After we exchanged a few more pleasantries, Dharma jumped right into my lesson for the week. "Irwin, for a frog to reach a great height, he must first reach a great depth. Do you know what having great depth means?" I thought about it and was pretty sure he wasn't referring to my ability to dive far below the surface of the water. "No, not really really, Sir. Do I have great depth?" Dharma smiled at me and replied, "Sometimes, Irwin, you show great depth. But other times, not so much. But not to worry. Having great depth all the time isn't difficult. It simply means being true to yourself. Depth is the opposite of being shallow, my boy. Depth of character comes from having a great deal of positive traits; honesty, integrity, morals, and courage. These are complex mental and ethical traits that are often used to mark an individual, a group, or even a nation." Immediately I wanted to know more about how to achieve more depth, and asked my wise teacher if these traits could be learned. What he told me, came as a bit of a surprise.
Dharma explained to me that when frogs, and humans too, identity themselves too much with the physical realm; age, appearance, job, material possessions, and social status, we become reliant on external factors for approval. But what happens to us when these things fade away? We age, we change jobs, we lose our wealth...all matter of things can happen over the course of a lifetime. When we depend solely on external forces for our self-worth, we can become shallow. For those are not not the things that make us who we truly are. Those can only come from within. "Irwin, you've heard me speak of non-attachment many times. This is a perfect example of what that means. We should not become attached to transitory things. Why? Because we often don't have any control them. And when they go away, as they inevitably do, we are left feeling empty and unfulfilled. The key, my little one, is to live in the world but not be of the world." I was finally beginning to understand what he meant. When we learn to be content with what we have, we suddenly find that we have everything we need already within us; love, peace, security, happiness, and fulfillment. Our core values never leave. No one can take them from us. Those are the things that matter most and the things that are of real and lasting value. When we realize that we have the power within us to no longer allow the world to dictate how we should live our lives, we become very powerful indeed. We can soar to new heights...we can achieve great success...when we are no longer tethered down by the wants and desires that don't really serve us. Sure, it's nice to have a big house, drive a fancy car, and have a fat bank account. But knowing that, essentially, nothing will change if they're lost, is empowering. We can be brave. We can try new things without fear of loss. Carl Jung said, "Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, only dreams; who looks inside, awakes." And I know I want to be awake...even when it's very early on a Wednesday morning. There is no satisfaction, no joy, no fulfillment in sleeping through our entire lifetime.
Dharma finished up my lesson by remind me that once we stop looking outside for our self-worth, and start looking within, we will discover that the answers to all our questions are there. We needn't look anyplace else! As Dharma finished his tea and hopped away, he left with one final message, "When you let go of what you are, you are free to become what you might be. And that will give both great height and great depth." Now that's a frog who knows how to make an exit....
I was suddenly filled with a new sense of purpose; a new sense of drive and a longing to be be all that I can be; to reach a brand new height. And to accomplish that, there was nothing I had to do except dive deep... and look to my heart for all the answers.