Thanks for Nothing
I am on a quest.
I stand at the base of an intimidating mountain. A small sign
fashioned out of wood and solidly mounted in the ground tells
me I've located the right natural monument. It took me a month-and-a-half
to find this place. I've trekked and struggled through formidable
forest, fought off natives and hungry carnivores, and have learned
to digest things normally stepped on in the free world. The
sign has an arrow pointing straight ahead and the word, "GURU."
I continue upward for nearly two days. I'm cold, hungry, and
so very tired. My body has cuts and bruises and a swollen ankle
from a fall into a jagged crevice. But nothing can thwart my
Finally, on a small plateau near the top of the mountain I find
a frail, little fellow with a nice tan and a long, graying beard.
He is wrapped in a comfy sheet with a silk rope tied at the
waist. His crossed legs and little tush rest gently on a purple
After taking a moment to catch my breath from the climb, I sit
down before the bearded fellow and announce my purpose:
"I am on a quest."
"Cool." He responds. My eyes widen. I don't expect a guru to
"How do I achieve greatness? What is the pathway to pleasure?
The steps to success? In other words, I seek to discover…
"The Key to Happiness."
A moment passes, then the elderly fellow takes a visible breath
and slowly focuses his gaze on me for the first time. "Is that
it? Is that your question?"
"Yes, that's my question." I'm confused. "Why? Isn't it appropriate?"
"Oh, it's an excellent question. I was expecting something harder
like calculus or quantum physics, or maybe how to break down
the chemical properties of a Reese's Peanut Butter cup."
"Okay…?" The word starts as a question, hangs there for a bit,
then fades into silence.
"You want an answer, I suppose." He strokes his beard as only
a wise man can do. "The Key to Happiness? Take notes, because
this is good. The Key to Happiness is…" He pauses for dramatic
I close my handy-dandy notebook and raise my eyebrows. He notices
my skepticism. "You don't like that answer?"
"That's it? LOVE? That's the Key to Happiness?"
"Oh, geez. There's got to be more. Life just isn't that simple."
"Sure it is."
"Come on, this is Guru-ness? Success isn't that easy. They're
all far too complicated and difficult to obtain. There are bills
to pay, dishes to wash, diapers to change. There are tele-marketers
and in-laws to deal with not to mention deadlines and income
taxes. If all of life's issues can be handled by simply loving,
then there would be no stress clinics, no homeless shelters,
no divorces, and no disgruntled postal workers shot upon by
demented school-children on a rampage. Love is the Key to Happiness?
There has to be a better answer."
"Ok then. So it's not love."
"It's not? But you just said it was."
"Ah, so I did."
"I hear and read this everywhere. It's in all the cheezy self-help,
new age, spirituality books. And yoga instructors, vegetarians,
and environmentalists spew such philosophy all of the time.
It's always, 'Love is all you need.' 'Love your neighbor.' 'Love
yourself.' 'Love is the universal life force.' Blah blah blah.
It just is not a practical answer. Love, by itself, simply cannot
put food on the table nor enable me to achieve my life-long
dreams. How can love be The Key to Happiness?"
The guru untangles his legs, re-situates his sheet around him,
and walks to the edge of the mountaintop. He takes in a deep
breath as he also takes in the panoramic view. Is this his way
of telling me something?
"Ok, ok, I get it. You think I should look at things from a
"Actually, I was thinking about how I would go about eating
a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Would I start on one side and eat
straight across? Or eat the chocolate around the edge then dig
into the peanut butter middle?"
This man speaks in parables. "Ah! You want me to consider how
love can put food on the table, but from a higher perspective."
He returns to his pillow and assumes his guru posture.
I continue rambling, unenthused. "I guess if you really extend
this thought, it can be said that if you love your job, your
performance is better. Raises will come, and quite possibly
promotions - all of which lead to money, which is what you'll
use to put food on the table. If even a disgruntled worker could
somehow focus on those aspects of the job they love, even if
they hate everything but the paycheck, then they might not mind
waking up every morning and driving through traffic. So I now
understand what you were hinting at when it comes to putting
food on the table.
