A conversation between George Harrison and Olivia, his wife, as she remembers it…
Olivia – “They want to give you this award.”
George – “I don’t want it. I am not going.”
Olivia — “You should go. It’s a nice thing they are doing.”
George — “If you want it, you go. I won’t. I don’t do this anymore.”
Olivia (commenting on the conversation) — “He wanted to be in the garden, making it more beautiful. He wanted to use his time to meditate. He wasn’t into collecting awards for his obituary.”
Differently from the majority of people, George had experienced immense earthly success already at an young age with the Beatles, and he realized that fame and fortune didn’t make him happy. He said, “I got fame and fortune, and I saw that it wasn’t it.”
We are told to strive, work hard, compete, struggle, sacrifice ourselves, and make every effort to produce results and be successful in the eyes of the world. We are told to achieve great goals, to leave our mark. We are told to leave a legacy. We are told that material success will make us happy. We are, then, seduced by the sirens of fame and fortune. We want to be remembered. We want, in some way, to be immortal. We want power and prestige, and we envy those who have them. We rationalize that the reason for our lack of happiness is because we haven’t been able to become rich and famous yet. But what about those who are rich and famous, and whose material success did not make them happier as they were promised it would? How do they feel? Don’t they feel disappointed and deceived?
The idea that fame, fortune and material success automatically bring about happiness, is a myth, and it is about time we unmask this deception, and stop, once and for all, propagating this illusion.
The way to be happy is to be content and grateful. But we live in an environment that keeps telling us that we cannot settle, that we must have more, do more and be more. The culture we are immersed in is constantly creating desires, convincing us that we need things that actually we don’t need. It creates in us a state of lack of satisfaction, of discontentment. It tells us that we are not enough, that we need to acquire more, do more, in order to be more.
The monk does not need new clothes to wear, or new pots to cook. He wears his old robe and cooks in his old pot, and he is just fine.
The truth is that we give ourselves too much importance. We have to remember that everything is impermanent, and that, sooner or later, we will return from wherever we came from. Every now and then, we should look at our belly buttons, see ourselves as mere fruits, and humble ourselves.
Maybe, the most important thing we have to learn during our lives is to learn how to die. We have to prepare ourselves for the transition, the moment of physical death. And in order for that transition to be peaceful, we have to be ready to let go of all the earthly things, all belongings, all fame and fortune. We have to let go of the desire to leave our mark on this physical world.
And while alive, all we have to do is to live mindfully, making the best of every present moment, while constantly reminding ourselves that although in the physical dimension we are impermanent, in spiritual one we are eternal.
Learn about upcoming workshops and retreats at the Peaceful Ways website www.peacefulways.org
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– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”