Monday, April 10, 2006

A sharp, useful lesson in humility

The Malaysian Buddhist Scholar Narada writes, “average men are only surface seekers…material happiness is merely the gratification of some desire. No sooner is the desired thing gained than it beings to be scorned… Real happiness is found within, and is not to be defined in terms of wealth, power, honors or conquests…This first truth of suffering, which depends on this so called being and various aspects of life is to be carefully analyzed and examined. This examination leads to a proper understanding of oneself as one really is."

Not long ago, I received word that that gratification of a long-held desire might be granted (I cannot provide the specifics). I immediately began hoping this would happen. Soon afterwards, the hope was snatched away. The manner in which this was done left me feeling ‘disrespected’ – that is, demeaned and insulted.

Did I accept this as a reminder that ‘real happiness is found within and is not to be defined in terms of wealth, power, honors or conquests?’ Sadly the answer is no. For a time, I was consumed with the slight and the feelings of resentment that came unbidden and, despite by best efforts, persisted. Even now, my equilibrium is not fully restored.

This was a reminder that I remain a very ‘average’ person. First, I was consumed by my feelings of resentment; then by shock and disappointment at my own weakness.

It was a sharp - and useful – lesson in humility.


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