I AM AN incorrigible optimist. I’m aware of the threats that surround us, but I haven’t lost my faith, I haven’t lost my hope. And I haven’t lost my confidence that people working together harmoniously can bring about a change for the better in the world that our children will grow up in. It’s not for governments to improve our lives. It is for each individual to ask himself or herself, “Should I continue to make things which destroy life, or can I lend my expertise and my experience to benefit life, to help life?” We get discouraged because we don’t see life as it is. We feel we can’t make a difference because we don’t see things as they really are. When we see life as it is, when we see people as they are, all sorrow will fall away, all suffering will come to an end. This is the great message of all religions. When we see life as it is, all sorrow falls away.
A king was coming out of his palace for his morning walk when he met a beggar. He asked the beggar,
“What do you want?”
The beggar laughed and said,
“You are asking me as though you can fulfill my desire!”
The king was offended. He said,
“Of course I can fulfill your desire. What is it? Just tell me.”
And the beggar said, “ Okay if you insist but on one condition..so think twice before you promise anything.”
The emperor had seen many beggars – but beggars with conditions?
And this beggar was really strange, a very powerful man. He was a Sufi Mystic. He had charm, a charisma, his personality had an aura. Even the king felt a little jealous. And conditions?
The emperor said, ” What do you mean ? What is your condition?”
The beggar said, “It is a very simple one. You see this begging bowl?
I accept only if you can fill my begging bowl absolutely.”
It was a small begging bowl. The king said, “Of course. What do you think I am? I cannot fill this dirty small begging bowl ?”
The beggar said, “It is better to tell you before, because later you can get into trouble. If you think you can fill, then come start filling.”
The king called his vizier and told him to fill to fill it with precious stones, with diamonds, rubies and emralds. Let this beggar know with whom he is talking. But then comes the difficulty. The bowl was filled, but the king was surprised- as the stones fell into it, it would disappear. It was filled many times and each time it was again empty.
Now he was in a great rage, but told the vizier, “Even if the whole kingdom goes, if my all treasuries are emptied, let them be- but I cannot allow this beggar to defeat me.”
And all the treasures, it is said, disappeared. By and by the king became a beggar. It took months. And the beggar was there, king was there and the whole capital was there and everybody was wondering what was going to happen, what would happen in the end.
Everything was simply disappearing. Finally the king had to fall at the feet of the beggar and he said, ” Forgive me, but before you leave just tell me one thing. What is the secret of this begging bowl? All has disappeared in it “
The beggar started laughing. He said, “It is made of human ego, everything disappears in it, nothing ever fulfils it.”
People always say, “What can I do about the world?” Ramana Maharshi says the world you see doesn’t even exist. It’s actually just your perception of the world. You think the world needs you, but it needs you like a hole in the head, actually. Each person’s evolution contributes to the level of the sea; each person, by making your life a prayer. When I give sermons occasionally, the sermon is always about converting your life into a prayer. Become that about which you talk and learn and read and sing hymns—become that. Because by being that, just your existence already transforms the world. Each one of us raises the level of the sea not by what we do and say, but by what we have become. The great kings and emperors and conquerors have come and gone. They’ve all come and gone and made all kinds of waves. And what did that do? Nothing. You realize it has nothing to do with your perception, nothing to do with your judgmentalism.