In the New Year we greet everyone wishing Happy New Year. But what do we mean actually with our greetings and wishes? Wishing others Happy New Year we desire that his/her new year be filled with happiness and contentment. We wish that the whole year be for them happy and enjoyable. Be they on the path of true joy and peace.
There is an ancient story which says that Brahma created all persons with ‘eternal bliss’, everlasting happiness. But the human beings began to misuse their ‘eternal bliss’. So Brahma took away their ‘eternal bliss’ and decided to hide it where a person would not easily reach. Brahma called a meeting of gods and asked their advice about the hiding place. Some suggested to hide ‘eternal bliss’ on the top of Himalayan Mountains; others gave their opinion that the bottom of the deep sea as the place to hide ‘eternal bliss’ from all human beings. But Brahma said that sooner or later people will explore the Himalayan tops and the bottom of the deep sea. None of the places suggested by gods were satisfactory for Brahma.
Finally Brahma decided to hide the ‘eternal bliss’ in the depth of human hearts. For, Brahma thought that for a person to discover the ‘eternal bliss’ s/he has to give up his ego; s/he has to deny himself/herself. A person has to sacrifice himself/herself! Obviously in such situation a person would not misuse his/her ‘eternal bliss’. A person needs to cultivate right attitude, appropriate approach to life to reach the depth of his/her heart. Men and women need disciplined, self-sacrificing life to discover ‘eternal bliss’. But not many will be ready to live disciplined and self-sacrificing life.
During this New Year let us cultivate right attitude, disciplined and self-sacrificing life on the path of ‘eternal bliss’. Most flowers have five petals. Like the five petals of flowers I would like to suggest five ways or practical steps to walk always on the path of ‘eternal bliss’.
First step – Feeling of gratitude. We are often worried that we do not have this or that with us. John Steward Mills says that, “Happiness consists in limiting our desires and not in trying to satisfy all our desires”. I think that it is Shree Buddha who says that our desires are the cause of our unhappiness. So without worrying uselessly about things we do not possess, let us think of what we have with us and give thanks for them to concerned people and eventually to God with feelings of gratitude. Our lives in our present stage reached with the contributions from beginning with our parents and innumerable people who worked for us with much good will.
We know that our whole life would not be enough if we begin giving thanks to each and every person and everything of our lives for the innumerable services and good things they have done for us! But the minimum we can begin to thank every person in our homes and in our offices or those who cross our path of life in our daily living. Let us remember each and every such person with love and gratitude and whenever there are opportunities, let them know that we are grateful to them. And above all we thank God for giving us such persons and things which make our life possible. After all God is the One who sustain us every moment our lives with unconditional love. If we keep such positive attitude and we walk on this path of ‘eternal bliss’, then there is no time to hate or speak ill of people around us.
Second step – Feeling of Appreciation. In our lives and around us there are many people and innumerable things call for our appreciation and love. There is always something to be appreciated in the people who cross the path of our daily living. When you are busy and in a hurry, what is your response to a poor person who comes for help? We do not even care to look at the person in need of our help! We may even hate them and drive them away from our presence! But think about it. If you give a few rupees or some needed thing with love, we have nothing to lose when we share something of the abundances of God’s gift to us.
God gives us innumerable opportunities to share the blessings with which God has been generous with us. In the first place let us be grateful to God for all his boundless blessings. Let us see God’s face in the morning sun shining on all the animate and inanimate beings in creation. Let us express our gratitude for them to God and to all the concerned people. Our feeling love and gratitude will lead us to ‘eternal bliss’.
Third step – An Attitude of Happiness. French novelist Marcel Proost says, “Happiness is good for the body; but it suffering and pain which help to develop the power of our mind.” Lives and the creative writings of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are proof of this statement of novelist Proost. For, most people go on thinking and worrying about their suffering and hardly any appreciation for the happiness experienced in their lives. Even when people have more thing to be happy and few things of suffering, they ignore their happiness and think more about their sufferings!
