Life's Little Lessons

            The following stories, parables and anecdotes pertain to life. Some people see profound lessons in them, and are ‘enlightened’ by these seemingly simple stories, while others look upon them as silly nothings.
            What do you make of them?

More Lessons


The Dash

            I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the the end.
            He noted that first came her date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. (1934 -1998)
            For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth ... And now only those who loved her, know what that little line is worth.

            It matters not, how much we own - the cars... the house... the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
            So think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.
            If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real, and always try to understand, and be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more, and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
            If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile… Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
            So, when your eulogy’s being read with your life’s actions to rehash... would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

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Letting Go

            A master took his two students into a forest. There he took a hollow coconut with a small hole and inserted sweet rice. Then he tied it to a tree and waited with his student nearby. Soon, a monkey came along, sniffed the rice, inserted his paw, and screeched in frustration when he was unable to withdraw his paw (now a fist clenching the rice) through the narrow opening.
            “Let go of the rice, silly! Run!” screamed the students, amazed by its obvious stupidity, but to no avail.
            “What was the trap that caught the monkey?” asked the master.
            “Rice,” said one student.
            “The coconut,” said another.
            “No,” replied the wise master, “The trap was greed - he only had to let go of his attachment to be free. Likewise, we are the ones who trap ourselves. We are always responsible. The real trap is always within, not out there. The causes of suffering are in us. External situations are only conditions.”
            With that, he hacked the coconut open, and the unrepentant monkey ran away with a fistful of rice.

            Don’t be like the monkey. What is in your monkey fist that you still hold on to?

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Search in the Right Place

            There was once a great master who used to teach his students in many different and sometimes bizarre ways. One evening, they arrived at his house to find him crawling around on the ground. There was a lamp by the front door and he was moving around within the lamp light.
            “Master, what are you doing?”
            “Searching for the front door key.”
            They all joined him, crawling around, hunting for the key.
            After quite a period of fruitless search, one student asked, “Master, where were you when you lost the key?”
            “Over there.” He pointed to a distant spot, which was in darkness.
            “Then why on Earth are you hunting for it here?”
            “Oh, because it’s much easier to hunt here in the light.”

This is what we all tend to do. Due to ignorance, and confusion, we strive to find happiness in places where it cannot be found. We keep on doing this because superficial appearances delude us into thinking that it can be found where we seek it – within the world of desires and senses. Happiness cannot truly be found there, so our efforts lead instead to suffering.

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Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

            Two travelling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.
            When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.”
            The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest.
            When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.
            The young angel was infuriated and asked the older angel: “How could you have let this happen! The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die.”
            “Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he couldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I told him to take the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem.”

            Sometimes this is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way we think they should. If you have faith, just trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not realize it until much later.

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Good Or Bad, Hard To Say

            Once upon a time, there was a king. The king liked one of his followers very much because he was very wise and always gave very useful advice. Therefore, the king took him along wherever he went.
            One day, a dog bit the king. The finger was injured and the wound was getting worse. He asked the follower if that was a bad sign. The follower said, “Good or bad, hard to say”. In the end, the finger of the king was too bad that it had to be cut. The king asked the follower again if that was a bad sign. Again, the follower gave the same answer, “Good or bad, hard to say.” The king became very angry and sent the follower to prison.
            One day, the king went hunting in the jungle. He got excited when he was on the chase of a deer. Deeper and deeper he went inside the jungle. In the end he found himself lost in the jungle. To make things worse, the native people who lived inside the jungle captured him. They wanted to sacrifice him to their god. But when they noticed that the king had one finger short, they released him immediately as he was not a perfect man anymore and not suitable for sacrifice.
            The king managed to get back to his palace after all. And he finally understood the follower's wise quote, “Good or bad, hard to say”. If he hadn’t lost one finger, the native people could have killed him. He ordered the follower to be released, and apologized to him. But to the king’s amazement, the follower was not mad at him at all. Instead, the follower said, “It wasn’t a bad thing that you locked me up.”
            Why? Because if the king hadn’t locked the follower up, he would have brought the follower along to the jungle. If the native found that the king was not suitable, they would have used the follower. Again, the quote ‘Good or bad, hard to say’ stands.

