Last month, I made a promise to my fellow students: a month-long short-story challenge in which I’d write at least one short story that teaches a lesson every day.
I’ve done many 30-day challenges in the past. Ranging from adding good habits such as running 30 minutes per day, to giving up bad habits like watching television. And I did them, each and every day — for a month.
When I did these challenges, I learned a little more about myself. These challenges taught me to become more self-aware. By learning and knowing more about myself these challenges have also encouraged me to improve myself.
How did I do it? Well, in case you didn’t know (of course you didn’t — how could you?) I’m fond of collecting moments. Every time I take the subway, or go to the grocery store, or read a book, I’d mentally note what I’ve learned or observed from doing each one. At the end of the day, my brain has a collection of events that I’ve recorded since morning. Then I put them down on paper and save them.
The following morning, I’d post what I’ve written the night before, first thing. That way, I got it out of the way. I kept telling myself to be consistent no matter how redundant it may felt. I told myself this is my way of setting an example for the children to whom I’ve promised, so they wouldn’t prize me as someone who was just full of it.
Another reason why I chose to write was to have something to carry around in my brain throughout the day; a wonderful lesson to reflect upon. In case you’re wondering, research have shown that reflection does wonders if you do them correctly and consistently.
The stories herein are not written for a common human. They are written for the human who longs for a way of life beyond the meager state of a societal human. They are for the human who succumbs to the endless satisfaction from one moment to the next. And, in doing so, becomes the living embodiment of Truth.
I must warn you, every one of these stories is about you, no one else. If you apply them to anyone other than yourself, the stories will do you damage. Since each of these stories is a direct revelation of Truth make sure that each time you read a story you single-mindedly search for a deeper understanding of yourself.
That said, if you genuinely decide to pursue this matter, in order to do so, you must arrive at the point of seriousness. Here’s what you can do:
- Read a story once. Then move on to the next. This manner of reading will give you pleasure and entertainment.
- Read a story twice. Reflect on it. Apply it to your daily life. That will give you a taste of inward awakening.
- Read the story again, after you have reflected on it. Create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning: something beyond words and reflections.
Or carry a story around in your mind, so you can dwell on it in leisure moments, and allow its fragrance, its melody to haunt you. Let it speak to your heart, not to your brain. That will give it a chance to work on your subconscious and reveal its hidden meaning. You will then be surprised to see that in exposing yourself to these stories, you were auditing a course in self-knowledge for which no teacher, no scripture, no monk, no master, no specialist, no sutta, no priest, no guru is needed other than yourself!
Everyone loves stories — especially the ones with a profound and special quality. Most of the stories written have a comment appended to them. The comment is meant to be an example you yourself may want to make. Do make your own. Don’t limit yourself to the ones you find here. Why borrow someone else’s insights, right?
The stories come from a variety of countries, traditions, and religions. They belong to the cultural heritage of the human race.
All that your author has done is string them together with a specific aim in mind. His task has been that of the weaver and the dyer. He takes no credit at all for the thread and the loom.
Nothing - And I Mean Nothing - Else Matters!
A slave was taken into captivity and thrown into a prison, where to his amazement, he found other slaves who had been there for years, some of them all their lives, for they had been born there. He soon became acquainted with the various prison frivolities.
The slaves banded themselves into clans. One clan consisted of the gangbangers; another was the socializers; another was into the prison smuggling business; another was attracted to various circuses of sports; another was cultural, for its purpose was to carefully preserve and keep records of the customs, the tradition, and the history of the times when the slaves were free; other clans were religious - they gathered mostly to chant and perform various rituals and sermons about a future freedomland where there would be no walls; some clans attracted those who were artistic and poetic by nature; others were political and revolutionary, and they met to plot against their masters or against other political and revolutionary clans. Every now and then a riot would break out, one particular group would be wiped out by another, or the leader would be killed and be replaced by a younger up and coming leader.
As he looked around, the newcomer observed one slave who always seemed to be deep in thought, a loner who belonged to no clan and mostly kept away from everyone. There was something strange about him that commanded everyone’s admiration and everyone’s hostility, for his presence aroused fear and self-doubt. “Join no group,” the lone stranger said to the newcomer. “These poor fools are busy with everything except what is essential.”
“And what is that?” asked the newcomer.
“Studying the nature of the walls.”
If one does not acquire this absolute freedom, one will have wasted his or her whole life.
A Tale of Five Mice
Have you heard the story of the five mice in a cage? It goes like this. Five mice are thrown in a cage by a sadistic mouse-hater. Enough food and water is available at the bottom of the cage, saving them from starvation while forcing them to lead a boring life of staring through the glass every day. The food at the bottom is bad, but sufficient. At the top of the cage, however, a large block of cheese alluringly waits. Conveniently, a ramp to the top has been provided by the sadist.
