Although subjectivity is supposed to be changeable and untrustworthy, it seems no less treacherous to rely psychologically upon exterior objects. I remember a fable I used to hear in India: Once there was a poor villager who possessed only two things of any value Ė his son, who was sixteen, and a handsome gray pony. The villager loved these two above all else in creation.
One day the pony vanished and could not be found. The villager was plunged into deep dejection. No one could lift his spirits until three days later, when the pony returned, followed by a handsome black Arabian stallion. Overjoyed, the man embraced the pony and quickly bridled the stallion.
His son eagerly asked if he could ride the wild horse, and since he could deny him nothing, the father consented. An hour later, news came that the boy had been badly thrown while riding on the beach. He was carried home in a litter, bruised and battered, his right leg shattered in two places. At the sight of his injured son, the fatherís happiness again turned to utter sorrow.
He sat in front of his hut wailing, when a contingent of the kingís soldiers swept by. War was imminent, and their duty was to drag off conscripts from the village. They ruthlessly seized every eligible son, but when they came to this manís house, the soldiers saw that his son was maimed, and they left him behind. The fatherís tears again turned to joy, and he gave fervent thanks to heaven for the tragedy he had bewailed the moment before.
Whatís peculiar about this fable is that it has no ending, and that is its moral. The rise and fall of the villagerís spirits goes on and on, bound to the fate of a boy and a pony. In real life, people have more than two things they cherish, but the result is the same. So long as our happiness depends upon objects ďout there,Ē we are their prisoner. We have given our freedom away to things.
Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).