Finding Peace And Contentment

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Imagine a state of being at perfect peace and contentment with yourself. There is nothing to ruffle the tranquility of your mind. You flow effortlessly with the stream of life, and find joy and repose in it. You are not struggling against adversities that are humanly created. Imagine living in a state of tranquility such that each day brings joy to your life. Such a state of being can be achieved in this very life if you seek in the right direction and understand what the purpose of your life is.

Great spiritual teachers of the world have taught us the importance of attaining such a state in life. It is this state that makes life worthwhile and allows us to fulfill our destiny in the most meaningful way. This state of being we call *Peace and Contentment.* (To simplify the reading I will use *contentment* to refer to both.)

Why is contentment such an important attribute for us to possess? We may think of contentment as a very precious commodity that is hard to attain, yet it is sought by all. I think that you will agree that every person in the world wants to be contented. I also think that there is hardly any person in the world who is truly contented. The reason is not hard to find.

People identify themselves with the physical body and the attainment of material things. Practically all people are driven by ambition to attain more and more of whatever they set their hearts on. It may be wealth, which is practically a universal desire of mankind. It may be attainment of other material goods or having a good family, or job etc. On the mental/emotional side we can say that people are striving to attain fame, honour and prestige. They are hungry for recognition and so they strive very hard to fulfill this fleeting ambition. Yet ambition directed in a positive way can help improve the status of any person. Such positive directions do not mean driven by a blind desire, but a positive state through understanding that certain things are important in life and they need to be cultivated. Such things are truthfulness, honesty, integrity, love etc., and these do not need the expenditure of effort really. They require only awareness, and their adoption. The rewards will be immeasurable.

If we truly examine the origin of discontent we will find that it is rooted in desires and cravings. These are created in the mind and then expressed through the various senses. The more we desire things the less content we are. The converse is also true. Practically everything that people do in this life is motivated by various desires. And what do the desires do? When not fulfilled they cause frustration, anger, unhappiness, depression and, in extreme cases, suicide. When desires are fulfilled, there is a sense of achievement and satisfaction. But fulfilled desires result in a greater motive force in the future. People who attain the fulfillment of desires will often think that this is the goal of life. It really is not. The fulfillment of certain desires to satisfy the basic needs of living is important. But beyond that, they cause more headaches and frustrations. It takes very little to be contented. The basic needs of life are food, shelter, fresh air, water, sleep, sunshine and exercise. [Swami Sivananda of India called these the “best doctors” in the world]. Most of these are free and we need not strive hard for them. And I am sure you will agree that it takes very little effort to supply oneself with just sufficient food. Clothing and shelter need not be elaborate to fulfill the basic needs of living. All elaborations are due to pride and vanity.

Contentment has been taught by all the great world religions. Christianity taught, “Let Thy will be done.” Islam teaches surrender to God, and it exclaims *inshallah* -“God willing.” Buddhism teaches to take refuge in the Buddha and to develop the Buddha nature. Lord Buddha also taught that craving is the cause of all suffering. Hinduism teaches that you surrender to the Law of Karma that is the law of God. It is the law of cause and effect. This is also taught in Christianity “As you sow, so also you shall reap.” You are creating your own destiny according to your thoughts, words and deeds. Guru Kabir of the Kabir Path stated to live as God wishes to keep you. He also taught that “In me there is nothing that is mine; whatever there is, is yours. If I surrender unto you what is yours, what loss is it to me?” Sikhism teaches to be a true disciple according to the dictates of God-*Akal Purkh*. It is a truism that the more you have the more troubles you have. It is also a truism that if you have nothing, you have nothing to worry about.

In this fast moving materialistic and permissive world people are striving frantically to fulfill all manner of desires. We live in a very discontented world. With the increasing speed of modernity, and the increasing production of material goods, and the accumulation of more and more wealth, one may try to speculate what the end result of all of these will be. Now there are more stress related illnesses than ever before, and the United Nations has declared that stress is the number one health problem in the world. In spite of various achievements in the field of health, and the increasing numbers of psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, churches, religious denominations, and preachings, the world is becoming more and more stressful for practically all people. What is the solution? Simplify your life. Reduce your desires and cravings. Strive for love, harmony, and human understanding. Follow Guru Kabir’s advice: “Attain the wealth of *contentment* and all material wealth will be like dust.”

Dr. J. Das is a Surrey-based writer and spiritualist. He can be reached at [email protected] or visirt the website www.kabir.ca.