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Search Inside or Outside?

--by Rabiya (Aug 25, 2014)
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A famous Sufi mystic, Rabiya, was searching for something on the street outsider her small hut. The sun was setting and darkness was descending, as few people gathered around her. "What have you lost? What are you searching for?  Perhaps we can help," they said to Rabiya.

Rabiya said, "I have lost my needle."

One amongst the people said, "Well, the sun is setting now and it will be very difficult to find the needle.  Where has it fallen?  That'll help us narrow down the area on this big road.  If we know the exact place, it will be easier to find it."

Rabiya told them, "It is better not to ask me that question -- because, actually, it has not fallen on the road at all.  It has fallen inside my house."

Everyone started giggling as if she was joking.  Then a skeptic says out loud, "We always knew that you were a little insane!  If the needle has fallen inside the house, then why are you searching for it on the road?"

"For a very simple reason: inside the house there is no light and on the outside a little light is still there," Rabiya replied.

The people laughed and started dispersing.  Rabiya called them back and said, "Listen! That’s exactly what you are doing: I was just following your example. You go on seeking bliss in the outside world without asking the most fundamental question: where exactly have I lost it?"

After a pause, she continues, "You have lost it inside, and yet you are looking for it on the outside for the very same reason -- your senses are outward bound, your ears hear sounds on the outside, your hands touch things on the outside.  That's the reason why you are searching outside. For a very long time, I was also just searching on the outside.  But the day I searched inwards, I was surprised.  That is where I lost it and that is the only place it can be found."

Rabia Basri was born ​between 713 and 717 AD in Basra, Iraq. ​Much of her early life is narrated by Farid ud-Din Attar, a later Sufi Saint and poet, who used earlier sources. Rabia herself did not leave any written works.

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On Aug 28, 2014 Pooja G Avinash wrote:

 A very inspiring story. Troubles are everywhere. And we as humans tend to be disturbed easily. Hence getting disturbed we try and find a solutions by conveying our issues to others but we forget to ask ourselves. We are the best judge of the situation or the problem we have faced. Hence searching inwards means questioning our own self our mind and soul. As they are the best witness and hence can provide the best justice to our issues.



1 reply: Paashi | Post Your Reply
On Aug 26, 2014 Murlidhar Rao wrote:

 It is very true. Pleasures are in the out side world real happiness is inside. We see and feel the world by our scenes (Indrias) which can see only the external world. We get attracted by its glamor and desire to posses them. whole life is spent in this process. we never get it because it is not there as rightly said by the Sufi Saint. exhausted by the mad race to posses when we sit quietly and look in side we find the true happiness.Then we realize how foolishly we have wasted our life.    



On Aug 26, 2014 Amit wrote:

Searching inwards is like looking at a mirror! You are looking at the reflections produced by it, reflection is not the original. similarly we are looking at any events or objects in this cause and effect world. our interpretation of this event or object is not the original. Beauty here is that our manifested awareness can produce infinite possibility of interpretations. best one it can produce is when you are in peace, in love and in alert awarefullness!!   



On Aug 25, 2014 Dandapani Y wrote:

 Simple and yet profound. I have a related observation to make. As I search in the outside word  without knowing what I am searching for , I am generally joined by a few others  who, I think, will help me in my search. In the process I am taken far far away from my original search  though that itself was unclear to me. It dawns on me that I am the only one who knows what I am searching for and I am the only one who can identify it when my search ends in success. 



On Aug 25, 2014 sharad wrote:

 v r spending lots of our energy in unnecessary  thinking n actions towards understanding of ways for getting peace,happiness etc Just spend the same energy in simply being good n doing good.u will get wat u r looking for.



On Aug 24, 2014 Jagdish P Daveh wrote:

 The source of sound is within me and I am in vain searching for the source of the sound outside of me. We look for happiness by wishing and acquiring name, fame, power and position coming from outer sources. Feeling, sensing and believing that happiness is coming from out side sources is a sure way of getting disappointed and unhappy. Our  outer dependent acquisitions come and go leaving traces of unhappiness. It is an illusion like chasing the shadow to find myself. I am reminded of Saint Kabir's poem in Hindi: kasturi kundal base' mruga dhoondhe' van mahi. The musk deer is looking for fragrance outside of him without realizing that it is coming from his naval center, from within. I felt passionate about teaching when I was 18 years old. At that time, some 70 years ago, teachers were poorly paid in India. I followed my bliss and teaching has always filled the cup of my life with lots of joyful and fulfilling blesses. At the age of 89, I am still enjoying tea  See full.

