Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Secret to Happiness and Creativity

A Monkey and Seal Parable:

A young man had heard that there was endless treasure at the peak of the highest mountain in the land. “I’ll make it up there, even if it kills me!” he proclaimed his goal. He started at the base and looked up: it was a long way but he was ambitious and spirited. He began to climb. It took many years just to make it to the first level of mountains. He met many travelers and climbers much like himself. Some lay exhausted and defeated on the roadside, while still gazing longingly at the peak. Another decade had passed as he climbed a few more levels. He passed by streams, local huts, and wildlife. Some of the locals asked him to come in and eat the village’s feast.

“Thanks, but no thanks, I’ve got a mountain to climb” he waved at them while he continued towards the top.

As he got older, he was out of breath and his knees hurt. He could barely drag one foot in front of the other. He was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted and suffering throughout. “But once I get there . . ., he thought, “then I can relax, then I can celebrate.” Near the top of the peak, the very rare and few who reached the top were starting to make their way down. As they passed the young man, he saw that some returnees seemed very excited and content and others seemed very disappointed. He became very uncertain, so he scrambled to the top as fast as he could.

At the top of the peak sat an old monk. “Where’s the treasure?!!” the young man demanded. The monk gestured for the young man to look down. From the top of the mountain, the young man could see a vast land, the lookout point presided over everything he had climbed through. “This is bullshit!” he said, “Where’s the treasure?! I know I saw some people leaving here happy and laughing. Where is it?”

“What do you see?” the monk asked as he pointed towards the long winding road from which the traveler had come from.

“Nothing! Just dirt. And rubble. And shit. And sweat.”

“And so it shall be,” the monk declared, “a journey that starts with unhappiness will end with unhappiness – and no amount of treasure, fame or power in the world can ever change that.”

The young man sat down.

“Did you smell the colorful rare flowers by the stream? Did you taste the best cheese and wine at the villager’s feast? Did you see the exotic birds on the jujube trees?” the monk asked, “Did you greet the rising of the sun? Did you sing and heard your own echo in the canyons? Did you grow the seed of wonderment, hope, and joy inside of your heart? There is treasure all around you. The treasure has always been a part of you to begin with. It is not on the highest mountain or in the deepest ocean. It is in you. A journey that starts in happiness will always end in happiness – and no amount of treasure, fame or power in the world can ever change that.”

“But I have lost so much, “ the young man cried, “ I wasted my life trying to climb this mountain and there is nothing left but me.”

“It is all you need. You are more than enough.” The monk held up an earthen jug of water to the young man. “What do you see now?”

The young man peered closer into the jug, on the surface of the water, he could clearly see his own reflection.

 “You are the treasure that you’ve been seeking.”