            The moral of the story is that everything that happens in this world, there is no absolute good or bad. Sometimes good things turned out to be bad things eventually, while bad things become a gain.
            Whatever good things that happen to you, enjoy it, but don’t have to hold too tight to it, treat it as a surprise in your life. Whatever bad things that happen to you, don’t have to feel too sad or despair, in the end, it might not be a total bad thing after all.
            If one can understand this, he or she will find life much easier.

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Doing Your Best

            An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire.
            The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favour. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.
            When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”
            What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.
            So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, Reacting rather than Acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points, we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized that we would have done it differently.

            Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall, build wisely, because it is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

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Take A Break

            Once there was a group of men - a young hot-blooded guy and a big number of older folks, doing a job in a jungle ( chopping down trees ). The young chap was very hard working. He always continued working through his break time and complained that the older folks were wasting time, having to break a few times a day to drink and chat.
            As times went by, this young guy noticed that even though he worked through his break time and hardly took a rest, those old folks were chopping the same amount of trees as he did and sometimes did more than he. It was as if those older folks worked through the break time as he did. So he decided to work harder the next day. Unfortunately, the results were even worse.
            One day, one of the old folks invited him for a drink during their break. That young guy refused and said he has no extra time to spend!
            The old man smiled at him and said, “It is just a waste of effort to keep chopping trees without re-sharpening your axe. Sooner or later, you will give up or be so exhausted as you have spent too much energy.”
            Suddenly the young man realized that actually during break times while those old folks were having a chat, they were also re-sharpening their tools at the same time! And that’s how they can work less but produce more.
            The old man said, “What we need is efficiency by making use of our skill and ability intelligently. Only then can we have more time to do other things. Otherwise you will always keep saying I have no time!”

            By taking a short break during work, it would make you feel fresher, think better and work better after the break!
            Taking a break is not to stop work but to rest and re-think our strategy to go about it from another angle. Think smart, work smart and rest smart.

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Which One Would You Choose?

            A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other was disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.
            Suppose the train came, and you were just beside the track interchange. You could make the train change it's course on the disused track and save most of the kids.
            However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?
            Let’s take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make.
            Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child.
            But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place? Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.
            This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority is, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority is.
            The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no-one would shed a tear for him.
            If the train were diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track!
            Moreover, that track was not in use possibly because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, you could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.
            While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

            Remember that what’s right isn’t always popular ...and what’s popular isn’t always right.

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Write In The Sand Or Carve In The Rock

            A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. At a specific point of their journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
            The one, who got slapped, was hurt, but without anything to say, he wrote in the sand: “TODAY, MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.”
            They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who got slapped and hurt started drowning, and the other friend saved him. When he recovered from the fright, he wrote on a stone: “TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.”
            The friend who slapped, and later saved his best friend, asked him, “Why, after I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone?”
            The other friend, smiling, replied: “When a friend hurts us, we should write it down in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness get in charge of erasing it away, and when something great happens, we should engrave it in the stone of the memory of the heart, where no wind can erase it.”

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Carrot, Egg, Or Coffee Bean?

            A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that after solving one problem another one would arise.
            Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. The daughter sucked her teeth and waited impatiently, wondering what he was doing. In about twenty minutes time he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He scoped the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
            Turning to her he asked. “Darling, what do you see?”
            “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
            He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.
She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
            She humbly asked. “What does it mean Father?”
            He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently.
            The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
            The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
            The ground coffee beans were unique however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
            “Which are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

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Big Rocks

            One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of students and, to drive home a point, used a illustration those students will never forget.
            As he stood in front of the group of high powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
            Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
            “Really?” He asked. Then he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks.
            “Is the jar full?” He asked once more. By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” One of them answered.            
“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
            “No!” the class shouted.
            Once again he said. “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
            One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!”
            “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point at all. The truth this illustration teaches us is: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all.”

            What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff (the gravel, the sand) then you’ll fill your life with little things you worry about that don’t really matter, and you’ll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big important stuff (the big rocks).

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You Are Special

            A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”
            Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.
            He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.
            “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty.
            “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.
            “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was worth $20. Many times in our live, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!”

