Consciously or subconsciously, man is constantly searching for happiness and freedom from sorrow. This is the driving force behind his each and every action. Unfortunately he often acts without proper discrimination and ends up causing himself more pain.
There is a message behind every painful experience. For example, say our hand gets burnt at the stove in the kitchen. The pain we feel has a great value. Without it, we would not even know our hand was being burnt. The pain causes us to remove our hand and thus protects us. Similarly, every sorrow and emotional pain we experience is a message that something in our life has to change.
Usually, we try to bring about changes externally. Through external changes, there may be temporary relief from sorrow, but if we want permanent freedom from sorrow, there has to be basic changes in our perception and attitude.
Once there was a devotee who would visit a mahatma and complain about his problems. One day, as the devotee was about to complain, the mahatma said, “Please bring a handful of salt and a glass of water.” When the devotee brought them, the mahatma said, “Pour half the salt in the water and mix it well. Drink that, and let me know how it tastes.”
The devotee followed the instructions and then said, “It is so salty that I cannot even keep the water in my mouth.”
The mahatma then took the devotee to a pristine lake. He told him, “Now mix the remaining salt in this lake and then drink a glass of its water.”
The devotee again followed the instructions and said, “It tastes good.”
The saint asked, “What? It doesn’t taste salty?”
The devotee said, “Not at all.”
Then the saint said, “See, salt is like sorrows in life. Pure water is like natural, immortal bliss. When a little sorrow gets mixed with water in a glass, it became undrinkable. Yet the same salt cannot affect the lake water. Today, your mind is small, like the glass. When you expand your mind like the lake and awaken the inner bliss, then no sorrow will affect you.”
Joy or happiness is our innate state, but when we give too much importance to things that create sorrow, our mind becomes focused on them. Then sorrow becomes unbearable. We may allow the birds of sorrow to fly over our head, but we should never allow them to build nests there. Instead of constantly thinking about your problems, engage in creative activities. Help others in whatever way you can. Then, your mind will expand. Emotional burdens will vanish and you will experience joy. The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader