The beggar and the box of treasure
We have two eyes to look out into the world so it’s easy to forget to look within.
An ancient Buddhist story tells of a beggar who sat for years on an old wooden box with his hands out to receive whatever passersby chose to give him. Perhaps a coin, a piece of bread or a bit of dried fish. Just enough to keep him alive.
One day a traveller paused to talk. ‘I have nothing to give you,’ he said. The beggar shifted his weary bones on the box and sniffed. The traveller asked, ‘What’s in the box?’ ‘Nothing,’ replied the beggar. ‘How do you know?’ said the man. ‘Have you ever looked inside?’ The beggar shook his head. ‘No, I just sit on it.’ But his curiosity had been aroused, so he slowly got up, curled his fingers over the edge of the box and tugged. The stiff, rusty hinges screeched as he lifted the lid.
He was almost blinded by what he saw. Golden coins reflecting the light of the midday sun gleamed back at him. He’d been sitting on this treasure for years and never known it. There had been no need for him to beg.
We can be like that beggar.
We don’t beg for food. But we do sit on the side of the road of life and hope others will give us snippets of truth to help us make sense of our existence. We beg for things like wisdom, love and peace. We look outside ourselves for salvation. We long for others to tell us the meaning of life.
The point of the story of the beggar and the box of treasure is to look within yourself for answers.
How to look within.
You don’t need a special mat, specific music, supple body, scented flames or spirit tools. You don’t have to pay someone to open your Third Eye. You can look within anywhere, anytime. You can be running for your life or lounging by the pool. You can be in the middle of a heated meeting or holding a sleeping baby.
No matter what you’re doing, you’re linked to something I’ll call eternal presence. It’s not yours. It’s not something you have to ask for. It flows through you. It flows through all things. And it’s what you consciously connect with when you look within.
A simple way to look within is to feel yourself breathing. Feel your heart beating. Feel blood pumping through your veins. These quiet, automatic, continuous happenings that keep you alive can be a doorway to a deeper level of awareness of eternal presence.
Normally your life is full of thinking. You’re dealing with people, things and situations that continually pop up all around you. There are appointments to keep, speeding cars to avoid, ice creams to lick. The trouble is you’re so immersed in everyday life you’ve lost the more subtle connection you always have to eternal presence.
The body is a doorway to another way of being in the world. Usually our minds lead the way but try leaving thoughts alone while you look within. Don’t think about thoughts. Let them be.
Eternal presence won’t give solutions to mathematical puzzles or whisper the name of your perfect partner. Thoughts don’t live there. Eternal presence is pure awareness so it’s spacious and still. It’s quiet.
You might seek eternal presence to find answers to some of the questions life throws at you, but there aren’t really answers in eternal presence, because when you open yourself up to it, your questions dissolve.
When you keep your connection open to eternal presence, you find that each moment answers its own question so immediately that it’s as if there was no question in the first place.
The awareness of your connection to eternal presence can come and go in the rush of everyday life, but knowing it’s there, and always accessible, changes everything.
Looking within and looking outward blend into one way of being.
Looking in and looking out, the view is the same, when observed through eternal presence.
Some call it being in a state of mindfulness. Some call it heartfulness.
Whatever name you put to it, it changes you and it changes the world.
With love, Marlane