Tenali Ramakrishna, fondly remembered as Tenali Raman, was a 16th-century court poet at the Vijayanagara Empire in India. He hailed from a town called Tenali. He is remembered even today for his extraordinary wit, brilliance and wisdom.
What is it that we want in life? We may have a long list ready – ranging from scoring 100% in the maths exam to learning bungee jumping to getting our daughter married. However, the ultimate goal of each activity is to bring happiness. How do we live life happily rather than live life seeking happiness?
#1: Be Happy, NOW!
Enjoying the gentle sea breeze, lying on a hammock, Tenali Raman’s friend wore a dreamy broad smile on his face.
Tenali : “Why are you smiling all by yourself?”
Friend : “I’m thinking of the day when I will be truly happy”.
Tenali : When is that?
Friend : When I can have a house of my own by the sea, a comfortable car, a healthy bank balance, get married to a pretty girl, have four sons, get them educated so that they get a good job, earn a lot of money, and…
Tenali (Interrupting) : I get the picture, but what will you do after all that?
Friend : Then I can simply put up my feet and relax and enjoy the gentle breeze and the sun on my face.
Tenali : But my friend, you are doing that now itself – without having to do all that hard work!
Have you seen how we normally keep postponing our happiness? For instance, if you are in school, you think: ‘Once I am done with school, I’ll be happy!” Then, it’s college, job, and the list goes on. You fulfill one desire, there is a temporary sense of happiness and even before you know it, you start looking for happiness in something else – ‘If only I find my ideal life partner, I’ll be happy’, and then ‘If I get promoted, I’ll be happy’, and this chain continues.
Happiness is nowhere in the future! Think about it – can you be happy yesterday or tomorrow? You can only plan for it but you can be happy NOW, isn’t it? How can we be happy and do everything in life rather than do everything one after the other just to find happiness? Meditation is your answer. Meditation brings your mind to the present moment where true happiness lies and gives you the strength to smile every moment.
#2: Be content with what you have
Once Tenali Raman saw a man on the road holding a big round shield over his head in the direction of the sun. Curious to know what the man was trying to do, Tenali Rama went up to him and enquired.
Tenali : What are you doing?
Man : I am trying to hide the sun. It is too bright.
Tenali : My friend, why are you troubling yourself so much? I have a simpler solution to your problem.”
Saying this, Tenali Rama picked up a grain of sand in his hand and blew it into the man’s eyes.
Have you seen how you are always running behind desires, hoping that their fulfilment will bring you happiness? And in this chase, you are unable to enjoy what you already have. These desires are like the sand particles in the eye which do not let you perceive the beauty of what you have.
Meditation frees us from this feverishness and washes away these dust particles. It gives us inner freedom and contentment.
#3: Improve Observation, Perception and Expression with Meditation
Tenali Rama and his wife are deciding on what color to paint their house.
Wife : I want pink!
Tenali : Are you serious? We better leave it white and bright!
Wife : I have made up my mind. I will be happy only with pink.
Tenali (giving her a pair of pink-colored glasses) : Fine. Have it your way. Wear these glasses and not just these walls, even I will be pink!
What was Tenali Rama thinking? Wearing pink glasses does not make the house pink.
Stress colors our perception of reality. As a result, we don’t see things the way they are. This often results in misunderstandings and gives rise to further stress. How does one escape this vicious cycle?
Meditation gives you clarity and the ability to see things the way they are. Observation, perception and expression, all three improve with meditation.
With fewer misunderstandings and communication gaps, staying happy becomes easier.
#4: Save your mind at any cost
Tenali Raman and his wife were going to a friend’s wedding. His wife wore her best sari and jewels.
Suddenly from behind, a bullock cart, totally out of control, came rushing by. Tenali quickly pulls his wife towards himself in an effort to bring her to safety, loses balance and both of them fall into a pit along the road.
Wife (upset): What do you think you were doing? You spoilt my beautiful dress! I can’t go to the wedding like this now!
Tenali : Well, it’s time to buy a new dress then (as he smiles to himself thanking God that she is safe)!
Have you ever been in situations when you have tried to do good but ended up doing something unpleasant? Have you noticed that during such times, you end up feeling bad and blaming yourself? This is because the awareness that at least your intention was good is not always there. Actions are never perfect but intentions can be pure. Through meditation, we are able to cognize the intention and accept the imperfection in the action. This saves our mind and allows us to be happy, come what may.
Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks
By Divya Sachdev; based on inputs by Bharathy Harish, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Expert.