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Ripples On The Pond

            My grandfather took me to the fish pond on the farm when I was about seven, and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.
            “You may create lots of splashes in your life but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures,” he said.
            “Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles. You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others. The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both.”
            That was the first time I realized each person creates the inner peace or discord that flows out into the world. We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with inner conflict, hatred, doubt, or anger. We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside, whether we speak them or not. Whatever is splashing around inside of us is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord with all other circles of life.

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The Banker And The Fisherman

            An investment banker was on the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. His boat was full of beautiful yellow tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on his catch, asking how long it took to catch. The fisherman replied, “Only a short time.”
            The banker asked why not stay out and catch more. The fisherman replied, “I’ve enough fish to feed my family.”
            The banker then asked what did the fisherman do with the rest of his time, he replied, “I will sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening, sip wine with my friends, play my guitar, I have a full and busy life.”
            The banker was not impressed. “I have a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat and from those increased proceeds you could buy several boats and soon have a fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could control production, processing and distribution by building your own cannery. You could leave this small coastal village and move to the city then to New York where you could run your expanding enterprise.”
            The fisherman asked, “How long will this take?”
            The banker said, “Ten to twenty years.”
            “But what then?”
            “Next you would announce an IPO and sell your stock to the public, making millions and millions. Then you could retire to a small coastal village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings, sip wine and play your guitar with your friends,” said the banker smiling.
            The fisherman looked puzzled, “I don’t understand this, you are suggesting that I should go one big loop so as to end up where I am today, happily fishing on the cliff?”

            Are you trying to be like the man above, going a full circle to end up being at the same place?

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            Imagine a marital artist, after years of relentless training, finally kneeling before his master in a ceremony to receive the coveted black belt.
            “Before I grant you the belt,” his sensei (teacher) says, “You must pass one more test.”
            “I’m ready,” says the eager student, expecting perhaps one more test of his physical agility and skill.
            “You must answer the essential question, ‘What is the true meaning of the black belt?’”
            The student answers, “The end of my journey, a well-deserved reward for all my hard work.”
            The sensei waits for more. Clearly not satisfied, he finally speaks, “You are not ready for the black belt. Return in one year.”
            One year later, the student again kneels before his sensei and hears the question, “What is the true meaning of the black belt?”
            This time he answers, “It is a symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art.”
            Still not satisfied, the master once again sends the frustrated student away.
            A year later the student kneels for a third time in front of his sensei attain. Again, the master asks the question, “What is the true meaning of the black belt?”
            This time the student answers, “The black belt represents not the end, but the BEGINNING, the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard.”
            “Yes,” says the sensei with great satisfaction, “You are now ready to receive the black belt and begin your work.”

            Isn’t it true that every major change in a life is more of a BEGINNING than an ending? Graduation from school is not a time to quit learning; rather it marks the BEGINNING of the next level of learning.
            Marriage and family are BEGINNINGS of new life-styles. And even death, the ultimate change in life, can be seen to be as much of a BEGINNING as birth. Every completion, every change, every accomplishment is simply the start of something new and, quite possibly, wonderful. You may arrive at a magic-like change. Is it an end? Or is it the start of a new beginning?

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Put Down Your Burden

            The venerable raises a glass of water and said to the audience: “How heavy do you think this glass of water is? It depends on how long you hold it. If you hold it for a minute, it is Ok. If you hold it for an hour, you will have an ache in your arm. If You hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.
            “It is the exact same weight, but the longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier.
            “What you have to do is to put the glass down, rest for a while before holding it up again.”

            We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on. When you return home from work, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it into your home. You can pick it up tomorrow.
            Take a REST!