After getting over the shock of being caged, one of the mice scales the ramp and reaches for the cheese. All of a sudden a fire hose appears from nowhere. The mouse at the top of the ramp is soaked with cold water, but not only him — all of the other mice are soaked as well, in an exercise of group punishment for the sins of one freedom-loving mouse.
Over the next few days the experience repeats itself several times. One mouse makes a run for the cheese, the whole troop of mice gets soaked, and pretty soon the group starts biting any mouse brave enough to scale the ramp. The cheese is still at the top, but just out of reach. The mice reluctantly accept the fate of living a life without cheese.
Then one day the experiment changes. The sadist takes one mouse out of the cage and replaces him with another one. Not knowing the consequence of being doused with cold water, the new mouse immediately begins to scale the ramp in pursuit of the cheese, the rest of the mice pull her down before she reaches the top, and the troop settles in again.
The next day another mouse is replaced, and then another, and the process repeats itself: the new mouse lunges for the cheese, gets pulled down, and adapts. After five days, no mouse from the original troop remains, and no mouse has ever been soaked with cold water — but every mouse knows they are not supposed to climb the ramp. One of the mice finally asks, “Hey, why can’t we eat the cheese?” The others shook their heads and say, “We’re not sure — we just know we can’t.”
Belief in authority breeds fear. Luckily, people are not mice. Because people have the ability to set themselves free.
The Heart Knows Where It Truly Belongs
A boy was found at the edge of the forest, lying down beside a boulder. He had received a strenuous blow to the head, which had made him forget who he was. He had lost his memory.
Upon waking up at the hospital, the staff questioned him, and he would say, “I don’t know who I am, or where I come from,” and a stream of tears would start flowing from his eyes. In the end, three families claimed he belonged to them. Of course, it was not possible that he belonged to three families, so they took him to each of the three towns and left him on his own.
In two of the towns he just stood, very confused, and didn’t know what to do. But when he arrived at the third town, his dull eyes suddenly lit up and his expressionless face started showing emotion. He went to one street all by himself and, seeing a particular house, started to run toward it. It was as if some power had suddenly entered his sleepy soul. He had recognized something; he had remembered his home. With a feeling of utter joy he said, “This is my house. Now I remember who I am!”
The same thing has happened to all of us. We have forgotten who we are because we have forgotten where our home is. Once we are able to see our home, it is natural to recognize our true self.
We constantly search - in the countryside, by the sea, on the mountain - and even I, myself, is prone to this yearning. But all this is quite the contrary, when it is open to us at any time, a seek within. No search offers someone more peace and quiet and relaxation than that into one’s own mind.
Truth exists within our very self. And it is not even so difficult to find, but we have to travel inside to do so. When one goes inside oneself, one finds Truth as well as one’s self, at the deepest core of his or hers life’s breath.
All this does not mean that you simply wait and do nothing. All this, I simply mean a well-ordered life, like keeping a room in order and leaving the window open. You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open. Then perhaps, if you’re aware enough, a cool breeze will come in.
Delaying the Inevitable
Owing to a variety of circumstances, the egg of an eagle found its way to one corner of a barn where a hen was hatching her eggs. In time, the little eaglet was hatched with the other chickens.
Now as time passed, the fledging, quite unaccountable, began to experience a longing to fly. So it would say to its mother, the hen, “When shall I learn to fly?”
The poor hen was quite aware of the fact that she could not fly and hadn’t the slightest notion of what other birds did to train their fledglings in the art of flight. But she was ashamed to confess to this inadequacy, so she would say, “Not yet, my child, not yet. I shall teach you when you are ready.”
Months passed and the young eagle began to suspect that its mother did not know how to fly. But it could not get itself to break loose and fly in its own, for its keen longing to fly had become confused with servitude it experienced toward the bird that had hatched it.
A reporter was interviewing a famous businessman. The reporter asked, “What kind of people do you hire to work in your company?”
“I don’t look for the A+ students because they are not moldable. I typically prefer the A- and B students,” replied the businessman.
“Why?” countered the reporter.
“Because...,” the businessman concluded, “ultimately, the A students work for the B students, and the C students run the companies.”
Education should not be a preparation for life; it should be life.
Only a Professor Would Be Credible
The professor said:
“After the 15th century, none of the important inventions came from China. Today, China is one of the biggest car manufacturing countries in the world. But you can not find any Chinese name on the list of those who contributed to the car industry development...Chinese children are probably the most hard working students in the world. But, unfortunately, they have killed their creative nature.”
We are all creative beings.
Creativity flourishes when we are doing the work we love.
Creativity does not grow when we are doing mechanical and drudgery work. And it seems that the majority of students are conditioned to clutter their brains with stuff that does not lead to discovering what they truly love doing.
You don’t need to be a professor to see that “education” is grossly overrated. But you need a professor to credibly say it.
