The Art of Contentment
From Dosa to Filter Coffee, Your Provision Lies With God!
Recently, I was fortunate to meet a spiritual coach, who had organised a spiritual retreat. Taking us through his personal journey, he stated he was always happy. It wasn’t that he did not face day-to-day challenges as all of us do. But, he chose to be happy irrespective of what brickbats or hardships he faced.
According to the teacher, at one time, he was very fond of a certain type of dosa that was available at a particular restaurant. If he was travelling by this restaurant and he could not stop by, he would get upset. But as years went by, his spiritual insights helped him to overcome the agitation. Even if he craved for the dosa and did not get to eat it, he would let the matter go.
From a little thing like a dosa to various other desires that we may nurture, the art lies in letting go and letting things be. This brings contentment.
Whatever I could grasp from this spiritual coach can be put in a nutshell as the ‘Art of Contentment.’ For someone like me, who is used to a cup of hot filter coffee in the morning (one of the most joyous moments for me) not able to access coffee in some circumstances would at one time make me feel sad or deprived. But over the days, I got so used to drinking tea or non-filter coffee that the ‘suffering’ I went through in my mind simply vanished. I chose to let it be, and this made me content.
Imbibing contentment in one’s life happens through experiences. No book or workshop can give us that gift. One can choose to be happy, irrespective of whether you get or do not get your favourite dosa or filter coffee!
In life, we often get stuck with petty issues of wants, aspirations, ambitions, plans or dreams. But God is the biggest planner. So, if we surrender to His will, then there is no pain of losing out if we don’t get this or that.
While I personally have to practise what I am saying here, I also like to share this particular verse from the Holy Quran ‘Allah enlarges, or grants by strict measure, the sustenance which He gives to whomsoever He pleases. The worldly rejoice in the life of this world: But the life of this world is but little comfort in the Hereafter.
(Surah Ar-Raad, 26)
Reflecting on this verse makes one realise that our life is in control of the Almighty. That is the biggest motivation to remain happy always. Gratitude to the Almighty for what we have in our lives is the key to contentment.
The retreat did a world of good for me! The teacher’s discussion about the ignorance of reality, the purpose of human life, God- realisation and so on resonated with me deeply. One reason was that he seemed to walk the talk and live it out in his daily life. After having seen money, fame and fortune and realising that obtaining these was not the purpose God had brought him to the world, he underwent a transformation, shutting down his business and setting off on a search to discover himself. After intense study, including of various religions, he realised that knowledge about religions is just the kindergarten step, while going beyond conventional religiosity to enter the spiritual realm is like passing on to university.
At the retreat, the teacher generously shared his own experiences and personal spiritual journey with a small group of participants. Minus any intellectual jargon, he sought to help us open our hearts to question ‘Who am I?’ in a very simple manner.
The faith I believe in endorses moderation and the middle path. One need not renounce the world to attain God. What one has to renounce is the ego and the obsession with ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’ that work as an obstacle to connecting with God through the heart. The teacher brought this out very nicely at the retreat, and at the end of it I felt I had been in the presence of a really wise person!