Wise quail

Once, the Buddha was a wise quail, the leader of a flock. One day, a hunter came into the forest. Imitating the quails’ own calls, he began to trap unwary birds. The wise quail noticed that something was amiss. Calling his flock together, he announced, “My fellow quail, I am afraid that there is a hunter in our forest. Many of our brothers and sisters are missing. We must be alert. Danger is all around us. Still, if we work together we can stay free. Please listen to my plan. If you should hear a whistling call—twe whee! twe whee! twe wheel—as if a brother or sister were calling, be very watchful! If you follow that call, you may find darkness descending upon you.

“Your wings may be pinned so that you cannot fly, and the fear of death may grip your heart. If these things happen, just understand that you have been trapped by the hunter’s net and do not give up! Remember, if you work together you can be free. Now, this is my plan. You must stick your heads out through webs of the net and, then, you must all flap your wings together. As a group, though you are still bound in the net, you will rise up into the air. Fly to a bush. Let the net drape on the branches of the bush so you can each drop to the ground, and fly away from under the net, this way and that, to freedom. Do you understand? Can you do this?”

“We do understand,” answered all the quail as one, “and we will do it! We will work together and be free.”

Hearing this, the wise quail was content. The very next day a group of quail were pecking on the ground when they heard a long whistling call. “Twe whee! twe whee! twe whee!” It was the cry of a quail in distress! Off they rushed. Suddenly darkness descended on them and their wings were pinned. They had indeed been trapped by the hunter’s net. But, remembering the wise quail’s words, they did not panic. Sticking their heads out through the webs of the net they flapped their wings together, harder and harder and slowly, slowly, with the net still draped upon them, they rose, as a group, through the air. They flew to a bush. They dropped down through the bush, leaving the net hung on the outer branches, then flew away, each in their own direction, this way and that, to freedom.

The plan had worked! They were safe! They had escaped from the jaws of death. And, oh, they were happy!

But the hunter was not happy. He could not understand how the quail had escaped him. And this happened not just once, but many times. At last, the hunter realized the truth. “Why,” he said, amazed, “those quail are cooperating! They are working together! But it can’t last. They are only birds, featherbrains after all. Sooner or later they will argue. And when they do, I shall have them.” And so, he was patient.

Now, the wise quail had had the same thought. Sooner or later the birds of his flock would begin to argue, and when that happened they would be lost. So he decided to take them deeper into the forest, far from their present danger.

That very day something happened to confirm the wise quail’s thought. A quail was pecking on the ground for seeds when another bird of the flock, descending rapidly, accidentally struck it with its wing-tip. “Hey! Watch it, stupid!” called the first quail, in anger.

“Stupid is it?” responded the newly-landed quail, flustered because he had been careless, “Why are you so high and mighty? You were too dumb to move out of my way! Yes, you were too dumb, you dumb cluck!”

“Dumb cluck is it?” cried the first quail, “Dumb cluck? Why, talking of dumb, it’s clear that you can’t even land without slapping someone in the face! If that isn’t ‘dumb,’ I don’t know what is! Who taught you to fly anyway—the naked-winged bats?”

“Bats is it?” yelled the second quail, enraged, “Bats? Why, I’ll give you a bat, you feathered ninny!” And with a loud chirruping whistle he hurled himself straight at the other quail. Chasing furiously after one another, loudly hurling insults and threats back and forth, they flew, twisting and turning, between the great, silent trees of the grove. An argument had started and, as is the way of arguments, no end was in sight.

The wise quail was nearby and he heard it all. At once he knew that danger was again upon them. If they could not work together the hunter was sure to have them. So again he called his flock together and said, “My dear brother and sister quail. The hunter is here. Let us go elsewhere, deeper into the forest and there, in seclusion, discipline ourselves, practicing our skills in working together. In this way we shall become truly free from the danger.”

Many of the birds said, “Though we love our present home, we shall go with you, Wise Quail. The danger is great and we wish to find safety.”

But others said, “Why go from this pleasant spot? You yourself, Wise Quail, have taught us all we need to know in order to be free. We know what to do. We just have to stick our heads out, flap our wings together, and fly away. Any dumb cluck can do it! We’re going to stay.”

So some of the birds flew off with the wise quail, while the others stayed. A few days later, while some of those who stayed were scratching around for their dinner, they heard a whistling call. “Twe whee! twe whee! twe whee!” They ran to answer the call when suddenly, darkness descended upon them. Fear gripped their hearts. They were trapped in the hunter’s net! But, remembering the wise quail’s teaching, they stuck their heads through the net, and one bird said, “On the count of three we all flap. Ready? One two, three…”

“Hey!” called another bird, “Who made you boss? Who said you could give the orders?”

