I posted this two years ago on my older blog, and for some reason it still gets a huge hit count. Thought I’d share it on this blog.
*********Be Happy With Your Underwear******************************
For my next series of blogs I’ll tell a story with a moral. People are naturally simple and can grasp great lessons out of simple stories, dramatic performances and folk song. Many indigenous cultures around the world still gather around and hear stories or sing songs that tell of how their ancestors overcame some tribulation or won some prize. As a child my mother would tell us many bedtime traditional stories, and for those who have spent some time with me at monasteries I’ve stayed at, you know that I may sometime retell a few of those stories.
Like the previous story about the mouse and the sage, we find another mouse and another sage, but this time, with a lesson of satisfaction with whatever little we may possess.
A very renounced sage lived in a cottage by the river with only a water pot and two Kaupins (monk loincloth) to his name. He’d wear one pair of underwear today and wash the previously used one and in this way, he had very little to worry about and enough time for deeper self realization. As time went by he began to notice that a mouse had been gnawing on his hanging kaupin and was creating tiny holes in it. To protect his underwear from further damage by the mouse he decided to get a cat. So a neighbor happily gave him a cat and the mouse was never seen again.
But the cat came with all its requirements- it needed milk.
So he got another gift, a cow, who needed to be milked and cared for.
“I need a wife to help me do all this”, he thought.
So came the wife, a beautiful lass from the village. The cow was daily cared for and milked, the cat was fed, the rat refused to come and bother the kaupin, which had been thrown away and a new wardrobe replaced it, just to please his wife.
Now the wife had her needs; a nice house, kids, and other things that would make them seem like a normal family and avoid bad talk from the neighbors.
As the struggle began to fulfil all these desires-desires of others, the sage began to reflect: ” I was happy in that hut until that mouse came along, and just to save my stupid underwear I now have everything else but the underwear”.
Again, there’s so much to be learned from this story, but for me the most important is to be satisfied with whatever little one may have. The bigger the need, the bigger the problem. In this realm of matter where we struggle to exist, there will always be some difficulty. Either your mind will give you trouble, other living entities like tiny mosquitoes or mice will give trouble, or mother nature herself in the form of hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, to name a few.
Bhagavad Gita explains that true knowledge means to recognize these issues and then rise above them to a higher platform. From that higher platform called Brahma Bhuta, one can truly experience real spiritual bliss. The first experience on this platform is called prasanatma- transcendental happiness or spiritual satisfaction. Once satisfied then na socati na kanksati- no hankering for mundane things and no lamentation over the loss of mundane things. Next the satisfied spiritualist begins to see things with an equal vision- he begins to see the true spiritual nature behind everything, and the reason everything in this material world is so placed. At that time, mad bhaktim labhate param- he begins to perform only spiritual activities meant for the benefit of not just himself, but every living being.
Spiritual life teaches us to be satisfied and accept whatever our lot may be.
Material life means always hankering for things, not being fulfilled by those things and then hankering for more. But if we look at history, its hard to find a person living a life dedicated to satisfying the senses who can honestly admit actual satisfaction with what they have. Things can always be better; the grass is always greener on the other side.
But why do we hanker? Whats the root cause?
The Vedic knowledge tells us that the reason we look for satisfaction or happiness is not some abnormal thing- we’re by nature pleasure seeking entities. The only problem is that we’re seeking lasting pleasure or satisfaction from that which by nature cannot give it. Our very existence as eternal spiritual beings is now in an atmosphere of non-existence.
Krishna consciousness is the process by which we can find out about our real nature, experience that nature, and stay on that platform!