I tell everyone a different story, that way nothing’s ever boring.
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 pot’s side? That’s 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, you’ve 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 teacher had expected him to say three. She was disappointed. Maybe the child didn’t 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.”
I am awake
A person asked Buddha: “Are you a God?"
Buddha replied, “No."
To which Buddha was asked, “Are you an angel?”
Again, the reply was no.
To which Buddha was asked, “Then what are you?”
Buddha answered, “I am awake.”
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?”
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?
Q. What is the main reason for divorce?
Q. What is the main reason for failure?
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?
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.
Q. To change centimetres into metres, you?
A. Take out centi
Q. What ended in 1896?
Q. Jaden has a dollar coin, a 20-cent piece and two five-cent pieces. How much money does Jaden have?
A. Jaden is broke.
Q. Write a question using ‘why’?
Q. Write five words you can spell?
Q. Bob has 36 candy bars. He eats 29. What does he have now?
A. Diabetes. Bob has diabetes.
More perfect responses
Teacher: How old is your father?
Adam: He is six years.
Teacher: What? How is this possible?
Adam: He only became father 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?
Teacher: Glenn, how do you spell ‘crocodile’?
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?
Teacher: What are you talking about?
Donald: Yesterday you said, “It’s H to 0.”
Teacher: Clyde, your composition 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 kg], 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.”
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?
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
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.”
The grass is blue
One day a donkey informed a tiger, “The grass is blue.”
To which the tiger replied, “No, the grass is green.”
The discussion became rather heated, and the two decided to take the issue to arbitration, so they approached a lion.
As they approached the lion on his throne, the donkey began screaming: “Your Highness, isn’t it true the grass is blue?”
To which the lion replied: “If you believe it is true, then the grass is blue."”
The donkey continued: “That tiger disagrees with me, contradicts me and annoys me. Please punish him.”
The king then declared: “Very well. The tiger will be punished with three days of silence.”
The donkey jumped with joy and went on his way, content and repeating “The grass is blue, the grass is blue . . .”
The astonished tiger asked the lion, “Why have you punished me, after all, the grass is green?”
The lion replied, “Well, you’ve long known the grass is green. So it is not a question of whether the grass is blue or green. The punishment is due because it is degrading for a intelligent creature like you to waste time arguing with an ass, and on top of that, you came and bothered me with that question just to validate something you already knew was true!”
A professor gave a balloon to each student in class one day. Each was asked to inflate it, write their name on it and throw it in the hallway. The professor then mixed all the balloons. The students were then given five minutes to find their own balloon. Despite a hectic search, no one found their balloon.
At that point, the professor told the students to take the first balloon they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it. Within five minutes, everyone had their own balloon.
The professor told the students, “See, these balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if everyone is looking for their own. But if we care about other people’s happiness, we’ll find ours too.”
I've been thinking about the way, when you squeeze past a near-full row of seats in the cinema, people pull their bodies in to let you pass. Or, how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die”, we are saying. And sometimes when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don't want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handling it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us “honey” or “dear” when she sets down our meal, and for the driver in the semi on the highway to let us pass. We have so little of each other now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling place of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat” or “Go ahead — you first” or “I like your hat”.
Adapted from a quote by DANUSHA LAMERIS
I am a modern man,
A man for the millennium,
Digital and smoke free.
A diversified, multi-cultural,
Politically, anatomically and ecologically incorrect.
I’ve been uplinked and downloaded,
I’ve been inputted and outsourced.
I know the upside of downsizing,
I know the downside of upgrading.
I’m a high-tech low-life.
A cutting edge, state-of-the-art,
And I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.
I’m new-wave, but I’m old school;
And my inner child is outward bound.
I’m a hot-wired, heat seeking,
Warm-hearted cool customer;
Voice activated and biodegradable.
I interface with my database;
My database is in cyberspace;
So I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive,
And from time to time I’m radioactive.
Behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve,
Ridin’ the wave, dodgin’ the bullet
Pushin’ the envelope.
I’m on point, on task, on message,
And off drugs.
I’ve got no need for coke and speed;
I've got no urge to binge and purge.
I’m in the moment, on the edge,
Over the top, but under the radar.
A high-concept, low-profile,
Medium-range ballistic missionary.
A street-wise smart bomb.
A top-gun bottom-feeder.
I wear power ties, I tell power lies,
I take power naps, I run victory laps.
I’m a totally ongoing, big-foot, slam-dunk,
Rainmaker with a proactive outreach.
A raging workaholic, a working rageaholic;
Out of rehab and in denial.
