Advice of the Wise Man in the Palace
  • Sat, 03/29/2014
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Once upon a time, a prosperous merchant sent his son to a wise man to learn the secret of happiness. The lad walked for forty days until he reached a great palace built on a mountaintop. This was where the wise man lived. He waited two hours in a long queue. When it was his turn the wise man told him there was not enough time at present and he should take a tour of the castle in the meantime and come back in two hours. The wise man gave him a spoon in which two small drops of oil were placed and told him to hold the spoon carefully throughout his walk so the drops do not run off the spoon.

So the lad started his walk throughout the palace. He toured every nook and cranny of the great building, ascending and descending many times along the way, all the while holding the spoon carefully so that each drop stayed in its place.

When he returned, the wise man asked him: “Did you see the Persian carpets in the dining hall? Did you see the sumptuous gardens? Did you peruse the volumes in the library?

The lad was taken aback. He confessed that he had not seen anything, because he was busy preventing the drops of oil from spilling off the spoon.

The wise man ordered him to take another tour of the palace. This time, the lad paid attention to his surroundings. He saw all of the splendors the palace had to offer. However, when he returned to the wise man, he realized that the two drops of oil had run off the spoon.

The secret to happiness is to experience the wonders of the world around you while not spilling the drops of oil. Happiness is to achieve a balance.

Enjoy the little things that life sends your way. Give them your attention, and your life will be filled with many opportunities for happiness, great and small. Do not cross examine everything that happens. Do not dissect every situation. Do not kill the joy. Take pleasure in a pleasant meeting with an acquaintance. Enjoy a short break sipping tea or having a meal wish some friends. Engage in some light conversation, steering clear of the heavy questions that will just turn the mood sour.

Life’s many moments can be likened to a cabbage. Some people tear of its leaves to eat them or to use them in preparing a meal. Other tear off all the leaves and discard them in order to get at the juicy heart, and they turn up empty-handed. They denied themselves the benefit of the cabbage leaves looking for something more precious, and found that they had instead discarded everything of value. You might say that the cabbage has no heart, or you could say it is all heart. Our lives are like that. We often see the everyday events of our lives as having little value, and we do not give them the attention they deserve. However, those moments are our lives, and we should live them as positively as we can. If we make it our habit to do so, our lives will be richer.

I owe a lot to times in my life which were very painful. Many people wanted to keep me from happiness. Instead, they forced me to notice what was better than what I had known. As Allah says to us: “Allah knows, and you do not know.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 216]

This might all seem rather abstract to a young person struggling with life’s difficulties. I lived through the same sort of trials no doubt, and if I had to live it all over again, I would not choose anything other than what Allah had decreed for me.

Dashrath Manjhi was a poor laborer in the Gehlaur village near Gaya in Bihar, India. Manjhi's wife, Falguni Devi became seriously ill and she died from lack of medical treatment because the nearest town with a doctor was 70 kilometers away and the ambulance did not arrive in time.

Manjhi did not want anyone else to suffer the same fate as his wife, so he petitioned the government to construct a tunnel through the mountain to shorten the distance to the city. he was ignored. So this farmer picked up some simple hand tools and began to carve a path through the mountain. All the villagers thought he had gone mad. With nothing but a pick, an axe, a picture of his lost wife, and his heart's resolve, he worked day and night for 22 years from 1960 to 1982. In the end, he had dug a tunnel through the mountain 110 meters long, 9.1 meters wide, and seven meters high. His feat reduced the distance between the village and the main city from 55 km to 15 km. Children from the village were able to go to school in the city and ambulances could reach the village in good time. bringing him national acclaim.

It took him twenty years to accomplish something the government could have completed in three months, but it was only because of him that it was accomplished at all. he is known as Mountain Man. A major motion picture has been made out of his story. When he died in 2007, he was given a state funeral by the Government of Bihar.

There have always been problems and there will always be problems. However, if we approach life as a problem, we live in the most restricted possible way. If we approach it as a promise, we find it to be beautiful and vast.

A pessimistic outlook is the most stifling prison. It is like a premature death, is not surprising to find the victims of pessimism alone and moaning for the end, criticizing those who advise them to act otherwise that they are depriving them of the pleasure to whine, the only pleasure they have in life, if it can even be called a life.