THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

Su Dongpo prided himself on his wit and liked to debate Master Foyin. One day, over tea, he challenged the master. “Foyin, people think you are an enlightened monk, but to me you just look like a big, stinking pile of worthless dung sitting on your pillow all day long.”

Su Dongpo leaned backward and crossed his arms slyly.

Master Foyin placed his hands in prayer position, “My dear Dongpo, but to me you look like a Buddha.”

Su Dongpo grinned and bid Master Foyin farewell.

When Su Dongpo got home, he was wearing a triumphant smile. His sister asked him what happened.

“Today I outsmarted Master Foyin,”Su Dongpo replied, then recounted the events to her.

“Oh no, brother! I’m sorry to tell you this, but you lost badly,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you realize that the world mirrors the heart? Master Foyin sees you as a Buddha because he is a Buddha. You see him as a pile of dung. What does that make you?”

Su Dongpo turned beet red. Then, all of a sudden, he became enlightened.

Source: There are many versions of this traditional story, each with their own unique take on the tale. This is the version as told by Qigong master, Jihui (Robert) Peng, in The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love and Wisdom. (Sounds True, 2014) pages 223-224

CONSIDER THIS

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” —C.G. Jung

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” Hermann Hesse

“We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” —Vauvenargues

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THE GENEROUS TREE

A man was travelling through the desert.  He was hungry, thirsty and tired when he found a tree that provided abundant shade, delicious fruit, and a spring ran under it.

The man ate of the fruit, drank of the water and rested in the shade.

When he was ready to resume his journey he turned toward the tree and said:

“Tree, how shall I bless you? Shall I bless you with sweet fruit? Your fruit is already sweet. Shall I bless you with abundant shade? Your shade is already abundant. Shall I ask for a spring to run under you?  A spring is already running under you. There is one thing with which I can bless you: May it be God’s will for all the trees that come from your seed to be like you.”

Source: Talmud Bavli, Taanit, 5b
Quoted in  Pablo R. Andinach
The Book of Gratitudes: An Encounter Between Life and Faith
(Wipf & Stock, 2016) page 93

CONSIDER THIS

A blessing is an act, gesture or word whereby one person transmits the power of life to another. | Walter Brueggemann

How do you, like the generous tree in the story, transmit the power of life to another?

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IN SEARCH OF THE PATH

“I am willing to leave everything. Let me be your disciple.”

“How does a person choose his Path in life?”

“Through sacrifice. A path that demands sacrifice is a true path.”

The master accidentally bumped into a bookcase. A very rare porcelain vase fell off the shelf and the lad flung himself forward to catch it before it hit the ground. He fell the wrong way and broke his arm. But he was able to save the precious vase.

“Which sacrifice is greater, to see the vase shatter into pieces on the floor or breaking your arm to save it?”

“I don’t know.”

“So then, do not try to guide your choice through sacrifice. The path is chosen by our capacity to compromise with each step we take along the way.”

Source: Based on a story I heard  first from Paolo Coelho

CONSIDER THIS

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.” – John Schaar

REFLECTIONS

Once upon a time, a Russian peasant went to visit Moscow, the big city. He arrived at its fanciest hotel. His boots were covered with mud, his clothing was torn, and his appearance was dishevelled. Despite all this, the clerk at the hotel smiled at him. He gave the peasant a key to his room, the highest and most elegant room in the hotel. The peasant began walking up the hotel’s beautiful winding staircase.

When he arrived at the first floor, he walked right in front of a full-length mirror. He had never seen a mirror before, and he was terrified because it contained a beastly image staring back at him. He growled and shouted at the beast but found it did the same right back to him. He screamed and ran up the next set of stairs. On the second floor, he ran into the beast again. He screamed, and the beast screamed back at him. Once again he ran up the stairs, to the third floor. The beast stared right back at him. They exchanged insults and stood toe to toe.

Realizing he could not escape, the peasant ran back down to the lobby. He went back to the clerk at the desk. He told the clerk about the beast stalking him. The clerk quickly realized the man was seeing his own reflection in the mirror. Rather than embarrass or shame him, the clerk told the peasant that the strange-looking man was there to protect the hotel’s guests.

“Here’s the trick,” the clerk says. “If you make an angry face at him, he will do the same to you. But if you greet him with a smile and kind words, he will do the same to you.” The peasant thanked the clerk and went up to his room. He had no more terrifying stops.

