Nothing, nobody, can take away your happiness

Yesterday I was watching a Hindi movie called Heroine (directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, September 2012). In the movie, the film’s heroine, played admirably by Kareena Kapoor, tells her boyfriend that she’s scared of being happy. Because she believes that happiness is too short-lived. She’s scared that someone, something, will take her happiness away!

Many of us lead our lives this way. Forever – fearful,  anxious and worried. Happiness and inner peace, interestingly, have no expiry date. But we, tragically, believe exactly the opposite to be true! The truth is that all our fears are connected with external, material, physical, reference points. These points could be people or things. To flip the paradigm, a tectonic shift in our thinking has to happen. From external reference points, we must move inward, anchor within, to and in our inner core!

An old Zen story I have read Osho say is of a Zen Master who was invited as a guest by someone. A few friends had gathered and they were listening intently to the Master when suddenly there was an earthquake. The building that they were sitting in was a seven story building, and they were on the seventh story. Naturally, they all feared for Life and ran. Everybody tried to escape. The host, running down, paused, and came back to see what had happened to the Master. He was sitting still, on the floor, on the mat, with not even a ripple of anxiety on his face.

With closed eyes he was sitting just as he had been sitting before.

The host felt a little guilty. He felt cowardly. It does not look good when a guest is sitting while the host is running away. The others, the guests, had already gone down the stairs but he stopped himself although he was trembling with fear, and he too sat down by the side of the Master.

The earthquake came and went in a matter of a few minutes. Once the tremors and rumblings stopped, the Master opened his eyes and resumed his discourse which he had had to stop because of the earthquake. He began again at exactly the same sentence as if the earthquake had not happened at all!

The host was now in no mood to listen, he was in no mood to understand because his whole being was so troubled and he was so afraid. Even though the earthquake was over, he was still in shock, in fear. He said: “Now please don’t say anything because I will not be able to grasp it, I’m not myself anymore. The earthquake has disturbed me. But there is one question I would like to ask. All other guests had escaped, I was also running down the stairs, when suddenly I remembered you. Seeing you sitting here with closed eyes, sitting so undisturbed, so unperturbed, I felt a little cowardly – I am the host, I should not run. So I came back and I have been sitting by your side. I would like to ask one question. We all tried to escape. What happened to you? How’s it that you did not feel like running?”

The Master said: I also ran, but you ran outwardly while I escaped inwardly. Your escape is useless because wherever you are going there too is an earthquake, so it is meaningless, it makes no sense. You may reach the sixth story or the fifth or the fourth, but there too is an earthquake. I escaped to a point within me where no earthquake ever reaches, cannot reach. I entered my center.”

This story is the essence of Zen. It means that when you reach your center, nothing can affect you. No external event, development, can touch you. Your center has been, is, and will be with you. It is INyou. In your center, you will find both perpetual happiness and inner peace. Even if you are physically in shackles, if you are anchored, centered, no one can take away your inner peace or make you unhappy. Know that only you yourself are responsible for your peace and inner joy. But since you and I are not awake and aware all the time, we keep looking at external reference points and keep fearing, like the heroine in Heroine, that somebody, someone will snatch away our happiness.

So, go within, connect with your center. Drop anchor. Only then can you can remain in this world and yet be above it__untouched and out of it.