What can you see in this picture?
Someone said : “I can see a little yellow plant in a glass filled with water.” Others said : ”a hope”, “growth”, “life“ etc. It is interesting. Each one has different answer. All of the answers are right. It depends on from which point they are speaking. If we see the picture with our physical eyes, we can see a little yellow plant but if we are using the eye behind those physical eyes we might see the beauty of it, something different, something more subtle. The beauty is always hidden behind the facades. It needs the ability to capture what is hidden. It is the inner eye that can capture the beauty. Some call this inner eye as awareness, consciousness, heart, the eye of wisdom, the soul or the spirit. In fact it refers to one and same thing.
The key to happiness in life is the ability to see the beauty in small things around you using this inner eye, not the physical eyes. The physical eye only captures the gross things, but the inner eye can capture the subtle things. Beauty is experienced by the heart. Not many big things happen in life. We might not experience big success so much in our life, but there are so many little things happening in each day. Start seeing the beauty or success in small things around you, do not wait till something big to happen to be happy. Open your inner eye and fill your heart with this.
Someone asked me to moderate a panel discussion last year. I don’t remember the topic of the discussion specifically anymore. I think it was about having self respect and maintaining humility at the same time. There would be two speakers. I prepared a list of questions the night before for the discussion.
In the next morning I thought I would like to talk to each speaker and share the list of the questions. The first speaker said : ”You can ask me anything.” She didn’t want to see the list. I thought it was good for me, so I could ask any question. Then I talked to the second speaker. He wanted to read the list. He went through the questions one by one and he asked me to take out one question from the list. It was a very personal question. I asked them to share their personal stories on maintaining their humility while dealing with difficult people. Whether they succeeded or not, it wouldn’t matter. I realized that not everyone found it easy and comfortable to share an honest story about themselves.
We always could learn from other’s story. I believe that we can learn more from someone’s experience than just from information. Infomation is a theory and experience is a practice. Because experience is coming from the heart so it will inspire people more. Sharing an experience is always much better than sharing an information. It is a heart-to-heart sharing.
I know many people are really coffee lovers. I should say some of them are experts at coffee. I also remember one of my colleague is really addicted to coffee so he always has a cup of coffee to start the day. It becomes his moodbooster for the day. I don’t drink coffee much, only occasionally and it would be a decaf one.
Very recently I met someone who never drinks coffee nor tea in her life. Not even once! She said that when she was small, her parents used to say that coffee and tea were not for children and when she grew up she chose not even to have a try. She gave me a very interesting reason and I really like it. She said that she decided not to have a try because she didn’t want to develop it as a habit. She doesn’t want to create a mental attachment to a particular drink or food. For this, I would agree. When something has become a habit, it is not easy to break it. The mind is craving.
If you have the habit of having a particular drink, definitely you put your heart into it because you enjoy it. You invest your heart in it. And what happens if for some reasons you don’t have one or you can’t have one? My colleague once said to me that he would get a headache without having a cup of coffee in the morning. When we were on a trip together, I saw him restless. He couldn’t concentrate.
One morning I had a conversation with a friend. I happenedly met him on my way to the dining hall for my breakfast and he just finished his breakfast. I realized that I was so late.
Frank : Tini, what are you doing?
Me : Do you really want to know (the answer)?
Frank : Well, I am asking you for the sake of politeness
Me : I am making friend with squirrels
Frank : What? (He might not hear my answer quite clearly)
Me : I am making friend with squirrels and birds. (I tried to make it more clearly for him) Do you make friend with them too?
Frank : No! I don’t make friend with animals. (He showed disagreement on his face)
It was very clear that we were challenging to each other. Being unfriendly to each other. I thought we did it on purpose just to create an argument to challenge each other. When I shared to someone who was a real dog lover that Frank didn’t like animals, she immediately showed disagreement on her face. Very quickly I clarified “Well, we know Frank. In fact he has a very kind and gentle heart.”
When I met Frank the next morning he asked me if I saw David or not for the squirells. I showed him the video and I could see a very big smile on his face.
