September 2012

Contentment in anything that reaches him accidentally, unasked and unexpected should be the motto of all serious seekers of inward growth. – Chinmaya

The word ‘contentment’ has been misunderstood and misused quite often.

The lazy reinterpret their sluggishness as ‘contentment’… the weak one’s ‘contentment’ comes out of helplessness… the poor appear ‘content’ as they can’t afford the luxuries of the rich… for the coward ‘contentment’ is an excellent means to escape challenges… the old man’s ‘contentment’ is born out of the incapable worn-out body…!

All speak of contentment but none are content!

Men of Self-knowledge alone can be truly contented. Rest all pose as content, hiding their inner hollowness. A little temptation, and lo! – The truth is out.

The growth ‘within’ expresses as contentment without, says the above quote.

In fact all noble virtues like love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, humility, peace, contentment etc. are byproducts, born out of the right understanding of ourselves.

Once the President of India, Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan had gone to London to participate in World Peace Meeting. There, a British Minister asked him, “Why is it that India has not developed like the Western countries in the world?”

 Dr Radhakrishnan replied, “It is true that people in the Western countries have learnt to swim like fish and fly like birds. They are dreaming of settling down on other planets of the universe, and they have been successful to quite an extent in their endeavour. But what they have not been able to learn is how to live in peace and harmony on this planet of human beings. Whereas India, which has given the message of peace and harmony to the entire world since time immemorial, is still capable of inspiring the whole world to be loving, kind-hearted and humane.”

Being rich doesn’t mean having greater possessions, but in having fewer wants.

As rightly said, “Contentment is a pearl of great value. Whoever procures it at the expense of thousands of desires makes a wise and happy purchase!”

Being at ease with oneself and with everything that happens around in life is the sign of the content.

The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates once arrived in a city. There he met an old wise man. Both talked to each other for some time and became friendly. Socrates took a lot of interest in his personal life and discussed things openly with him.

Socrates expressed satisfaction and said, “You have had a grand past life. But how is your present life?”

The old man smiled and said, “I am free from all worries after having handed over all the responsibilities of the family to my capable sons. I do whatever they ask me to do, I eat whatever they give me to eat and pass my time happily playing around with my grand-sons and grand-daughters. I don’t say anything even if my children make some mistake. I never cause any kind of hindrance in their way.

“Still if they come to me for a piece of elderly advice, I give an account of my life long experience, alert them against the bad consequences of any mistake committed by them. Whether they follow my advice or do not, or to what extent they adhere to my advice, is not my headache. I do not insist that they follow my instructions. I am not bothered if they make a mistake even after my experiential advice, and if they come to me again for a piece of advice, my doors are always open.”

Socrates became very happy to hear that wise old man speak thus. He said, “You have understood well as to how to live successfully and happily at your age in a world where everyone is chasing happiness not knowing that happiness is right at our heels!”

Discontentment expresses itself as ‘I want’. Every ‘want’ is backed by the imperfect, egoistic ‘I’. In fact, every ‘want’ originates from this false ‘I’. Hence the only way to get rid of all ‘wants’ is to get rid of this illusory ‘I’.

Q: Now, why do we call ‘I’ as false, illusory etc.?

A: It is because the ‘I’ that we know now is only a wrong notion in the mind, born out of the identification with the body-mind complex. (Proof? When the mind is gone, the ‘I’ is also gone, as in deep sleep.) Due to this identification, all the imperfections of the body-mind appear to be present in the real ‘I’, the Self.

Q: What is the nature of the real ‘I’?

A: The Self is infinite and complete, ever perfect, ever secure. There is nothing lacking in it. It is of the nature of pure Consciousness or Awareness which can ever be experienced as the witness of everything that is happening within and without, as the very Knowing Principle in me. It is the real ‘me’, free from all limitations. Not knowing myself is called Self-ignorance – the cause of all discontentment.

Q: How to get rid of this false ‘I’?

A: Through enquiry. Pay attention to this Awareness, instead of getting caught up in what happens in Awareness. The illusory drama of life and death, which are nothing but thought modifications, goes on only because the substratum, i.e. the Awareness, has been ignored.

The one who has known this Awareness as one’s own true Self remains in a state of Being, free from all wrong notions about oneself, perfectly contented – like a turtle, at ease within one’s own shell!

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