September 11 is a not any other date in the history of America. It is one such date that no American can ever forget because it turned out to be a day when Americans bowed before the knowledge and charisma of a turbaned monk from an ancient land. Surprised?.. well, before you think about the twin towers of WTC, let me tell you that the monk was a 30-year-old young Bengali from India; whose name was Narendranath Datta. Today, the entire world knows this great soul from the land of Buddha as Swami Vivekananda and fondly remembers his famous speech in the Art Institute of Chicago .

On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda was attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. On the 5th day of the conference, he told a short story to the audience. Swamiji said “A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Every day it cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

“Where are you from?”

“I am from the sea.”

“The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.

“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”

Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?”

“What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!”

“Well, then,” said the frog of the well, “nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out.”

The story recited by the great monk ended there and had an enlightened message for the Chicago audience – “Your world is ‘a’ world and not ‘the’ world!”

Friends, we are like frogs living in our respective wells. Our world revolves only around people that we “like” to know; books that we “like” to read; experiences that we “like” to accumulate and the dreams that we “like” to see. We continue to live in this manner till the time we are confronted by a person with a broader view of the world and whose thoughts shakes our conscience to its core.

Let’s refuse to live by the rules that we have set for ourselves . Rules, which are nothing more than a systematic arrangements of our preferences. They are the boundary walls of the wells that we live in. We will have to break these walls, if we desire to explore the creations of the beautiful world. Further, in order to exploit the creative intelligence of human mind, we will have to challenge and (if necessary) break the rules that restrict our thoughts in a limited space.

Remember, beyond our small WELL that houses (restricts) our thoughts there is a SEA of unexplored opportunities waiting for us. Let us break the boundaries and embrace a more beautiful world.

—this post is dedicated to my good friend, who had worked with me in an Investment Bank in Mumbai. Later, she moved to Hong Kong and after working against all odds, she started an online handicraft store. She is a living example of what I believe – “Challenge the rules and explore a new world.”—

Happy Birthday Joy!!!