IT’S THE STUFF INSIDE

A little girl walking down the street with her mother, stopped at a balloon vendor’s stand. He was selling helium-filled balloons.  The child was intrigued as she watched the balloon man occasionally let go of some strings releasing a few balloons  into the azure sky— blue balloons, red, green, white, black, and yellow balloons!

Marvelling that helium-filled black balloons floated as easily as red and green ones when  the vendor let go of their strings, the curious child said, “Excuse me sir, how come when you let go of the balloons—green balloons, white balloons, red balloons, even black balloons—they always float up into the sky?”

The man replied, “Love, it’s not the colour of the balloon that matters. It’s the stuff inside.”

Source: As told by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
no stranger to being discriminated against

CONSIDER THIS

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

LOOKING FOR THE MISSING RING

Mulla had lost his ring in the living room. He searched for it for a while, but since he could not find it, he went out into the yard and began to look there. His wife, who saw what he was doing, asked: “Mulla, you lost your ring in the room, why are you looking for it in the yard?”

Mulla stroked his beard and said: “The room is too dark and I can’t see very well. I came out to the courtyard to look for my ring because there is much more light out here.”

Source:  Classic Tales of Mulla Nasreddin
Retold by Houman Farzad
Translated from Persian by Diane L. Wilcox.
(Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, California, 1989) page 26

 

CONSIDER THIS

Like Mulla Nasreddin, many are constantly looking for the key to happiness, the key to bliss, the key to freedom, the key to inner peace and tranquility, the key to love, and the key to God in the wrong place: in the place where we think there’s most light!

What if the one and only right place to find the key to life is the deep, dark cave of our innermost being: our heart?

WHAT’S INSIDE IS WHAT COMES OUT

Teacher: “If I were to squeeze this lemon as hard as I could, what would come out?”

Student: “Juice, of course.”

Teacher: “Do you think orange juice could come out of it?”

Student: “Of course not. It’s a lemon!”

Teacher: “How about apple juice? Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”

Student: “Of course not. It’s a lemon!”

Teacher: “How about grapefruit juice? Do you think grapefruit juice could come out of it?”

Student: “Of course not. It’s a lemon!”

Teacher: “Tell me then, what would come out of it?”

Student: “Lemon juice, of course.”

Teacher: “Why? Why is it that when you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice comes out?”

Student: “Well, it’s a lemon and that’s what’s inside.”

Credit: Retold by Philip Chircop SJ
Inspired by a story told by Wayne Dyer

CONSIDER THIS

Imagine that the lemon is you. Imagine someone squeezing you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you?

If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing—your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.

ARE YOU SEARCHING IN THE WRONG PLACE?

A famous Sufi mystic, Rabiya, was searching for something on the street outside her small hut. The sun was setting and darkness was descending, as few people gathered around her. “What have you lost? What are you searching for?  Perhaps we can help,” they said to Rabiya.

Rabiya said, “I have lost my needle.”

One amongst the people said, “Well, the sun is setting now and it will be very difficult to find the needle.  Where has it fallen?  That’ll help us narrow down the area on this big road.  If we know the exact place, it will be easier to find it.”

Rabiya told them, “It is better not to ask me that question — because, actually, it has not fallen on the road at all.  It has fallen inside my house.”

Everyone started giggling as if she was joking.  Then a skeptic says out loud, “We always knew that you were a little insane!  If the needle has fallen inside the house, then why are you searching for it on the road?”

“For a very simple reason: inside the house there is no light and on the outside a little light is still there,” Rabiya replied.

The people laughed and started dispersing.  Rabiya called them back and said, “Listen! That’s exactly what you are doing: I was just following your example. You go on seeking bliss in the outside world without asking the most fundamental question: where exactly have I lost it?”

After a pause, she continues, “You have lost it inside, and yet you are looking for it on the outside for the very same reason — your senses are outward bound, your ears hear sounds on the outside, your hands touch things on the outside.  That’s the reason why you are searching outside. For a very long time, I was also just searching on the outside.  But the day I searched inwards, I was surprised.  That is where I lost it and that is the only place it can be found.”

Source | Osho, Joy: The Happiness that Comes from Within
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008) pages 10-11
CONSIDER THIS
Distracted by fleeting, external excitements we forget to tap into the fresh, secret waters deep within, where the Source of life and love and joy is waiting to be found.
Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. | Matthew 6:6 (nrsv)
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. | Matthew 6:6 (the message)

GOD’S WATER

Christian, a Catholic monk, had a very close Muslim friend, Mohammed. The two of them used to pray together, even as they remained aware of their differences, as Muslim and Christian.  Aware too that certain schools of thought, both Muslim and Christian, warn against this type of prayer, fearing that the various faiths are not praying to the same God, the two of them didn’t call their sessions together prayer. Rather they imagined themselves as “digging a well together”.

One day Christian asked Mohammed: “When we get to the bottom of our well, what will we find? Muslim water or Christian water?”

Mohammed, half-amused but still deadly serious, replied: “Come on now, we’ve spent all this time walking together, and you’re still asking me this question. You know well that at the bottom of that well, what we’ll find is God’s water.”

Source | Christian de Chergé, L’invincible espérance
(Bayard 2010) 183-184

Quoted in Christian Salenson, Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope
(Cistercian Publications, 2012)) pages 49-50

CONSIDER THIS

God is always bigger than our wildest imaginings. God is beyond any definition and the moment we define God we shrink God. It has been said that God is the being whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

MOVED BY THE MELODIES OF CREATION

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov  (1698-1760 and founder of the Chassidic movement) was asked: “Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behaviour of a healthy, sane individual?”

The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story:

Once, a musician came to town–a musician of great but unknown talent. He stood on a street corner and began to play. Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away, and soon a large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music whose equal they had never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm, and the entire street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.

A deaf man walking by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in circles in middle of the street?

“Chassidim,” concluded the Baal Shem Tov, “are moved by the melody that issues forth from every creature in God’s creation. If this makes them appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they therefore cease to dance?”

Source | http://www.chabad.org

CONSIDER THIS

They dance because they have tapped – in the words of George Fowler –  the “unmined gold” that is inside.

CAN YOU SPARE SOME CHANGE?

A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap.

“I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?”

“Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.”

Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger.

“No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.”

“Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger.

The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

Source | Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
(New World Library, 2004) page 11

PONDER AND CONSIDER

“Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.” | Proverbs 5:15

The kingdom of God is inside you.” | Luke 17:21

Daily tap into the secret waters within. That’s where the treasure is. Many are still looking outside for scraps of pleasure, for happiness, validation, security, or love. Look inside. Take the plunge into the core of your being, and there, waiting for you, you will discover the radiant joy of being, radical peace and contentment.

As someone wisely said, “Never place the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”