There is Wisdom in Simplicity
There was a group of elderly gentlemen in China who would meet to exchange news and drink tea. One of their diversions was to search for costly varieties of tea and create new blends that would delight their palate.
When it was the turn of the oldest member of the group to entertain the others, he served tea with the greatest ceremony, measuring out the leaves from a “gold” container. Everyone had the highest praise for the tea and demanded to know what particular combination he had arrived at this exquisite blend.
The old man smiled and said, “Gentlemen, the tea that you find so delightful is the one that is drunk by the peasants on my farm. The finest things in life are neither costly nor hard to find.”
We Are Our Own Teachers
There was a group of college students who begged the well-known author Sinclair Lewis to give them a lecture, explaining that all of them were to become writers themselves.
Lewis began with: “How many of you really intend to be writers?” All hands were raised.
“In that case, there is no point in my talking. My advice to you is: go home and write, write, write...”
With that, he returned his notes to his pocket and left the room.
Teachers won’t make you smart.
Doctors won’t make you healthy.
Coaches won’t make you fit.
Shrinks won’t make you calm.
Mentors won’t make you wealthy.
Nutritionists won’t make you lean.
Ultimately, you have to be self-reliant.
An African-American jazz musician was wondering how to give away his artistic talent to the public. The musical genius played his instrument all over the city’s busiest subway stations with the simplest disguise, but no commuter would even bother to stop and listen to his tune.
He announced over the local radio that an anonymous instrumentalist will be playing at the city park for free. No one seemed interested.
Finally, his wife advised him to advertise. The famous musician went back to announce on the radio that HE would be playing at a downtown jazz bar and tickets sell at twenty-five dollars each. Before the day was out, every tickets had been sold out!
Moral: when you’re worth something, don’t work for free. Because people won’t believe you — even if you’re famous.
We Never Listen
A talk show host interviewed a well-known Fortune 500 company CEO. Not only is the entrepreneur a multi-billionaire, but she is also a successful parent. Her eldest son went on to become a musician. Her daughter competes in equestrian and does various philanthropic work. While her youngest son recently released his first book and his work was listed on the New York Times Best Seller list. The show host was curious about the businesswoman’s thoughts on raising children, “What aspect should parents invest on their kids?” he asked.
“One thing I would tell parents is: do a lot more listening. Listen to your kids. More importantly, don’t listen to your friends. And when I say listening — watch them, what do they gravitate towards. Nobody thought that 20 years ago playing video game was going to lead to a luxurious financial life. It clearly has for some people,” said the billionaire.
The most difficult people to teach are the ones who think they don’t need to be taught — who don’t need to listen because they already know.
But the moment we say “I know,” we put a stop to our ability to learn more — our cup is full, and we don’t need or want to learn more.
Listening is an art. When we want to fully listen we must drop all preconditioned knowledge and begin with an empty cup. A silent mind.
Many parents have a certain degree of expectation, so they simply ignore the fact and mold their children to how they see fit. In the process, we’ve lost nature’s gift: to see who our children really are.
Division Causes Conflict
A spiritual guru tells the story of how an ancient king came upon his advisor looking attentively at a heap of human bones.
“What are you looking for?” said the King.
“Something I cannot find,” said the philosopher.
“And what is that?”
“The difference between your father’s bone and that of his peasants.”
The human mind makes foolish division as what Love sees as One.
The following are just as indistinguishable: Hindu bones from Christian bones, Chinese bones from American bones, Caucasian bones from Hispanic bones.
Religion, racism and nationalism are all inherently divisive because they highlight perceived differences between people, emphasizing an individual's identification with their own belief, skin color, and nation.
The Awakening of Spirituality
On the homeward journey back from India, a spiritual disciple was confronted by a fine young man. The stranger seemed very polite, until he started chattering about being a self-described Christian. He asked, “What business did you have in India?” And the disciple told the man that he had been seeking spirituality.
“You?” the young man said, finding the notion comical. “What kind of spiritual gain can you get by going to India?”
“I was seeking a teacher,” the disciple said, “what's wrong with that?”
“Maybe if you made it to church a little more often,” the Christian said with a chuckle.
“So you’re saying if I went to a mosque, for instance, I couldn’t gain spirituality?” the disciple replied.
“Well, yes,” the young man said, amending his words. “Perhaps if you were a little more active in the Christian community, you’d be better suited to find it.”
“So it wouldn’t be possible then for a Jew to say anything about spirituality?”
The Christian paused. “Well, Jewish is part of the great Abrahamic tradition,” he said, sounding a tad more uncertain.
“How about the Dalai Lama? Buddhists don’t follow the Bible or even posit a God. Is the Dalai Lama not spiritual?” countered the disciple.
“Well, hmm . . . yes, I suppose,” the Christian stammered.
“Or a Hindu like Gandhi?” the disciple asked. “His faith wasn’t based on the Old or New Testaments. Was he not spiritual?”