“I’m the hardest worker and the strongest,” said the first bird. “When I flap my wings, the dust rises from the earth and whirls up in clouds. Without me you’d never get this net off the ground. So I give the orders, see?”

“No, I don’t see!” shouted another bird. “What you’ve just described is nothing. Why, when I flap my wings, all the leaves move on the trees, the branches bend and even the trunks sway. That’s how strong I am. So if anyone should be giving orders around here it’s me!”

“No, me!” shouted a third bird.

“Me!” yelled a fourth.

“No! No! Listen to me!” screamed the first bird again above the rising din. “Flap Flap! Flap! I tell you. Flap your wings all together when I say ‘three!’”

But no one flapped. They just argued and argued. And as they argued, the hunter came along and found them and their fate, alas, was not a happy one. But the quail who had gone off deeper into the safety of the great forest learned, under the wise quail’s guidance, how to really cooperate. They practiced constantly, until they were, indeed, able to work together without anger or argument. Though the hunter tried many times to catch them he never could. And if he never caught them, why, they’re still free today.

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Once At the time of Buddha, Benares had been the holy city of India for many centuries . The city was famous for fine temples, many built in beautiful leafy parks with pools of clear, undisturbed water, while the streets of Benares were full of jostling people going about their business, for trading had brought the city much wealth. Merchants had built themselves magnificent houses, and had furnished them with goods they acquired on their commercial travels.

In many ways Benares was like any city in the world today, for then, as now, men sought happiness in making money and in a multitude of other good and evil ways, while some searched for happiness in religious creeds or philosophical paths. Lead-ers of many new teachings came to Benares, among them the Buddha.

It happened that one day a wealthy merchant was checking the harness of his horse in the courtyard of one of the larger houses, while shouting men and women strapped packs onto the wooden saddles of braying mules, their constantly moving feet kicking up clouds of dust. A little dog barked excitedly, running through the legs of the mules, dodging angry nips from their teeth. In the midst of the preparations for the caravan the merchant’s neighbors drank to his health and wished him well on his long journey, for it would take many months along the trade routes of Central Asia to China and Arabia.

On his travels he often met people who would ask to accompany him, for his caravan was well protected against attacks by brigands. The merchant had heard many stories from travelers he met on the way, stories of distant lands and strange customs some spoke of the mighty empire of Rome. Artists showed the merchant ways of writing, painting, and sculpting, unknown to his own people, and philosophers told him of the many ways in which men sought to know the meaning of life. So the merchant’s caravan carried much more than wool, cotton, silks, jades, and brocades from country to country—it carried ideas.

One of the merchant’s neighbors filled a goblet with wine for him, and asked, since he had no family, who would look after his fine house and warehouse while he was away? The merchant indicated a middle-aged man who was checking the bales of wool. “Jigme will care for my household,” he said.

At first the merchant’s friends laughed, thinking he was joking; then, realizing that he was serious, they could not believe it. “But Jigme is only a herdsman,” one exclaimed. “It is unwise to trust a poor man with wealth,” another insisted.

The merchant shook his head. “Jigme is my friend,” he said, “he is wise and has a kind heart.”

But the neighbors still thought the merchant was being very foolish. After all, they muttered among themselves, Jigme was not one of them, he was of inferior rank; some were jealous of Jigme and the trust the merchant placed in him. After arguing unsuccessfully with the merchant one of the men said, “The wise man they call the Buddha is preaching nearby. Will you let us ask for his advice? Remember, your warehouses have our goods in store as well as yours!”

Reluctantly, the merchant agreed. He went with his companions and found the Buddha seated in a palm grove preaching to his followers. Welcoming the merchant and his companions, the Buddha asked them to sit with him while he listened to their story. When the Buddha heard how unwise the merchant’s neighbors thought he was, he said he would tell them a story of ancient times, when King Brahmadatta was the king of Benares.

“The king’s palace,” the Buddha began, “was in a beautiful park, where the king spent many happy hours gardening, and he liked especially to tend his blossom tree. It was the jewel of the park, and he used to look after it very carefully, but neither the king, nor those he took to see the blossom tree, noticed the little clump of kusha grass growing at the roots of the tree trunk. But the spirit of the blossom tree knew all about the kusha grass and its spirit, for the two had been friends for longer than time. The blossom tree was mighty and strong, with thick roots that went deep, deep into the earth, reaching into the dark places of demons and monsters. Its trunk was strong, straight, and very high, so that people said its great canopy of branches and foliage reached the heavens.

