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?

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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)

TWISTING THE SIGNPOST

Once upon a time there was an old man on the brink of death. As he lay in bed, it was clear to a friend sitting nearby that something was troubling him. Finally, the old man broke the silence. “When I was a boy,” he said, “I used to play in a field near the intersection. There, at the intersection stood an old signpost. One day I twisted it so that its arrows directed travelers down the wrong road. As I lie here now, I wonder how many people I misdirected by that action – and by other wrong actions in my life.”

Source | Originally heard during a conference.  Here I retell it as I remember it.

CONSIDER THIS

What actions in our lives are, perhaps, a source of misdirection to others?

 

THE PRODIGAL FATHER

Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Source | Eugene Peterson, The Message, Luke 15: 11-32

PONDER AND CONSIDER

In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller uses this parable to describe two different types of people with two different ways of engaging the world, each represented by the two brothers.  One type needs to experience the world, make mistakes, and seek forgiveness.  The other needs to stay behind, work hard, only to be disappointed when God treats both kinds equally.

  • Where do you see yourself in the story? Are you the younger brother? The older brother? The welcoming father? How do you feel as you enter the story and watch it unfold?
  • In both cases – the younger brother away with the pigs, or the older brother much closer but still outside the Father’s house – what is it going to take to wake up and come to your senses?