Focusing on God

Once a woman was standing outside in the street searching and searching for something under the bright street lamp. A wise man walked by and asked her, “Mother, what are you searching for?”

She replied, “I have lost my needle and I am looking for it.” The man helped her search for quite sometime, all to no avail.  Finally, he asked, “Mother, where exactly did you lose your needle?” She replied, “I was sewing inside on the chair and the needle was lost there.” The wise man queried, “But Mother, if you lost your needle inside then why are you searching outside for it?” The woman answered, “Because inside it is dark and I cannot see. Here, with the light of this lamp I can see easily and search for my needle.” The wise man counseled her, “Mother, go back inside. It may be dark and difficult to see, but your needle is inside. Light a candle and search inside. You will never find your needle out here.”

We laugh at the silliness of the old woman who looked for her needle outside even though it had been lost inside. Yet, don’t we do the same thing in our lives? We look outside for our happiness, for our fulfillment, for our joy. We look to possessions to fulfill us. We think that if we have the newest model car or a new CD or a new pair of shoes that we will be happy.  When we feel depressed or stressed, what do we do? We go shopping, or we go on a holiday to the beach.

Yet, we all know that it is not there. We are never truly happier or more peaceful the day after buying something new than we were before. In fact we frequently forget that we even bought it! The new coat or pair of shoes or CD gets put in a closet or store room and we forget about it.

We may have a new coat, but it is still being worn by the same person. We may have new shoes, but they are covering the same feet. We may be driving a new car, but the driver is the same.  We may be in Hawaii or Tahiti or on a cruise ship – but WE are still there and the pain comes from within, not from without.  If the dissatisfaction and the pain come from within then how can the satisfaction and joy come from without?

They cannot. The sooner we realize that the true answer lies within – in our hearts, in our relationship to God, in our inner selves — the quicker we will find that answer. It is a rare person, though, who pauses to look inward for answers. Most of us are so busy searching shopping malls, vacation catalogues and our relationships with other people for the answers.

Why do we look outside? Because it is lighter. It is easier. It is easier to see things and other people than our own selves. So we search these things and these other people for the keys to our happiness. But, although the light is there, the needle is not.

We must go inward, even though it seems dark and even though it seems that we may never find anything.  We must have faith and start searching. Meditation, prayer, faith in God, a spiritual practice, a Guru, introspection, silence – these are all things that light the way for us to look inward, to find that needle.

Our candle may be dim at first, it might be hard to see . But slowly that candle will get brighter and brighter and we will eventually find the needle which we lost.  However, the longer we search outside, the longer our needle will remain lost.

I pray that at this divine time of the holiday season when we will all be enjoying our families, our vacations and the exchange of possessions, I pray you all to turn inward. I don’t mean to ignore your family and friends or not to buy gifts for your children. Rather, as you are enjoying the time with your family and as you are enjoying the gifts you receive, please remember that nowhere – other than within your own heart – lies the true answer to your happiness. Love your family without expectation. Enjoy the material gifts without expectation. Enjoy the holiday without expectation. When we expect these external things, people and places to bring us the ultimate bliss in life, that is when we will be disappointed. When we love and appreciate them as they are, but turn inward and to God for the true bliss, that is when we will be satisfied both externally and internally.

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