Our happiness and unhappiness depends upon one thing in life, and that is how we look at life: if we appreciate and value all we have in life or whether we depreciate and underestimate all that we have. If we think of what we do not have in life, we shall find that there is so much that we have not got in life; it will seem as if what we have got in life is not even as large as a bubble compared with the sea. And if we try to realize what we have, then also will come a time when we shall see that what we do not have is like a little bubble in a vast sea. It is a matter of looking at it.
The general tendency is to see what we have not got in life; and rarely is there one soul so blessed who is wakened to appreciate and to be thankful for all he has in life. When we think what we lack, then there comes a flood of the lack, and it drowns the whole universe, and we find ourselves lacking entirely everything that it is possible to have. And if we begin to realize what we have, this will be added to and will be completed by abundance, so that in the end of our realization we shall be able to find that, really speaking, we have all. It is in this that there is the secret of spiritual attainment. And the saying of Christ, “Seek you the Kingdom of God first, and all will be added,” has the same meaning in it, that by your thankfulness, by your appreciation of life, you arrive to the fullness of life; in that bliss you will find the Kingdom of God. And once the Kingdom of God is realized, all else will be added.
Once a dervish came before Sikander, the great king, with a bowl of a beggar and asked Sikander if he could fill this bowl. Sikander looked at him and said, “What is he asking of an emperor like me? And he says, ‘can you fill this little bowl?’” He said immediately, “Yes.” But the bowl was a magic bowl. Hundreds and thousands and millions were poured into it, but it would not fill. It always remained half empty, its mouth wide open to be filled. When Sekundar began to feel poor in filling this bowl, he said, “Dervish, tell me if you are not a magician. You have brought a bowl of magic; it has swallowed all my treasures and it is empty still.” The dervish answered, “Sikandar, if the whole world’s treasures were put into it, it would still remain empty. Do you know what this bowl is? This is the want of man.”
Be it love, be it wealth, be it attention, be it service, be it comfort, be it happiness, be it pleasure, be it rank, position, power, honor or possessions in life, the more man receives, the more man wants. He is never content, he will not be content. The richer man becomes, the more poor he becomes–rich with everything, with anything. For the bowl that he has brought with him, the bowl of wanting, can never be filled, is never filled.
Therefore the only secret of happiness is to develop how to appreciate our privileges in life. If we cultivate that sense of appreciation, we shall be thankful, we shall be content, and we shall offer our thanks every moment to God, for His gifts are many and enormous. When we do not see them, it is because our wants cover our eyes from seeing all with which we are blessed by Providence. No meditation, no study, nothing can help in that direction except one thing, and that is to keep our eyes open to appreciate every little privilege in life, to admire every little glimpse of beauty that comes before us, to be thankful for every little love, or kindness, or affection shown to us by young or old, by rich or poor, by wise or foolish–and in this way to continually develop the faculty of appreciating life, and to devote one’s life to thanksgiving. By doing so we arrive at a bliss which no words can explain, a bliss which is beyond imagination. And that bliss is when we find our soul having already entered the Kingdom of God.