INCREASE THE DOSE

An unorthodox doctor, who always thought beyond prescriptions, pills and medication, once said to one of his regular patients:  “I’m starting to suspect that the best medicine for humans is love.”

The patient, surprised, shocked even, said: “What if love doesn’t work?”

The doctor smiled and said, “Increase the dose.”

Source: Unkown

CONSIDER THIS

“Time heals some wounds, but love heals them all.”  Matshona Dhliwayo

THE ROOSTER PRINCE

In a distant land, a prince lost his mind and imagined himself a rooster.  He sought refuge under the table and lived there, naked, refusing to partake of the royal delicacies served in golden dishes – all he wanted and accepted was the grain reserved for the roosters. The king was desperate.  He sent for the best physicians, the most famous specialists; all admitted their incompetence.  So did the magicians.  And the monks, the ascetics, the miracle-makers; all their interventions proved fruitless.

One day an unknown sage presented himself at court.  “I think that I could heal the prince,” he said shyly.  “Will you allow me to try?”

The king consented, and to the surprise of all present, the sage removed his clothes, and joining the prince under the table, began to crow like a rooster.

Suspicious, the prince interrogated him:  “Who are you and what are you doing here?” – “And you,” replied the sage, “who are you and what are you doing here?” – “Can’t you see?  I am a rooster!” – “Hmm,” said the Sage, “how very strange to meet you here!” – “Why strange?” – “You mean you don’t see?  Really not?  You don’t see that I am a rooster just like you?”

The two men became friends and swore never to leave each other.

And then the sage undertook to cure the prince by using himself as an example.  He started by putting on a shirt.  The prince couldn’t believe his eyes. – “Are you crazy?  Are you forgetting who you are? You really want to be a man?” – “You know,” said the Sage in a gentle voice, “you mustn’t ever believe that a rooster who dresses like a man ceases to be a rooster.”  The prince had to agree.  The next day both dressed in a normal way.  The sage sent for some dishes from the palace kitchen.  “Wretch!  What are you doing?” protested the prince, frightened in the extreme.  “Are you going to eat like them now?”His friend allayed his fears:  “Don’t ever think that by eating like man, with man, at his table, a rooster ceases to be what he is; you mustn’t ever believe that it is enough for a rooster to behave like a man to become human; you can do anything with man, in his world and even for him, and yet remain the rooster you are.”

And the prince was convinced; he resumed his life as a prince.

Source: Nahman of Bratslav
in Elie Wiesel,
Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Master
(New York: Random House, 1972)
pages 170-171

_____________________

Here’s a slightly different rendering by Avishai Edenburg

Many years ago, in a kingdom whose name has since faded from memory, a prince went mad. The young heir to the throne took all of his clothes off, forsook speech for clucking, and spent all of his time under the dining room table, pecking at whatever crumb fell to the floor.

The king, terribly ashamed and afraid for his son’s sanity, offered all manner of honours and rewards for whoever would be able to cure his son, and while many physicians and miracle-workers heeded the summons, none were able to restore the prince.

The king had nearly resigned to sending the crazed princeling to a faraway island when a wise man came and promised the king he would solve the matter of the rooster prince. While skeptic, the king nevertheless thought there is no harm in one more effort.

He was then shocked and enraged when the wise man began undressing. “Are you mocking me?”The king screamed. “I will have you put to death!”

“My liege,” answered the wise man. “Lend me your trust, and you shall have your son back.”

Naked, the wise man crawled under the table and joined the mad prince, pecking at crumbs that fell to the floor. The king and queen stared in disbelief at the couple of madmen under their table, but the wise man had a plan.

When the prince grew accustomed to his fellow rooster, the wise man asked that the royal seamstress bring him clothes for two people. As the wise man was putting on trousers, the prince clucked in objection and said the first words since losing his sanity: “what are you doing? Roosters do not wear clothes!”

“Why not?” Asked the wise man. “Why should I freeze, just because I am a rooster?” and for the first time since he became a rooster, the prince felt the chill of the floor, and he reached for the clothes.

The next day, the wise man asked that the servants bring them apples. When the apples arrived, the wise man grasped one and bit into it. The prince looked at him incredulously: “roosters do not eat with their hands!”

“Why not?”Asked the wise man. “I shouldn’t deny myself the taste of this delicious apple, simply because I am a rooster.”The prince pondered the apple and looked at its glistening red skin, and took an apple in his hand and took a bite.

The day after, the wise man asked that the servants set two additional seats next to the table and call for the roosters to be fed as they serve the food. When the servants called for dinnertime, the wise man crawled out from under the table and took a seat. Glancing up at him, the prince said: “roosters do not sit in chairs and eat with the humans!”