He said yes, he thought Gandhi was a spiritual leader, but he wasn’t sure why, except that he represented a particular faith and advocated non-violence, justice, and harmony between people of all faiths.
“Well, how about a compassionate person who doesn’t follow any organized religion?” the disciple added. “Is it not possible for him or her to be spiritual?”
From the pained look on the young man’s face, you would have thought the disciple had tied his brain in a knot. Yet are these not the most elemental questions for people of faith? The disciple was surprised that the Christian hadn’t considered them.
We all know people who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Apparently, there are others out there who are “religious but not spiritual.”
“Spirituality has nothing to do with compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, charity, or self-transcendence,” proclaimed the religious zealots. “It is about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. End of story!”
This puzzled me. Shouldn’t it at least be the “beginning of story?”
The word spirituality is such a broad term. Covering from the severest fundamentalist to the wackiest New Era ideas. A simple Google search reveals more than 1 million hits. There are more than 70,000 books about it being offered on Amazon. Philosophers and gurus define it more than a dozen ways. But in the most general sense, anything spiritual is used to denote “an awakening of the spirit.”
Shortly after the Sage attained enlightenment, he encountered several men who recognized him as an extraordinary being.
They asked him, “Are you God?”
“No,” he said.
“Are you a saint?”
“Are you a prophet?”
“No,” he said again.
Perplexed, they asked, “Well, what are you then?”
The Sage replied, “I am awake.”
It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth in which alone finds liberation and satisfaction, the first reaction of human beings to Truth is one of hostility and fear.
Prior to Sunday Mass, a seven-year-old boy interrupted his friend seated next to him playing video game and asked, “Why do you go to church?”
“Because I believe in God,” said the friend.
“How do you know there is a God?”
“Because my mom and dad told me stories about him,” replied the friend.
“How do they know there is a God?”
“Because the priest said there is one,” assured the friend.
“How does the priest know there is a God?”
“Stop asking questions. If you don’t go to church, your parents won’t let you play games.”
We stop doubting because our conditioning overpowers our curiosity.
Our culture and conditioning offer not to see what is there, but what we have been trained to see.
Of prayers and prayers
Grandmother: “Do you say your prayers every night?”
Grandson: “Oh, yes!”
“And every morning?”
“No. I’m not scared in the daytime.”
We Always Carry Extra Luggage
Two monks are walking from one village to another and they come across a young girl sitting on the bank of a river, crying. One of the monk goes up to her and says, “Sister, what are you crying about?”
“You see that house over there across the river?” She mutters. “I came over this morning early and had no trouble wading across but now the river has swollen and I can’t get back. There is no boat.”
“Oh,” says the monk, “that is no problem at all.” He picks her up and carries her across the river and leaves her on the other side. And the two monks continue on together.
Two hours later, the other monk says, “Brother, we have taken a bow never to touch a woman. What have you done is a terrible sin. Didn’t you have pleasure, a great sensation, in touching a woman?”
“I left her behind two hours ago,” the other monk replies. “You are still carrying her aren’t you?”
We carry burdens all the time. We are slaves to the continuity of thought, of memory. We never die to them. We never leave them behind.
Therefore, I am unconscious.
At the moment of thought,
I well in the UNREAL world of abstraction, or of the past, or of the future.
Things Don’t Always Show What the Observer Imagines
Billy was a teacher. He was also an exceptionally talented artist. Before he started to work on any painting, however, he would always demanded payment in advance. And his charges were exorbitant. So he came to be known as the “Greedy Teacher.”
A rich woman once sent for him to have a painting done. Billy said, “How much will you pay me?” The woman happened to be attending a business party at that time. “Name your price,” she said. “But the painting must be done right now before me.”
Billy set to work at once and when the painting was completed he asked for the highest amount he had ever charged. As the woman was giving him his money, she said to her colleague, “This man is supposed to be a teacher, but all he thinks of is money. His talent is exceptional but he has a filthy, money-loving mind. How does one exhibit the canvas of a filthy-minded man like that? His work is good enough for my dog!”
With that she called for her dog, Russell, and asked Billy to paint a picture of it. He asked the usual question before he started the work: “How much will you pay me?” The woman replied, “Oh, any price you wish to charge.” Billy named his price, painted the picture, shamelessly pocketed the money and walked away.
It was by chance that many years later someone found out why Billy was so greedy for money. A devastating drought often struck his hometown. The government would do nothing to help the people. So Billy had secret pipes with an underground reservoir built in the area and had them filled with water for such emergencies. No one knew where the water came from or who the benefactor of the town was.
Another reason why Billy wanted money was the road leading to his village from the city was in such bad condition that ox-carts could not move on it; this caused much suffering to the aged and the infirm when they needed to get to the city. So Billy had the road repaired.
The final reason was a school which Billy’s teacher had always desired to build but could not, Billy built this school as a token of gratitude to his revered teacher.
