Some time ago I read the story of Ali Hasad, a Persian farmer who was contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because he was contented. One day he was visited by a Buddhist priest who told Ali that, if he had a diamond mine, he could place his children on thrones, through the influence of their great wealth. That night Ali went to bed a poor man. He had not lost a thing but he was poor because he was discontented, and he was discontented because he now believed himself to be poor. He lay awake all night thinking, “I want a mine of diamonds.”
The next morning Ali sold his farm, collected the money, and went in search of diamonds. After years of wandering in wretched poverty, he came to stand on a foreign seashore. The poor, suffering man could not resist the temptation to cast himself into the roaring sea and drown.
Awhile later the man who had purchased Ali’s farm led his camel into the garden to drink, and as the camel put his nose into the shallow water of the garden brook, Ali’s successor noticed a curious flash of light. It was a large diamond. The man dug around in the white sands of the farm and found many more precious diamonds. Thus was discovered the most magnificent diamond mine in all of history.
There are countless stories similar to this about people spending their lives in search of fame, fortune, meaning, purpose, true love,… when what they really yearned for was before them the entire time. These are great stories, great dramas… great tragedies. They are the makings of great books, movies and plays. Yet I find them quite frustrating because the answer seems so obvious, so crystal clear. I want to scream at the main character, “You blind fool! Your true love is at home while you go traipsing after romantic illusions.” “Loosen the grip on your moneybag, Mr. Scrooge, and your generosity will be rewarded.” “The force is with you, Luke. It’s been inside you all along.”
Are you and I characters in our own life dramas searching for meaning, purpose, happiness, love,… while it would be perfectly obvious to anyone observing our lives that what we are seeking already surrounds us or is within us? Would the observer want to yell at us, “Stop searching! You are surrounded by fields and fields of diamonds.”? If this is true, if these stories have any basis in reality, than we ought to be able to see the “diamonds” right here and right now.
I invite you to take out your wallet, pocketbook or purse. Think about what is inside, as I open my wallet to see if there is anything meaningful, anything of value – any diamonds – in this well-worn leather thing that is almost always with me and as close as my hip pocket.
Driver’s license – Identifies me as a Montanan, a family heritage and lifestyle that I am proud of.
Tattered photograph of Evie and me on our honeymoon, and another of our children and four grandchildren – Trust me, they’re adorable. They are the jewels beyond price in my life. Their meaning is beyond description. These are the extraordinary people of my ordinary life. I realize that I must be vigilant daily in my efforts not to overlook these precious diamonds in the allotment of my time, attention and energy.
International Coach Federation membership card – I derive much pleasure, along with a deep sense of meaning and purpose, in serving others as a leadership coach. And I am grateful for the income it affords my family as well.
Visa card – Makes me very wealthy, not because of my spending limit, but because of the access and convenience it affords. For instance, I can quickly and easily rent a car or purchase a meal. I don’t have to walk miles across a desert for medical care. I don’t have to wait at the roadside for a crowded bus to take me to the village market on Saturday mornings.
I hope that, as I shared the meaningfulness of some of the contents of my wallet, you were able to think about what is in your own wallet, pocketbook or purse and glimpse something of the meaning and purpose that is right here, right now, within you and all around you.
There are fields and fields of diamonds all around you!