Smiling faces… Crying hearts…

In my youth I remember watching programmes like Children in Need, and seeing the daily suffering of people in this world. Famine, war, disability and disease – they were all heart-wrenching scenes. It had a huge effect on me. A tear would come to my eye, and I would feel quite guilty about the comfort and wealth in my own life. I wanted to do something to help these people… but what could I do? After all I was just a kid.

The ancient scriptures categorise suffering into three divisions: sufferings from nature, sufferings from other living beings and sufferings from one’s own body and mind. As the years have passed, I have now learnt that suffering is not just something that takes place on the other side of the world, but is something which pervades the lives of everyone living in this cruel world. Sometimes its strikingly obvious, and at other times it may be a case of ‘smiling faces, crying hearts.’

Just 5 days ago, I was distributing books in Leicester city centre with my partner for the month, Jigar Shah. It was late in the day and as Jigar turned around he stopped a young man who looked a little scruffy and disillusioned. As they spoke, he revealed his dissatisfaction with life and how he had failed in everything he endeavoured for. He told us he had come to a conclusion… today he wanted to commit suicide. He was convinced that there was nothing left for him in this world. We discussed whether success was simply the achievement of worldly objectives, or whether there was something more to strive for in life. We discussed everything he could be grateful for, and the wonderful opportunities available to him. Seeing some light at the end of the tunnel he happily took a book and walked away with some spiritual inspiration.

Two days later in Nottingham, I met a young university fresher. Although the son of a millionaire, he revealed his life frustrations to me, and the fear of an impending imprisonment for a gun crime. He confided… “I want to commit suicide”. Again, we discussed the alternatives, and how there were solutions for all his problems. After an hour of discussion, he also received a transcendental book as a beacon of hope and walked away promising to contact me after reading it. Yes… smiling faces, but crying hearts… maybe we are searching for the right thing in the wrong place…

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