“A convicted couple gave birth to a child in prison, who managed to escape one day. As a young boy he would steal and as he grew up into an adolescent, he would seduce all the young women of the village. Later when he grew up he became a driver and retired as one.”
Does this seem like an ordinary story? Well it is. And you’ve heard it before. This is the story of the man revered as Krishna. Just a simple twist in the tale can change the story from an inspiring one to an ordinary one. This is a great example of how we tell stories – the stories of our life. Every situation that happens in our life is just a story – for it doesn’t exist a single moment after it has transpired. However, as our minds are habituated to cling to some thought process, we cling to our stories. The small incidents become large landscapes. International inspirational speaker, Dr.Wayne Dyer, humorously explains this as getting bitten by a snake and instead of treating the venom in you, crying after the snake has long gone. That’s how every story is – like a cloud serving its purpose and drenching us, but instead of drying ourselves, we cry foul long after the cloud has gone.
I was fortunate to be present at a 10-minute talk on the “power of stories” by Pune-based, “Happiness Coach” – Nithya Shanti – who happens to be a great spiritual teacher and a wonderful friend with an exciting story of his own – he is a Psychology-graduate turned MBA who quit his corporate career to pursue 6 years of monkhood in the Buddhist Theravada tradition where he studied Buddhism in the forest monasteries of Thailand and Sri Lanka. Soon after, he realised his life purpose of spreading these powerful concepts explained by Gautama Buddha and translating them into everyday practice. He soon gave up his monkhood and started “HADAYOLI” – HAppiest DAY Of your LIfe – 1-day workshops full of laughter and learning (which he calls “joyshops”) and is now a corporate “Happiness-Coach”. I have been incredibly fortunate to have attended and, in some cases assisted him, in these workshops, where I have understood what it is to be “led by Presence” itself. And the way he chooses to communicate these concepts is, nonetheless, through the power of stories.
As I sat through his 10-minute talk that evening, at the end of which he had inspired and tickled the funny bone of a crowd ranging from 5-year olds to 70-year olds, it was clear that it takes hardly a second to bring our mind to the present moment. The moment we are centered in what we do, the so-called story of the “problem” disappears! In fact as he explained to us, there is no problem if there is no solution to it. As the session progressed he tickled us with his unique brand of humor (which I can safely dare you to escape from) and gave us his “simple definitions” for life – “Suffering is when you argue with reality and Happiness is when you accept your reality”. He shared with us a real life story to illustrate this: A rich businessman was interviewed by a reporter who asked him the secret of his success. He said, “Well, I came from a family where we were poor and our father was an alcoholic who would beat us up everyday. So I decided I am never going to become like him”. The reporter was impressed. Later she asked him if he had any siblings, to which he said yes and promptly gave her the address of his brother. When the reporter went to visit this brother, she was shocked to find him located at a rundown, shabby locality. He was living in debt, bankrupt and a drug addict. When she asked him how he wound up this way, he said, “Well, I come from a family where we were poor and our father was an alcoholic who would beat us up every day. What do you expect?!”. The same family, same conditions but different perspectives leading to different stories. The stories that we tell in our heads regarding our family, our love life, our government are constantly shaping our reality more than we can imagine. Our present moment story is the design document of our future (to put it in a software engineering perspective!). A high-quality story creates a high-quality future. A poor-quality story creates a poor-quality future. If you were to read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements”, you would find the second agreement – “Don’t take Anything Personally” talking about the same thing. We personalize each other’s stories, which is the root cause of all emotional upheaval in our lives. If you were to delve deep into your subconscious you would realize that all your problems are caused by “personalizing” someone else’s story. In fact most often, we are all made up of “borrowed stories” – opinions of others. The child in us has no story. Never had. It just knew how to play and enjoy itself until the day some person reacted from their own inner story and told us we were not good enough and gave us an “opinion” about ourselves. Truly speaking we can never have an opinion about anything, simply because we have never taken the time out to go and experiment with life with a clean slate rather than a pre-formed notion. It is just like being given colored glasses before we even learned to see on our own!
So next time someone disturbs you with their words/actions, just step back before you react and say, “This is his/her story. It has nothing to do with me”. Oh and if someone compliments you, be sure to step back again and say, “This is his/her story. It has nothing to do with me”! You’ll see that applying this understanding would have changed your life dramatically.
To end it all, I just leave you with a simple observation by another spiritual teacher I have met in my life journey – When we cling to stories, we build a reputation. When we choose to see clearly and be free instead, we build character. And character always outlasts reputation.
To know more about Nithya Shanti’s Joyshops, please visit www.lovingsilence.org, or add “Nithya Shanti” on Facebook. I can assure you that you will experience the happiest day of your life with him! 🙂