Subba’s Serendipitous moments

January 14, 2007

Finding the “inner compass”

Filed under: Learning,Motivation,Perspective,Stories — Subbaraman Iyer @ 3:40 pm

Once upon a time there was a lodge-keeper who managed a mountain resort. Many people visited the area to hike and enjoy the natural splendour of the mountain. One day, a guest checked in and after getting settled, he told the lodge-keeper he was going out hiking. The lodge-keeper advised him to keep noticing the direction of the sun because there were no trails in this area.

“No trails?” the visitor asked. The lodge-keeper explained that as soon as someone made a path, the wind and dust covered it up. “The sun is your best guide to lead you back to the safety of your cabin,” she said.
The man assured the lodge-keeper that he would remember to do this but the thrill and excitement of the mountain overwhelmed him. He completely forgot the lodge-keeper’s advice as soon as he stepped outside. After walking and wandering most of the day, he decided to head back. Then he remembered that he forgot to watch the sun.
The hiker tried to retrace the way he came but soon lost his sense of direction after the first few feet. He didn’t see any footprints behind him and then realised that the wind and dust thoroughly wiped out the path he had just made. There was no trail for him to follow back to the cabin.
The visitor panicked and started running but the faster he ran, the more he panicked. The more he panicked, the more he lost his sense of direction. He knew he’d never find his way back before dark without knowing which way to go. Sitting down on the grass, he put his hands in his pockets and watched the sun get lower.
Soon, his fingers encircled a strange object. The traveller pulled it out and saw that it was a compass he had with him all along. “I didn’t know I had this,” he mumbled. Watching the needle sway back and forth somehow reminded him that he had walked south when he left the lodge. When the needle stopped moving, he knew that it pointed him in the direction back to safety.
After the man returned to the cabin, he told the lodge-keeper about how he got lost and especially about the unexpected compass he found in his pocket. “I put the compass in your pocket,” the lodge-keeper said. “You? Why?” asked the visitor. “Because I knew that in all your excitement you’d forget to watch the sun,” she replied. “And without watching the sun, you’d never find your way back.”
She told the traveller that her compasses are, without question, the most reliable means for making the return journey and that she made sure that all the guests had one on them before they went out. “Then why didn’t you tell me you put it there?” the man asked. “Because you’d be offended if you knew I did. I was aware of how you secretly thought you could find your way back without help,” replied the lodge-keeper, “but I knew full well you couldn’t. Some find their hidden compass sooner than others,” she continued, “but everyone eventually discovers that they have one. So everyone always gets back safe?” the visitor asked. “Everyone,” affirmed the lodge-keeper. “In the entire time that I’ve been here,” she said, “no one has ever been permanently lost.”
Finding a little bit of truth within is like discovering a hidden compass in your own pocket. Some find it sooner than others but when you discover it, you no longer need to go around asking other people to please show you their compasses. You have your own. But how do you make contact with this inner guide? It’s there but you have to do some digging in order to find it, like searching for a treasure buried in your own back yard. The treasure exists but you need to know some sensitive secrets about locating it.
You don’t have to invent this inner wealth because it’s already there. Your job is to remove the obstacles that prevent you from finding it. What obstacles? Not wanting to change inwardly is one. An unwillingness to forgive others and yourself, a second. And believing that you already have this treasure and there’s nothing more to experience, a third. Another secret is to try and see the inadequacy of your everyday responses to life. Changing your reactions to external events will set new causes in motion and these new causes will inevitably produce new results. When things change on the inside, they produce a corresponding change on the outside.
Release just one unproductive habit for a week and see what happens. Let’s take complaining as an example. Instead of grumbling when something goes wrong, do just the opposite. Don’t make a fuss about whatever happened. This will feel strange at first, but do it anyway. The issue here is to challenge your everyday habits. When you don’t go along with your customary reactions, you’re setting into motion powerful forces that will change you internally. This same energy will also attract new conditions and new people into your life who, likewise, will be less complaining. Remember, that the inner determines the outer. The more you change, the more your world changes.
Give yourself permission to experiment with different ways of reacting. Don’t shortchange yourself by using the same emotional response over and over again in every situation. Try something new. Keep in mind that each event has its own set of circumstances and that each requires a distinctive reply.
Think it’s too late to start? Never. If you turn on the light in your living room, it doesn’t matter how long the room was dark. The important thing is that there was an internal change. You’ll feel a refreshing, new sense of self starting to emerge and it won’t be just another rearrangement of your old mental furniture. Don’t sell yourself short. Discover your inner compass and go all the way. What you’ve always wanted is already there waiting for you.


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