THREE BLESSINGS TO CHOOSE FROM

A seasoned pastor was meeting with a variety of members from his parish faith community. Gathered for the meeting were associate pastors and pastoral assistants, members of the pastoral council and the finance committee, as well as members from the many ministry groups in the parish.  They were meeting to plan the year ahead but also, and most importantly, to explore together ways of tackling the parish debt.

In the midst of the meeting an angel appeared saying to the pastor that she had come to reward him for his many years of devoted service to his community. He was asked to choose between three blessings: infinite wealth, infinite fame or infinite wisdom.

Without hesitation, the pastor asked for infinite wisdom. “You got it!” said the angel, and disappeared. Silence followed as all heads slowly turned toward the pastor, who by now was glowing in an aura of wisdom.

Finally the chair of the pastoral council leans in and whispers into the pastor’s ear, “Say something.” The pastor looked at them and said, “I should have taken the money.”

Source: Re-imagined and retold by Philip Chircop
Tuesday 20th September 2016

CONSIDER THIS

God answered Solomon, “This is what has come out of your heart: You didn’t grasp for money, wealth, fame, and the doom of your enemies; you didn’t even ask for a long life. You asked for wisdom and knowledge so you could govern well my people over whom I’ve made you king. Because of this, you get what you asked for—wisdom and knowledge. And I’m presenting you the rest as a bonus—money, wealth, and fame beyond anything the kings before or after you had or will have.”2 Chronicles 1:11-12

Imagine that you are offered three blessings to choose from: infinite wealth, infinite fame or infinite wisdom. Which one would you choose and why?

THE EYES TO SEE

A writer arrived at the monastery to write a book about the Master. “People say you are a genius. Are you?” he asked.

“You might say so,” said the Master with a smile.

“And what makes one a genius?” asked the intrepid reporter.

“The ability to see,” said the Master.

The writer was betwixt and between. Scratching his hair with one hand and rubbing his tummy with the other, he muttered, “To see what?”

The Master quietly replied, “The butterfly in a caterpillar, the eagle in an egg, the saint in a selfish person, life in death, unity in separation, the divine in the human and the human in the divine.”

Source: Based on Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom
(Image; Reprint edition, 1988)  page 206

See also Peter  Van Breeman,  The God Who Won’t Let Go (Ave Maria Press, 2001) page 98

CONSIDER THIS

In the Easter letter before his death, Bishop Klaus Hemmerle of Aachen wrote, “I wish each of us Easter eyes, able to perceive in death, life; in guilt, forgiveness; in separation unity; in wounds glory; in the human, God; in God, the human; and in the I, the You.”

 

 

WHEN TEMPTED

Once a famous rabbi wished to have a glimpse of peoples’ hearts and test their opinions of themselves. He called three passers-by into his house. Turning to the first man he said, “Suppose you found a purse full of gold coins, what would you do with it?”

“I would give it to the owner right away provided, of course, I knew who the owner was,” the man replied.

“Fool!” the rabbi exclaimed. Then he put the same question to the second man.

“I wouldn’t give it back to the owner. I’d put it in my pocket. I am not so stupid as to let a windfall like that slip through my hands,” and man replied.

“Scoundrel!” exclaimed the rabbi. Then he put the question to the third man.

“How can I possibly know, rabbi, what I would do in a case like that?” the man replied. “Would I be able to conquer the evil inclination? Or would the evil urge overcome me and make me take what belongs to another? I do not know. But if the Holy One, blessed be He, strengthened me against the evil inclination, I would give back the money to its owner.”

“Your words are beautiful,” the rabbi exclaimed. “You are wise indeed.”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

The first was called a fool. Why?  He presumed he would be strong enough to resist the temptation to keep the money. No one is so secure that he can’t fall. People don’t fall because they are weak; they fall because they think they are strong.

The second was called a scoundrel. Why?  He was prepared – without the slightest qualm of conscience – to keep what didn’t be­long to him.

The third was praised. Why? He was a good and wise gentleman. He was aware of his weakness and  hoped that when faced with the temptation to keep the money he would be given the strength and the vision to do the right thing.

THE THREE FISHES

There was in a secluded place a lake, which was fed by a running stream, and in this lake were three fishes, one very wise, the second half wise, and the third foolish. One day some fishermen passed by that lake, and having espied the fish, hastened home to fetch their nets.

The fish also saw the fishermen and were sorely disquieted. The very wise fish, without a minute’s delay, quitted the lake and took refuge in the running stream which communicated with it, and thus escaped the impending danger. The half wise fish delayed doing anything till the fishermen actually made their appearance with their nets. He then floated upon the surface of the water, pretending to be dead, and the fishermen took him up and threw him into the stream, and by this device he saved his life. But the foolish fish did nothing but swim wildly about, and was taken and killed by the fishermen.

The wise man is he who possesses a torch of his own;
He is the guide and leader of the caravan.
That leader is his own director and light;
That illuminated one follows his own lead.
He is his own protector; do ye also seek protection
From that light whereon his soul is nurtured.

The second, he, namely, who is half wise,
Knows the wise man to be the light of his eyes.
He clings to the wise man like a blind man to his guide,
So as to become possessed of the wise man’s sight.

But the fool, who has no particle of wisdom,
Has no wisdom of his own, and quits the wise man.
He knows nothing of the way, great or small,
And is ashamed to follow the footsteps of the guide.
He wanders into the boundless desert,
Sometimes halting and despairing, sometimes running.
He has no lamp wherewith to light himself on his way,
Nor half a lamp which might recognise and seek light.
He lacks wisdom, so as to boast of being alive,
And also half wisdom, so as to assume to be dead.