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            A young man, a student in one of our universities, was one day taking a walk with a professor, who was commonly called the student’s friend, from his kindness to those who waited on his instructions. As they went along, they saw lying in the path a pair of old shoes, which they supposed to belong to a poor man who was employed in a field close by, and who had nearly finished his day’s work.
            The student turned to the professor, saying: “Let us play the man a trick: we will hide his shoes, and conceal ourselves behind those bushes, and wait to see his perplexity when he cannot find them.”
            “My young friend,” answered the professor, “we should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor. But you are rich, and may give yourself a much greater pleasure by means of this poor man. Put a coin in each shoe, and then we will hide ourselves and watch how this affects him.”
            The student did so and they both placed themselves behind the bushes close by. The poor man soon finished his work, and came across the field to the path where he had left his coat and shoes. While putting on his coat he slipped his foot into one of his shoes, but feeling something hard, he stooped down to feel what it was, and found the coin. Astonishment and wonder were seen upon his countenance. He gazed upon the coin, turned it around, and looked at it again and again. He then looked around him on all sides, but no person was to be seen. He now put the money into his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe; but his surprise was doubled on finding the other coin. His feelings overcame him; he fell upon his knees, looked up to heaven and uttered aloud a fervent thanksgiving in which he spoke of his wife, sick and helpless, and his children without bread, whom this timely bounty, from some unknown hand, would save from perishing.
            The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears. “Now,” said the professor, are you not much better pleased than if you had played your intended trick?”
            The youth replied, “You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. I feel now the truth of these words, which I never understood before: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

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The Window

            Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
            The men talked for hours on end about everything. And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
            The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every colour of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
            One day, he thought: Why should he have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. As the thought fermented, his envy turned into resentment. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. “I should be by that window.” he thought - and that thought now controlled his life.
            Late one night, the man by the window died in his sleep. The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she called the hospital attendant to take it away - no works, no fuss.
            As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed...........
            It faced a blank wall.

            Life is what you make it out to be. It can be radiant and vivid, exploding with sound and colour, or it can be dull and embittered. Don’t envy the happiness in other people’s lives, Rather, make it happen in your own. Seek delight and pleasure in your most difficult moments, and your darkest night could be your brightest day.
            Very often, the grimness of the circumstances which surround us is a product of our own mind. Perceived negatively, an unfortunate turn in your life could become devastating. When seen in a positive light however, the worst of adversities could be your greatest triumph.

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Always Remember Those Who Serve You

            In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.
            “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.
            The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.
            When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, the boy couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

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The Obstacle In Our Path

            In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. He hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear.
            But none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

            The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

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Enough Is Enough

            A long time ago, there was an Emperor who told his knight that if he could ride on his horse across as much land as possible, then the Emperor would give him the area of land he had covered.
            Sure enough, the horseman quickly jumped onto his horse and rode as fast as possible to cover as much land area as he could. He kept on riding and riding, whipping the horse to go faster and faster.
            When he was hungry or tired, he did not stop because he wanted to cover as much area as he could. It came to a point where he had covered a substantial area but he was exhausted and was dying. Then he asked himself, “Why did I push myself so hard to cover so much land area? Now I am dying and I only need a very small area to bury myself.”

            The above story is similar to the journey of our Life. We push very hard everyday to make more money, to gain power and recognition. We neglect our health, time with our family and to appreciate the surrounding beauty and the hobbies we love to do.
            One day when we look back, we will realize that we don’t really need that much, but then we cannot turn back time for what we have missed.

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            Imagine taking a very small glass of water and putting into it a teaspoon of salt. Because of the small size of the container, the teaspoon of salt is going to have a big impact upon the water. However, if you approach a much larger body of water, such as a lake, and put into it that same teaspoonful of salt, it will not have the same intensity of impact, because of the vastness and openness of the vessel receiving it. Even when the salt remains the same, the spaciousness of the vessel receiving it changes everything.
            We spend a lot of our lives looking for a feeling of safety or protection; we try to alter the amount of salt that comes our way. Ironically, the salt is the very thing that we cannot do anything about, as life changes and offers us repeated ups and downs. Our true work is to create a container so immense that any amount of salt, even a truckload, can come into it without affecting our capacity to receive it.