“No one knew how old the blossom tree was, but it was ancient before Benares had become a great city, indeed, before Benares was even built, and no one knew how long ago that was! And so it was said that the blossom tree was as old as the world itself.
“Everyone saw the blossom tree differently. Some saw it as a mighty and mysterious tree, others as a magic tree, and some, like the king, enjoyed listening to the wind rustling its leaves, which sounded like heavenly music.

“When he was in its shadow, the king was aware of the life of the blossom tree, and it reminded him that everything was like the tree, which grew in the spring and summer, thrusting out leaf-covered branches and new roots, and shriveling in the autumn and winter, leafless, seemingly barren, yet its life went on, and the next year it would burst forth anew. So it told the story of life and death, and life reborn.

“Legend told that the blossom tree, for some who could see, blossomed with the fruit of the secret of life. And sometimes the king had glimpsed for a few seconds among its leaves the most beautiful of blossoming flowers!
“One day, when the king was having tea with the queen in his palace, he was surprised to see something floating in his cup. He looked up at the roof of the room and frowned; small flakes of plaster were falling from the ceiling. He saw that the main wooden pillar which supported the ceiling had cracked and was moving!
“The queen cried out in fear and tried to pull her husband from the room, for she thought that the whole ceiling was going to collapse. But the king asked his wife to leave while he stayed and inspected the damage. He saw that the pillar would have to be replaced as it was beyond repair, and it had to be done very quickly or it would very soon split from top to bottom! He ordered his servants to search the palace grounds for a suitable tree from which the new pillar could be made.

“All that day the servants searched the park, and very carefully measured trees to find a suitable one for the new pillar. After inspecting all the trees in the park, the king’s servants realized that there was only one tree that could be used. Sadly, they returned to the palace, and told the king that his beloved blossom tree was the only one fine enough, and strong enough, to replace the old pillar.

“The king was shocked. ‘There must be another,’ he insisted. ‘Maybe one not as strong as the blossom tree, but strong enough to replace the old pillar?’

‘Your Majesty,’ the servants said sorrowfully, ‘in stature and strength, the blossom tree is the only one suitable to make a new pillar.’

“The king was very unhappy, and undecided as to what he should do. If the old pillar split, his whole palace would fall, and his family and many others would be without a home. But there was no other tree in his park as beautiful as the blossom tree. With the queen and their servants, the king went to see the blossom tree.

“Although it was early evening, and the sun still shone, the evening star was so bright that they could see it quite clearly as they walked through the park. The king inspected the blossom tree, and other trees, and even he could see that in comparison it was indeed the best from which to make the pillar. ‘Perhaps,’ he thought, ‘I am being very selfish in trying to keep this beautiful tree which I love, when it could save the home of many. After all,’ he thought very sadly, ‘it is only a tree, even if it is a special one.’
“So, the king gave the order to his servants, and they prepared sacrifices of penance to the blossom tree’s spirit. It was night when the king and queen burned incense and offered sweet tasting delicacies at the foot of the tree. The queen was weeping loudly, as the smoke from the incense fires rose into the velvety blackness. The blossom tree’s spirit did not know what to do to save its home, and the gentle breeze quickly carried news of the plight of the blossom tree spirit to all the other tree spirits.
“They gathered around the blossom tree spirit, trying to comfort her and to think of some way of saving her home. Everyone made suggestions, but none was really likely to save the blossom tree. All night long, after the king had left, the tree spirits argued as to what should be done to save the blossom tree, until the poor blossom tree spirit was crying in despair. Then she heard the kusha grass spirit say, in a soft voice, ‘Do not worry, my friend, for I have an idea which will save your home.’
“At daybreak, the king’s woodmen walked through the park carrying two great axes. They were not singing as they usually did, and the woodsmen noticed that the birds were not singing either. The whole park seemed to be waiting in silence, expectantly.
“The sun remained hidden behind the clouds, shedding only a grey light, and there was no pleasant breeze as they began to inspect the blossom tree to find the best place to start chopping. They were surprised to see that the bark of the tree looked quite different from the day before. Carefully, the head woodsman went round the tree, studying more closely. When he touched the bark it felt soft. ‘This tree has gone rotten here,’ he said to his companions. He tested another part of the tree, and that too had gone soft! They peered up at the branches of the blossom tree. All its leaves hung limply, as if they were sick and wilting. ‘We cannot use this tree to make the pillar,’ they said. ‘The wood is too soft . . . ‘ ‘I don’t understand,’ one of the woodsmen said blankly. ‘It looked so healthy last night, it was the finest tree in the park.’ ‘l do not think,’ the woodsman said thoughtfully, ‘that we were meant to cut the blossom tree down.’

