I won’t deny that I’m searching for happiness. I look for it everyday, and I’m sure you do too. But sometimes it feels like I’m desperately chasing a water mirage in the desert, only to find it advancing ahead of me at the exact speed I pursue it. Pausing for a moment, I might realise I do have water in my drink bottle, but alas—it’s only a drop. I keep running. What I need is a full bottle of water. Or how about some rain?
Most don’t really consider the importance of rain, seeing it more as a nuisance that just gets you wet and cold. But rain nourishes the crops we eat, it replenishes and revitalises the entire earth, explains Sukadeva, a wise sage (person, not herb!). It’s the very thing we need to survive. Sukadeva explains that rain not only nourishes everything, but when all creatures of the land and water take advantage of newly fallen rain, they become attractive, pleasing to look at. Not only does this wise sage explain how we can gain insight from nature, but he also describes the lives of wise men and women from many cultures and locations throughout the universe, in an intriguing book collection called Srimad Bhagavatam, an ancient yoga classic. But I diverge; I’m talking about rain, not interesting accounts filled with wisdom and adventure.
Sukadeva compares rainclouds to merciful persons who simply, and happily, dedicate their lives for the pleasure of others. He explains how rainfall is so sufficient that it even falls on rocks and hills as well as oceans and seas where there isn’t even any need for water. We can compare this to a charitable person who shares his wealth with all, not discriminating whether the charity is needed or not. Sukadeva further illustrates how, after the dark clouds release their rain, they become white, shining brilliantly like the sun, beaming a smile in every direction.
Yet, if I start to beam like the sun, will that last? The track record for everything “going my way” hasn’t been good so far. In fact, I’ve begun noticing that, like the winter and summer seasons, objects I own, as well as jobs, friends or circumstances in my life are always changing. I would be foolish to think that acting like a cloud and putting others first would make me permanently happy, wouldn’t I? Surely it’s not that simple? Yet, just like I can’t control nature, I can’t control the inevitable ups and downs in my life. What I can control is how I react to them. I can choose to be tolerant, like a mountain that withstands any season, and not like a leaf that gets dragged around by the ever-changing winds.
Although nature is always in this constant flux, it has kindly presented two possible solutions in our ceaseless search for happiness. The first is to be compassionate to all. True compassion is not simply concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of another’s material situation. The yoga handbook to life, Bhagavad Gita, compares that type of compassion to rescuing only the clothing of a drowning person. What we should really be concerned for is people’s spiritual sufferings or misfortunes, because if you are inwardly suffering you automatically outwardly suffer.
To develop inward strength, you need tolerance. If you become affected by the natural ups and downs of life, your mind will never be peaceful. Knowing the nature of the mind and its relationship to the self can help us develop tolerance. Without understanding what the self needs, your mind will never be able to tolerate the body’s distresses and urges. When we are able to control the forces of the mind, we can then become steady and peaceful.
So I encourage you to be that mountain that stands tall and strong under all seasons. Why not explore the wisdom of an ancient time as described by Sukadeva in Srimad Bhagavatam or delve into the Bhagavad Gita’s tips on peaceful living? Once the mind is peaceful, we naturally find happiness.