Image by Robyn Budlender


I tell everyone a different story, that way nothing's ever boring.  Jane Siberry

The cracked pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole he carried across his neck. One pot had a crack in it, while the other was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.


At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water home.


Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.


After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. ’’I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."


The bearer said to the pot, ’’Did you notice there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pots side? Thats because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, youve watered them.


’’For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.

How many apples do you have?

A teacher teaching maths to 7-year-old Arnav asked him, ’’If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”


Within a few seconds, Arnav replied confidently, ’’Four!’’


The dismayed teacher was expecting him to say three. She was disappointed. Maybe the child did not listen properly, she thought. So she repeated, ’’Arnav, listen carefully. If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?’’


Arnav had seen the disappointment on his teacher's face. He calculated again on his fingers. But within him he was also searching for the answer that would make the teacher happy, not necessarily for the correct one.


This time hesitatingly he replied, ’’Four . . .’’


The disappointment stayed on the teacher's face. She remembered Arnav liked strawberries. She thought maybe he didn't like apples, and that's making him lose focus. This time, with an exaggerated excitement and twinkling in her eyes, she asked, ’’If I give you one strawberry and one strawberry and one strawberry, then how many will you have?’’


Seeing the teacher happy, young Arnav calculated on his fingers again. There was no pressure on him, but a little on the teacher. She wanted her new approach to succeed.


With a hesitating smile young Arnav enquired, ’’Three?’’


The teacher now had a victorious smile. Her approach had succeeded. She wanted to congratulate herself. However, one last thing remained. Once again she asked him, ’’Now if I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple how many will you have?’’


Promptly Arnav answered, ’’Four!’’


The teacher was aghast. ’’How Arnav, how?’’ she demanded in a little stern and irritated voice.


In a voice that was low and hesitating, young Arnav replied, ’’Because I already have one apple in my bag.’’


The lesson? When someone gives you an answer that's different to what you expect, don’t assume they're wrong.

For its own sake

A Zen Buddhist teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, ’’Why are you riding your bicycles?’’


The first student replied, ’’The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!’’ The teacher praised the student, saying, ’’You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do.’’

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world."

The third student replied, ’’When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo.’’ The teacher gave praise to the third student, ’’Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.’’

The fourth student answered, ’’Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.’’ The teacher was pleased and said, ’’You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.’’

The fifth student replied, ’’I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.’’ The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, ’’I am your student.’’


Moving on

A Zen master and his student were walking by a river when they came upon a sex worker seeking to cross the river. The Zen master promptly picked her up and carried her over and then put her down. The master and student continued walking. 


A few hours on, the student was so agitated he finally had to ask, ’’Master, how could you touch and help that sex worker? That’s against what we believe in!’’ To which the Master replied, ’’I left her by the river. Why are you still carrying her?’’


Perfect responses

Q. In which battle did Napoleon die?  

A. His last battle

Q. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?  

A. At the bottom of the page

Q. River Ravi flows in which state?  

A. Liquid

Q. What is the main reason for divorce?  

A. Marriage

Q. What is the main reason for failure?  

A. Exams

Q. What can you never eat for breakfast?  

A. Lunch and dinner

Q. What looks like half an apple?  

A. The other half

Q. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?  

A. Wet 

Q. How can a person go eight days without sleeping?  

A. No problem, they sleep at night 

Q. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?  

A. You will never find an elephant that has only one hand 

Q. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have?  

A. Very large hands 

Q. If it took eight people ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four people to build it?

A. No time at all, the wall is already built

Q. How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?  

A. Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack.

More perfect responses

Teacher: How old is your father? 

Adam: He is six years. 

Teacher: What? How is this possible? 

Adam: He became father only when I was born. 


Teacher: Maria, go to the map and find North America. 

Maria: Here it is. 

Teacher: Correct. Now, class, who discovered North America? 

Class: Maria. 


Teacher: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile’?

Glenn: K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L 

Teacher: No, that's wrong. 

Glenn: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it 


Teacher: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water? 

Donald: H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O. 

Teacher: What are you talking about? 

Donald: Yesterday you said, "It's H to 0." 


Teacher: Clyde, your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his? 

Clyde: No, it's the same dog.


Teacher: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested? 

Harold: A teacher. 

Big mud puddles and yellow dandelions

When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see weeds that are going to take over my yard. My kids see flowers for Mum and blowing white fluff you can wish upon.


When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away. My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.


When I hear music I love, I know I can’t hold a tune and don’t have much rhythm so I sit self-consciously and listen. My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don’t know them, they make up their own.


When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my hair and pulling we back when I walk. My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing.


When I pray, I say thee and thou and grant me this, give me that. My kids say, "Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry, I don't want to go to Heaven yet. I would miss my Mummy and Daddy."


When I see a mud puddle I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets. My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross and worms to play with.


I wonder if we are given kids to teach or to learn from?



Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man spent all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours at a time. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.


The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. The man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the man by the window described it. Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse replied that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."


Trust in our inner healing

At one of my group workshops, a huge man, weighing perhaps 400 pounds [180 kilos], suddenly and unexpectedly went into an acute homicidal rage. I could see that I had to rescue a woman who was much too close to him. I stepped forward and pushed her away, but in the process, the man brought a rubber hose — which was supposed to be used to take out anger on a phone book — down on my bare toes with all his strength, crushing them.

