What are the treasures of the heart?
The treasures of the heart This edition of Inspire is based on the session that I will be running at the 20th anniversary celebration event of my business on 3rd November. When I was thinking about running a short workshop at the celebration as a thank you to my clients, suppliers and associates, it struck me that many people are feeling somewhat unsettled after the financial crash and riots of the summer. The doom and gloom seems to go on and on and so I thought that I would cover a topic which will hopefully bring us back to what is really important to us, and gives us some hope and joy.
I was inspired by the encouragement that the Buddhist leader, Daisaku Ikeda, gave to members who survived the earthquake and tsunami, and then the nuclear plant disaster in Tohoku, Japan. He said that you might have lost everything but nothing can destroy the ‘treasures of the heart’. And, in fact, the mayor of the region has thanked the emergency services for their efforts following the disasters and also thanked Soka Gakkai, the Buddhist organisation that Ikeda heads up. It opened the doors of its local centres to provide relief and support to everyone. The mayor said that the officials can focus on rebuilding the area but the Soka Gakkai can help strengthen people’s hearts.
What are the treasures of the heart? In Buddhism, they talk about the three treasures:
- The treasures of the storehouse – which equates to the material aspects of our lives.
- The treasures of the body – which is about our physical and emotional health.
- The treasures of our heart – which are about our loved ones, having hope, connecting with others at a heart to heart level.
We might lose the treasures of the storehouse, and our body will become ill and we will eventually die, but it is the treasures of our heart, which bring us hope and make life worthwhile. We probably all know someone who has good health and wealth but still are not happy. I certainly fell into this category in my 20’s when I had a good job, a company car, my own home, a partner, but I was deeply unhappy. It was then that I embarked on a long journey of personal, professional and spiritual discovering that led me to happiness and contentment, and the ability to bounce back from the tough times and the knocks which naturally happen along the way.
So while most of us might have less disposable income, face spiralling costs, find it harder to get work, or make a profit, or feel overloaded in life and at work, it might be time to look at the ‘glass half full’ versus the ‘glass half empty’ by focussing on the treasures of your heart.
‘Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished.’
What are today’s treasures of the heart? When I set up my business 20 years ago life was very different. There was no internet, no email, no mobile phones, and I don’t think we even had DVDs in those days, and the computers we had in our homes were pretty big and unwieldy. There have also been huge advances in medicine over the last 20 years, many people will live longer, will survive diseases which would have killed them in the past. So we have advanced technologically, medically and materially, but are we any better off? Spend a few moments pondering the following questions:
- What really makes you happy?
- What warms the cockles of your heart?
- What are the real treasures in your life?
- What inspires you and keeps you going when times are tough?
- Who do you have in your life that supports and inspires you?
I am reminded that about two years ago I was coaching a young supervisor in a client organisation who was fearful that the business was quiet and that he might be made redundant. He talked of his young children and his wife going back to university to fulfil her dream. He said he didn’t want to be like his dad when his business went bust and they had to sell up their home, move from a big detached house into a tiny rented flat. But he then said that even though they had lost everything, they did survive, they adapted, were happy and eventually his dad did turn things around. Thankfully, he didn’t face this situation again with his own family as the business he worked for soon picked up and is one of the few thriving businesses around. However, the story made me realise that even when we think we have lost everything, if we have our loved ones around us, we can win through.
‘Empty pockets never held anyone back.
Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.’
Norman Vincent Peale
Dance as if no one is watching I came across the following quote in my big document of quotes on my computer, which I rather like, but I don’t seem to have recorded who said it:
‘In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine man complaining of being disheartened, dispirited or depressed, they would ask you one of four questions; when did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? Where we stop dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling and silence are the four universal healing selves.’
When the world feels like it is all going a bit mad – which is definitely how I felt at times listening to the news during the summer - it is easy to be ground down by life and not feel like getting up and dancing or singing. But perhaps those are the times when we need to do whatever it takes to lift our spirits, to warm the cockles of our hearts. That might be by being with loved ones, playing with children, having heart to heart conversations, being in nature.
‘If you instil in your child a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of nature, you will have given him a treasure no one can take away.’
I count myself fortunate that in my childhood we would spend at least one day at the weekends out of doors as a family – often in all weathers. This might include dodging the winter waves at Rottingdean (and ending up eating yummy hot Cornish pasties in the car at the end of our long walks!); picnics and walks at many Surrey beauty spots which few ventured out to in those days. This has instilled in me a love of the countryside and the seaside, and being in either can definitely instil in me a sense of peace and contentment, which I value to this day.
‘Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.’