Mind over Matter
One day a small opening appeared on a cocoon, a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then, it seemed to stop making any progress.
It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further. So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was god’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly.
I asked God for strength, and God gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve. I asked for prosperity and God gave me brain and brawn to work. I asked for courage and God gave me danger to overcome. I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help. I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities. I received nothing I wanted. I received everything I needed.
Do you resent doing what you are doing? It may be your job, or you may have agreed to do something and are doing it, but part of your resents and resists it. Are you carrying unspoken resentment toward a person close to you? Do you realize that the energy you thus emanate is so harmful in its effects that you are in fact contaminating yourself as well as those around you? Have a good look inside. Is there even the slightest trace of resentment, unwillingness? If there is, observe it on both the mental and the emotional levels. What thoughts is our mind creating around this situation? Then look at the emotions, which is the body’s reaction to those thoughts. Feel the emotion. Does it feel pleasant or unpleasant? Is it an energy that you would choose to have inside you? Do you have a choice?
Well; of course, you alone are responsible for your inner space. The mind is difficult to control; swiftly and lightly, it moves and lands wherever it pleases. It is good to tame the mind, for a well-tamed mind brings happiness. Happiness is an inside job. Unhappiness spreads more easily than a disease. Ever wondered why some of the most successful people still seem unhappy? According to us, they have it all; looks, fame and fortune. Whenever we strive for something and reach it, there’s a duality of elation and dejection.
If we can just understand the principles of law and nature, life could have been easier than what we experience due to ignorant attitude.
Let me bring to you the 7 great lessons Sir Azim Premji has encountered through his life and here it goes:
The first thing I have learnt is that we must always begin with our strengths. There is an imaginary story of a rabbit. The rabbit was enrolled in a rabbit school. Like all rabbits, it could hop very well but could not swim. At the end of the year, the rabbit got high marks in hopping but failed in swimming. They sent the rabbit for tuitions in swimming. And guess what happened? The rabbit forgot how to hop! As for swimming, have you ever seen a rabbit swim? While it is important for us to know what we are not good at, we must also cherish what is good in us. That is because it is only our strengths that can give us the energy to correct our weaknesses.
The second lesson I have learnt is that a rupee earned is of far more value than five found. My friend was sharing with me, the story of this eight year old niece. She would always complain about the breakfast. The cook tried everything possible, but the child remained unhappy. Finally, my friend took the child to a supermarket and brought one of those ready to cook cereal packets. The child had to ct the packet and pour water in the dish. The child found the food to be absolutely delicious? The difference was that she had cooked it! In my own life, I have found that nothing gives as much satisfaction as earning our own rewards. In fact, what is gifted or inherited follows the old rule of come easy, go easy. I guess we only know the value of what we have, if we have struggled to earn it.
The third lesson I have learnt is, in Cricket, no one bats a hundred every time. Life has many challenges. You win some and lose come. You must enjoy winning. But do not let it go to the head. The moment it does, you are already on your way to failure. And if you do encounter failure along the way, treat it as an equally natural phenomenon. Don’t beat yourself for it or anyone else for that matter! Accept it, look at your own share in the problem, learn from it and move on. The important thing is, when you lose, do not lose the lesson.
The fourth lesson I have learnt, is the importance of humility. Sometimes, when you get so much in life, you really start wondering, whether you deserve all of it. We have so much to be grateful for. Our parents, our teachers and our seniors, have done so much for us, that we can never repay them. Many people focus on the shortcomings, because obviously, no one can be perfect. But it is important to first acknowledge, what we have received. Nothing in life is permanent, but when a relationship ends, rather than becoming bitter, we must learn to savor the memory, of the good things, while they lasted.
The fifth lesson I learnt is, that we must always strive for excellence. Our way of achieving excellence, is by looking at those better than ourselves. Keep learning what they d differently. But excellence cannot be imposed from the outside. We must also feel the need from within. It must involve not only our mind, but also our heart and soul. Excellence is not an act, but a habit. I remember the inspiring lines of a poem, which says that your reach must always exceed your grasp. That is heaven on earth. Ultimately, your only competition is yourself.
The sixth lesson I have learnt is, never give up in the face of adversity. It comes on you, suddenly without warning. Always keep in mind, that it is only the test of fire, that makes fine steel. A friend of mine shared this incident with me. His twelve year old daughter was struggling away at a jigsaw puzzle. She kept at it for hours but could not succeed. Finally, it went beyond her bedtime. My friend told her, “Look, why don’t you just give up? I don’t think you will complete it tonight. Look at it another day.” The daughter looked with a strange look in her eyes, “but, dad, why should I give up? All the pieces are there! I have just got to put them together!” If we persevere long enough, we can put any problem into its perspective.
The seventh lesson I have learnt is, that while you must be open to change, do not compromise on your values, Mahatma Gandhiji often said, “You must open the windows of your mind, but you must not be swept off your feet by the breeze.” Values like honesty, integrity, consideration and humility have survived for generations. At the end of the day, it is values that define a person more than the achievements. Do not be tempted by short cuts. The short cut can make you lose your way and end up becoming the longest way to the destination.
And finally, the most important lesson I have learnt is that we must have faith in our own ideas even if everyone tells us that we are wrong. There was once a newspaper vendor who had a rude customer. Every morning, the customer would walk by, refuse to return the greeting, grab the paper off the shelf and throw the money at the vendor. The vendor would pick up the money, smile politely and say, Thank you, Sir. One day, the vendor’s assistant asked him, “Why are you always so polite with him when he is so rude to you? Why don’t you throw the newspaper at him when he comes back tomorrow?” The vendor smiled and replied, “He can’t help being rude and I can’t help being polite. Why should I let his rude behavior dictate my politeness?”