I’ve got a personal trainer,
A personal shopper,
A personal assistant,
And a personal agenda.
You can’t shut me up;
You can’t dumb me down.
Cause I’m tireless and I’m wireless.
I’m an alpha-male on beta-blockers.
I’m a non-believer,
Laidback and fashion-forward.
I'm supersized, long-lasting,
Oven-ready and built to last.
A hands-on, footloose, kneejerk head case;
And I have a love child that sends me hate-mail.
But I’m feeling, I’m caring,
I’m healing, I’m sharing.
A supportive, bonding, nurturing
My output is down, but my income is up.
I take a short position on the long bond,
And my revenue stream has its own cash flow.
I read junk mail, I eat junk food,
I buy junk bonds, and I watch trash sports.
I’m gender-specific, capital-intensive,
User-friendly and lactose-intolerant.
I like rough sex; I like tough love.
I use the f-word in my email.
And the software on my hard drive
Is hardcore — no soft porn.
I bought a microwave at a mini-mall.
I bought a mini-van at a mega-store.
I eat fast food in the slow lane.
I’m toll-free, bite-sized, ready-to-wear,
And I come in all sizes.
A fully equipped, factory-authorised
Scientifically-formulated medical miracle.
I’ve been pre-washed, pre-cooked, pre-heated,
Pre-screened, pre-approved, pre-packaged,
Post-dated, freeze-dried, double-wrapped
And . . . I have an unlimited broadband capacity.
I’m a rude dude, but I’m the real deal.
Lean and mean.
Cocked, locked and ready to rock;
Rough, tough and hard to bluff.
I take it slow, I go with the flow;
I ride with the tide, I’ve got glide in my stride.
Drivin’ and movin’, sailin' and spinnin’,
Jivin’ and groovin’, wailin’ and winnin’.
I don’t snooze, so I don’t lose.
I keep the pedal to the metal
And the rubber on the road.
I party hearty and lunchtime is crunch time.
I’m hangin’ in, there ain’t no doubt;
And I’m hangin’ tough.
Over and out!
Play your part
There was a great fire in the forest one day. It was very fierce and all the animals fled in all directions in fear.
Suddenly, a jaguar saw a hummingbird flying overhead, but in the opposite direction. The hummingbird flew towards the fire!
A few moments later, the jaguar saw it fly by again, this time in the jaguar’s direction.
He observed this coming and going for some time, and finally had to ask the bird about it.
“What are you doing, hummingbird?” he asked.
“I'm flying to the lake,” he replied, “drinking water with my beak and throwing it on the fire to put it out.”
The jaguar laughed. “Are you crazy? Do you really think you can put out this big fire with your little beak alone?”
“No,” said the hummingbird, “I know I can’t. But the forest is my home. It feeds me, it provides shelter for me and my family. For that, I am very grateful. And I help the forest grow by pollinating its flowers. I am a part of it and the forest is a part of me. I know I can’t on my own put out the fire, but I have to do my part.”
At that moment, the forest spirits listening to the hummingbird were moved by the little bird and his devotion to the forest. And, miraculously, they sent a torrential downpour that put an end to the great fire.
Indian grandmothers tell this story to their grandchildren and conclude with the words: “If you want to attract miracles in your life, then do your part.”
I walk down the street
I walk down the street. There is a hole in the footpath. I don't see it. I trip and fall over. IT ISN’T MY FAULT.
I walk down the same street. There is a hole in the footpath. I fall over again. I don’t think the hole is in the same place. IT STILL ISN’T MY FAULT.
I walk down the same street. There is a hole in the footpath. I see it. I still trip and fall over . . . I see this is getting to be a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. IT IS MY FAULT. I get up immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a hole in the footpath. I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
Adapted from Autobiography in Five Short Chapters (Portia Nelson, 1980)
In old traditions those who acted as elders were considered to have one foot in daily life and the other foot in the otherworld. Elders acted as a bridge between the visible world and the unseen realms of spirit and soul. A person in touch with the otherworld stands out because something normally invisible can be seen through them.
The old word for having a foot in each world is ‘weird’. The original sense of weird involved both fate and destiny. Becoming weird enough to be wise requires that a person learn to accommodate the strange way they are shaped within and aimed at the world.
An old idea suggests that those seeking for an elder should look for someone weird enough to be wise. For just as there can be no general wisdom, there are no ‘normal’ elders. Normal bespeaks the ‘norms’ that society uses to regulate people, whereas an awakened destiny always involves connections to the weird and the warp of life.
In Norse mythology, as in Shakespeare, the Fates appear as the Weird Sisters who hold time and the timeless together.
