Monday, January 6, 2014

Our Transactional Trap

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the case and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, we are caught in so many daily mundane transactions that we do not have time to think about life goals, our beliefs, close relations.

The Present

Once a king called upon all of his wise men and asked them, " Is there a mantra or suggestion which works in every situation, in every circumstances, in every place and in every time. In every joy, every sorrow, every defeat and every victory? One answer for all questions? Something which can help me when none of you is available to advise me? Tell me is there any mantra?"

All the wise men were puzzled by the King's question. They thought and thought. After a lengthy discussion, an old man suggested something which appealed to all of them. They went to the king and gave him something written on paper, with a condition that the king was not to see it out of curiosity. Only in extreme danger, when the King finds himself alone and there seems to be no way, only then he can see it.

The King put the papers under his Diamond ring.

Some time later, the neighbors attacked the Kingdom. The King and his army fought bravely but lost the battle. The King had to flee on his horse. The enemies were following him, getting closer and closer. Suddenly the King found himself standing at the end of the road - that road was not going anywhere.

Underneath there was a rocky valley, thousand feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished...and he could not return because it was a small road...the sound of enemy's horses was approaching fast. The King became restless. There seemed to be no way.

Then suddenly he saw the Diamond in his ring shining in the sun, and he remembered the message hidden in the ring. He opened the diamond and read the message. 

The message was - “THIS TOO SHALL PASS"

The King read it. Again read it. Suddenly something struck him- Yes! This too shall pass.

Only a few days ago, I was enjoying my kingdom. I was the mightiest of all the Kings. Yet today, the Kingdom and all his pleasure have gone. I am here trying to escape from enemies. Like those days of luxuries have gone, this day of danger too will pass. As he kept standing there he realized his mind getting calmer.

The place where he was standing was full of natural beauty. He had never known that such a beautiful place was also a part of his Kingdom. The revelation of the message had a great effect on him. He relaxed and forgot about those following him. After a few minutes he realized that the noise of the horses and the enemy coming was receding. They moved into some other part of the mountains.

The King was very brave. He reorganized his army and fought again. He defeated the enemy and regained his empire. When he returned to his empire after victory, he was received with much fanfare. The whole capital was rejoicing in the victory. Everyone was in a festive mood.

Flowers were being showered on King from every house, from every corner. People were dancing and singing. For a moment King said to himself," I am one of the bravest and greatest King. It is not easy to defeat me. With all the reception and celebration he saw an ego emerging in him.

Suddenly the Diamond of his ring flashed in the sunlight and reminded him of the message. - "THIS TOO SHALL PASS". 

He realized - If this too is going to pass, it is not yours. Then the defeat was not yours, the victory is not yours. You are just a watcher. Everything passes by. We are witnesses of all this. Our life is what we perceive. Happiness comes and goes. Sorrow comes and goes.
Life comes and goes.

Now as you have read this story, just sit silently and evaluate your own life. This too shall pass. Think of the moments of joy and victory in your life. Think of the moment of Sorrow and defeat. Are they permanent? They all come and pass away. Life just passes away. There is nothing permanent in this world. Every thing changes except the law of change. Think over it from your own perspective. You have seen all the changes. You have survived all setbacks, all defeats and all sorrows. All have passed away. The problems in the present, they too will pass away. Because nothing remains forever. Joy and sorrow are the two faces of the same coin. They both will pass away.

You are just a witness of change.

Experience it, understand it, and enjoy the present moment - This too shall pass!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Worth it

Horror gripped the heart of a World War-I soldier, as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle.

The soldier asked his Lieutenant if he could go out to bring his fallen comrade back.

"You can go," said the Lieutenant, "but don't think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your life away."

The Lieutenant's words didn't matter, and the soldier went anyway.

Miraculously, he managed to reach his friend, lifted him onto his shoulder and brought him back to their company's trench.

The officer checked the wounded soldier, then looked kindly at his friend and said,
" I told you it wouldn't be worth it, your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded."

“It was worth it, Sir," said the soldier.

"What do you mean by worth it?" responded the Lieutenant. “Your friend is dead."

"Yes Sir," the soldier answered, "but it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive and I heard him say......."Man...I knew you would come"