THE FOLLY OF MINDING ONE’S OWN BUSINESS

A group of people were travelling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself.

His companions said to him: “Why are you doing this?” Replied the man: “What concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under my own place?”

Said they to him: “But you will flood the boat for us all!”

Here’s a slightly different version:

A group of people are sitting in a boat. One takes an axe and begins chopping at the floor. The others cry in horror, “What are you trying to do?’ The man answers, ‘What business is it of yours? I am doing this to my part of the boat!”

Source | Vayikra Rabba 4:6

CONSIDER THIS

The moral of this story is clear: one person’s destructive action may literally drown the entire community. But we might add that the inverse is also true: a single positive change may transform an entire community.

  • What holes have you been boring in your life, thinking, ‘It’s only my seat’?
  • Are you willing to take a look at how they are affecting the lives of others, especially the ones you love?

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ARE YOU GOD?

With Christmas coming  grandma was out shopping for gifts for her grandchildren.  While she was at the toy store going through her list she noticed a small homeless girl outside wistfully looking into the store.  Grandma’s heart went out to this little girl.  She invited her into the store and asked her to pick out a gift for herself.  As they walked out of the store, the little girl held Grandma’s hand and looked into her kind eyes and asked “Are you God?” 

Grandma, somewhat embarrassed and somewhat touched said, “No, my dear, I am not God.” 

“Then who are you?”  continued the little girl.  Grandma thought for a moment and said, “I am a child of God.”  The little girl, fully satisfied and smiling, said, “I knew there was a connection!”

Source | Paul Coutinho, How Big is Your God?, page 1

PONDER AND CONSIDER

When people come into your life do they see a divine connection?

SHOW ME THE KINDOM

A Christian who went to study Zen in Japan met a Zen master who asked her what was moving in her spiritual life.

“I dwell a lot recently on the idea of the Kindom of God,” she replied.

Instantly the Zen master said, Show me the Kindom of God!”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • You get nowhere by telling a Zen master about your ideas.
  • As it happens, the  woman in our story went on to eventually become a Zen master, and she spent much of her time and energy in prison ministry – setting captives inwardly free.
  • She is now through her daily deeds showing us the Kingom of God.
  • And where do you stand? Are you perhaps still stuck in ideas or unstuck in some form of social engagement?

NOTE

Please note that for me at this time in my evolution the ‘g’ in ‘kingdom’ is silent. Not pronounced. It’s really ‘kindom!’ ! The real purpose of God, I believe, is to build Kindom more than Kingdom. Kingdom is about hierarchies. Kindom is about all of us opening our eyes to see how everything and everyone is in fact a kin, a brother, a sister, a sibling. It is about building life-giving, relational connections: locally, globally and internationally … between different religions, faiths and denominations … between friends, strangers and enemies … between ourselves and those neighbours we never speak too … with all those who are different from us. It is also about forging some form of creative connection  with our four legged, winged and finned creatures and the environment.

 

 

 

LIFE IS ALL THE INGREDIENTS

A young boy left his home in search of truth. He met many people; he became richer in awareness of his ignorance. Since people went to forests to meditate, he too went to a thick forest. He did not know how to meditate. So he screamed at the forest to give him knowledge. For years his only mantra was screaming at the forest to give him knowledge. He believed that if you are committed, existence will help you.
One day, a monk came to him. He asked: “What do you want, my son?” “I want to know what the meaning of life is,” he replied. “Go to the town. The first three persons that you meet will give you the meaning of life,” the monk replied.
The boy went to the town. The first man he met was doing carpentry work. The next man he met was doing sheet metal work. The third man he met was making strings. Disappointed, he sat on the bank of a river. Suddenly, he heard the sweet strains of violin music. Something mysterious touched him. He suddenly got the answer he was looking for and he started dancing.
The carpenter was preparing the wood for the violin. The sheet metal worker was preparing metal for the strings and the strings were meant for the violin. Life has everything; all you need is to be able to connect the dots. You need to work out new combinations. And for that you need creative perception.
Life has all the ingredients. Be creative. Don’t let yourself feel victimized.
PONDER AND CONSIDER
  • You might think that what is easy is beautiful, that what is easy is joy. You are a victim of such illusions. Difficulty has such a joy. Discovery has such a joy. Seeking out has such a joy.
  • You have to change the notion that difficulty is pain. In exercise, there is difficulty but also joy. In sports, there is difficulty but there is joy. In your relationships, when there is difficulty, treat it as joy. Just re-programme your mind.