Those who would become truly wise must become weird enough to be in touch with timeless things and abnormal enough to follow the guidance of the unseen. Elders are supposed to be weird, not simply 'weirdoes', but strange and unusual in meaningful ways.
Elders are supposed to be more in touch with the otherworld, but not out of touch with the struggles in this world. Elders have one foot firmly in the ground of survival and another in the realm of great imagination. This double-minded stance serves to help the living community and even helps the species survive.
MICHAEL MEADE Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul
The journey or the destination?
“Which is more important,” asked the Big Panda. “The journey or the destination?”
“The company,” replied the Tiny Dragon.
Ten Rules for Being Human
You will receive a body. You may like it or not, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
You will learn lessons. You are enrolled full-time in an informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or not. It makes no difference, you will learn lessons.
There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error, of experiments. The ‘failed’ experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately ‘works’.
A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
Learning lessons doesn’t end. There is no part of life that doesn't have lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be leaned.
'There' is no better than ‘here’. When your ‘there’ becomes a ‘here’ you will simply receive another ‘there’ that will again look better than ‘here’.
Others are mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
What you make of life is your choice. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you.
The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
You will receive what you ask for. It may not be what you wanted, but it will be what you asked for.
UPON ENTERING THIS LEVEL OF EXISTENCE, YOU WILL FORGET ALL THE ABOVE.
Can imagination save us?
Along with many others who had crowded the bed of a large truck, poet Robert Desnos was being taken away from the barracks of a concentration camp where he had been held prisoner.
Leaving the barracks, the mood was somber; everyone knew the truck was headed for the gas chamber.
And when the truck arrived no one could speak at all; even the guards fell silent.
But this silence was soon interrupted by an energetic man, who jumped into the line and grabbed one of the condemned. Improbable as it is, Desnos read the man's palm. Oh, he said, I see you have a very long lifeline. And you are going to have three children. He was exuberant. And his excitement became contagious. First one man, then another, offered up his hand, and the prediction was for longevity, more children, abundant joy.
As Desnos read more palms, not only did the mood of the prisoners change but that of the guards too. How can one explain it? Perhaps the element of surprise had planted a shadow of doubt in their minds. If they told themselves these deaths were inevitable, this would no longer see so inarguable.
They are in any case so disoriented by this sudden change of mood among those they are about to kill that they were unable to go through with the executions.
So all the men, along with Desnos, were packed back onto the truck and taken back to the barracks.
Desnos saved his own life and the lives of others by using his imagination.
The story poses a question: Can imagination save us?
Robert Desnos was famous for his belief in the imagination. He believed it could transform society. And what a wild leap this was, at the mouth of the gas chambers, to imagine a long life! In his mind he simply stepped outside the world as it was created by the SS.
As told by SUSAN GRIFFIN
Value is in the eye of the beholder
A father said to his daughter, “You have graduated with honours, here is a Jeep I bought many years ago. It’s pretty old now. But before I give it to you, take it to a used car dealer and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you for it.”
The daughter went to the dealership, returned to her father and said, “They offered me $1,000 because they said it looked pretty worn out.”
The father said, “Now, take it to a pawn shop.” Which she did, and again returned to her father and said, “The pawn shop offered only $100 because it was an old Jeep.”
The father asked his daughter to go to a Jeep club and show them the Jeep. The daughter then took the Jeep to the club, returned and told her father, “Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it because it’s an iconic Jeep and sought by many collectors.”
The father then said to his daughter, “If you are not valued, don’t be upset. It means you’re not in the right place for you. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.”
The Christmas Truce
On Christmas Day, 1914, in the first year of World War I, German, British and French soldiers disobeyed their superiors and fraternised with “the enemy” along two-thirds of the Western Front. German troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, “Merry Christmas” and “You no shoot, we no shoot”. Thousands of troops streamed across a no-man’s land strewn with rotting corpses. They sang Christmas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.
A shudder ran through the high command on either side. Here was disaster in the making: soldiers declaring their brotherhood with each other and refusing to fight. Generals on both sides declared this spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court martial. By March 1915, the fraternisation movement had been eradicated and the killing machine put back in full operation. By the time of the armistice in 1918, fifteen million would be slaughtered.
Not many people have heard the story of the Christmas Truce. Military leaders have not gone out of their way to publicise it. On Christmas Day 1988, a story in the Boston Globe mentioned that a local FM radio host played Christmas in the Trenches, a ballad about the Christmas Truce, several times and was startled by the effect. The song became the most requested recording during the holidays in Boston on several FM stations. “Even more startling than the number of requests I get is the reaction to the ballad afterward by callers who hadn’t heard it before,” said the radio host. “They telephone me deeply moved, sometimes in tears, asking, ‘What the hell did I just hear?’”
