise man shared a story with me tonight, which I would like to share with you.
A senior monk went visiting a man at his home, bringing with him a young monk fresh from school. Upon arriving at the man’s home, the senior monk sat down and waited patiently for the man of the house to appear. While he was waiting, he saw a big fish tank at the far end of the room and thought to himself how nice that was.
The young monk rushed over to the fish tank and wailed, “Oh poor creatures, how can people do this to Buddha’s fish!”
The senior monk ignored his comment. The young monk could not contain himself any longer and approached the senior monk for his view on the matter.
“I think we should advise the man to release these poor creatures back into the sea,” said the young monk. There was still no response from the senior monk, who again ignored the comment.
And so they waited for the man of the house to appear. After some time, the junior monk impatiently got up and strode back over to the fish tank muttering about how cruel the owner of the house was to keep such lovely fish cooped up all day long in a fish tank.
Eventually after much tutting from the junior monk, the senior monk said to the junior monk, “Why do you scold the house owner in such a way? The fish in that tank are the lucky ones in life, Lord Buddha has provided for them. They are fed everyday with food that is specially prepared for them, providing nourishment of all the proteins they require without having to hunt for it. They swim in tepid waters that are controlled with a temperature apparatus to ensure their home is warm and does not bring them sickness. They are safe from predators to swim about unharmed. They can raise their families in a safe, warm and happy environment. What more could Lord Buddha have done than to have given guidance to the house owner through his teachings to care for his subjects?”
With that, the house owner appeared to which the junior monk said, “We have just been admiring your fish and remarked how lucky they are to have you to look after them like this.”
After hearing this story, I instantly felt gratitude for the love, warmth and safety my family provides me. Each day, I am thankful for what I have in my life, which blinds me to what I don’t have.
Of course when that brand new black DB9 Aston Martin flies past me as I walk to work each day, and a childhood dream of owning a James Bond car hits me like a tonne of bricks, the reality hits seconds later, “Do I really want to have a $250,000 debt for car that will be out of mode next year?”
So really (apart from occasionally wanting a DB9), what more could I really need and want from life? Like the fish in the tank, I have food in the cupboards; a house to keep me safe and warm; a family that loves & nurtures me – regardless of who I am; I have a tap that runs fresh water whenever I feel thirsty; I have fresh air to breathe and I have a husband who fills me with such self-confidence I hardly know who I am sometimes. I am one lucky fish!
For the past few years, I have been consciously applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I figured out many years ago that the less material possessions I have, the less I will desire. The scale of my ‘wants’ has decreased quite significantly to where it was at 10 years ago. I no longer have to convince myself that I don’t need it.
Through a lot of hard work and training of my conscious mind, my ‘wants’ switch turns itself off. Of course I still live life by going to garden shows, to the movies, to the gym, but my desire to continually look at what I don’t have and to look at what I think I want has gone. How can I cherish what I do have when I am using up too much energy focusing on what I don’t have and, most importantly, may never have?
Where are you channeling your energy? Have or not have?
Until tomorrow ~Live life, love life