Think Outside the Box
"Jewely" Acrylic Soul Painting by Srimati
Story Teaching: The Ugly Jewelry Box
There once was a beautiful and rare jewel crafted delicately by a master jeweler. Wishing to keep the jewel safe from thieves, the master jeweler placed the jewel in a hideous box. But as the master jeweler walked through the town market, the box slipped out of his pocket and fell to the ground. The box landed at the feet of a wealthy businessman. The businessman picked up the box; he stared at its grotesque surface and immediately threw the box back into the street.
The box hit a woman on the head. She held the box in her hand and stared at it. Rather than opening the box, she became unnerved and threw it into a river. “How disgusting!” She yelled.
After that, never a day went by where the jewel wasn’t harassed due to the appearance of the box. Because of the way the box looked, all those who possessed it did not even think to look inside the box; they could not imagine the beauty the box contained within. After many years of being thrown away and harassed, the jewel soon believed that it was the box, and could no longer identify with the splendid jewel it was. Over the years, the box had been passed around from person to person, discarded over and over until it found its way to a worn down alleyway. It lay there, neglected for many years.
Then one day, the master jeweler, now old and tired, happened to walk through the alleyway. He found the box tucked between two buildings. He picked up the box and inspected it. “I remember you!” The old jeweler beamed. “Surely you are not what you appear to be.”
Something strange tinkered in the jewel’s memory. “You are wrong old man. I am nothing more than a hideous box. Too ugly even for an old man like you.”
A tender, warm smile stretched across the old man’s face. “There, there.” The man said. Let’s open you up then.” The man opened the box. When he saw the jewel, his face lit up. “My darling, you could not be more wrong. You are the most beautiful treasure I have ever beheld; just as beautiful as the day I made you.”
The jewel did not know what to say or think. It only knew that it was not beautiful; it was an old, dirty box. “You are wrong!” The jewel told the man. “I am just an ugly box.”
The man’s chest rolled with laughter. “My child,” the man said, “you have spent so much time in this box that you do not even realize just how beautiful you are.” The man took the jewel to a mirror and set it down.
The jewel gazed at itself in disbelief. “This must be a trick!” The jewel said, unable to believe what it was staring at.
The man chuckled. “This is no trick. What you see is the true reality of what you are. You have only fooled yourself after so long into believing that you were just a box. But in reality, you are a beautiful jewel.” The old man smiled and patted the jewel. He picked the jewel up and carried it with him into the market place. “I will show you!”
Many people stopped in the streets to stare at the jewel. “That jewel you have there! I will trade it for one hundred silver pieces!” One man, said. The jewel recognized the man’s voice; it was the same businessman who, many years ago, threw it into the street.
“I will give you one hundred gold pieces!” Another woman yelled. The jewel knew this to be the same woman who threw the jewel into a river.
Soon, a crowd of people surrounded the old jeweler, offering to buy his jewel.
The jewel whispered to the man “please don’t sell me to these people! These are the same people who threw me away and told me I was nothing but an ugly box.”
“You fools!” The old man finally yelled. “You have passed this jewel around from person to person, not even realizing what it is you held. And now that you see it for what it is, you think you can buy it for a measly 100 gold pieces? Do you not know this jewel is irreplaceable and priceless?” The crowd of people backed away from the man in resignation. The jewel smiled. As the man spoke with such conviction, the jewel remembered who the man was.
“Thank you.” The jewel said. “You are the first person to ever make me realize who I am”
“So you see now?” The old man asked.
The jewel nodded. “Yes.” The jewel wept as it remembered what it was before it was put into the box. “For so long I have forgotten what I truly was. You have shown me the error of my belief. I am more precious than all the gold in the world. So precious that I cannot even be sold.”
Lesson: Think Outside the Box
Think outside the box: This phrase is so often heard among visionaries who claim that in order to achieve greatness and attain a great new discovery they had to go where no man had gone before. They had to think outside of the box.
To think outside the box you must first realize what the box is. How often do you hear this phrase and picture the box as some 2-dimensional object that surrounds your brain like a vice, or as a metaphor for the ideas and beliefs that limit your way of thinking and your paradigm? When I was a young girl, I used to picture the box as something outside of myself; a box floating in the sky that contained all of the world’s knowledge. And in order to discover something new, I had to reach outside of the box to grab onto something different. I never understood the implications of the box. I never understood what that box truly was. As I grew older I thought that even the space outside the box had its own box (which I often pictured as a sphere); its own limitations on what people were capable of pulling from its space. “It’s all been done” I’d tell myself, giving up on any original thought or creation.
But something very profound has occurred to me. This proverbial box that we all talk about, that archetype that is limitation—the prison that holds our entire thoughts and actions hostage—is not some two dimensional, equilateral, straight edged shape. It is something much more close to home and something much more deceiving than even the most convincing mirage. To think outside the box, you must first realize that your body, that thing which is the seat of consciousness, is the box. Your consciousness, which the box houses, is simply awareness of the box and all things relating to it. So in order to think outside the box, you must first remove yourself from the box entirely. I am not speaking of death or anything as sinister; this is an exercise of consciousness.
Just as the beautiful jewel inside the ugly jewelry box realized it was not the box, so too must we realize we are not the body. The body is just the box housing something much more beautiful; the jewel that is the consciousness. The soul. One, for example, does not stare at a jewelry box, no matter how beautifully made, and ignore the fact that it contains within it a diamond ring. On the contrary, most are eager to remove the ring from the box.
So to think outside the box, you have to see it for what it is. Just as the box does not define the jewel, so too does the body not define the soul. The box can never emulate the beauty of the jewel, just as the body can never emulate the beauty of the soul.
The soul is the splendor beyond all inclinations of the body. It is beyond all thoughts and judgments of the body and of others existing on this plane of consciousness. The thoughts and feelings associated with the body belong to the body, and not to the soul. The soul, being consciousness, is simply awareness of these thoughts and feelings. It is here where we gain power over these thoughts and limitations and where we can reach beyond into the great vastness that is our soul and receive all knowledge, creativity, and discovery.
Look at yourself for what you are; look at yourself for a moment as though you are the jewel from our story. Love and embrace your body for what it is, a wonderful, albeit temporary living and breathing vessel of that magnificent being that is eternal love and beauty. You are not the body, you see. You are not the box, but the jewel contained within it.
Now go and think outside the box.
In love, service, and remembrance of self,