"One day a young Buddhist on his journey home, came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river"?
The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son, you are on the other side".
Time and change are interrelated. We measure time by what changes, and we measure change in increments of time. For many of us, apprehension over what the future may hold is synonymous with our fear of change. As Egos, we resist letting go of the known; change is nearly always viewed as a threat, since the Ego is only comfortable with what it can control. But this is where our conscious aging can help to relieve the anxiety we feel over change: for the Soul is not subject to change in the same way the Ego is. It does not measure time in the same way. Soul time is measured in incarnations. Each incarnation is like an hour-or even a minute-to the soul. As the Ego moves in terrestrial time, the Soul exists in Soul time. The Soul Thinks in terms of endless eons. By learning to remain in both time perspectives, we experience a stillness that enables us to accept the turbulence of change, and also to catch our breath. Freeing ourselves from the Ego's attachment to things remaining as they are, and acquainting ourselves with what exists externally in each present moment, we learn to approach change with curiosity rather than dread, and to be more comfortable with "not knowing" than we have been before.
I often tell a wonderful story that illustrates this brand of wisdom. Once, there was a farmer in a village who had a horse that he treasured. One day the horse ran away, and the farmer's neighbor came to his house to offer his condolences. "I'm so sorry for your loss," he said, trying to be a good friend. "You never know," the farmer replied. The very next day, the horse came back, leading a beautiful wild mare alongside him. Again the neighbor piped in: "That's wonderful!" he said. "What a Stroke of good luck!" The farmer replied, "You never know." A few days later, the farmer's son was trying to break the wild horse in, was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. Of course the neighbor came over to say how sorry he was that things had gone so badly. The farmer replied, "You never know." A short time later, the Cossack army came through the village in search of young men to fight in the war, but since the farmer's son's leg was broken, he was allowed to stay at home. "Aren't you fortunate man!" the neighbor said when he heard the news. You can guess what the farmer replied.
The point is that we never know what changes will come, or how they'll affect us. The law of impermanence, anicca, requires that if we want to reduce our suffering we learn to weather change as gracefully as possible, remaining open to what we do not know.
The following exchange occurred with an English woman, M.A. Piggot, who came to the Maharshi after reading a popular account by Paul Brunton:
Q: What are the hindrances to the realization of the true Self? R: Memory chiefly, habits of thoughts, accumulated tendencies. Q: How does one get rid of these hindrances? R: Seek for the Self through meditation in this manner, trace every thought back to its origin which is only the mind. Never allow thought to run on. If you do, it will be unending. Take it back to its starting place - the mind - again and again, and it and the mind will both die of inaction. The mind exists only by reason of thought. Stop thought and there is no mind. As each doubt and depression arises, ask yourself, "Who is it that doubts? What is it that is depressed?" Go back constantly until there is nothing but the source of all left. And then, live always in the present and only in it. There is no past or future, save in the mind.
Maharaj-ji often taught his children with whatever was happening in the moment. Watching a family of birds in a tree he would say that as the mother bird feeds the baby birds, who fly away leaving their parents behind, we can learn detachment from the birds. He also used to relate stories from the Ramayana, particularly those about Sita and Anasuya.
He told stories and parables like that of a saint standing in the river who saw a scorpion floating by. He thought to save its life and picked it up from the water, but it stung him with its tail, causing immense pain, which he could not bear, so the scorpion fell back in the water as his hand recoiled. Again, the saint picked up, and the same story repeated itself. Someone asked the saint why he kept doing this, when the creature was causing him so much pain. The saint said, “It is following its nature. When such a creature does not leave its nature, why should I leave mine?” Discomfort should not cause one to leave one’s essential nature.
"I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn't create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people." - Ram Dass
"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life." - John Lennon
"The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances."