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Chapter 13, The Timeless Secret of Lifelong Happiness. Part 3
“Everyone,” said Julian emphatically. “We all have something that we are meant to do. Your genius will shine through, and happiness will fill your life, the instant you discover your higher purpose and then direct all your energies towards it. Once you are connected to this mission, whether it is being a great teacher of children or an inspired artist, all your desires will be fulfilled effortlessly. You will not even have to try. As a matter of fact, the harder you try, the longer it will take you to reach your aims. Instead, simply follow the path of your dreams, in full expectation of the bounty that is certain to flow. This will bring you to your divine destination. This is what I mean by growing your destiny,” Julian offered sagely.
“When I was a young boy, my father loved to read me a fairy tale known as ‘Peter and the Magic Thread.’ Peter was a very lively little boy. Everyone loved him: his family, his teachers and his friends. But he did have one weakness.”
“What was that?”
“Peter could never live in the moment. He had not learned to enjoy the process of life. When he was in school, he dreamed of being outside playing. When he was outside playing he dreamed of his summer vacation. Peter constantly daydreamed, never taking the time to savor the special moments that filled his days. One morning, Peter was out walking in a forest near his home. Feeling tired, he decided to rest on a patch of grass and eventually dozed off. After only a few minutes of deep sleep, he heard someone calling his name. ‘Peter! Peter!’ came the shrill voice from above. As he slowly opened his eyes, he was startled to see a striking woman standing above him. She must have been over a hundred years old and her snow-white hair dangled well below her shoulders like a matted blanket of wool. In this woman’s wrinkled hand was a magical little ball with a hole in the center and out of the hole dangled a long, golden thread.”
“‘Peter,’ she said, this is the thread of your life. If you pull the thread just a bit, an hour will pass in seconds. If you pull a little harder, whole days will pass in minutes. And if you pull with all your might, months — even years — will pass by in days.’ Peter grew very excited at this discovery. ‘I’d like to have it if I may?’ he asked. The elderly woman quickly reached down and gave the ball with the magic thread to the young boy.
The next day, Peter was sitting in the classroom feeling restless and bored. Suddenly, he remembered his new toy. As he pulled a little bit of the golden thread, he quickly found himself at home, playing in his garden. Realizing the power of the magic thread, Peter soon grew tired of being a schoolboy and longed to be a teenager, with all the excitement that phase of life would bring. So again he pulled out the ball and pulled hard on the golden thread.
Suddenly he was a teenager with a very pretty young girlfriend named Elise. But Peter still wasn’t content. He had never learned to enjoy the moment and to explore the simple wonders of every stage of his life. Instead, he dreamed of being an adult. So again he pulled on the thread and many years whizzed by in an instant. Now he found that he had been transformed into a middle-aged adult. Elise was now his wife and Peter was surrounded with a houseful of kids. But Peter also noticed something else. His once jet black hair had started to turn grey. And his once youthful mother whom he loved so dearly had grown old and frail. Yet Peter still could not live in the moment. He had never learned to ‘live in the now.’ So, once again, he pulled on the magic thread and waited for the changes to appear.
Peter now found that he was a ninety-year-old man. His thick dark hair had turned white as snow and his beautiful young wife Elise had also grown old and had passed away a few years earlier. His wonderful children had grown up and left home to lead lives of their own. For the first time in his entire life, Peter realized that he had not taken the time to embrace the wonders of living. He had never gone fishing with his kids or taken a moonlight stroll with Elise. He had never planted a garden or read those wonderful books his mother had loved to read. Instead, he had hurried through life, never resting to see all that was good along the way.
Peter became very sad at this discovery. He decided to go out to the forest where he used to walk as a boy to clear his head and warm his spirit. As he entered the forest, he noticed that the little saplings of his childhood had grown into mighty oaks. The forest itself had matured into a paradise of nature. He lay down on a small patch of grass and fell into a deep slumber. After only a minute, he heard someone calling out to him. ‘Peter! Peter!’ cried the voice. He looked up in astonishment to see that it was none other than the old woman who had given him the ball with the magic golden thread many years earlier.
‘How have you enjoyed my special gift?’ she asked.
Peter was direct in his reply.
‘At first it was fun but now I hate it. My whole life has passed before my eyes without giving me the chance to enjoy it. Sure, there would have been sad times as well as great times but I haven’t had the chance to experience either. I feel empty inside. I have missed the gift of living.’
‘You are very ungrateful,’ said the old woman. ‘Still, I will give you one last wish.’
Peter thought for an instant and then answered hastily. ‘I’d like to go back to being a schoolboy and live my life over again.’ He then returned to his deep sleep.
Again he heard someone calling his name and opened his eyes. ‘Who could it be this time?’ he wondered. When he opened his eyes, he was absolutely delighted to see his mother standing over his bedside. She looked young, healthy and radiant. Peter realized that the strange woman of the forest had indeed granted his wish and he had returned to his former life.
‘Hurry up Peter. You sleep too much. Your dreams will make you late for school if you don’t get up right this minute,’ his mother admonished. Needless to say, Peter dashed out of bed on this morning and began to live the way he had hoped. Peter went on to live a full life, one rich with many delights, joys and triumphs, but it all started when he stopped sacrificing the present for the future and began to live in the moment.”
“Amazing story,” I said softly.
“Unfortunately, John, the story of Peter and the Magic Thread is just that, a story, a fairy tale. We here in the real world will never get a second chance to live life to the fullest. Today is your chance to awaken to the gift of living — before it is too late. Time really does slip through your fingers like tiny grains of sand. Let this new day be the defining moment of your life, the day that you make the decision once and for all to focus on what is truly important to you. Make the decision to spend more time with those who make your life meaningful. Revere the special moments, revel in their power. Do the things that you have always wanted to do. Climb that mountain you have always wanted to climb or learn to play the trumpet. Dance in the rain or build a new business. Learn to love music, learn a new language and rekindle the delight of your childhood. Stop putting off your happiness for the sake of achievement. Instead, why not enjoy the process? Revive your spirit and start tending to your soul. This is the way to Nirvana.”
“The Sages of Sivana believed that the ultimate destination of all truly enlightened souls was a place called Nirvana. Actually, more than a place, the sages believed Nirvana to be a state, one that transcended anything they had known previously. In Nirvana, all things were possible. There was no suffering and the dance of life was played out with divine perfection. On reaching Nirvana, the sages felt that they would step into Heaven on Earth. This was their ultimate goal in life,” Julian observed, his face radiating a peaceful, almost angelic quality.
“We are all here for some special reason,” he observed prophetically. “Meditate on what your true calling is, and how you can give of yourself to others. Stop being a prisoner of gravity. Today, light your spark of life and let it blaze brightly. Start applying the principles and strategies that I have shared with you. Be all that you can be. A time will come when you too will taste the fruits of that place called Nirvana.”
“How will I know when I reach this state of enlightenment?”
“Little hints will appear to confirm your entrance. You will start to notice the holiness in everything that is around you: the divinity of a moonbeam, the allure of a lush blue sky on a scorching summer day, the fragrant bloom of a daisy or the laugh of a mischievous little child.”
“Julian, I promise you that the time you have spent with me will not be in vain. I will dedicate myself to living by the wisdom of the Sages of Sivana and I will keep my promise to you by sharing all that I have learned with those who will benefit by your message. I am speaking from the heart. I give you my word,” I offered sincerely, feeling the throes of emotion stirring within.
“Spread the rich legacy of the sages to all those around you. They will quickly benefit from this knowledge and improve the quality of their lives, just as you will improve the quality of yours. And remember, the journey is to be enjoyed. The road is just as good as the end.”
I let Julian continue. “Yogi Raman was a great storyteller but there was one story he told me which stood out amongst the rest. May I share it with you?”
“Many years ago, in ancient India, a maharajah wanted to build a great tribute to his wife as a sign of his deep love and affection for her. This man wanted to create a structure the likes of which the world had never seen, one that would shimmer across the moonlit sky, one that people would admire for centuries to come. So every day, block by block, his workers toiled in the hot sun. Every day this structure started to look a little more defined, a little more like a monument, a little more like a beacon of love against the azure blue Indian sky. Finally, after twenty-two years of daily, gradual progress, this palace of pure marble was complete. Guess what I’m speaking of?”
“I have no idea.”
“The Taj Mahal. One of the Seven Wonders of the World,” Julian replied. “My point is simple. Everyone on this planet is a wonder of this world. Every one of us is a hero in some way or another. Every one of us has the potential for extraordinary achievement, happiness and lasting fulfillment. All it takes are small steps in the direction of our dreams. Like the Taj Mahal, a life overflowing with wonders is built day by day, block by block. Small victories lead to large victories. Tiny, incremental changes and improvements such as those I have suggested will create positive habits. Positive habits will create results. And results will inspire you towards greater personal change. Begin to live each day as if it was your last. Starting today, learn more, laugh more and do what you truly love to do. Do not be denied your destiny. For what lies behind you and what lies in front of you matters little when compared to what lies within you.”
Without saying another word, Julian Mantle, the millionaire lawyer-turned enlightened monk, got up, embraced me like the brother he had never had and walked out of my living room into the thick heat of another scorching summer day. As I sat alone and collected my thoughts, I noticed that the only evidence I could find of this sage messenger’s extraordinary visit sat silently on the coffee table in front of me. It was his empty cup.