This is my interpretation of a story I heard 20 years ago when I started teaching self development and holistic therapies. I have changed the story slightly and put it into a modern day concept;
John was a 35 year old man who lived in London, he had a good job, a wife and a beautiful family. The job was too stressful and his life was monotonous, he felt miserable and bored. He never smiled.
One day John decided to go in search of happiness, a friend of his had told him of a place in Indonisia and said that after he visited this place he felt happy and saw things differently. John wanted to see the wise man who had given his friend this gift of happiness.
He set out on his journey, with a wallet full of money, he flew to Indonisia and stayed in a beautiful hotel, the place had magnificent beauty. John failed to see this beauty, he just wanted happiness and was focused on searching for this wise man. He asked the people in the village if they knew of this man, they shook their heads. He told them he was in search of happiness and he had lots of money and would pay a large amount of money to know the secret, after he said this the native people would smile and laugh. On the third day of Johns stay a teenage boy came up to him and said “I hear your searching for a wise man to tell you the secret of happiness”
“yes I am, do you know where he is?”
“Oh yes” said the boy, “he meditates daily by the river, I will take you there”
John got on the back of the boys motorbike and they travelled for around an hour, they came to a remote place with mountains and a beautiful river. “Where is he” asked John “Stay here” said the boy, you will see him soon. The boy left.
John waited for a long time, he was impatient and on edge, at last he will be happy and will be given the gift of joy, he thought. He had waited for this moment all of his life. After 2 hours had past John started to get angry, he was tired and hungry and it was starting to get cold. In the distance he started to see an elderly gentleman walking towards him, wearing white robes. The elderly gentleman smiled at John and then sat on the grass and stared at the river and the mountains. “Hello” said John the elderly man took a deep breathe and closed his eyes and took a minute to look at John and replied “Do you see the beauty around you?”
“Yes” said John “Its lovely” the man smiled and then said “can you feel the beauty around you?” “Feel? No I don’t feel it!!!” John said confused “Anyway my name is John and I have come here in search of happiness and Ive been told you know the secret” the man laughed.
“Please tell me how to get Joy abundance and anything I want” said John
“What is it that you want?” asked the wise man
“To be happy”
“What makes you happy?”
“I don’t know that’s why I have travelled all these miles to see you, I want to know how I can be happy, I will pay you!”
“ Let me see your wallet” said the wise man
John gave the wise man his wallet.
“Close your eyes and sit here for a while and then you will find happiness”
John closed his eyes, as he sat with his eyes shut, he started to think about his family and little Luke, he smiled to himself and thought of the funny moments they had shared together. He had started to miss his family, but he knew once he had found happiness things would change. Then he started to think about his stressful job, he frowned and was happy he had left.
John opened his eyes and the wise man had gone. He looked around him in dismay and started to panic. The wise man had taken his wallet. He started to shout at the top of his voice and was getting extremely angry. He looked everywhere for this man, it was now dark and the cold had set in. He shivered, he was lost and alone and had no money. He had no idea what to do. He tried to remember which way he had travelled so he could get back to the village and back to his hotel. He started walking, after 40 minutes or so he was still lost, he had no option but to keep walking, it was now very dark. John felt afraid, a tear ran down his cheek and anger over took him again. I was conned he thought, the local people had planned to steal his money. He thought how stupid he had been.
After an hour and a half he started to see a light in the distance, he walked towards the light, and he saw a cave. Someone had a fire alight. He walked into the cave and saw an old man sitting by the fire, he had made it into a small home. John greeted him but the man did not speak his language. The man made him some food, it was a kind of herbal soup, John was very grateful, he was so hungry it was painful. The man then made John a bed from spare materials that he had. Again John was grateful, at least he was warm and relatively safe, then in the morning he would find the village.
The next day he woke up to an open fire and the sun was shinning, the old man brought him some berries and fruit and made his herbal soup again. “Thank you” John said. He then left the cave to search for the village. His legs were aching and his muscles hurt from head to toe. He walked for about an hour and then found himself back at the river where he had met the wise man. “Ive been walking in circles” he shouted John was angry and hurt, he yelled at the top of his voice and let out a huge wale and then another yell and another, until he exhausted himself. He sat down by the river and looked at the beauty of it, it was glistening in the sun and birds were flying over head. “It truly is beautiful” he thought then he remembered what the village man had said to him about the wise man going to meditate there every day. So he decided to just sit and wait for a while. He looked round and saw the berries and fruits that the old man had taken him in the morning, he went and picked loads of berries and fruit and sat by the river. It was a glorious day and the mountains and the view was spectacular. John looked around and then started thinking “what if he doesn’t come today” “I will be lost forever” John held his head in frustration “I wish I had never left my family he thought” then he started to hear a motorbike in the distance, he stood up and looked around and one of the villages headed towards him “Oh Thank God” he shouted. “I have something for you, from the wise man” said the boy as he stopped in front of John
“Is it my wallet?”
“yes” said the boy. “The wise man said you can have your wallet or you can have a compass, tent a back of rice and a bottle of water”
“My wallet obviously” said John. The boy gave John his wallet and then got on his bike and drove away.
“Wait” shouted John. He started to run after the boy, this lasted around 15 minutes and then John fell to the floor exhausted. Again he was lost, John started swearing and shouting into thin air. He sat down amongst the trees and looked up at the leaves gently flowing in the gentle breeze. John felt numb, he just looked at the leaves and then he started to feel tingling in the top of his head, he suddenly felt very peaceful. He took a deep breath in and just sat amongst the beauty of nature. He then started to laugh “I should have had the water and rice!” He sat and contemplated for a long while. He missed his beautiful wife, his two boys and his home. A tear rolled down his cheek. He then started to walk towards the village and again found himself to be lost. He felt hungry so he searched for food. He walked for another hour or so until he came to another river, he saw a house and sighed a relief. As he approached the house a woman answered the door, she welcomed him into the house. He gave her some money and the family welcomed him, fed him and he had a comfortable bed for the night. The next day the husband took John back to the village. John was overjoyed, he went back to his hotel and knew his flight was going in two days. He sat and had lunch at the hotel, the food was delicious, the best food he had tasted, he enjoyed every single bite. He sat with a big smile on his face, the hotel was beautiful, the scenery was amazing and the food was appreciated more than he had ever appreciated food before.
He sat on the balcony and smiled. The wise man had shown him happiness!
On the last day he asked a village boy to take him back to the river. John sat at the river breathed in the beauty and FELT the beauty all around him. He never saw the wise man again but he saw his wife and family through brand new eyes. Ones of appreciation and gratefulness, at last he had found happiness.