A young woman follows her dream for spiritual fulfillment to India. Her cell phone is off. She wanders the street outside the pricey meditation center. She hears the musical language of this foreign place in the voices of the people. Smells the spices simmering in the kettles warming in the stalls separated by tent canvas. Her stomach rumbles, but she remembers the warnings not to eat here. Her western tummy is too sensitive.
Her mind is full of turmoil. She knows she has to find the truth within herself, and yet she wants to be shown something. She's relieved to be free of her responsibilities back home but knows they are only on hold for a while. And she longs for the company of friends. This meditation center seems very nice, but couldn't she have found something a little closer to home? And why does this spiritual seeking require effort?
Against the backdrop of these conflicting thoughts and her disorienting jet lag she sees a man walking calmly from stall to stall. People look up, seem to recognize him, and give him something. A morsel of food, a coin, or a paper note. She catches a particular angle on the side of his face and it seems he is about to break out laughing. From a distance, his eyes seem crinkled in a smile.
She finds herself following him with her eyes and as she does so, she feels a certain detachment, a curious separation between her thoughts and awareness. It's as if she is watching herself observe him. He greets each person in turn and she can sense that her turn is coming and she is oddly excited about it. He turns to her from several steps away and stops, looks into her eyes. She sees he really is almost laughing. His face, eyes, hands, all are radiant. She notices herself grinning back at him, and feels the most pervasive sense of peace and inner quiet she has ever known.
Then she notices he is a beggar. In a quick glance she takes in his ragged clothes, missing teeth, unkempt hair, and open hands begging for alms. She knows that she can never be happy living under those circumstances. No way! And suddenly, like a lightening bolt out of the blue - she realizes why living his life would make her so miserable!
In a flash of clarity, she sees that she has always defined happiness as the absence of all unhappiness. As silly as it sounds, it is a defining moment that sends the course of her future off in a different direction - for in that moment, she resolves to learn his secret."
After many years, I succeeding in discovering that beggar's secret - the ONE simple insight that makes creating a happy, peaceful, and mindful life a real possibility no matter where you are, what's happening around you, or how you feel.
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