Resources

Higher Joy

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

24 January 2022

That day, seeing the poor boy eating the ice cream, he felt an overwhelming joy – far different from the satisfaction of eating the choicest ice cream. Every day he only eats it. It is a short-lived joy for the tongue. But today, he sacrificed the ice cream for another boy, to give him the joy of eating ice cream. The sharing gave him an altogether different kind of joy.

I have been thinking why it is so difficult to inculcate virtues when it is so joyful to have a virtuous mind? If we tell seekers – “love everybody; don’t blame anybody; be disciplined” – it will not work. We have to somehow communicate the joy of being liberal, joy of growing with noble qualities.

Unless a person is exposed to good music, until the inner experience of harmony is had, he will not start loving music. People talk about meditation. But a real love for meditation will dawn only when a person sitting in meditation is able to have a blissful absorption. Then we don’t have to tell him anymore. He would like to meditate again and again.

How to give children a taste of a liberal mindset, a value-oriented life? Perhaps stories will help them understand the real taste of human values. Of course, thereafter they have to live the values to get established in them.

One story I have been telling – in fact, it is not a story, it is a real episode. Many of you may know about it also.

A boy used to go with his father to a park regularly, and almost every day, the father would buy an ice cream for him. In Kolkata (India), you will find some urchin boys around in parks. When you throw the cup, they would lick whatever is sticking to that. It is a very pathetic sight but we are used to that sight. Those who eat ice cream in the park, may never even bother about it! They don’t feel shy of eating in front of the poor boys looking at them.

Every day the boy used to relish ice cream. Now, one day the father told him, “Don’t you feel like sharing your ice cream with that poor boy who looks at you?”

The son immediately said, “Yes, every day I am eating. Today, I will give it to him.” He offered the full cup of ice cream to the urchin boy.

That day, seeing the poor boy eating the ice cream, he felt an overwhelming joy – far different from the satisfaction of eating the choicest ice cream. Every day he only eats it. It is a short-lived joy for the tongue. But today, he sacrificed the ice cream for another boy, to give him the joy of eating ice cream. The sharing gave him an altogether different kind of joy.

The poor boy was standing under a huge tree. After eating half of the cup of ice cream, he looked upwards and a monkey came down. The boy gave the half cup to the monkey, and when the monkey was eating, the “poor” boy was all in joy that he could give ice cream to the monkey that day. So, it was joy for every body – the father, the son, the poor boy and the monkey!

Now, in such situations, parents can always take the opportunity to introduce some introspection in the child. We just see, feel, enjoy and forget. But, such events can easily be transformed into a great revelation, which will remain permanently ingrained in the child.

If you had asked the boy to compare the joy of eating ice cream with that of sharing it with the urchin, he would have become thoughtful and would definitely conclude that the joy of sharing was the higher joy.

The father could have asked the son: “Suppose I give you two or three or twenty ice creams! Will you get more and more joy? Maybe, you will hate eating any more ice creams. So, can you then say that the joy lies in the ice cream, in eating ice creams?”

The source of joy is always within – in the mind. Joy of sharing is originating from the expansion of the mind – from loving others, in feeling for others, in making others happy. Also, it is not sensory and short-lived like the joy of eating. Suppose the boy or the father remembers that event later on, will he not feel joyous? When I read the story, I felt so happy, so happy! Anybody hearing it, if he has a good mind, will surely be happy. You may almost call it ‘eternal joy’. By every remembrance, the joy will increase, it will never decrease. Is it not so? The ice cream dependent joy will go as soon as the ice cream is over!

We may not be able to wean ourselves away from sensory joys. But can we not at least cultivate the higher joys also?

“Parents can always take the opportunity to introduce some introspection in the child. We just see, feel, enjoy and forget. But, such events can easily be transformed into a great revelation, which will remain permanently ingrained in the child.”

“The source of joy is always within – in the mind. Joy of sharing is originating from the expansion of the mind – from loving others, in feeling for others, in making others happy. ”

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