After the Greedy Teacher had built the reservoir, the road, and the school, he threw away his paint and brushes, retired to the mountains to give himself to the contemplative life and never painted another canvas again.
Thank You; You’re My Teacher
A young would-be Zen Master retired into isolation on a mountainside, growing his own food and practicing the various disciplines to attain liberation. After 10 years he felt he had achieved his aims and came down from the mountain. On approaching a nearby village, a boy who wasn’t watching where he was running, ran smack into the fellow. He reflexively became angry and hit the boy. He realized that he had more work to do. Return to the mountains he must.
The boy was his teacher!
Here is a newspaper account of child abuse still practiced by modern parents:
Because of the unwillingness to study and attend formal schooling, the child is bound to a wooden chair then the torturer pinches the child’s arms and slaps the back of the head repeatedly till the victim cries.
The torturer picks up a bamboo stick and smacks the victim on the thighs till the kid strikes a nerve. The smacking goes on till the child agrees to cooperate.
Human beings are not naturally cruel. They become cruel when they are unhappy — or when they succumb to an ideology.
One ideology against another; one system against another; one religion against another. And people crushed in between them.
If people had always followed the instinct of their heart rather than the logic of their ideologies we would have been spared the sight of unnecessary violence.
Compassion has no ideology.
A teacher was once asked about the moral upbringing of children. He told his students about the time when he was a teenager and his father had warned him about certain forbidden places in the city.
Father: “Don’t ever go into a nightclub.”
Son: “Why not?”
Father: “Because you’ll see things you shouldn’t.”
“This, of course, aroused my curiosity,” the teacher said. “And at first opportunity, I went into a nightclub.”
His students asked, “Did you see something you shouldn’t have?”
“I certainly did,” said the teacher. “I saw my father.”
The son of a Singaporean businesswoman decided to introduce his beloved Chinese-American girlfriend from the United States to his mother. The trio conversed and mingled together, with a lot of laughters here and there. Suddenly, the son exited the room to attend an immediate conference call with his business partners, leaving his mother and girlfriend alone together.
Mother: “You are not Chinese. You may look and speak like a Chinese, but your heart is that of an American.”
Girlfriend: “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“Chinese parents are obsessed about shaping their children. Even though we have more than what we need, we will always care and never forget about our family tradition. American children are more ambitious toward their passion. They leave their families second.”
“But aren’t we all the same — that is, we are all human beings?”
It makes as much sense to speak of a human being as equal rather than being American or Chinese.
A baby born of Chinese parents and adopted by Asian-American parents: has no notion he or she has been adopted and grows up to be a great American patriot. Is he or she Chinese? American? Neither. Chinese or American is your conditioning, not you.
A teacher claimed that most people do not see the world of Reality, but a world their mind creates.
One scholar came to dispute this, and the teacher set two sticks on the floor in the form of the letter T and asked, “What do you see here?”
“The letter T,” replied the scholar.
“Just as I thought,” said the teacher. “There is no such thing as the letter T; that’s a symbol in your head. What you have here are two broken branches in the form of sticks.”
Many people still see two wooden sticks nailed together as God, a picturesque banner on the wall as the Revolution, or a piece of cloth flapping in the wind as the Nation.
By worshipping a cross, or singing an anthem, or waving a colorful flag you transform an abstract story into a tangible Reality — which fairly intelligent people have been able to put aside.
Letting Go of the Known
An eight-year-old boy was curious about what happens when he dies. He remembered every Sunday there is a Religious Fair gathering beside city hall. As he strolled through the entrance, he was immediately approached by a Christian minister who was busy passing out church flyers. Upon accepting the brochure he asked, “What happens when I die?”
“My child,” the minister said, “for sure, you’ll get to the pearly gates. You’ll be in paradise and in heaven.”
The boy wasn’t fond of paradise and pearly gates. He thought it was too depressing waiting for judgement day to come. So he decided to stop by the Buddhist stall and asked a monk the same question: “What happens when I die?”
“Well, depending on your merits,” said the monk, “you’ll be reborn either as a nobler person or a useless pest.”
On the way out, an old Spiritual Master was sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, apparently deep in meditation. “Excuse me, Master,” said the boy in more of a whisper. “What happens when I die?”
The Master said, “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t you a Spiritual Master?”
The Master replied, “Yes, I am. But I’m not a dead one — yet.”
We are never afraid of the unknown because we do not know what it is. What we are really frightened of is letting go of the known.
A slave paced up and down the twenty feet length of his cage. When, after five years, the cage was removed, the slave continued to pace up and down as if the cage was still there. It was. For him!
The old Chinese proverb “three men make a tiger” (三人成虎) literally refers to our ability to accept inaccurate, absurd, or irrelevant information as long as enough people repeat it. As a result, the consensus tells you how to think (and live), while “independent” thinking is shoved under the rug.
