Jesus, the great mystic and teacher, used to teach in parables, which can be very effective in teaching important concepts in an easy manner.
One of the parables he used to tell was of the fisherman who once went out to the sea to fish. He threw his net into the water and caught many fish. When he pulled up the net into the boat, he saw that among the many small fish, there was a big fish, which was exactly what he was looking for. He threw all the other fish back into the water and took the big fish home.
Another parable Jesus used to tell was of the merchant who was in the business of buying and selling pearls. One day he found the biggest pearl he had ever seen. He sold everything he had and bought that big pearl.
Jesus was referring to our values. What do we value most? He was trying to convey that most of the stuff we waste our lives on would become ordinary once we find the thing that we actually treasure the most, the thing that we are actually looking for, sometimes even without knowing. For Jesus, it was what he called the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, i.e., our divine / eternal / universal self, what Hindu teachers have called the Atman, what the Buddha has called the Anatta, the no-self.
Gary Keller wrote the book ‘The One Thing’, which was one of the books that helped me turn my life around. I read it many times and devoured the concept of the One Thing, i.e, ask yourself the question, what is the one thing you can do today or this week or in your life such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?
To some extent, Jesus and Gary Keller are talking about the same thing, i.e., what is the most important thing for us right now or in our life? What is the top priority in our life? What is it that we are actually looking for?
Do we even know?
Prof. Ron Miller (d. 2011, my favourite ‘Christian’ speaker on YouTube) used to tell how a couple approached him at one of his workshops at a Church. When the husband asked him the meaning of the parable of the big fish, the wife interrupted immediately and said, “Honey, I am your big fish, don’t forget that”.
Lets ask ourselves the question today (and every now and then), what is our Big Fish? What is the one thing we can do today or in our lives that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? Is it having a big bank account? Or buying our first house? Or getting a nice job? Or getting married, having kids and settling down? Or moving to a place where we could spend the rest of our life? Or start doing something that we would really like, that we are passionate about? Or is it a spiritual goal – attaining nirvana or enlightenment?
Or is it to have no goals at all? Is that possible? As the Zen Buddhists say, “sitting silently, doing nothing, spring comes and grass grows by itself”? Can we sit silently and do nothing? As easy as it sounds, that is probably the hardest thing to do.
Lets find our big fish and see if, like the fisherman who found his big fish or the businessman who found his big pearl, we can give up everything else and be content with our big fish.
It is possible that we find something and we start thinking that we have found our big fish. The test would be to see if we are able to give up everything else and be content with that one thing. If not, then we probably need to keep looking!