There is a beautiful story of a beggar who lived all of his life under one tree. Each day he would go out into the villages and beg for just some dry bread crumbs to sustain his life. Then, he would come back to his tree and eat his bread or whatever scraps the villagers had given him that day. For forty years the beggar lived under the same tree, pleading with the people to give him some food. He’d walk to all the nearby villages, alternating days, begging for his nourishment. Slowly, day by day, he became weaker, and finally one day his body could no longer sustain itself and he passed quietly into death.
When the villagers found him, they decided to bury his ashes under the tree where he lived out his life. As they began to dig, in order to place his ashes deep in the ground, they found a treasure chest – full of gold, diamonds and jewels, a mere six inches below the ground.
For forty years, the beggar had lived, barely scraping by on his dry bread crumbs, sitting six inches above a treasure chest which would have rendered him as rich as a king. If only it had ever occurred to him to explore the depths of the Earth on which he sat, or to delve deeply into the recesses of his home – he would have discovered this treasure chest. But, he did not. Rather, he sat on the surface, suffering and withering away, day by day.
Too frequently in life we are also like this beggar – running here and there searching, begging for that which we need to fulfill our lives. Perhaps we are not begging for food or basic life necessities. More likely we are searching and yearning for peace, happiness or God. We go here, we beg there. We search this place, we search that place. But that priceless and yet crucial peace and happiness still elude us.
If only we would sit still for a moment and go deeper within, we would find that treasure chest. We don’t even have to dig six inches. Just right within us, sitting in our heart, is God, and through our connection to Him, all of the riches of the world are bestowed upon us.
However, too frequently I see people running in the opposite direction in their fruitless search. They run from this workshop to that workshop, from this new trend to that new trend, all the while being frustrated in their search. Stop for a moment and look within.
The Indian youth, especially, are all incredibly blessed. Your culture, your heritage and your traditions are a true treasure chest of meaning, understanding, wisdom and insight. Through opening this box of jewels you will definitely find the happiness, contentment and peace for which you are searching.
Go back to your roots, back to your heritage, back to the temple. Listen to the stories of your parents and grandparents. Perform aarti with deep devotion. Go to have the satsang and the darshan of visiting saints. Take a trip to India rather than to the beaches or ski slopes. Through this re-connection to your culture and your heritage you will find the key which will open the treasure chest.
But, never forget that the treasure chest is inside of you, flowing through your veins. It is not some external “thing” to be obtained or found. Rather, the divine joy is residing within you, in your heart, in your breath and in your blood.