In the New Year if there is some sufferings in our lives, then think about solutions to the suffering. But let us cultivate the attitude of happiness and appreciation for the things which gives us happiness. Let us think of our relatives, friends, acquaintances and all others who bring happiness to us and enjoy the happiness. Let us create a habit of being happy. Let us enjoy happiness even in the midst of things which bring us sufferings and pain. Let us understand that both happiness and sufferings are part and parcel of our life. So let us accept them joyfully.
Forth Step – Celebrating Relationships. English Poet John Done (1573-16310) has a very famous quotation in one of his poems: “A person is not an island but a piece of a continent; is a part of the whole.” A person cannot live alone. So we say that human being is a social being. A person is formed and grows and develops in relationship with others.
From the birth of a child God has put it in relationship with other people. There is the relationship with parents; relationship with brothers and sisters; relationship with all other family members. Then, there is the relationship with friends and acquaintances as well as with neighbours. Thus innumerable relationship forms a person. Later we also get opportunities to build relationship in our place work and other activities. So our efforts must always be to maintain old relationship while building new relationships. In English they say, “Count your life-span with the number of friends, you have made; and not with years of life”.
Fifth Step – Positive Attitude. Positive and creative attitude helps a person to maintain his/her equilibrium amidst difficulties, calamities, unpleasant events and keep him/her a wise person. Positive attitude helps a person to be happy always.
There is a unique character by name Paul in the New Testament of the Bible. He was a fanatic persecutor of the followers of Jesus! But with an encounter with Jesus he turned from a persecutor of Christians to tireless preacher of Jesus’ life and message to many races and nations in Asia and Europe. Being in the forefront of proclaiming Jesus and his message he faced many obstacles and much sufferings.
The Jews caught him and three times lashed him 39 times each for proclaiming Jesus and his message! Once he suffered as victim of stone throwing and people thought that he was dead! But he survived the ordeal. More than once his ship was broken in mid sea and once he suffered a day and night in the sea water! (see 2 Corinth 11: 23-26). In spite of these sufferings and pain Paul maintained a positive attitude to life. So he could write a letter to the Church at Philippines, “I want you to know, my brothers, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the Gospel” (Phil. 1: 12).
Paul kept his equilibrium in most difficult situations maintaining always a positive attitude of life. The example of Paul shows that in most trying situations keeping a positive attitude is possible for us. So keeping always a positive attitude and maintaining a right vision of life let us train our lives to be happy during the whole New Year.
Finally let me conclude my article with a story of a fisher man who enjoys the happiness of life with a positive attitude and right vision of life.
Some years back my cousin brother Mathew Vellankal of happy memory sent me this story when internet communication began to be common. It is the story of a big business man and an ordinary fisher man. The business man was loitering on the sea shore when he came across fisherman who was resting near his boat. Seeing the fisher man carelessly relaxing the business man said, “This is the time to put out your net in the sea for fishing; and why are you resting instead of fishing?”
Answering the simple question of the business man the fisher man said, “Now I am not fishing putting out my net in the sea because I have already caught enough fish for today”.
“But why don’t you catch more fish?” the Business man asked.
The fisher man was surprised with the question of the business man! So instead of answering the business man he asked a question: “What shall I do catching more fish?”
“Catching more fish you can earn more money; you can buy a motor for your boat and you can also buy a new net. Then, going into deep sea you can catch more fish. Afterwards you can buy a new motorized fishing boat. Then working systematically you can catch a lot fish and selling them you can become a rich man like me.”
The fisherman was not much impressed by the rich business man proposal. So the fisherman asked the rich business man again: “What then after getting new motorized boat and new fishing net and catching a lot of fish and making much money?”
The rich business man was a bit puzzled by the question of the fisherman. Still, keeping his cool, the business man said: “Then you can peacefully relax and find rest in your life.”
Then responding to the rich business man the fisherman simple said: “But am I not peacefully relaxing and finding my rest already now?”
The rich business man had no answer to the fisher man! The fisher man was not a lazy person. He has already worked and got enough fish for looking after his family and live happily in the society. He worked enough to lead a happy life for him and for his family. He was not in the rat race to earn more and more money without ever being satisfied. He had already the positive attitude to life and was enjoying happiness with right vision of life.
Changed on: 01-01-2020
Next Change: 16-01-2020
Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2020