Once the majority repeats and lives with certain universal ideas or dogmas, they are rarely brought up and questioned.
People never really stop and ask:
WHY do we keep thinking and doing what we do? Tradition? Because our teachers say so?
WHY are we indoctrinating our children to follow the same path as we did even though we are aware that path has been a token of failure?
WHY do couples rush to get married based on their age, not based on the quality of their relationship?
WHY has your brain been co-opted by a political party, a church, or a propaganda?
People are not prisoners of fate, but prisoners of their own mind. The walls that imprison them are mental, not real.
A scholar asked, “Would you consider science to be a religion?”
“The concept of science is to define,” said the teacher. “To define is to destroy. Concept dissects Reality. And what you dissect, you kill.”
“Is science then useless?”
“No,” exclaimed the teacher. “Dissect a rose and you will have valuable information — and no knowledge whatsoever — of the rose. Become a scholar and you will have much information — but no knowledge whatsoever — of Reality.”
“True religion does not dissect. It is living with Reality,” added the teacher.
Later, when conversing with his disciples, the teacher narrated the following story:
When an American preacher was traveling to Shanghai, he asked a pedestrian walking by what religion was for the Chinese.
The kind pedestrian took him to a bench nearby overlooking the city landscape. When they were both seated, the Chinese fellow asked, “What do you see, sir?”
“I see many tall buildings and people rushing over here and there, and cars and buses plying.”
“A few clouds.”
The Chinese extended his arms and said, “That is religion, sir.”
There’s religion and there’s Religion. Perhaps, it was once religion, but, nowadays, Religion is a social club. It is a place to hope for things and ask for things. It turns mankind into beggars worshipping idols. It provides mankind with an intoxication of losing themself.
True religion has nothing to do with worshipping Allah or Buddha or Jesus. It has nothing to do with chanting mantras; it has nothing to do with the various rituals being done in churches and temples; it has nothing to do with all this nonsense, because the object of devotion is largely irrelevant.
The Job Interview
Enter the first applicant.
“You understand that this is a simple test we are giving you before we offer you the job you have applied for?”
“Well, what is two plus two?”
Enter the second applicant.
“Are you ready for the test?”
“What is two plus two?”
“Whatever the boss says it is.”
The second applicant got the job.
Which comes first, conformity or the Truth?
Passion for Crap
A very successful septic tank cleaner, a multi-millionaire, was asked about his secret to success.
“I looked around to see where everyone else is headed, and then I went the opposite way,” he said. “Then I got good at my work. Then I began to prosper. And then one day, I realized I was passionate about other people’s shit.”
People always chase for the next big thing. But among the frequent chattering, there are many overlooked and under-thought opportunities that people will miss.
The leader of a Japanese samurai clan decided to attack a rival clan even though he had only one soldier to the enemy’s ten. He was sure he would win, but his troops were full of fear.
On the way to battle they stopped at a Shinto shrine. After praying in the shrine the general came out, stood in front of the men and said, “I shall now toss a coin. If it is heads, we shall win. If tails, we shall lose. Let destiny reveal herself!”
He tossed the coin, fortunately enough, it was heads. The warriors were so pumped up for the battle, when finished, they swiped out all the enemy.
The next day, an aide said to the general, “No one can alter destiny.”
“Correct!” said the general while flashing him a two-sided heads coin.
Who makes destiny?
Give to Others, and You Give to Yourself
A teacher whose always loved by the children has the habit of sharing happiness with all of them.
When asked why, he said, “It’s really a matter of self-interest. The air picks up the good energy and carries it from child to child. So if the children feel unhappy because they are overworked and are focusing too much on competition, their auras bring down my happiness level. That is why I am concerned that they’d always be happy each and every day.”
It’s No Good Having Our Prayers Answered — IF They Are NOT Answered At the Right Time
It is said that if one sets themself to pray, according to ancient rites given by the elders, to the goddess of wealth, he or she would become wealthy.
Upon discovering such marvelous news, a middle-aged man began to pray to the merciful and compassionate goddess of wealth, begging her to make him rich.
He prayed to no avail for ten long years, after which period of time, he suddenly saw the illusionary nature of wealth and adopted the life of an ascetic in the deep forest.
He was sitting deep in contemplation one day when he spontaneously opened his eyes and witnessed before him an extraordinarily beautiful woman, all luminous and glistening as if she was made of gold.
“Who are you?” he asked. “And what are you doing here?”
“I am the goddess of wealth to whom you’ve recited hymns for thirteen years,” said the woman. “I have emerged from heaven to grant you your desire.”
How to Live
In the near distant future, one of the first few men to walk on Mars conversed with his fans on Earth how he had to suppress his artistic instincts when he got there.
He remembered looking back at the vast desert space and being enraptured by the sight. For a while, he stood rooted to the ground, thinking, “My, how lovely this is.”
Then he quickly shook the mood off and said to himself, “Stop wasting your time and get back to work!”
