The Lord said to his devotee, “I am weary of your never ending petitions. I shall grant you three requests. Make sure you chose them carefully because, having granted them, I shall grant you nothing more.”
The elated devotee did not hesitate: “Here is my first request,” he said, “I want my wife to die so I can marry a younger and better women.” His wish was immediately granted.
But when friends and relatives gathered for the funeral and began to recall the virtues of his wife, the devotee saw he had been hasty. So he asked the Lord to bring her back to life.
That left him with just one petition. He was determined not to make a mistake this time, for there would be no chance to change it. He consulted widely. Some advised him to ask for immortality. But what good was immortality, said others, if he did not have good health; and health if he had no money; and money if he had no friends?
Years passed and he had still not made his choice: life or health or wealth or power or love. Finally he said to the Lord, “Tell me what to ask for.”
The Lord laughed when he saw the man’s predicament and said, “Ask to be content no matter what you get in life.”
If one is asked to define contentment, how would one do the same? A very simple and easy to understand, definition of contentment, is:
“At the present moment:
* Wherever we are is wherever we are meant to be,
* Whatever we are doing is whatever we are meant to be doing and
* Whatever others are doing is what they are meant to be doing.
* Whatever we get in life is what we are meant to have.”
To experience constant contentment, we need to become aware of all the things that make us discontent (dissatisfied) and free ourselves from those things (ideas, opinions, objects, people, relationships,). We don’t have to reject them or distance ourselves from them, but a detachment from them or having dispassion for them at the level of the mind will bring back our inner freedom. Detachment or dispassion can come from rational analysis.
How to go about this analysis? We are affected by only those things and beings to which we have given some value. Those things and beings to which we have given zero value do not affect us. We give value to only those things and beings which appear to give us some kind of joy, pleasure, happiness or benefit and we have desire for these. Arising of the desire itself is the cause of misery.
If we further analyse we will come to this conclusion that there is no inherent joy, pleasure or happiness in any of the things and beings of this world. If it were so, then a particular object should be able to give the same quantum of happiness to all, at all times and in all places, situations and circumstances. But it is not so. The quantum of happiness varies from person to person and at different times, places and in different situations and circumstances. Moreover, an object which is a source of joy for one may be a source of sorrow for another and yet a source of neither joy or sorrow for another and boredom for yet another.
Analyzing thus, we come to the conclusion that there is no inherent happiness or misery in any things or beings of this world. Happiness and misery is the projection of the individual mind on the things and beings of this world according to his or her likes and dislikes due to inherited tendencies. Thus we get attached to those things and beings, which we imagine that they appear to give us happiness. Attachment is the biggest cause of miseries.
It may appear that the objects do seem to give some kind of pleasure or joy while experiencing it. If it is not inherent in them where does it come from? It comes from within. When a desire arises we become miserable and when it is fulfilled we are happy. When a desire is fulfilled our mind becomes temporarily free of desire. This desire-less state of mind is the cause of happiness, which is projected on the object that is experienced. The desire-less state of mind gives a glimpse of the infinite blissful nature of our own Self.
Dispassion for the world of things and beings also comes from the understanding that nothing is permanent in this world. Everything is temporary and constantly subject to modification. All the experiences are temporary. The so called pleasure, joy or happiness is also momentary, fleeting and ephemeral. Moreover in every pleasure, joy or happiness there is inherent pain, sorrow or misery.
Detachment is then accompanied by the experience of a deep, inner awareness of satisfaction and stillness, because we stop being dependent on anything or anyone outside ourselves for happiness. Any kind of dependency is a cause for bondage and any kind of bondage is a cause for misery. Our essential nature is of infinite bliss. Therefore we need to discover it within.
It is highly unlikely that we will arrive at this deep state of fulfillment very soon — though we may touch it and experience it sometimes.
It is only by understanding and accepting completely that everything is the way it is meant to be at every moment, both outside and inside our mind, that we move closer to being content and then go on to discover our Blissful Self.
“Contentment makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.”