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It's Time To Revisit What It Means To Be Content

It is no longer `cool' to use the word 'contentment' for the simple reason that currently, the constantly heard or read words are aspiration, acquisition, more, and growth. It's time, therefore to revisit the meaning of contentment.

You don't know the power of emptiness. You don't know the power of being totally absent within. You know only the poverty of the ego. But try to understand that happiness has nothing to do with ego and everything to do with embracing your true power.

True contentment does not ask us to end aspiration or advancement, but asks us to appreciate and enjoy what we've got before we can focus on getting more. Many, after getting something for which they hankered after, immediately begin a new search for something different; the process never seems to end. At times we even forget why we needed something or someone. Discontent can become an addiction. "Being human," says philosopher Husserl, "is a characteristic of a being who faces the question: After satisfaction, what?"

Wanting More
With ego, have you ever felt really powerful? With ego, you always feel impotent. That's why the ego says, 'Make your empire a little bigger so that you can feel you are powerful: no, this house won't do, a bigger house is needed; no, this much bank balance won't do, a bigger bank balance is needed; no, this much fame won't do, a little more....' The ego always asks for more. Why? If it is powerful, why go on asking for more? The very craving for more shows that the ego feels impotent. You have a million rupees and you are impotent. The ego says, 'No, one million won't do, have ten million rupees.' And I tell you — with ten million rupees you will be tenfold more impotent, that's all. And then the ego will say, 'No, this won't do....'

Nothing will do with ego. Everything proves only that you are impotent, powerless.

The more power you gain, the more powerless you feel in contrast. The richer you become, the poorer you feel. The healthier you are, the more afraid of death; the younger, the more you feel old age is coming nearer. The opposite is just around the corner, and if you have a little understanding, the opposite is just reaching you —around your neck. The more beautiful you are, the more you feel the inner ugliness.

Things, people and situations do diminish in charm or utility; you often feel the need for change. It is perhaps not practical to say: "I am content with my typewriter and have no desire for a computer."

However there seems to be a tendency to be dissatisfied with whatever one has, from possessions and relationships, to one's city or country. Is the grass really greener on the other side? Unlikely. An untested belief is that the grass is greener on the other side.

There are two dynamics operating here. The locus can be internal; the person in general is restless, unhappy and dissatisfied. Or it is triggered by external factors; one's discontent is caused by what one sees, desires, or is tempted by.

Feeling Powerless

Ego has never felt powerful. It only dreams of power, it thinks of power, it contemplates on power — but those are simply dreams and nothing else. And dreams are there just to hide the impotence that is within you. But dreams cannot hide the reality. Whatsoever you do, from here or from there, or from a loophole, the reality will come in and shatter all the dreams.

Ego is the most impotent thing in the world. But nobody realises it, because it goes on asking for more; it never gives you space to look at the situation. Before you become aware, it pushes you further and further somewhere. Always the goal is somewhere near the horizon. And it is so near, you think, By the evening, I will reach.

The evening never comes; the horizon remains always at the same distance. The horizon is an illusion; all the goals of ego are just illusions. But they give hope, and you go on feeling, 'Some day or other, I will become powerful.' Right now, you remain powerless, impotent, inferior, but in the future, in the hope, in the dream, you become powerful. You must be aware that many times, just sitting on your chair, you start daydreaming: you have become the emperor of the whole world or the president of the United States, and immediately you start enjoying it. Everybody looks at you; you have become the focal point of everyone's attention. Even that dream gives you exhilaration, intoxication. If you dream that way, you will walk in a different way.

Embracing A New Approach For
What It Means To Be Content

Contentment was regarded as a sadhana, a spiritual observance, its focus being the mobilisation of one's own mechanism of resistance to acquiring, intended to help one arrive at a state of needlessness. This is not easy even for sages.

It is helpful to see contentment as a state of being that brings with it a certain measure of wakefulness. This creates a sense of comfort with whatever one has at the moment -- and is a cure for dwelling on what one lacks.

Contentment carries a component of thankfulness. When you go to a pharmacy and realise that there are many medicines you can do without, you feel grateful for your state of health.

Contentment may be described as a place between boredom and greed, between the burdensome and need for the novel. In Sanskrit, contentment is referred to as santosh and better translated as fulfillment, distinguished from ashutosh - one who gets satisfied easily but perhaps also temporarily.

Contentment looks into the essentials, requiring a certain eye that takes time to develop. I would go a step ahead and say it is an art.

In this age of quantity and variety, how else could one find protection against the virus of discontent? Masters across cultures have invited us to observe the beautiful effects of contentment, an invaluable asset that helps us find a positive orientation in life.

Everyone cannot be a mahatma; we could at least try to find contentment in whatever way we can. "To know you have enough is to be rich," offered Lao-Tzu; and so say the Taoists, Thoreau, Zen masters, and Sufis.

Contentment offers us a method, a particular angle of viewing certain kinds of truths that are better approached and achieved by this path. Contentment does not mean closing your eyes and ears to reality, or shunning the new; it focuses on being discerning, so that we become 'open-eyed perceivers'.

Where do we draw the line and say 'enough is enough' so that we can achieve balance between what we can acquire and what we can use, big or small? The wisdom of life as always, consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

Divinity in You
This is how it is happening to everybody: your potency remains in the dreams, you remain impotent. The truth is just the opposite: when you don't seek, it comes; when you don't ask, it is given; when you don't hanker, it is there; when you don't go to the horizon, suddenly you realise that it has been always yours — you never lived it. It is there inside, and you seek it outside. It is there within you and you go without. You are carrying it: the Supreme-most Power, the Divine itself, is in you. And you are looking here and there like a beggar.
Don't think you have power...know it!


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