“As they walked through the park to tell the king that they had no choice, they would have to make the pillar from one of the other trees, though not such a fine one, the sun shone through the clouds, and the birds began singing, and the little creatures of the park bustled about their business.

“All were happy that the blossom tree was safe, and happiest of all was the blossom tree spirit. All the tree spirits of the park watched the kusha grass spirit with delighted laughter, for before the woodsmen came it had changed into a large chameleon. It had given the secret of how chameleons could change their color to the blossom tree so it was able to change the color of its bark to look rotten when the woodsmen came.

“‘But how,’ the tree spirits wanted to know, ‘were you able to make your trunk seem soft when the woodsman touched you?’ The blossom tree laughed, as the kusha grass spirit, in chameleon form, moved over the tree trunk, quicker than the eye could see. Thus, the woodsman thought that the soft body of the chameleon was the bark of the tree.

“The blossom tree spirit sang the praises of the kusha grass spirit: ‘Spirits of the trees, for all our mighty power, we knew not what to do, while the humble kusha grass spirit had wit to save my home for me. Truly, we should choose our friends without considering whether they are our superiors, equals, or inferiors, making no distinction. Whether they be tree, bird, or grass, each according to his strength, can help a friend in his hour of need.’

“And so she instructed all the tree spirits, and the assembled devas, saying ‘Wherefore such as would escape from an evil plight must not merely consider whether a man is equal or superior, but must make friends of the wise, whatsoever their station in life.’ ”
As he finished his story, the Buddha smiled at the merchant, who was laughing, for his neighbors, who had thought him so foolish, had received their answer.

The Buddha ended by saying, “In an earlier life, Ananda, my chief disciple, was then the tree spirit, and I, the spirit of the kusha grass.”

Wise queen

Once upon a time, a king and queen lived happily together. One day, the King felt restless, and decided to wage war on a heathen lord, infamous for his cruelty and evil. The King gathered a great army, took leave from his wife, and set sail. When the King landed in the foreign realm, his troops conquered all they saw. The King exulted, but the heathen ruler massed his troops elsewhere, and in a few days they rushed forward. A ferocious battle ensued. The King’s men were routed, and the King himself was captured and thrown into a dungeon.

From that day on, the King was driven out every morning with the other prisoners, and forced to plough the fields like an ox. Every night, the King returned to the damp dungeon, exhausted and humiliated. After three years, the King finally befriended a guard, and smuggled a letter to the queen. In the letter, the King told his wife to sell everything in the kingdom and give the money to the evil lord as ransom for the king’s freedom.

When the Queen read the letter, she wept with sorrow. She had not heard from the King and she feared for his life. But now that she knew his fate, she was even more distraught. She pondered the situation. “I cannot go in person to this heathen king,” she reflected, “because then he will make me one of his many wives. And I dare not send a great ransom with anyone else!” The Queen paced in her room. “What shall I do?”

Suddenly the Queen had an idea. She cut off her beautiful, long hair, removed her royal gowns, and donned the simple clothes of a minstrel. Then she took up a lute and secretly left the palace.

The Queen traveled far and wide, disguised as a boy, playing her lute and singing as she went. She traded her songs for passage on ships and journeyed to the foreign lord. She sat outside his castle and began playing her lute. Her songs were so beautiful that even the birds stopped to listen. The heathen king heard the Queen and sent for her.

“Boy,” the lord told the disguised Queen, “your music soothes me. Play your lute and sing for me. Stay for three days, and I shall give you your heart’s desire.” The Queen bowed, and strummed her lute, filling the dark castle with songs of war and love. All that day the heathen ruler listened, so entranced by the Queen’s music that he forgot to eat. The next day, the Queen played even more beautifully, and on the third day, too. Then the Queen stopped.

“My lord,” she said, “I must take my leave. I am a traveler, and the road is my home.”

“Alas!” the dark lord sighed. “But you stayed for three days, so tell me your heart’s desire and I shall give it to you.”

The Queen bowed graciously. “I travel alone, and the solitude often wears on me. Give me one of your prisoners for company, and I shall be grateful.”