That half wise one became as one utterly dead
In order to rise up out of his degradation.
If you lack perfect wisdom, make yourself as dead
Under the shadow of the wise, whose words give life.
The fool is neither alive so as to companion with Isa, [=Jesus]
Nor yet dead so as to feel the power of Isa’s breath.
His blind soul wanders in every direction,
And at last makes a spring, but springs not upwards.

Source | Source: E. H. Whinfield, The Masnavi (1898)

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Another rendition of this Rumi tale by Coleman Barks

This is the story of the lake and the three big fish
that were in it, one of them intelligent,
another half-intelligent,
and the third, stupid.
Some fishermen came to the edge of the lake
with their nets. The three fish saw them.
The intelligent fish decided at once to leave,
to make the long, difficult trip to the ocean.

He thought,
“I won’t consult with these two on this.
They will only weaken my resolve, because they love
this place so. They call it home. Their ignorance
will keep them here.”
When you’re traveling, ask a traveler for advice,
not someone whose lameness keeps him in one place.
Muhammad says,
“Love of one’s country
is part of the faith.”
But don’t take that literally!
Your real “country” is where you’re heading,
not where you are.
Don’t misread that hadith.
In the ritual ablutions, according to tradition,
there’s a separate prayer for each body part.
When you snuff water up your nose to cleanse it,
beg for the scent of the spirit. The proper prayer is,
“Lord, wash me. My hand has washed this part of me,
but my hand can’t wash my spirit.
I can wash this skin,
but you must wash me.”
A certain man used to say the wrong prayer
for the wrong hole. He’d say the nose-prayer
when he splashed his behind. Can the odor of heaven
come from our rumps? Don’t be humble with fools.
Don’t take pride into the presence of a master.
It’s right to love your home place, but first ask,
“Where is that, really?”
The wise fish saw the men and their nets and said,
“I’m leaving.”
Ali was told a secret doctrine by Muhammad
and told not to tell it, so he whispered it down
the mouth of a well. Sometimes there’s no one to talk to.
You must just set out on your own.
So the intelligent fish made its whole length
a moving footprint and, like a deer the dogs chase,
suffered greatly on its way, but finally made it
to the edgeless safety of the sea.
The half-intelligent fish thought,
“My guide
has gone. I ought to have gone with him,
but I didn’t, and now I’ve lost my chance
to escape.
I wish I’d gone with him.”
Don’t regret what’s happened. If it’s in the past,
let it go. Don’t even remember it!
[…].
Back to the second fish,
the half-intelligent one.
He mourns the absence of his guide for a while,
and then thinks, “What can I do to save myself
from these men and their nets? Perhaps if pretend
to be already dead!
I’ll belly up on the surface
and float like weeds float, just giving myself totally
to the water. To die before I die, as Muhammad
said to.”
So he did that.
He bobbed up and down, helpless,
within arm’s reach of the fishermen.
“Look at this! The best and biggest fish
is dead.”
One of the men lifted him by the tail,
spat on him, and threw him up on the ground.
He rolled over and over and slid secretly near
the water, and then, back in.
Meanwhile,
the third fish, the dumb one, was agitatedly
jumping about, trying to escape with his agility
and cleverness.
The net, of course, finally closed
around him, and as he lay in the terrible
frying-pan bed, he thought,
“If I get out of this,
I’ll never live again in the limits of a lake.
Next time, the ocean! I’ll make
the infinite my home.”

Source | Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Which fish are you?
  • How did the wisest of the fish get away?
  • How did the half-wise escape?
  • What happened to the foolish fish?

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.

THE GIFT OF LIGHT

There once lived a wise and wealthy farmer who had three sons: Arnold, Brian and Charles.

One day he thought that after his death his sons might quarrel about the property and decided to divide it. He called his sons and told them about his division . He said the house would go to the person who could fill the room with something bought with the coins he gave to the three sons. The three went to the market. Arnold bought straw. Brian bought sacks of feathers and upon reaching home they waited for their brother Charles.

When Charles appeared, he had nothing in his hands. Arnold and Brian thought that their brother wasn’t able to find anything to fill the room.

Arnold threw the straw on the floor. The room was still more than half empty.

“Well done” said the father and Arnold smiled.

After they picked up the straw and cleaned the room, Brian began to pour out feathers from the sacks.When he had emptied the last sack, the room was still less than half full.

“Now we shall see what our youngest has to offer.” said the father.

Charles went to the middle of the room and took out a small candle from his pocket. Once he lit it, the whole room was filled with a soft light.

Father, Arnold and Brian all believed that the house should go to Charles.

Source | Loosely based on a story found in Paulo Coelho

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I came across a variation of this story in the form of a riddle:

An old man wanted to leave all of his money to one of his three sons, but he didn’tknow which one he should give it to. He gave each of them a few coins and toldthem to buy something that would be able to fill their living room. The first man bought straw, but there was not enough to fill the room. The second bought somesticks, but they still did not fill the room. The third man bought two things thatfilled the room, so he obtained his father’s fortune. What were the two things that the man bought?

The wise son bought a candle and a box of matches. After lighting the candle, thelight filled the entire room

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle. | Robert Alden

ONE MINUTE WISDOM

“Is there such a thing as One Minute Wisdom?”
“There certainly Is,” said the Master.
“But surely one minute is too brief?”
“It is fifty-nine seconds too long.”

To his puzzled disciples the Master later said,

“How much time does it take to catch sight of the moon?”

“Then why all these years of spiritual endeavour?”

“Opening one’s eyes may take a lifetime.
Seeing is done in a flash.”

Source | Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom, page 1.

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Very often we see things as we are and not as they really are!  We look at events, people, things and happenings through own own filters and biases thus missing perhaps what is there to be revealed to us.
  • Are you still going through life with “eyes wide shut”?