Many, many, many times I’ve heard from those around me. They are unhappy over their lives. Job was very stressful, commitments are catching up, age is catching up, and they could not find the directions of their lives. What was the meaning of life? I guess this is the million dollar question that everyone was asking but nobody ever had the real answer.
However, I reckon that a small group among us may have found the answer to the question. I met one yesterday. He was a very happy man. He did not have much money, in fact he had none. But his wealth was not measurable by accumulation of physical assets, but by contentment of life. His words resonate with a strong sense of happiness over what he does every single day. It truly marvels everyone who listened to him for 2 hours how simple and happy life can be. He is a Buddhist monk. His name is Ajahn Brahmavamso, a name well-known among the Buddhist community around the world.
Hearing him talk for 2 hours was nothing short of an eye opener. With his witty and funny way, learning Buddhist teaching had never been so easy. It had never occurred to me that a monk would crack jokes. For almost ten years I’ve been studying Buddhist teaching in various ways, none have enabled me to learn while I was laughing like a kid. It seems that what was said by the DJ in the movie 2012 is indeed true, “First you make them laugh, then you make them THINK”.
He gave many stories and cracked lots of jokes last nite. Many of it had very meaningful teachings behind. Would like to share one with here… I’ve only heard it once, so can’t remember every details of it, and he said it much, much better than I could ever write. But the gist of it is such:
One day an Englishman was having a holiday in Mexico. It was a beautiful fishing lake with a marvelous view. At around noon the Englishman decided to take a walk along the lake and enjoy the scenery around the area. While he was walking, he saw a fisherman, slowly paddling his small fishing boat full of fish back to the dock.
The Englishman was interested seeing the fisherman and he walked over to him at the dock and asked, “Good afternoon. How was your day?”
The fisherman replied, “ Buenas dias, Senor. I had a good catch today; I got enough fish to sell to the fishmonger at the market. I shall get to the market now, sell off my catch, then have lunch with my wife. Then we relax a little bit and wait for our children to come home from school. Then I can play with my kids and enjoy my time with them. At night we will have good dinner and spend our time around the lake.”
The Englishman was taken aback a little, and said “No no no no. You are wasting your resources like this! I am a Professor of Business Management in a university in England. Would you like me to teach you how you can be rich?”
The fisherman replied, “Of course, Senor. How do I do that?”
The Professor replied, “You are leaving your boat here for an entire afternoon. It’s such a waste of resources. You can go have lunch, but after that come back and get on your boat again to catch more fish. Then you can double your income. Save the extra money and after a year or two you can buy a second boat. Then you can hire another fisherman to catch more fish for you. Keep doing that then you can buy your third, fourth and fifth boats. After five years you can have an entire fleet of fishing boats. Then you can decide to move your fishing company up to Los Angeles in the States. Then you can float shares of your company to the public, give yourself some share options, and you’ll become a multi-millionaire!”
The fisherman was wide-eyed. He felt excited, thinking of the possibility to be so rich. Then he asked the Professor, “ But Senor, what do I do after I became a millionaire?”
Again the Professor was taken aback, for his entire career he had been studying and researching about how can one build business and get rich. But he had never thought of what does one do beyond that point. It was the first time he had this question and he didn’t really know how to answer that. So he thinks hard. Then he found his answer.
“You can retire.” said the Professor. “You can retire young, to a place like… er… like this. A fishing lake. Yes. You can retire here. Enjoy your retirement life. Fish for fun in the morning. Sell anything you catch to the market. Come back and have a good lunch with your wife in the afternoon. Wait for your kids to come home from school. Play with them and spend your time. Have good dinner and walk around the lake in the evening. Yes that would be nice.”
After listening to the Professor, the fisherman replied in confusion, “But I am already doing that, Senor.”
Sometimes we always try very hard to get something we wanted. But we often forget to appreciate what we have right now.
Many more great stories from that night. Couldn’t remember all, but the lessons sort of registered in the back of my mind.
It’s feels good to write down the stories here. At least I will never forget them, even if no one ever reads them. Lol….
Ajahn mentioned several times about his new book Opening the door of your heart. According to him, the stories inside the book had saved many marriages and lives. I could not find a copy of this book at the counter behind the hall after the talk. Think I’m going to search for it someday.
This is the interview he had with News Channel Asia in Singapore about his book. Even in such a simple interview, his lessons were superbly taught.