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Peace is within us

Pensée : la paix se trouve à l'intérieure

A chaque fois que nous cherchons à être plus heureux dans nos vies ou trouver la paix, nous Whenever we think about being happier in our lives or finding peace, we tend to look at what we can change about our lives. We look to change our jobs, the place where we live or even the people around us. But can external change bring about true peace within us?

As a young boy, I grew up on a healthy diet of stories from Panchatantra and tales of Akbar and Birbal.

Akbar was the emperor of India who reigned in the 16th century. He, along with his prime minister, Birbal, were in a habit of disguising themselves and roaming about in the kingdom to better understand the trials and tribulations of the common man.

One day, when Akbar and Birbal were visiting a local market, they heard the people complain about a particularly corrupt official. This official, as it turned out, was none other than Akbar’s cousin, whom he liked very much.

“It isn’t his fault,” whispered Akbar to Birbal. “I have put him in a position with too much power. It is that power that has corrupted him.”

Birbal disagreed. But he knew that the king loved his cousin quite a lot. So instead of voicing his disagreement, he cleverly suggested that the king should place him in a position where it was impossible to be corrupt.

“Why don’t we give him the job of counting the waves of the Ganges,” he said to the king.

“Count the wave of the Ganges?” exclaimed Akbar. “Whatever for?”

“Can you think of any way that someone can use such a duty to make money?” asked Birbal.

“No. Of course, not.”

“Then it would be a perfect way to test whether it is a person who is corrupt or whether it is power that corrupts him,” said Birbal.

The king agreed.

Two months later, the two of them, once again under disguise, went to the banks of the Ganges. They were surprised to learn that several fishermen and sailors were looking to quit their jobs and leave the city to move elsewhere.

“Why do you wish to leave the city?” asked Akbar, troubled. “Are you not happy here? Isn’t the city safe?”

“The city is wonderful,” replied one fisherman. “But lately, it has become impossible for us to earn our living. The king has put an officer to count the waves of the Ganges. And whenever we take out our boats, this officer stops us and tells us that we are disturbing his work. He threatens to put us in prison if we don’t pay him a tax…”

All too often, we too, much like Akbar, seek to find excuses for the agitation within us. But can external change really bring about inner peace? Or whether that change need to happen within us?

You decide!

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