There are two types of education: one that teaches you how to make a living and one that teaches you how to live.
Living With Your Talent
A teacher was talking to his disciples regarding the gruesome situation in the world. He said, “With all the corruption, cruelty, violence, hypocrisy, and everything else in between, just discover your talent and live with it. We’re only here for a short time. Then we die. So don’t worry about what other people are pursuing; what the politicians are chattering; what the scientists are developing; what the governments are implementing. Stick to your talent and live your life.”
One disciple asked, “Is that how you view life?”
“I view life as a devotion to being alive,” said the teacher. “If one is devoted to something, one tends to lose oneself in it. As one loses oneself in it, the more blissful life becomes.”
Someone chooses to become successful because one enjoys it; because one is skillful at it; because one feels alive pursuing his or her craft at the highest level.
A career counselor was consulted for his expertise. When asked about the meaning of education, he said, “Education should not equal a JOB. Education equals a LIFE.”
“So what am I to do?” asked the student.
“Have trust in life,” he said. “If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
Moral: dreams are sometimes, just... dreams. They are not reality.
When life hands you a lemon
As life sometimes will do, fear not.
When friends looks at you with pity
Simply, smile and flout.
Suddenly, they come upon you later,
Hammocking in the shade
In serene contentment, sipping
A glass of lemonade.
The entry level worker can’t afford a sports car. Instead, he buys the latest iPhone.
The mid-level manager can’t afford a mansion. Instead, he buys a sports car.
The CEO can’t afford an island. Instead, he buys a mansion.
The top 10 richest people in the world can afford just about anything, but choose to live in modest houses, donate to philanthropic causes, and have very few wants because they realized life is not about accumulating things.
Understanding What You Don’t Need
A notorious Hollywood celebrity is known all over the city as the person who would instinctively lead a frugal life. He himself would not even wear fancy shoes — flip-flops are his favorite; yet he constantly fell under the spell of the luxury shopping malls along the strips of Beverly Hills, and would go there often to look at all the wares on display.
When a reporter asked why, the actor said, “I love to go there and discover how many things I am perfectly happy without.”
Those who are poor inwardly, seek outwardly. True wealth comes from being content internally.
People who are content with what they have and possess it without striving, are rich like Royalties. A Royal Highness himself is pauper if his kingdom does not suffice him.
The Meaning of Life
A businessman flew in his private helicopter to sought after a Mystic living up high in the Himalayan region. He asked, “What is the meaning of life? — but make it quick, I’ve got an important meeting in an hour.”
The Mystic answered, “He who has no awareness of the meaning of life is like someone who has threads and wants to make a tapestry of them, but doesn’t have a loom to weave them together. Eventually he will see that the threads cannot be made into a piece of tapestry, and there is no direction or sense of wholeness in his life.”
“Ugh...,” the businessman paused, “in English, please.”
“The experiences you have will be fragmentary and won’t give rise to the energy which understands Truth,” the Mystic continued. “You will remain without that total experience where living, or not living, is one and the same. Your life will be like a tree which never produces flowers or fruits. You will know happiness and suffering, but will never taste bliss because bliss arises only after life is experienced fully.”
“Screw this nonsense!” said the businessman as he rushes back to his chopper.
Be wary of false gurus who use flowery words to extrapolate the way of life. They’re as confused as you are. After all, how can one comprehend and advise you on the meaning of YOUR life by living as a renunciate?
Look, it’s simple: if you want to find bliss, then make your life a beautiful tapestry. Weave all the experiences of your life with the threads born out of a single purpose. Someone who does not do that will not find the meaning and fulfillment of life.
Life is an art. It is not just about living somewhere, somehow or otherwise. Only one who lives with a purpose actually lives.
The Master was asked, “What is Spirituality?”
He said, “Spirituality is that which succeeds in bringing one to Inner Transmutation.”
“But if I apply the traditional methods handed down by the Masters, is that not Spirituality?”
“It is not Spirituality if it does not perform its function for you. A candle is no longer a candle if it does not illuminate your path.”
“So Spirituality does change?”
“People change and needs change. So what was Spirituality once is Spirituality no more. What generally goes under the name of Spirituality is merely the record of past methods.”
What was old must be renewed. It can be put aside like a blanket when the problem is no longer gelidness. When we are transformed, naturally we must use new tools to carve a fresh path ahead.
Spirituality is a journey without distance; from ignorance to recognition; from vapidness to awakening; from illusion to reality.
The Sage and the Seeker
A seeker came to a Sage and asked, “How long would it take me to attain enlightenment?”
“Heavily conditioned you have been. Ten years for you,” said the Sage.
The seeker was shocked. “That long?” he asked incredulously.
“No, a mistake I have made,” recanted the Sage. “Reading much philosophy books you have been. Twenty years seems right.”
The seeker asked, “Why did you double the figure?”
