I retrieved the muffins from the oven and as I poured the tea, Dharma began to speak, "This is indeed a lovely breakfast, my boy. Simple yet satisfying. And it's the perfect lead-in for your lesson today. Tadpole, a frog's greatest treasures are simplicity, patience, and compassion. I know that these probably aren't what most humans would think of as great treasures. But if they understood the reasons why they are truly gifts, they might be inclined to appreciate them a little more. Now I'm not saying that as a species, we frogs always appreciate them so that is why I'm giving you a short lesson today on why everyone should treasure them." I admit I do take these things for granted and so I was eager to learn more from the master, himself.
Dharma began with simplicity. "A wise human once said that the only way to figure out what is important is to get rid of everything that isn't. But getting rid of "stuff" isn't always so easy to do. But paring down our belongs, our beliefs, and our attitudes makes way for a simpler, less complicated life. It's been said a million times, and it's still true; less is more. A great purge doesn't have to happen all in one day. It's a goal. Work toward it at a pace that is comfortable and freeing." Dharma reminded me that simplicity is not sacrifice. It isn't meant to be a "project in suffering." It is, though, a way for all of us to determine what is important in life. And simplicity won't look the same for everyone. It's personal. The object, however, is always the same; to make life easier, better, and more fulfilling. Simplicity has a way of changing you from the inside out. Simplicity removes a lot of layers and connects each of us to what is important to us. Simplicity makes you more open-minded. Once you quit trying to "keep up with the Jones" you become more open to change. You find new ways (and not new things) to make life interesting and pleasurable. And those new ways won't wind up in your closet covered with dust and forgotten in a few months. And, finally, simplicity isn't a competition. You can live simply and still have more stuff than your simple-living neighbor. it's about finding what works for you and what makes you the happiest.
Next, Dharma explained the value of patience. And this is something I know I need LOTS more of! "In this modern age, most of us have forgotten to be patient and get irritated very quickly over minor things like a traffic jam, stock market ups and downs, a baby crying and such things. In fact, patience is a virtue that everybody must possess. Patience makes us better frogs and better humans." Patience shapes your inborn abilities and transforms them into real achievements. Meaningful relationships require patience. And patience helps us become more empathetic. Building empathy towards others is very important if you want to live a hassle-free life; to feel kinder toward the crying baby and the distracted driver who inadvertently cuts you off. We've all been there and patience helps us remember that. Patience helps us to acquire a more positive attitude. "If things are not going the way you want them to, instead of getting frustrated, you must learn to be patient. You need to see things and situations in a positive light to make your life happier. And to get that positivity, you need to be patient." And, too, patience makes us healthier. Stress isn't good for anyone. We've all read about how too much and prolonged stress is the basis of most dis-eases. Patience is the antidote. "Being patient, you can overcome any challenging situation with more flexibility and in a better way. Being stress-free and happy helps you stay you healthier." Our final gift is, of course, compassion.
"Irwin, my boy, it is said that compassion is the most powerful force on earth. It can defeat indifference, intolerance, and injustice. It is able to replace judgment with acceptance because it makes no distinction between age, ethnicity, gender or disability. It freely embraces the rich diversity of humanity by treating everyone as equals. It benefits both those who receive it and those who share it. Every person on earth desires it, and every human being deserves it. Society cannot function without compassion." So what is compassion? Dharma believes that it is the ability to give; of oneself, of one's talents and abilities, and to give of one's time. it is the commitment to put another's needs above your own. Compassion is the bond that unites us all. And while we may not believe it, we all have an endless supply of compassion. As Buddha said, "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle and the life of that candle will not be diminished." The same is true of love and compassion which, of course, are the same thing. It is impossible to love someone and not have compassion for them. Each of us can make meaningful changes in the world with simple, small acts of compassion. "The willingness to share ourselves without thought for what we might get in return is the true nature of compassion. It’s when it is least expected that compassion often produces its most dramatic results. And isn't that the greatest gift of all?" "Yes, Teacher, it is. Thank you for showing me why simplicity, patience, and compassion are the greatest treasures any of us have. With your permission, Sir, I want to share this with my readers. I think humans need to learn this lesson, too. The human world can look pretty ugly these days. But living simply, compassionately, and with patience might help to heal a great many of their wounds."
This was, indeed, a very special lesson from my wise and dear friend, The Dharma Frog. It is my desire to share it with you in the hope that it can help you to live a better, more meaningful, and simpler life.
Please join me back here tomorrow for a salute to pets in honor of National Pet Day.