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This *and* That

[The following story and lesson were taught by Mahatria at a recent spiritual retreat I attended.]

There’s a famous story – about Alexander and Diogenes.

Alexander (the conquerer) wants to take Diogenes (the Philosopher) back to his hometown, as a gift for his teacher (Aristotle).

There’s a large battalion along with him, constantly shouting “Alexander the Great” – to announce his arrival, wherever they go.

Diogenes is lying naked on the ground after a bath, next to a dog.

Alexander comes over along with his battalion. Diogenes looks up and asks: “Why are you so doubtful about your greatness?”

“I don’t have any doubt. Why do you ask, though?”

“Why then, do you need your cronies to keep saying that you’re great, over and over again?”

This unsettles Alexander a bit. But he composes himself and asks: “Would you like to come back with me to Athens? I’ll give you anything you want.”

Diogenes isn’t interested: “I’m just fine where I am.”

Alexander is curious. “How are you so contented and happy?”

Diogenes responds: “You’ve conquered the outside world. I’ve conquered my inside world. My mind.”

Alexander is now even more keen on taking Diogenes back with him. It’s clear that Diogenes has unlocked secrets that Alexander still hasn’t.

“I’ll give you anything you want. Please come back with me.”

Seeing Alexander’s persistence, Diogenes chooses to give in.

“There is something you can give me.”

Alexander excitedly asks: “Yes?”

“Just step aside. You’re blocking the sun. I’m still a little wet after my bath.”

Flustered, Alexander returns empty-handed.


Can you visualize Diogenes, all naked lying peacefully on the ground, while talking to Alexander, who’s standing tall, towering over him, with his whole battalion behind him?

Everyone is watching Diogenes wearing absolutely nothing, calmly conversing with Alexander 🙂

What does it take to feel so complete in our own skin? Where we’re totally unfazed?

As Diogenes explains, once we’ve conquered our minds, we’ll always feel complete. We’ll stop looking for answers outside to be happy. Instead, we know that happiness is a state that’s entirely in our control.


Here’s where this gets more interesting.

We may be tempted to completely ignore the materialistic triumphs of Alexander and focus completely on Diogenes instead.

Nowhere has it been mentioned that external success has to come at the cost of internal strife.

What if we could be Alexander on the outside and Diogenes on the inside? Have the best of both worlds?

This would allow us to experience all of the wonderful things this life has to offer – health, wealth, love, bliss and spirituality.

Until recently my understanding was that it is desires that bring us suffering. So, if we want to stop suffering, we’ll need to drop all of our desires.

But as Mahatria says: “Wanting to drop our desires…is also a desire”

As humans, we’re innately designed to keep aspiring for more and growing to achieve our goals. So, it’s natural to have desires.

The suffering doesn’t come from having desires. Instead, it comes from attaching timelines to achieve these desires. And when the desires don’t manifest within those timelines, we get desperate and anxious. This makes us suffer.

The solution is to set desires, even very large ones. And then work toward them, peacefully, one day at a time. Let nature take its course. On some days, we’ll feel like we’re making progress. On other days, we may feel like things are regressing.

Eventually though, as long as we don’t give up, we’ll get there.

The trick is to savour each step of the journey, either as small successful steps forward. Or as new learnings that we discover along the way.

Peaceful progress.

Wishing you a wonderful 2024, filled with holistic abundance ♥.

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