“That is easily done,” the heathen monarch declared, and he took the Queen to his dungeon. Among the prisoners, she picked out her husband immediately, although he was thin and scarred from his ordeal The King did not recognize his wife, dressed as a minstrel, and she said nothing to him. The dark lord released the King, and the Queen set off with her husband. They traveled together for many miles, and still the King did not recognize his wife. Nor did she reveal herself. Finally they came to their own country.

“I am the King of this land,” the King told his companion, “and if you release me, I shall reward you greatly.”

“Go in peace,” the Queen said. “I need no reward.”

The King protested. “Let me honor you with a feast,” he said.

But the Queen declined.

The two parted company, and the King walked eagerly to his castle. But the Queen knew a shortcut, and she retuned before him. She took off her minstrel’s clothes, and put on her royal gowns.

All the people acclaimed the King’s return, but when the Queen went to meet him, he turned away from her. “Who is this woman,” the King asked angrily, “who left me to die in prison?” The King’s ministers explained that the Queen vanished the day she received his letter. “Faithless wife!” the King fumed.

The queen returned to her room, put on her minstrel’s cloak, picked up her lute, and went outside and began playing. The King immediately ran out of the castle. “He is the one who freed me!” he exclaimed. Then he took the minstrel’s hand. “Now you cannot refuse me,” the King declared. “You must tell me your heart’s desire, and I shall give it to you.”

“I desire only you,” the Queen said. She shook off her minstrel’s disguise and revealed herself. For a minute, the King was speechless. Then he embraced the Queen, and begged her forgiveness for doubting her. He thanked her for rescuing him, and ordered a double celebration—one for his rescue, and one more for the Queen’s wisdom.

Be the lake

Once An ageing master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

~ Meditation Masters

Free as a bird

Once A happy and cheerful man captured a bird and placed it in a cage. “Give me my freedom sir!” cried the bird as he shut the door. Startled that the bird was talking to him, the man listened as it continued. “I am no use to you sir, for I have no beautiful feathers to look at nor am I able to sing beautiful songs, and I am to small to eat. If however, you promise to grant me my freedom I will tell you three wise teachings.”

The man agreed, whereupon the little bird told him: “First: Do not grieve over things that have already happened. Second: Do not wish for that which is unattainable. Third: Do not believe in that which cannot be possible.”

“Indeed, these are wise things you have taught me” said the man. As agreed, he opened the door of the cage and set the little bird free. The man sat and pondered the bird’s sayings, and the bird flew up to a branch high up in a tree. After a few moments the man heard the bird laughing. “Why do you laugh?” he called.

“Because I so easily won my freedom” replied the bird. “You humans pride yourselves on being the wisest of the creatures, yet I a tiny bird, have outwitted you. Within my belly lies a diamond the size of a hen’s egg. If you had not let me go you would be a wealthy man.”

Upon hearing this news our once happy and cheerful man became angry, sad and depressed. And the more the little bird laughed the angrier, sadder and more depressed the man became.

After some time the man started hurling abuse at the laughing bird as he attempted to recapture it. But to no avail. The little bird was always beyond his reach. Finally the little bird called out. “Listen to me O human. When you granted me freedom I gave you three teachings, yet you almost instantly forgot them. You should not grieve over things that have already happened, but still you are grieving that you gave me my freedom. You should not wish for things that you cannot obtain, and yet you want me, for whom freedom is my whole life, to voluntarily enter a prison. You should not believe that which is impossible, and yet you believe that I am carrying about inside my body a diamond as large as a hen’s egg, although I myself am only half the size of a hen’s egg.”

And with that the little bird flew away.

Apollo and Phaeton

Once Upon a time, Apollo was one of the greatest gods of ancient Greek mythology. One of the stories about him concerns his human son Phaeton. Each morning Phaeton’s mother, Clymene would point out to the boy the rising of the sun and it’s passing through the sky. This was his father Apollo riding a chariot through the sky. However so magnificent were Clymene’s descriptions of Apollo that Phaeton became very conceited, boasting loudly and often of his divine parentage.

Tired of these boasts Phaeton’s playmates urged him to provide proof. Stung by their insults Phaeton learned from his mother how to find Apollo and then set out after the god. When he finally encountered Apollo he timidly entered his presence, and, encouraged by Apollo, poured out his story. As soon as he finished Apollo swore a solemn oath that he would grant his son any proof he wished. He had but to ask.

And ask Phaeton did. He asked permission to drive the sun chariot that very day, sure that his friends would see him and be convinced that Apollo was his father. Apollo was dismayed. Patiently he explained to Phaeton that the four fiery steeds would be beyond Phaeton’s control, that he would kill himself if he tried to drive the chariot. He begged Phaeton to select another proof.

