Does it feel like you spend your day on a treadmill going nowhere fast? Are you exhausted at the end of the day, with nothing to show for it? There is a way to find peace in the busyness of your day; to stop and smell the roses; to focus on what is truly important in life. The answers lie within.
There is an instructive story from the writing of Leo Tolstoy. There was a peasant in Russia who owned a small plot of land. He led a life of peace and contentment until one day he began to envy his brother-in-law who was a rich landlord. He watched as his brother-in-law bought more and more land and had more and more tenants. The more prosperous he grew, the more the peasant began desiring the same. He started saving his money to buy some land.
When the peasant had raised enough capital, he started looking for land to buy. He heard there was some cheap land in a neighboring territory. When he traveled to see the land, he found that the people living on it lived a nomadic life.
The peasant brought some gifts for the chief in charge of that territory. The chief thanked him for the gifts and said he could have as much land as he could walk around before sunset. The agreement was that he start out in the morning and whatever distance he could walk by sunset, the peasant could keep the land.
The peasant was overjoyed at the possibility of owning such a great amount of land. The villagers gathered to watch his race against time. He started out walking extremely fast so he could cover more ground. When the sun was high in the sky it became extremely hot. But the peasant did not want to waste time stopping for food and water lest he miss out on some more land. He thought if he kept going, he would get more land. The peasant was trying to cover the largest area he could by walking in a large circle, which ended up being a long distance.
He grew so greedy and ambitious that as the sun became hotter and hotter, he refused to stop for water. His legs grew more and more tired, but he refused to rest even for a few moments. Finally, the sun was about to set. The crowd began to applaud his victory. As he returned to the starting point, exhaustion and thirst overcame him to the point that he collapsed. Before the crowd realized what had transpired, the man had died of exhaustion and thirst.
Sadly, the people prepared for his funeral. They buried him on the same spot on which he collapsed. Thus, the only land he needed was the six feet by four feet of land in which his body would be buried.
This sad story of greed is not much different from the lives of many people on earth. Most people spend their lives in a race to try to make as much money as they can, accumulate as much land and as many possessions as they can, make as great a name for themselves as they can, or gain as much power as they can, only to find the race ends at their time of death.
Few people find contentment and peace in their lives when they live to gather only material gains in this world. People think a time will come when they will finally have enough so they can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. But too many end up leaving the world before they can find that peace.
The world is like a race. Some call it a rat race. We run around on a treadmill or wheel going nowhere fast. Before we know it, the whistle blows and the time of the race is up. The peasant was content until he began to envy what others had. Then he began a race that ended in his demise.
Few realize that contentment and peace are ours for the asking. They are already inside us. If we can be still and tap within, we will find riches far greater than any available on earth. We do not need to exert to find them. We can go about our daily life, earning our honest livelihood, providing for our families, and making enough to share with others, and still enjoy the peace and contentment within ourselves. We need not sacrifice that inner peace in the pursuit of outer riches which may or may not come or which may or may not provide the happiness we think they will give us.
The peasant did not take even a moment for rest and drink. Similarly, do we take moments in our lives for spiritual retreat, rest, and a drink from the fountain of Light within us? There is a fountainhead of bliss, love, and peace within us. Do we ever take a moment to stop and drink from it?
Let us not be like the peasant. Let us find time each day to stop and refresh ourselves in the fountain of divine treasures within by spending time in meditation. In this way, we can quench our thirst with the love of God that fills us with peace and joy as we go about our daily life. We will reach our worldly goals with peace and calm, and we will be overflowing with the inner bliss that makes life beautiful.