Source: Evan Moffic
The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today
Center Street, 2017

CONSIDER THIS

The clerk could have responded differently. He could have taken advantage of the peasant’s vulnerability and ignorance. He could have laughed at him. He could have called him names. He could have scolded him or showed him the way out. But for this clerk, another person’s humanity was more important than a smug sense of superiority. Another person’s need gave the clerk an opportunity for kindness.

Remember: Life is like an echo. Whatever energies you send out, they will be echoed back to you. What you give away is what you will receive.  Or as scripture says:

  • “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” —2 Corinthians 9:6
  • “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” —Galatians 6:7

 

 

JEREMY’S EGG

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12, he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a ray of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs to a ‘special’ school.

“It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke.

“Miss Miller,” he said, “There is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the lawn outside the window. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness.

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her.

“Here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family,” she thought.

“Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.

Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.

“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. Had he understood what she had said? The next morning, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life, too.”

Then, Doris opened the third egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. She quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was buried there but the Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket –all of them empty.

Source:  Ida Mae Kempel
in Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery & Nancy Autio Jack Canfield
A Taste of Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
(Health Communications, Inc 2005)

There’s also Jeremy’s Egg, a 2000 film based on Ida Mae Kempel’s story

CONSIDER THIS

Before we get to Easter, we need to linger:
in the vulnerability of the basin and the towel
at the remembrance and promise of the table
in the struggle and betrayal of the garden
in the shadows and shouts of injustice
at the bloody brutal beautiful cross
in the silence of linen and spices and death
For without these, the empty tomb is empty

We Need to Linger by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

THE SAUCER AND THE CATS

A famous art collector is walking through a small town when he notices a cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a store. He does a double take, recognizing that the saucer is extremely old and very valuable. Thinking quickly he walks casually into the store and offers to buy the cat for two dollars.

Fred the store owner replies, “I’m sorry, but the cat isn’t for sale.”

“Please,” the collector says, “I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I’ll pay you twenty dollars for that cat.”

“Sold!” the store owner says, and hands over the cat.

The collector continues, “Hey, for the twenty bucks I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat’s used to it and it’ll save me from having to get a dish.”

“Sorry friend,” the store owner says, “but that’s my lucky saucer. So far this week I’ve sold 68 cats!”

Source: Slightly adapted from aish.com

CONSIDER THIS

A cat and a saucer are two different things. So are success and happiness: two different realities.

If we gently practice happiness, we will be happy. There’s no guarantee that we will be successful as well. Similarly, if we towards success, we will be successful but again, not necessarily happy.

If we desire to be both happy and successful we have to invest in both.

Remember: If you want both the cat and the saucer you need to pay for both!

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THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Once upon a time there was Freddie, a wise leader who in spite of his great wisdom often struggled with emotional highs and lows. Freddie was prone to periods of great elation where he would make very poor decisions, and periods of great despair where he would get extremely upset.

One of his associates, Mara was her name, designed and forged a simple ring for Freddie to wear at all times. In her mind this was an ingenious device that would help stop him from getting lost in his high and low moments.

Freddie asked, “How does it work?”

“Wear the ring with you always. In times when you need it most, it will show you the answer and you will know what to do,” replied the Mari.

Almost immediately, another associate showed up saying that the company they both worked for had just lost a lot of money. Everything seemed dark and hopeless, just when at the end of the day, after many phone calls, the tired Freddie looked at his new gift, the ring.  Engraved on the ring was an illuminated message – four simple words which he had not seen before: “This too shall pass.”

All of the sudden, Freddie found new hope, courage and a burst of renewed energy. He went home and surrendered to a good night sleep.

The day after, an unexpected phone call  led to a couple of meetings and the eventual signing of a new contract that not only brought back the money lost but much more.  Elated, Freddie called all his partners and associates, employees and clients and threw a massive celebration for many days. Just when he was losing himself in the midst of the great celebration, Freddie touched the ring and felt the engraving – the four simple words which he had noticed just a few days earlier: “This too shall pass.”

He decided from then on to engage in a daily ritual of intentionally touching gently the ring, feeling the inscription, early in the morning, upon awakening, and at the end of each just before going to sleep.  He carried the four words “this too shall pass” like a mantra, repeating them under his breath, in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health, in winning and in losing, in light and in darkness: “this too shall pass.”

Source: Unknown
Here I retell the story  based upon variations.

CONSIDER THIS

“If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.” Syd Banks