 The source of sound is within me and I am in vain searching for the source of the sound outside of me. We look for happiness by wishing and acquiring name, fame, power and position coming from outer sources. Feeling, sensing and believing that happiness is coming from out side sources is a sure way of getting disappointed and unhappy. Our  outer dependent acquisitions come and go leaving traces of unhappiness. It is an illusion like chasing the shadow to find myself. I am reminded of Saint Kabir's poem in Hindi: kasturi kundal base' mruga dhoondhe' van mahi. The musk deer is looking for fragrance outside of him without realizing that it is coming from his naval center, from within.

I felt passionate about teaching when I was 18 years old. At that time, some 70 years ago, teachers were poorly paid in India. I followed my bliss and teaching has always filled the cup of my life with lots of joyful and fulfilling blesses. At the age of 89, I am still enjoying teaching as my way of serving others. And I am sure I will continue feeling deep joy and fulfillment following the path I had started walking when I was 18 years old.

When I am quiet within myself I let different voices arise in me. I let them come and go without resisting if I do not like the voice, without chasing it if I like it a lot and running away from it if it causes uneasiness and anxiety in me.Eventually, all the voices go away and a voice whispers in the stillness.I listen to it, embrace it and sing my song.
We all need to find our original voice by remaining still, by letting other voices come and go and discover our authentic voice.

Jagdish P Dave

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On Aug 24, 2014 david doane wrote:

 I remember a similar story.  God wanted to place the secret of happiness somewhere that was accessible to humans but would take some work.  He asked his angels for suggestions.  One said the top of a high mountain.  Another said the bottom of the sea.  The idea that God came up with was to place the secret of happiness inside the person where it is accessible but takes some work to get to.  Searching inward means to be still and listen for and to my inner self, that is, my feelings, thoughts, associations, hunches, preferences.  It means to listen to my inner voice, my inner experience, my inner truth.  I've learned that religion is listening to someone else's experience and truth, and spirituality is listening for and to my own experience and truth.  I've made that transition, as I think many people are doing in saying they are spiritual but not religious.  I began searching and listening to my inner self a long time ago, and th  See full.

 I remember a similar story.  God wanted to place the secret of happiness somewhere that was accessible to humans but would take some work.  He asked his angels for suggestions.  One said the top of a high mountain.  Another said the bottom of the sea.  The idea that God came up with was to place the secret of happiness inside the person where it is accessible but takes some work to get to.  Searching inward means to be still and listen for and to my inner self, that is, my feelings, thoughts, associations, hunches, preferences.  It means to listen to my inner voice, my inner experience, my inner truth.  I've learned that religion is listening to someone else's experience and truth, and spirituality is listening for and to my own experience and truth.  I've made that transition, as I think many people are doing in saying they are spiritual but not religious.  I began searching and listening to my inner self a long time ago, and the listening continues.  What works well for me is to ask myself, "What am I experiencing now?", and listen closely.  The artist Paul Gaguin said he closes his eyes in order to see -- that practice continues to help me also.  I do also keep an eye on the outside world in order to get along in society and not get my throat cut.

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On Aug 23, 2014 Rebecca wrote:

 We have all heard the phrase "Take the road less traveled". One day, quite by accident, thoughts were thinking in me, about this idea. A line of thinking which led to a contemplation of the idea of "direction", as the "road less traveled" must go in the "direction least taken". Thoughts occurred about direction; there was  up, down, left, right, back, forth and so on. Then suddenly the mind reminded me that outward and inward, were directions also. I examined all the directions presented to me by my mind...it was instantly apparent that, of all these directions, the direction least taken, is the one of the path, that leads inward. I began to explore this path, which led me to a whole new world, at once, both, somehow familiar and at the same time unknown, governed by laws, I understood only intuitively, logic had little place in that space. At first I found it very difficult to maintain my attention there, I would start down that path, begin to discover new things, and  See full.