BEYOND ALL ASKING

There was a boy who knew how to make others relax by his friendly talk, and once they relaxed, he’d ask his many questions. But he always went home alone. The next day he’d talk some more, and sooner or later, he would always get to questions of love, colorful questions that would stretch and spread and fall, just like leaves.

He lived this way for many years and the deep asking opened his heart. The space of his heart grew very wide and people would come and go like birds in the orchard of questions that was his heart. But once everyone left, he was alone with all he knew.

One day there was a vibrant being who would not enter the orchard of his questions. No matter how friendly he was, she wouldn’t answer him. She simply fluttered close and held him, then waited in the world. It took the boy a long time, for he was now covered with the bark of a man, but he wanted to be held, and so, uprooting himself, he left the shade of his own heart and began to live.

Source | Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, pages 308-309

PONDER AND CONSIDER

If you try to understand love before being held, you will never feel compassion.

  • While breathing deeply, consider the ways you prepare yourself to be loved.
  • With each inbreath, lift up your prerequisites to being held.
  • With each outbreath, let go of all that is unnecessary.
  • Breathe slowly, and begin by allowing yourself to be held by the very air.

THE PRECIOUSNESS OF LIFE

Thornton Wilder‘s play Our Town, was written about events that occurred in the very early years of the 20th century in a small town called Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The main character of the story is named Emily. The story deals with the preciousness of time and the gift of life, the meaning of which we often miss.

Emily dies, and in a conversation she has with the saints departed, she asks to go back to Grover’s Corner for one day. She chooses her twelfth birthday.

She goes back and watches what happens in the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, and outside the house. She notices that people, even the people in her immediate family, don’t seem to notice one another. They go about their busy lives preoccupied. She finally cries out, as if her mother might hear her, “Oh, Mama, Mama, just look at me, look at me for a minute, as though you really see me, just for a moment now, while we’re all together. Mama, let’s be happy. Let’s look at one another and really see each other.” But their life goes on, preoccupied and fleeting.

Emily turns to the stage manager, the character off to the side, who plays a very important role, and she says, “Life goes so fast. We don’t even have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize this while I was living. We never noticed.”

At the end, almost broken-hearted, she asks to be taken back to heaven.

As she’s just about to leave, she looks back, over her shoulder, and she says, “Goodbye world, good-bye Grover’s Corner, good-bye Mama and Papa, good-bye good taste of coffee, good-bye new ironed dresses and clocks ticking and hot baths, good-bye sleeping and waking. Oh life, oh life, you’re too wonderful. Why don’t we realize?” She then turns to the stage manager and says, “Does anybody do it? Does anybody really notice?” The stage manager answers, “Some do, poets, saints, artists, but very few.”

Source | Thornton WilderOur Town

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Many go through life stuck in a rut, numbed and hypnotized by boredom, distracted, preoccupied, anxious and worried about too many things. Let the poet, the saint, and the artist in you to awake and see, awake and notice, awake and really pay attention.

SOCKS, SHOES AND CONNECTIONS

With Christmas coming  grandma was out shopping for gifts for her grandchildren.  While she was at the toy store going through her list she noticed a small homeless girl outside wistfully looking into the store.  Grandma’s heart went out to this little girl.  She invited her into the store and asked her to pick out a gift for herself.  As they walked out of the store, the little girl held Grandma’s hand and looked into her kind eyes and asked “Are you God?”  Grandma, somewhat embarrassed and somewhat touched said, “No, my dear, I am not God.”  “Then who are you?”  continued the little girl.  Grandma thought for a moment and said, “I am a child of God.”  The little girl, fully satisfied and smiling, said, “I knew there was a connection!”

Source | Paul Coutinho,  How Big is Your God? , page 1

______________________________

Another version of the same story

A little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?” “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” was the boy’s reply.

The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel.

By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?”

As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears his eyes, answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s Wife?”

Source Unknown

  • When people come into your life do they see a divine connection?