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Froth and Goblets

You might wonder why I might have imbued my new book with such a title.

Those of you that have read my small offerings over the years would know that I have a belief that most of the great truths are propagated through stories and often through the use of parable and metaphor.

I like parables so much that my first book using the character of Augustus, “Augustus Finds Serenity”, was a collection of parables that I had written in the Buddhist genre. I have continued such a tradition with “Yu, the Dragon Tamer” and now “Froth and Goblets”.

Let me share with you a passage from my latest book illustrating my choice of title.

In this passage, the Princess Naomi enquires of Augustus:

“Perhaps you can explain something for me, Augustus?”

“I will try. What is it you wish to know?

“In between my bouts of depression, I have led a very full life. One would think that that would be an antidote to becoming so self-obsessed as I concede I do when depressed.’

“Well, my lady, I suppose it is a matter of what your life is full of. Let me give you an example.” And here Augustus walked to the table set up for an oncoming feast and picked up two goblets. The Princess looked on perplexed at this.

“Here, mind these,” he said and marched off in the direction of the kitchen. He came back with some soap. Taking a knife off the table he shaved some of the soap into one goblet. He then seized a pitcher of water from off the table and poured a little into the goblet with the shaved soap and then filled up the other goblet. He took a spoon from off the table and vigorously whisked the contents of the goblet which held a little water and the soap flakes. Very soon he had generated a goblet full of frothy soap suds.

“This,” he said, “Is like your life. This goblet is full, but it is full of froth whipped up by my vigorous attention. Your life is equally full of diversions and past-times. Let us leave the goblet settle a while.”

As they watched, the froth subsided and the goblet became only a quarter filled with its contents.

“So this is like your life. Unless you are continuously whipping up its contents with your temporary pleasures and diversions, it will soon subside. It has little substance at all.”

He then pointed to the other goblet. “See, this one has not changed because its contents have substance. Occasionally the breeze may blow hard and generate a few ripples over the top, but underneath the bulk of its contents remain unmoved. When you fill your life with substance you will also be impervious to the environmental variations and you will be calm and content.”

And that seemed to me to be a very appropriate metaphor for the mind. Some of us require continual stimulation and distraction because our minds haven’t acquired the depth and the resilience necessary to cope with life. Others suffer in their own company and continually pursue diversions to escape from confronting their inner worlds.

It is no coincidence that Augustus’s master was titled Takygulpa Rinpoche. It was said by Takygulpa’s teachers that they had named him in this way (his birth name was Qiang) because colloquially it signified “still deep waters”!

This desirable and serene state of mind does not come easily. It normally requires a deal of self exploration which hopefully results in self-knowledge and self-acceptance. It results in what the Jesuit teacher and sage, Anthony De Mello called “Awareness”. The Buddhists call it “Mindfulness”.

In the book “Froth and Goblets” I quote the great German psychologist and humanist, Eric Fromm in one of the chapter headings thus:

“As long as anyone believes that his ideal and purpose is outside him, that it is above the clouds, in the past or in the future, he will go outside himself and seek fulfillment where it cannot be found. He will look for solutions and answers at every point except where they can be found – in himself.”

How true that is! My fervent hope is that as many of you as possible can find your inner peace as well!

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2.   By Jack on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Thank you Ted, a lovely blessing, pax tecum to you also. You put me in mind of Adam Lindsay Gordon……..”Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone, kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own”

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