WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK?

A young man went to a Zen master. After practicing for a time the student went off on his own with instructions to faithfully send a letter to the master every month, giving an account of his spiritual progress.

In the first month, the student wrote, “I now feel an expansion of consciousness and experience of oneness with the universe.”

The master glanced at the note and threw it away.

Next month this is what the letter said: “I finally discovered the holiness that is present in all things.”

The master seemed vaguely disappointed.

A month later, the disciple enthusiastically explained, “The mystery of the one and the many has been revealed to my wondering gaze.”

The master yawned.

Two months later another letter arrived: “No one is born, no one lives, no one dies, for the self is an illusion.”

The master threw up his hands in despair,  because each letter was asking for a response, “Is this it? Is this it? Is this it?”

After that, a month passed, then two, three, five, and then a whole year. The master thought it was time to remind the disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress. So he sent the student a letter. The disciple wrote back, “Who cares what you think?”

When the master read those words, a great look of satisfaction spread over his face. “Finally, he got it!”

Source: Based on Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, The Laundry:
How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path
(Bantam, 2001) page 119

CONSIDER THIS

Of course I care about what you think and I will listen intently to what you have to say and be present to what you have to share, but regardless of your thoughts and your words of advice, I know that many of life journeys I have to take unassisted.  Some paths are meant to be navigated by me and me alone. There will always be friends at the end of that road – to wipe your brow and perhaps give you a pat on the back for reaching the end of your quest unscathed, but the passage itself is a solitary journey.

Some paths are meant to be navigated by you and you alone. There will always be friends at the end of that road – companions to wipe your tears and your sweat, fellow seekers to give you a pat and speak a word of encouragement – but the passage itself is a solitary journey.

 

 

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THE TWO CRABS

“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”

“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”

So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.

Source: The Aesop For Children: Top 100 Childrens Classics
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Children’s Classics edition, 2014) page 11

CONSIDER THIS

    • Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example.
    • Your actions speak so loud I cannot hear what you’re saying.
    • The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer. -Matthew 23:1-3

ON ONE FOOT

A rather eccentric looking young man wearing an old brown suit and holding a small, worn, stickered suitcase walked into the center of the city, spun around a few times in the middle of one of the main squares and then looked up to the skyline. Fixing his eyes on the closest church steeple, he immediately made his way to the front door of the rectory beside the church. He knocked on the door and asked to speak with the pastor. When the pastor met him in the parlor, the young man rose to his feet and immediately stood on one foot. Wearing a curious expression, the pastor asked how he could help the man. The young man said – I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. Assessing the man to be deranged, the pastor promptly showed him the door.

Returning to the city centre to repeat his spinning ritual, he headed in a new direction to the nearest church steeple. He made his way to the front door of the rectory and repeated his request to speak to the pastor: I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. Determining the young man to be irrational he also showed him the door.

A third time the young man repeated his spinning ritual and headed toward another church steeple and knocked on the door of the rectory. An old, slouched and limping, white-bearded pastor answered the door and showed him into a sitting room. The young man repeated his request saying: I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. The pastor looked at him through timeworn but wise eyes and smiled saying: Love God, love your neighbour, love yourself – the rest is all commentary.

Satisfied with the response, there and then, still standing on one foot,  the young man decided to settle in the city and join the parish church.

Source: Inspired by a story told by the Talmudic sage Hillel

CONSIDER THIS

Saint Augustine said that Scripture “teaches nothing but charity, and we must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation of it.” 

REMEMBER RULE NUMBER 6

Two Prime ministers were sitting in a room discussing affairs of state.  Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and baning his fist on the desk.  The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying.  Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.”  Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague:  “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this.  Would you be willing to share with me the secret of this Rule Number 6?” 

“Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister.  “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.’”

“Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.”

After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Source: Benjamin Zander & Rosamund Stone Zander,
The Art of Possibility
(Penguin Books; revised edition, 2002) page 79

CONSIDER THIS

As we encounter stress and anxiety, fear and worry, let’s call to mind rule #6! When it shows up, pay attention to the negative, deconstructive inner dialogue and intentionally stop it in its tracks. Remember:

  • “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”  -Oscar Wilde
  • “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” -G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy“The Eternal Revolution”)

BEYOND WORDS

 

Once upon a time there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword. A pebble could be a diamond. A tree a castle.

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was Queen and he was King. In the autumn light, her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls. When the sky grew dark they parted with leaves in their hair.

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

When they were ten he asked her to marry him. When they were eleven he kissed her for the first time. When they were thirteen they got into a fight and for three weeks they didn’t talk. When they were fifteen she showed him the scar on her left breast. Their love was a secret they told no one. He promised her he would never love another girl as long as he lived. What if I die? she asked. Even then, he said. For her sixteenth birthday he gave her an English dictionary and together they learned the words. What’s this? he’d ask, tracing his index finger around her ankle, and she’d look it up. And this? he’d ask, kissing her elbow. Elbow! What kind of word is that? and then he’d lick it, making her giggle. What about this? he asked, touching the soft skin behind her ear. I don’t know, she said, turning off the flashlight and rolling over, with a sigh, onto her back. When they were seventeen they made love for the first time, on a bed of straw in a shed. Later—when things happened that they could never have imagined—she wrote him a letter that said: When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?