“Difficult parents you have. Thirty years in your case,” the wise Sage concluded.
Even the hankering for enlightenment is bondage. Gullible people will never learn anything because they grasped everything too soon.
The first question to ask oneself is: “Enlightenment of what?” Because enlightenment can never be created through gradual becoming. It is there, or it is not there.
A child strikes up a conversation with her mother, “Mom, how can we attain world peace?”
Her mother says, “By transforming yourself.”
“What do you mean?”
“We don’t seek world peace. We seek self-peace.”
“Then why is everybody going after world peace?”
“Because the idea gives them a sense of self-peace.”
Once every man, woman, and child in the world have found peace in themself, the “world” would forever be at peace. Until then, it is what it is.
The Law of Nature
There is a story about a little boy walking along the edge of a forest. He saw a lion who was trapped in a net.
The lion said, “Would you please have pity on me and release me? I may look scary, but it isn’t my fault, you know. I was made this way. But whatever my external appearance, I have a mother’s heart. I came this morning in search of food for my cubs and got caught in this trap!”
So the boy said, “Hmm..., if I help you out of that trap, you’d grab me and kill me.”
The lion asked, “Do you think I would do that to my savior?”
The boy was persuaded to take the net off and the lion grabbed him. As he is being forced between the jaws of the lion, he said, “So this is what I get for my good actions.”
“Well, don’t take it personally, son, this is the way the world is, this is the law of nature,” said the lion.
The boy disputed, so the lion said, “Do you want to ask someone if it isn’t so?”
The boy saw a bird sitting on a branch and said, “Bird, are the lion’s words correct?”
“The lion is correct,” the bird said. “Look at me. I was coming home one day with food for my chicks. Imagine my horror to see a snake crawling up the tree, making straight for my nest. I was totally helpless. It kept devouring my young ones, one after the other. I kept screaming and shouting, but it was useless. The lion is correct, this is the law of nature, this is the way the world is.”
“You see,” said the lion.
“Let me ask someone else.”
“Well, all right, go ahead.”
There was an old donkey passing by the bushes. “Donkey,” shouted the boy, “this is what the lion said. Is the lion telling the truth?”
The donkey said, “The lion is quite honest. Take me as a living example. I’ve worked and slaved for my master all my life and he barely gave me enough food to eat. Now that I’m old and useless, he has turned me loose, and here I am wandering in the jungle, waiting for some wild beast to pounce on me and put an end to my life. The lion is telling the truth, this is the law of nature, this is the way the world is.”
“See?” said the lion. “Let’s go!”
“Give me one more chance, one last chance,” the boy begged. “Let me ask one other being. Remember how good I was to you?”
With remorse, the lion told the boy: “All right, your last chance.”
The boy saw a rabbit passing by, and he said, “Rabbit, is this mighty lion telling the truth?”
The rabbit sat on his haunched back and said to the lion, “Did you say those words to that boy?”
“Yes, I did,” said the lion.
“Wait a minute,” the rabbit interrupted. “We’ve got to discuss this.”
But the rabbit said, “How can we discuss it when you’ve got that boy in your mouth? Release him; he’s got to take part in the discussion, too.”
“You’re a clever one, you are,” the lion said. “The moment I release him, he’ll run away.”
“I thought you had more sense than that. If he attempted to run away, one swing of your claw would kill him,” countered the rabbit.
“Fair enough,” said the lion, and he released the boy.
The moment the boy was released, the rabbit said, “Run!” And the boy ran and escaped. Then the rabbit said to the boy, “I bet you’d enjoy lion flesh. Wouldn’t the people in your village like a good meal? You didn’t really release that lion; most of his body is still caught in that net. Why don’t you go to the village and bring everybody and have a banquet.”
That’s exactly what the boy did. He went to the village and called all the menfolk. They came with their axes and staves and spears and killed the lion. The boy’s dog came, too, and when the dog saw the rabbit, he gave chase, caught hold of the rabbit, and throttled him. The boy came on the scene too late, and as he watched the rabbit die, he said, “The lion was right, this is the way the world is, this is the law of nature.”
There is no way to explain all the sufferings and hatred and violence and calamity in the world! You can justify them with your ideas, formulas, religions, and what have you, but you’ll never interpret it.
Religious zealots are just as blind and confused as you are.
They worship images of God: a bearded Man, a seated Bodhi, a gargantuan Hand, a piercing Light — whatever. But the moment you search for God, you search for ideas — and miss Reality.
They merely offer you words. When confronted with life’s problems, all they come up with are answers from a book. But life is too large to fit into any book.
Life is beyond what thought can comprehend. In all things, there is the ideal and there is the bastardized. There is the pure and there is the manipulated. For that, you’ve got to wake up, and then, suddenly, you’ll realize Reality is not problematic. You are!
Only then, will the world becomes right.
So, are you ready to wake up?