A man went to a saint and said, ‘I have been endowed with everything that a man can yearn for – abundant wealth, a good family, a coveted position in society, name and fame. However, I still feel a vacuum, a deficiency – a feeling of something missing, an emptiness. I have not been able to understand this and I do not know what to do about it. Please tell me what I need to do’.
The saint took a good, long look at the man, took a deep breath and stated, ‘From your statement, it is clear that you had presumed that your ultimate goal would be achieved after you had got name, fame, wealth and family, etc.; and that, thereafter, you shall not require anything. However, you are now accepting that you still feel incomplete and unfulfilled. But the fact is that you were complete even before you acquired all these things and you are complete even now’.
The world is full of living beings that live in this state of want – a feeling of lacking something. These beings do not live in their true state and are always in search of that something that is missing. In that search, they do not focus on what they possess, their unbound richness, but instead, revel in what is missing.
There are two types of suffering – one that is the creation of circumstances outside of you and the other that is created or caused by your own mind. The surprising thing is that only 10% of the suffering is from the first cause while the balance 90% of suffering comes from your own mind. This is the truth, shocking though it is!
There could be two approaches to address the 10% suffering – either eliminate the source of that suffering or move away from that source of suffering.
To illustrate, say the lack of an air conditioner is the cause of your suffering. Here, you can either get an air conditioner so that the lack is eliminated, or you can move away from that need.
However, for the 90% suffering which is mind-triggered, the aforesaid approaches do not work. But our scriptures have made this difficult job easier if only we follow them.
The lack of compassion (karuna) towards all living beings is the first of these. Absence of compassion is manifested in anger. When you react in anger, you can safely presume the lack of compassion.
The lack of communication (samvaad) with people around you is the next cause, bringing in suffering through the mind. All non-harmonious and difficult relationships reflect the lack of communication.
The lack of a sense of co-existence (sahjeewan) is the third cause. The attitude of ‘my way or the highway’ or ‘I, me, myself’ is the cause of a significant part of our suffering.
The lack of a feeling of gratitude (kritagyata) is the fourth cause. Try being thankful for everything happening in your life and you will witness a transformation.
The fifth is the lack of restraint (sanyam). We witness this lack day in and day out. Howev