Source: Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (May 17, 2006)

CONSIDER THIS

“Her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” What question do you want to spend your whole life answering?

“When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?”
What or who do you turn to when there are no words left to describe what’s happening?

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I AM A MAN AND NOT A WORM

A prince considered himself a to be a worm and was so afraid of the chicken that he always hid himself under the table. The king announced to all in his kingdom that a big reward awaits anyone who succeeds in bringing the prince out of his hiding place. Many magicians and medicine men tried but failed. One day a small boy came to try his luck. He went under the table, sat down with the prince, played and talked to him. Finally he managed to bring the prince out. The king was very happy and asked the small boy how he did it. The small boy said that he asked the prince to say with him, “I am a man, not a worm.”

All of a sudden the prince ducked under the table because a chicken appeared. The small boy went after the prince. He asked the prince if he believe that he was a man and not a worm. And the prince answered, “I am a man, not a worm. But does the chicken know that?”

Source: unknown

CONSIDER THIS

There’s the right kind of fear that keeps us alert, attentive and awake. But there’s also the overdose of fear that cripples, blinds, deafens and petrifies.

“When it is scary to jump, that is when you jump, otherwise you stay in the same place your whole life.”Film: A Most Violent year

Do you use fear as a counsellor or as a jailer?

THE CRACKED POT

Once upon a time a woman named Chang Chang worked for a merchant in Sichuan province. The merchant’s home was high atop a hill, and Chang Chang worked as the merchant’s laundress. Every day she had to walk down the hill to collect water from the stream.

When she was young, Chang Chang made two pots to carry her water, and these she hung upon a pole she could carry over her shoulders. She painted one pot blue and the other red, and on each pot she painted flowers. Chang Chang loved flowers. And she loved her pots.

For some years she carried her pole down the hillside and collected water. Afterward she climbed the hill. She was strong and able, though she was growing older. And as time passed, the pots, too, grew old.

One day, as Chang Chang prepared to place the pole over her shoulders, she noticed the blue pot had a slender crack along its side.

She ran a finger over the crack and sighed, “My poor little pot.”

For a few moments Chang Chang studied the crack. “Will you hold my water?” she whispered. But she decided she could still use the pot. As always she carried both pots down the hill and filled them with water to the very brim. By the time she reached the hilltop, the pot with a crack was half-empty, but this still left her plenty of water for doing the laundry.

For the next two years, Chang Chang carried those pots down the hillside every morning. When she reached the stream, she filled them to the brim, and afterward she walked back up the hill, balancing the pole across her shoulders. By the time she reached the house, the cracked blue pot was only half full — just enough for the laundry.

Each day Chang Chang examined the crack, and though it was growing a little longer, she decided all was well. What she didn’t notice was that the poor blue pot was miserable. Each time it drank from the stream, it secretly hoped that this day all the water would stay inside its belly, but each day when they reached the top of the hill, the pot knew it had failed. The blue pot glanced at the red pot and saw water filled to the top, and the blue pot began to feel desolate.

In its resting place on the far side of Chang Chang’s little hut, the blue pot worried and wept. “I’m no good, I’m no good, I’m no good!” the blue pot wailed.

“Stop your whining,” the red pot answered. “No one wants to hear from a pot.”

One day the blue pot woke and felt its crack beginning to expand. It was certain Chang Chang would soon decide to throw it away. Soon it would be no use to anyone for anything.

That morning, as Chang Chang climbed the hill, she was startled to hear a voice she had never heard. “Chang Chang,” the voice said, “throw me away. I’m no good for anyone or anything.”

Chang Chang stopped and looked around, wondering who could be speaking to her. “Hello?” she called down the hill.

But the voice that answered was very near. “I’m right here,” said the blue pot, swinging this way and that to get Chang Chang’s attention. “I’m your pot. The pot you made with your own two hands. The pot that has served you so well all these years. But I see now my time is finished. The crack in my side has made me useless. When you carry me up the hill, I spill all my water. I’m no good!”

For a long moment Chang Chang stood very still, amazed that her pot had spoken. “Is that you?” she whispered, looking close. “Are you speaking, dear pot?”

“It is I!” the pot said. “I am so sorry I have failed you, but I have.”

Chang Chang was overjoyed to know her pots were as full of life as she had always imagined, but she was sad to hear such sorrowful words. “But pot, you don’t understand,” she said. “You haven’t been paying attention. Look around.”

Chang Chang pointed to the path beside them, the path up the hill, and for the first time the pot stopped looking inward and instead looked out. On the right side of the hill the pot noticed beautiful flowers growing in abundance — poppies and peonies and chrysanthemum and narcissus and citron. A ribbon of color edged the path.

“And look at the other side of the hill,” Chang Chang said.

The pot glanced to the other side and saw it was bare.

“I’ve always known about your flaw,” Chang Chang said. “And so I planted seeds on your side of the path, and every day you water them and add more beauty to the world.”

The blue pot was overjoyed. All its sadness was gone. It understood, just as Chang Chang always had, that every being has its unique flaws. And it is our little quirks and faults that make us and the world so interesting.

Source: Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson
Tell Me a Story
www.uexpress.com

CONSIDER THIS

Nobody’s perfect, but our imperfections make us interesting.

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life!