"But what about life at home? First of all, the happy Brady
Bunch family with teenagers who don't wear baggy pants or play
violent video games or have sex before they're 16 - they don't
"Do those exist?"
"I don't know. Let's pretend they don't and instead, pick a
too-typical dysfunctional family - one whose parents have divorced.
If she had accepted him without judgement, trusted him, appreciated
him… And if he had really tried to understand her and do the
little things that were important to her, then… umm…" He flashes
me a 'told you so' look. "I just listed several characteristics
of Love, didn't I?"
He smiles, shifts uncomfortably on his pillow, then stands to
massage the soreness out of his posterior. After fluffing the
pillow he returns as he was. Another unspoken parable?
"Would you like me to try to heal you with prayer?"
"I wish you could."
"This is another thing. There are so many people in this world
who live in pain, or who have debilitating illnesses. And there
are many with incurable diseases. How can love help them?"
"No one can disagree that prayers have healed people."
"Yeah, yeah I know. And since prayer for someone is really just
focused Love, you can say that Love heals. But this is a rare
thing. We wouldn't need doctors and hospitals if this were always
After this last point, I turn back to the guru expecting him
to rethink his answer. Instead, I find him upside-down. He's
standing on his head as comfortably and easily as he would on
his feet. As I wait for his response, I imagine his internal
organs loosening up, freeing themselves from the constant pull
of gravity, re-situating just slightly so they can once again
function perfectly as the body was intended. I know this is
an extremely healthy thing to do, but is this yet another hint?
An idea comes to mind. "Ah! I think I get it. Love may not be
a cure for someone's disease, but if they know inside that they
are loved and they now will never take for granted simple things
such as walking or breathing, then they themselves will begin
to exude love and appreciation for others. This will, in turn,
create the love within that will either help them to get better
or help them pass on into the heavens in peace and contentment.
"You teach in strange ways, Mr. Guru. And I must admit that
the question, 'What is the Key to Happiness?' has been on my
mind for many years. I have even gone so far as to learn hypnosis
so I can conduct past life regressions. When this is done, I
take them to the point after death called the 'Period of Review.'
This is where the person analyzes that particular lifetime looking
at what they did right and where they could have improved. Hopefully
they answer the bigger questions such as what was ultimately
learned from that particular experience and how does it contribute
to their experience as a soul.
"What I noticed again and again from client after client, and
it didn't matter if they were young or old, or if the life they
remembered was exciting or plain or tragic or wonderful, was
a repeated theme. 'It's all about Love. All I had to do was
Love.' One client, a 17-year-old high school student, recalled
a past life where his current father was the person who took
his life. When asked the significance of this person in his
current life, his response was, 'What better person to teach
Love to than your antagonist.' Like I said, this theme was repeated
again and again.
"Cool." Once again, Guru hipness.
"So, as much as I don't want to admit it, your answer is becoming
more true." He proudly smiles as I get another thought. "I remember
reading a book about Near Death Experiences, where people clinically
died and were somehow revived. The vast majority of them described
being bathed in light and feeling entirely loved. Many of them
also detailed how specific loved ones came to greet them. Just
like the people say during a past life regression, they repeated
how all they have to do on Earth is Love, and when they do,
all aspects of life will simply fall into place as they ultimately
"Your answer is making more sense to me: Love is the Key to
Happiness. If everyone simply loved, there would be fewer to
no starving people on this planet, no divorce, no foster children.
There would be no abuse, no blackmail, no drive-by shootings.
Businesses would actually care about people and the environment.
And the threat of religious fanatics setting off a nuclear bomb
would never exist.
