Thursday, 12 January 2012

Verse 44


Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Wealth or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfilment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on accumulating wealth,
you will never truly be happy.

What you gain is more trouble
than what you lose.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
If you know when to stop
and realise there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

The greatest secret in the world is simply this: happiness and fulfilment, that which every person spends their life striving for, can never be found outside of oneself.

The delusion that we need external success, renown, fame and wealth in order to be happy is a lie. In spite of our culture’s dubious fixation with celebrities and their extravagant lifestyles, we still haven’t figured that these people are usually just as dysfunctional and unhappy as the average person, and very often more so. Although it’s plain to see that fame and wealth do not bring happiness and joy (and often bring quite the opposite), many people are still focused on chasing these seductive phantasms.

Changing your perspective can change your experience of life in an instant. Why buy into the mass delusion that the more we gain the happier we’ll be? Lao Tzu suggests that the more we have, the more trouble we often experience. Stop for a minute to ponder the truth of this. I’m always interested by stories of lottery winners who suddenly amass millions of pounds, only to find their euphoria short-lived. In a lot of cases it actually ruins their lives and they end up far worse off than they were before.

The Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero once remarked that “to be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.”

Know when to stop, and see how life blossoms in the most wonderful and unexpected ways. Happiness is no longer some obscure object of pursuit, but our deepest, truest nature. Don’t continually agitate the mind with seeking and striving, just be still and content now...and notice what happens.

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