“Why not?”Said the wise man. “Why should I endure the cramped space under the table, when I can eat in comfort like humans?” And the prince, after some deliberation, joined them at the table.

And so, every day, the wise man taught the rooster prince to act as humans do until he was completely functionally human, even as he never stopped believing for a moment that he was, in fact, a rooster.

CONSIDER THIS

Sometimes, the best way to help a fellow person out is to get down to their level, entering their world, using their logic and world of references in order to help them.

What ways and practices do you employ, if any, to meet others where they are? Is it OK to bring them where you are? Where is the boundary? 

 

TO WHOM DOES THE GIFT BELONG

One day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, hurling all kinds of rude words at him, intended to ridicule and demean him.

The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

Source: A variation of a shorter story falsely attributed to Buddha

CONSIDER THIS

People can and will offer us their words, opinions and points of view. None of that can hurt us unless we let it first land in our heart and mind.

  • Holding on the anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. (exact source unknown)
  • Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you end up getting burned. (exact source unknown)

THE SYMMETRY OF KINDNESS

The train slammed into the station, injuring hundreds. The engineer was critically hurt. People toppled over each other, bouncing across seats and against windows. There was blood and glass everywhere. One woman shimmied her way to the platform when part of the station ceiling fell, pinning her. She thought she would die. Then the hands of fellow passengers lifted her, one to another, and she was saved. Later, she wanted to say thank you but didn’t know who to thank. Once on the mend, she retrieved a list of those who were with her that day. Now, one by one, she looks them up, asking if they had helped her. Each of them smiles and says no. Once with them, she can see what each needs, and so she helps them along. She unpacks groceries for an old woman, listens to a widower’s story, and gives a single mom her umbrella. This has gone on for weeks. She keeps trying to find those who helped her, only to help those she finds. Finally, it occurs to her that this is God’s symmetry of kindness. She will never know who helped her, so she can thank and help everyone she meets along the way.

Source: Mark Nepo,
Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living 
(Sounds True,  2017) page 113

CONSIDER THIS

Describe a time when you were drawn into helping others and what you learned from those you helped.

FEELING HOLY

Once when Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa was speaking at General Theological Seminary in New York City, one of the students sitting in the audience nudged the dean, who was sitting next to him, and whispered, “Desmond Tutu is a holy man.”  The dean in response asked, “How do you really know this?” To which the young man quickly replied, “I know that Desmond Tutu is holy because when I’m with him I feel holy.”

Source: Robert Wicks, The Resilient Clinician
(Oxford University Press, 2007) pages 4-5

CONSIDER THIS

  • Can the same be said of us by those who we encounter in our daily lives?
  • What do people experience when they are with us? Do they experience a sense of respectful space where they can rest their burdens, anger, questions, projections, stress, anxiety, and wonder?
  • Or, do they feel our sense of exhaustion, need to always be right or in control, or even our desire to be viewed as wise, attractive, witty, or helpful?

THE PRICELESS TREASURE

A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country; lakes and mountains and green fields and rivers. But the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus. And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered. And so they remain till the journey’s end.

Source: Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love: Meditations for Life
(Random House Canada, 2011) page 3

CONSIDER THIS

“What will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”
Matthew 16:26

“We are perishing for lack of wonder, not for lack of wonders.”G.K. Chesterton

TOUCHING THE WATER

A troubled widower made his way to ask a wise old woman about his troubles.  The old woman received him and they walked along a stream.  She could see the pain in his face.  He began to tremble as he asked, “What’s the point? Is there any meaning to life?” She invited him to sit on a large stone near the stream.  She took a long branch and swirled it in the water, then replied, “It all depends on what it means to you to be alive.” In his sorrow, the man dropped his shoulders and the old woman gave him the branch.  “Go on,” she said, “touch the branch to the water.”

As he poked the branch in the running stream, there was something comforting about feeling the water in his hand through the branch.  She touched his hand and said, “You see, that you can feel the water without putting your hand in the water, this is what meaning feels like.” The troubled man seemed puzzled.  She said, “Close your eyes and feel your wife now gone.  That you can feel her in your heart without being able to touch her, this is how meaning saves us.”

The widower began to cry.  The old woman put her arm around him, “No one knows how to live or how to die.  We only know how to love and how to lose, and how to pick up branches of meaning along the way.”

Source: Mark NepoThe One Life We’re Given
Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart

(Atria Books, 2017) page 87

CONSIDER THIS

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, describe a time when you experienced a branch of meaning.