"Why did I fight this simple truth for so long? I feel like
an immense weight has just lifted off my shoulders. All I have
to do is love. I mean pro-actively love; not sit back and hope
that love comes my way, but love, accept things without judgment,
appreciate, understand, trust, forgive, have faith, learn… Know
inside that things happen for a reason - even bad things - and
that each thing contributes to your life experience.
"I sound like a cheezy self-help book, but they're right. Why
could I not see this before? How could I let my blame and personal
limitations block me from realizing throughout every ounce of
my being that love is truly the answer?"
We both take in a deep breath as we sit together appreciating
my epiphany, appreciating the view, the air we breathe, the
sun, the clouds, the mountain… in other words, we were truly
He then turns to me and says, as only a wise man can say, "I
love you, man."
And I respond with the same.
Suddenly, a brilliant light shines down from the heavens. The
light is intensely bright yet it doesn't hurt my eyes to look
directly into it. It is warm, but not at all hot. My body feels
lighter, tingling, happy. I soon realize that this brilliant
light is filling me with LOVE. I can't help but to smile, eyes
wide open in amazement.
A figure is coming towards me. I can only see a silhouette,
as the light is so bright. Is this God? Am I about to witness
God with mine own humble eyes?
As the figure comes closer, my guru stands up, breathes in the
magnificent light, stretches a bit, grabs his little pillow,
then says to me, "My job is done."
As the light dims, I hear a commanding, smooth, resonant voice.
"Thanks for filling in for me. Any problems?" I can begin to
make out features on the entity. He looks very much like my
guru; the long beard, the sheet draped around, and so on. He
has a certain twinkle in his eye and an appealing luminescence
- charisma in its purest form.
My guru responds. "Nope. I did everything just like you asked."
"Wonderful. I hope I wasn't gone too long. I understand that
you need to be getting home, so I won't keep you. It was a great
pleasure to talk with you again." The fellow from the light
reaches into his garment and pulls out a small, orange-ish package
and gives it to my new friend. "This is for your trip down.
I know how much you love these things."
Various bugs are becoming attracted to my open mouth. I try
to figure out what's going on as my eyes shift back and forth
between the two.
My guru begins his descent down the mountain, but stops. "Oh,
wait! I almost forgot." He walks back to the luminescent one
and hands him something.
"Oh, thank you! I don't know what I'd do without my pillow."
I watch his head disappear below the mountaintop ledge, then
look over towards the luminescent one as I realize, "So, YOU
are the guru?"
"That is correct."
"Then who was he?"
"Oh, just a friend. I met him in the '60s when he came to find
"He's not a guru?"
"Oh no. Gurus get to travel in the light. One of the better
job perks, I'd say."
"You came here seeking answers - the Key to Happiness, if I'm
not mistaken. Well, despite what people think, it is not my
purpose to provide answers. My purpose is to help people understand
something far greater than any answer could provide." The Guru
takes in a deep breath. As this is done, his body fills with
a faint light. After a moment, he looks at me with his peaceful
"And what is this?" I ask.
He smiles - a glowing smile of wisdom. "It is something that
you just perfectly demonstrated with my friend. It is something
you have already come to know."
As he said this I realize that my guru heading down the mountain
could've been anybody. I am the one who came up with the answers
and explanations. He only pointed me in the right direction
and listened. And this leads me to understand something even
The Guru puts his hand on my back. With his other hand, he touches
my forehead and then puts it over my heart as he whispers what
I was thinking, "Any answer to any question lies within you.
Open your heart, trust, and know you have a connection to eternal
and infinite wisdom."
My body tingles as I realize this truth. After a moment of smiling
together, I thank him for the light show and for, well… nothing,
which is the absolute greatest thing he could give. For as he
leaves me nothing, I know that everything I needed I already
had. And so, off I go with my smile and my discovered wisdom.
But then I hear, "Hey wait! Before you go…" I watch him extend
a small, orange package.
"Would you like a Reese's?"
© 2002 Rob Daugherty