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Life Is Living

            Some years ago a successful American had a serious identity crisis. He sought help from psychiatrists but nothing came of it, for there were none who could tell him the meaning of life - which is what he wanted to know. By and by he learned of a venerable and incredibly wise guru who lived in a mysterious and most inaccessible region of the Himalayas. Only that guru, he came to believe, would tell him what life meant and what his role in it ought to be. So he sold all his worldly possessions and began his search for the all-knowing guru. He spent eight years wandering from village to village throughout the Himalayas in an effort to find him. And then one day he chanced upon a shepherd who told him where the guru lived and how to reach the place.
            It took him almost a year to find him, but he eventually did. There he came upon his guru, who was indeed venerable, in fact well over one hundred years old. The guru consented to help him, especially when he learned of all the sacrifices the man had made towards this end.
            “What can I do for you, my son?” asked the guru.
            “I need to know the meaning of life,” said the man.
            To this the guru replied, without hesitation, “Life,” he said, “is a river without end.”
            “A river without end?” said the man in a startled surprise. “After coming all this way to find you, all you have to tell me is that life is a river without end?”
            The guru was shaken, shocked. He became very angry and he said, “You mean it is not?”

            Nobody can give you the meaning of your life. It is your life, the meaning has also to be yours. Himalayas won’t help. Nobody except you can come upon it. It is your life and it is only accessible to you. Only in living will the mystery be revealed to you.
            Don’t seek life anywhere else. Don’t seek it in scriptures, don’t seek it in clever explanations - they all explain away, they don’t explain.
            Life is already there bubbling within you. It can be contacted only there. The temple is not outside, you are the shrine of it. So the first thing to remember if you want to know what life is, is: never seek it without, never try to find out from somebody else. The meaning cannot be transferred that way. The greatest masters have never said anything about life - they have always thrown you back upon yourself.

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Giving When It Counts

            Many years ago, a little girl named Liz, was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
            The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the colour returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.
            He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

            Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

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Lessons From The Geese

            (Transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network.)

            Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an ‘uplift’ for the birds that follow. By flying in ‘V’ formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
            Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

            Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
            Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help, and give our help to others.

            Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
            Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.

            Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those in front to keep up their speed.
            Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement the production is greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

            Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help or protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
            Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

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The Farmer’s Donkey

            One day a farmer’s donkey fell into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the donkey was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. So he grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.
            The animal realized what was happening and cried even more piteously. Then, to the farmer’s amazement, he quietened down.
            A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down into the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer continued to shovel dirt into the well and onto the animal, the donkey continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, the donkey was able to step over the edge of the well and trotted off!

            Life is going to shovel dirt on you - all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!

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The Ant Philosophy

Ants never quit
When they’re headed somewhere and you try to stop them, they’ll look for another way. They will climb over, climb under, or they will climb around. They keep looking for another way.
Lesson. Never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.

Ants think Winter all Summer
You can’t be so naïve as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering their winter food in the middle of summer.
Lesson. It is important to be realistic. Think ahead.

Ants think Summer all Winter
During the winter, ants remind themselves, ‘This wont’ last long; we’ll soon be out of here.’
At the first warm day, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down, but then they come out the first warm day.
Lesson. Stay positive at all times.

Ants do all they possibly can
How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All that he possibly can.
Lesson. Do all you can… and more.

In a nut shell, there is this four part philosophy:-
Never give up
Look ahead
Stay positive
Do all you can

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The Power Of Words

            A group of frogs was travelling through the woods, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit.
            When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead.
            Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out.
            When he got out, the other frogs asked him, “Why did you continue jumping. Didn’t you hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

            This story teaches two lessons:
            1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.
            2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. Be careful of what you say.

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A Farmer And His Frogs

            A farmer came into town and asked the owner of a restaurant if he could use a million frog legs. The restaurant owner was shocked and asked the man where he could get so many frog legs! The farmer replied, “There is a pond near my house that is full of frogs - millions of them. They croak all during the night and are about to drive me crazy!”
            So the restaurant and the farmer made an agreement that the farmer would deliver frogs to the restaurant five hundred at a time for the next several weeks.
            The first week, the farmer returned to the restaurant looking rather sheepish, with two scrawny little frogs. The restaurant owner said, “Well...where are all the frogs?”
            The farmer said, “I was mistaken. There were only these two frogs in the pond. But they sure were making a lot of noise!”

            Next time you hear somebody criticizing or making fun of you, remember it’s probably just a couple of noisy frogs. Also - remember that problems always seem bigger in the dark. Have you ever laid in your bed at night worrying about things which seem almost overwhelming - like a million frogs croaking? Chances are pretty good that when the morning comes, and you take a closer look, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

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