Sorry for not being able to upload the video here, but trust me it was really cute to capture the squirrel very closely.
Someone shared her thoughts on how to become creative. She said that we should learn from children to be creative. I notice that most children are very creative. Their spirits are free….to explore everything. They have no worries and no fears in their spirits. They are not aware of what fear is. Each one of us was very creative when we were so young. When we grew up, we suppressed this spirit. We started creating fears and worries of what people might think about us. We started creating fear of being rejected by others. We might then stop doing something because of this fear. At some point in our life we might miss that spirit in us.
I remember when I was in a retreat, I escaped from one of the morning sessions, I went to the garden in the corner of the campus instead. The garden was small, beautiful and quiet. It was really enjoyable to sit there especially in the morning hour. I also could enjoy little birds and squirrels. They were running around on the ground, jumping from one twig to another. Sometimes they went so close to my feet. I really enjoyed it.
That morning I had an appointment with David who stayed above the garden. David is an artist and a musician. He promised to teach me how to feed squirrel at 7 o’clock. I was so excited about it. My heart said “If I can touch and hold the squirrel with my hand, it would be an achievement for me”. We might think that this kind of thought belongs to a child, not an adult. I knew it was the spirit of a little child in me who had that thought. David was ready with bread crumbles in his hand. He then made a little sound to call the squirrels with his mouth. We sat there and maintained silence. We should not make any movement that would create a feeling of threat in the squirells. We created a feeling of love to the squirrels. I said in my mind that we were friends and we loved to meet and play. I held that thought and created a feeling of friendship. We waited patiently and after a while one squirrel came closer to us. It jumped onto David’s lap and started eating the bread. It was so cute. I took the video of it. I hope I can share the video next time here. Then David gave the bread crumbles to me. I held it in my hand and the squirrel came to my lap and started eating the bread. The spirit of a little child in me was so happy.
Nurture this spirit inside you and you will experience so much freedom and joy.
We had a little discussion on desire. Desire is always the cause of problem in human life. It seems desire is endless. One desire is fulfilled will be followed by another desire, then another desire. It is never ending. The heart will never experience contentment when it has any desire unfulfilled.
Supposed you just bought the latest model of gadget or camera that you really wanted to have. You were very excited. But how long does the excitement last? This feeling of being fulfilled won’t last very long, because soon after that you might already have another desire to be fulfilled. The heart won’t really become full by having this temporary fulfillment. The heart is not contented. A discontented heart won’t experience fullness (peace and happiness).
It says “conquer your desire if you want to have a peaceful and contented life”. Then someone asked ‘what does life look like by not having any desire?’ Someone might say that life without having any desire would be plain and not exciting. It is not called a life.
Not having desire is not similar to not having aim. An aim of life is usually much bigger than a desire. It is more a long term goal. Having aim in life makes you enthusiastic, it makes you feel excited, it makes your life even more alive. You have something to pursue. To have aim in life is to have a goal to achieve. You need to work on it. When you can achieve it it is called an achievement not a fulfillment. The feeling is different. The energy is different.
A young successful businessman dropped to my friend’s house one day. He knew my friend from someone he met while he was flying with Singapore Airlines during his business trip. I didn’t know what he was told about her. It might be something very positive and interesting that he wanted to meet and know her. She was a good friend of mine, I had known her for more than 20 years.
When he dropped by, my friend was preparing her lunch; a very simple dish. My friend was a very simple person leading a simple life, but a very happy person. She was a warm-hearted person, very honest and open. Everybody enjoyed talking to her. She liked connecting people. Her friends were various from a taxi driver to a minister and a president. She was very sweet and humble. She treated everyone with kind heart. She respected everyone. I remember she called her house maid as her manager to whom she listened to. She was just a darling for everyone. She had a really beautiful personality.
So they ended up having lunch together, not in an expensive restaurant but in her house, having a very simple lunch. They were chatting and sharing. He enjoyed talking to my friend, and enjoyed the simple lunch. At the end of the conversation he said to my friend “I whished I have 10% of your happiness”.
In memory of my dearest and nearest friend, Helen Margareth Quirin.