 We have all heard the phrase "Take the road less traveled". One day, quite by accident, thoughts were thinking in me, about this idea. A line of thinking which led to a contemplation of the idea of "direction", as the "road less traveled" must go in the "direction least taken". Thoughts occurred about direction; there was  up, down, left, right, back, forth and so on. Then suddenly the mind reminded me that outward and inward, were directions also. I examined all the directions presented to me by my mind...it was instantly apparent that, of all these directions, the direction least taken, is the one of the path, that leads inward. I began to explore this path, which led me to a whole new world, at once, both, somehow familiar and at the same time unknown, governed by laws, I understood only intuitively, logic had little place in that space.

At first I found it very difficult to maintain my attention there, I would start down that path, begin to discover new things, and then some time latter, "Bing" I would suddenly "come to" in the external world, engrossed in what ever subject the mind had randomly attached my attention. How did this happen? Why was it so difficult to maintain attention inwardly, why could I not travel further in this direction? Could I learn to control my attention, in the inward space? To answer these questions was a task I assigned to my mind. However the mind is willful, and wants to be in control, it began delivering to me useless thoughts,  it constantly diverted my attention off subject, deviating it into  quantities of associative trivia, distracting me from my pursuit.

Suddenly, I saw I was not in control of my  mind, it was in control of itself and would think ever it wanted, and direct my attention in what ever direction it pleased. I was not daunted; realizing I lacked of control of my mind, hardened something new in me, a determined desire. A desire to wrestle control of my attention away from the mind, and to learn to direct my attention, where I wished it to go.  I wished, fervently to travel this inward path, and discover the treasures hidden therein. A struggle has ensued, and is still on going.

At first it was quite difficult to do. Mostly, I simply forgot my aim. I was constantly distracted from the task I'd set myself, by the sheer quantity of gibberish produced by the mind. However, after many failures, I realized I had to develop effective methods for practicing control over attention, impose some kind of discipline over the mind and learn to direct it and quiet its constant babble.  I began to intentionally practice going inward, I set specific aims for doing so, set aside defined times for inner exploration, set up reminders.

I began actively exercising control of my attention, forcing it to "see" directly, to "hear"  to take in external impressions directly, over and over. Slowly I realized, that to "see", really "see", even the nearest object, to take in the impression of the object, one to one, without the mind making comment on the experience, was quiet a feat.

This effort had the of quieting the "talk" of the mind by degrees. Slowly I began gaining some control over attention in the outward world, this was a very slow process, but aided me immensely, with controlling my attention during my inward forays.

Since I began this discovery quest into the inner world, I have learned much. The logic of words is inadequate to convey, what I have understood with my inmost "sight". Words can only hint about what lies within. A treasure is there. I have seen it. You can see it too, it is within all of us. Don't take my word for it, that is useless to you.  Please, find it for yourself. Take the "road less traveled", go the direction least taken. No one can do it for you, you must make the effort to go there yourself. Be not discouraged, persist, go within and you will surely discover what awaits you, there.




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2 replies: Paashi, Neelam | Post Your Reply
On Aug 22, 2014 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

Profound and so true as humor often is. Searching inward means being mindful and allowing oneself to slow down and Listen. Listen to the heart and inner voice which often reveals our true calling or even answers to questions. When we are peaceful inside, when we are loving inside, then it goes forth outside of us as well. I heard this story before too, it was attributed to Nassrudin who lived in Turkey in around the late 1200s. Thank you for sharing what is most likely the seed for this story.



On Aug 22, 2014 Abhishek Thakore wrote:

 When I find myself searching for happiness too feverishly, I realise that it is like any other ambitious search that others are on (search for money, or for fame for example).

So for me searching inwards is better done as trying and resting inwards i.e. waiting and actually letting go of any 'search'. As I see what is happening, between the joys and sadness, and extreme agitation and peace, there is awareness....that is what I find myself searching for....

And in the rare glimpses that I have of it, happiness and sadness matter much lesser, and I can't even tell which is which or which will lead to which....

The inner and the outer dynamically interplay for me....the shifts in the inner reflect in the way I see the outer, and the beauty of the outer permeates within as well...