At present in the city of Mumbai, a long flyover or viaduct nearly four and a half kilometers in length runs along the length of Mohammed Ali Road. The drive is smooth and swift, but many years ago before the flyover was built it was not so, and the road was one of the most crowded ones in the city, with bullock carts wrestling with cars and scooters fighting cyclists with chaos reigning.
One day while driving through that busy, bustling road, my late father-in-law who was sitting next to me pointed to a cow sitting in the middle of the road, nonplussed with the noise and confusion around her, quietly chewing her cud.
I looked at the cow, and wondered why it wasn’t bothered with cars honking, scooters braking, or cyclists nearly hitting it.
“Isn’t the cow worried?” I asked, surprised.
“No,” said my father-in-law, “That is peace of mind!”
There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother eagle had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest - in perfect peace.
The king chose the second picture.
"Because," explained the king, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still to remain calm in your heart. That is the true meaning of peace."
Like I said a flyover has now come up on the busy road, but whenever I drive that way I remember the cow and the serene and calm way it sat on the road, unperturbed by the rest of us.
Life will never always be smooth and peaceful, quite often, we will be buffeted by waves of danger and misfortunes.
But like that eagle behind the violent waterfall and the cow on Mohammed Ali Road can we remain undisturbed, quiet and restful? When we can, we know the real meaning of peace..!
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at [email protected]