I think I know why the callers were in tears. The Christmas Truce story goes against most of what we have been taught about people. It gives us a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be and says, “This really happened once”. It reminds us of those thoughts we keep hidden away, out of range of the TV and newspaper stories that tell us how trivial and mean human life is. It is like hearing that our deepest wishes really are true: the world really could be different.
Excerpted from DAVID G. STRATMAN, We Can Change the World: The Real Meaning of Everyday Life
The tiny frogs
There once was a band of tiny frogs who'd organised a contest to climb to the top of a tall tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to cheer on the competitors.
No one in the crowd seriously believed any of the frogs would reach the top. You could hear shouts of “Oh, it’s way too difficult!” “They will never make it to the top.” “Not a chance in the world they'll succeed. The tower is too high!”
As the contest unfolded, the tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one. Except for those who in a fresh burst of determination continued climbing higher and higher.
The crowd continued to yell: “It is too difficult! No one will make it!”
More tiny frogs tired and gave up. But one frog continued higher and higher and higher. This one frog wouldn’t give up.
At the end, this one tiny frog that had made the biggest effort of all, reached the top.
Naturally, all the other tiny frogs wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it.
It turned out the winner was deaf.
I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult.
I have decided I’d like to accept the responsibilities of an eight-year-old again.
I want to sail sticks across a fresh puddle and make castles with rocks and pebbles.
I want to think a mango is better than money because you can eat it.
I want to lie under a big shady tree and run a cake stall with my friends.
I want to return to a time when life was far simpler, when all you knew were colours, tastes, smells, nursery rhymes, but it never bothered you because you didn’t know what you didn't know and you didn't care.
All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that could make you worried or upset.
I want to think the world is fair, that everyone is honest and good. I want to believe anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and to be overly excited about the little things again.
I want to live simply again. I don’t want my day to consist of computer glitches and crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there's money in the bank, dental bills, gossip, illness, loss of loved ones . . .
I want to believe in the power of hugs, smiles, a kind word, truth, justice, dreams, peace, the imagination, humanity, human kindness and making angels in the sand.
So, here’s my credit card, my bills, my car keys, my house keys and my bank statements.
I am officially resigning from adulthood and if you want to discuss it further, you’ll have to catch me first because — tag — you’re it!
Camping with Holmes and Watson
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are on a camping trip. After their evening meal they lay down for the night, and go to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awakens and nudges Watson.
“Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see?”
Watson replies, “I see millions and millions of stars.”
“And what does that tell you?” asks Holmes.
Watson ponders for a bit and replies, “Astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce the time to be a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I think we will have a beautiful day tomorrow, what does it tell you?”
Holmes is silent for a minute, then speaks: “Well, I think someone might have stolen our tent!”
A professor gives a balloon to every student
During a university lecture, a professor gave a balloon to each student. He asked them to inflate them, write their names on them and throw them in the hallway outside the lecture theatre.
Then the professor mixed up all the balloons. The students were then given five minutes to find their own balloon. Despite a hectic search, no surprise no one found their balloon.
The professor then told the students to take the first balloon they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it. Within five minutes, everyone had their own balloon back.
The professor then told the students: “These balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if everyone is looking for their own. But if we care about other people’s happiness, we’ll find ours too.”
How to handle a rumour: The Test of Three
Greek philosopher Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day he came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and exclaimed, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”
“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me, I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Test of Three.”
“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to test what you’re going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No,” the man replied. “Actually I just heard about it.”
“Alright,” said Socrates. “So you don’t know if it’s true or not.”
“Now let’s try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”
“No, on the contrary—”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true?”
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued. “You may still pass though, because there is a third test: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really . . .”
“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”
Own the fact that you are different.
Own that you are a deep feeler and thinker.
Own that you are tuned into a different frequency.
Own the fact that you sense things others don’t.
Own the fact that you want to talk about angels, energy, miracles and spirituality.
Own that you’re done having meaningless conversations.
Own that you’re done holding yourself back.
Own that you crave freedom to feel the now.
It’s ok if your family don’t get you.
It’s ok if your friends don’t join you.
It’s ok if the world judges you.
It’s ok that you want to dance barefoot upon the earth and endlessly gaze at the stars.
It’s ok that you cry over sunsets and chase moonbeams.
It’s wonderful in fact.
You have come a long way to be who you are. So own it. Own all of it.
Love all of you. The world needs you to be exactly as you are.
You hold the balance in this crazy world!