In or Out?
Once, a very rich man goes to a wise sage with his problem, “I keep acquiring everything I please, yet each time my happiness is short-lived.” The sage tells him to come back the next day.
The man arrives the next morning and discovers the sage is searching for something in the thick bushes outside his hut. “What are you looking for?” the man asks. “I have lost my gold coin,” the sage replies. The man joins in the search, but they are unable to find the coin.
“Where did your coin fall exactly?” the man asks. The sage replies, “It fell inside the hut. But it is very dark there, so I am looking for it outside the hut.”
The man is surprised, “If your coin fell inside the hut, then why are you looking for it out here? How will you find something outside which is inside?” The sage smiles, and the lesson sinks in…
Happiness resides inside us, not outside.
The sage then retrieves the gold coin and takes the man for a walk. They see a poor man taking bath in the river. The sage instructs, “Pull a zestful prank on the bathing man, no different than how you will trick a close friend.” The rich man broods and comes up with an idea, “Let’s hide a tiny stone in his shoe and then watch his expressions when he wears it.” The sage suggests an alternate proposal, “Try hiding my gold coin instead of the stone.”
The rich man does as he is told. The poor man comes out of the river, feels pricking against his feet while wearing one of his shoes, and discovers the hidden gold coin! The man has tears of joy rolling down as he runs away to share happy tidings with his family. The sight fills the rich man’s heart with a blissfulness he has never experienced before. He turns towards the smiling sage, and the second lesson sinks in…
Happiness resides outside us, not inside.
The contradictory lessons leave the man confused. The sage enlightens him:
Happiness doesn’t reside inside or outside us. Instead, it resides in the interplay between the two. While the transactions in either direction offer us moments of elation — the everlasting joy comes only from giving, and not taking!