I could not stop to focus on the pain. I capped my big toe with my hand, ignoring the pain, and focused all my energy on the enraged man in order to push him even further into the depths of his rage, so he could go all the way through it and get it out. Then, suddenly, he was over it and the group was safe.

I found myself wondering why I was sitting in such a strange position, pulling my right knee up and holding my big toe. Remembering what had happened, I took my hand away to look at my toe, expecting the worst. To my amazement, there was no trace of any injury. I had been instantaneously healed.


I have had several other experiences of spontaneous healing in emergency situations. In each case, the reason I was able to heal myself was that I did not have time to think. As a physician, I have been trained to believe that such instantaneous healing cannot happen. But in emergencies, when we have to focus totally in a situation and have no time to think, we do not block our innate potential for self-healing — a potential I believe each of us has. If we would develop more trust and faith in our own inner healing ability, spontaneous physical healing could occur more often.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross MD, Healers on Healing

What exactly do you need?

A man who was ragged and appeared to be without anything in a physical sense came upon a man in charge of a road crew and asked, "Can you help me? I need work."


"Fine," said the foreman. "Take that big boulder over there and roll it up and down the hill. If you need work, that should fulfil your need."

The ragged one said, "You don't understand. What I really need is money."


"Oh, if it's money that you need, here's $50. But you cannot spend it," said the foreman.


Again, the ragged one was perplexed. "You don't understand. What I really need is food, fuel and clothing."


"If you are sure this is what you need," replied the foreman, "then spend the money on food, fuel and clothing but don't eat the food, burn the fuel or wear the clothing."



Calvin and Hobbes is a comic strip by Bill Watterson. It features a boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. In the first panel of one story, Calvin is sitting at a school desk looking perplexed as he studies a question on a test, which reads "Explain [Isaac] Newton's First Law of Motion in your own words." In the second panel, Calvin has a broad smile, suddenly imbued with inspiration. In the third panel, he writes his response to the test question: "Yakka foob mog. Grug pubbawup zink wattoom gazork. Chumble spuzz." The fourth panel shows him triumphant and relaxed, proclaiming, "I love loopholes."

Calvin and Hobbes - Newton Loophole.png

How can this be?

A father and his son were driving to a football game when their car stalled on the railway tracks. In the distance, a train whistle blows a warning. Frantically, the father tries to start the engine, but in his panic, he can’t turn the key, and the car is hit by the oncoming train. An ambulance speeds to the scene and picks them up. On the way to the hospital, the father dies. The son is still alive but his condition is very serious, and he needs immediate surgery. The moment they arrive at the hospital, he is wheeled into an operating theatre, and the surgeon comes in, expecting a routine case. However, on seeing the boy, the surgeon turns ghostly and mutters, “I can’t operate on this boy — he’s my son.” The question is how can this be?

Douglas Hofstadter

If you are stuck for an answer, contact me and I'll put you out of your misery.

If a dog were your teacher, you would learn

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.

  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy

  • When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience

  • Let others know when they’ve invaded you territory

  • Take naps and stretch before rising

  • Run, romp and play daily

  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you

  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do

  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass

  • On hot days drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree

  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag your whole body

  • No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout, run right back and make friends

  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk

  • Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

  • Stop when you’ve had enough

  • Be loyal

  • Never pretend to be something you’re not 

  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. 

  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Be known for what you want, what you like

In the late 1990s, environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill spent two years living in a redwood tree she named Luna. Her goal was to save it from being cut down by a logging company. She was finally successful. Luna was spared, as was a surrounding 1.2-hectare coup of trees. Hill became an inspiring symbol of artful, compassionate protest.

Later she told Benjamin Tong in the video The Taoist and the Activist, "So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don't like, what we don't want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don't want, what we don't like, what we want to change. So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. 

"And I realised I didn't climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell in love with the world. So it is my feeling of 'connection' that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected."

Know what you're fighting for

Activist and author Naomi Klein travelled to Australia at the request of Aboriginal elders, who wanted her to know about their struggle to prevent a radioactive waste dump on their land.

Her hosts brought her to country, where they camped under the stars. They showed her "secret sources of fresh water, plants used for bush medicines, hidden eucalyptus-lined rivers where the kangaroos come to drink."

After three days, Klein grew restless. When were they going to get down to business? "Before you can fight," she was told, "you have to know what you are fighting for."

Just because . . .

US president Abraham Lincoln once asked an audience: how many legs a dog has if you count the tail as a leg. When they answered 'five', he told them the answer was four. The fact that you called the tail a leg did not make it a leg.

The Sun and the Cave

One day the Sun and a Cave struck up a conversation. The Sun had trouble understanding what “dark” meant and the Cave didn’t quite get the hang of “light and clear” so they decided to change places. 


The Cave went up to the Sun and said, “Ah, I see, this is beyond wonderful. Now come down and see where I have been living.” 

The Sun went down to the cave and said, “Gee, I don’t see any difference.”


The Sun had taken its light along and even the darkest corners were illuminated. That's why the Sun couldn't see any difference.


How heavy is this glass of water?

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 200ml to 400ml.

The lecturer replied, “The actual weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call for medical attention.

“In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.

“So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. They will still be there when you come back to them."