But Phaeton refused to budge from his original request. He wanted to drive the sun chariot, and because Apollo had sworn an oath he could not deny the boy. The hour came when the fiery steeds were ready to go forth. Apollo anointed his son with a cooling oil to protect him from the suns harsh rays, gave him directions, and urged him to watch the steeds with the greatest care, especially to use the whip sparingly as the horses were inclined to be very restive.

Phaeton impatiently listened then leaped into the chariot. For an hour or two he paid heed to his father’s advice and all went well. But, growing overconfident and reckless he drove the horses faster and faster and lost his way. In getting back to course he drove too close to the earth, with disastrous results. The plants shrivelled up, the fountains and rivers went dry, the earth was blackened, and even the people in the land over which he drove were blackened.

Terrified at what he’d done Phaeton drove so far away that all the vegetation which had survived the scorching died on account of the sudden cold.

The people of earth cried out so loudly that the supreme god, Jupiter, was aroused form his sleep. Surveying what had been done he grew furious, took a lightning bolt and hurled it at the conceited Phaeton, killing him instantly.

Phaeton demonstrates the way of foolishness and false pride. Boasting of what was not within his limits and Refusing to listen to the wiser counsel of others, like fools rushing headlong on their way, and giving little thought to the possible consequences and so often finding themselves stranded in disaster.

Perfect heart

Once A young man stood on a street corner, opened his coat, and cried, “Look at my heart, look at my perfect, perfect heart.” A crowd soon gathered, impressed by his perfect heart. They stood in awe of a heart without blemish, perfect and complete in every way.

Soon an old man walked by and paused to see what the commotion was all about. When he heard the young man proudly crying “Look at my perfect heart” the old man pushed his way to the front to get a closer look. And when he saw the young man’s heart he scolded him. “Son, that’s not a perfect heart. If you want to see a perfect heart you need to see mine.” With that the old man opened his coat to reveal and old, knotted and ugly heart. It was full of bumps and holes, and pieces of it had broken off here and there.

The crowd began to laugh, but the old man raised his hand and began to speak. “See this bump” he said, “That’s when I met my first love. Oh, how the sun shone that day, how bright the colours of the universe were, how sweet the swinging of the birds in the trees. What a wonderful moment it was…Ah, but see this hole, that’s when my first love and I broke up. How it pained me, and pains me still. But the hole once ran much deeper. The years have managed to fill it in a lot…See this bump, that’s when I met the woman who became my life partner. Oh, what a wonderful life we had – year after year of shared companionship, of laughter, tears and joy. This scratch here is when we had a blazing row that threatened to end our marriage – but we made up and moved on…Over here, this place where a piece of my heart has been broken off, this is when she passed away. Oh the ache – yes it still aches even today, for she took a part of my heart to the grave with her, but I trust she will return it to me someday…Ah, but here’s another great bump. This was when we began our family. You’ll notice the hole beside it. That’s when we learned we could not bear our own children. How hard it was to accept, how painful to live with. But the bump is when we got our adopted daughter – our very own beautiful little girl to raise as our own. And yes, there are scratches and indentations surrounding the bump – the times we fought and yelled. But always we learned to forgive, and so this bump grows ever bigger.”

The old man went on to describe many other bumps and holes and scratches on his heart, and when he finished the crowd was silent. “You see son” he aid, turning to the young man with the unblemished heart, “yours is not a perfect heart, for it has not lived, it has not been touched with joy and tears and laughter and love and pain and anguish and hardship and celebration. Only when you are an old man like me will you be able to look upon a gnarled and battered heart and be able to say, ‘yes, now that is a perfect heart.’”

Two teachers

Once there were Two teachers who were applying for the same Vice-Principal position at a local high school. One had been teaching a total of 8 years and the other a total of 20. Everyone expected the teacher with the greater experience to get the job, but when a decision was made it was the person with 8 years teaching who was chosen. The teacher overlooked for the job complained bitterly – “I’ve got 20 years teaching to her 8” he cried. “I’m vastly more qualified.” why is it that I have not been chosen for the post of vice principal.

The School Board’s reply went like this: “Yes sir, you do have 20 years teaching to her 8 years , but where she has 8 years of experience you have 1 years experience repeated 20 times.”

Simply experiencing the passage of time doesn’t mean we have grown or learned from those things we experience during that time

Party for the prostitute.

Once It was one of the most extraordinary birthday parties ever held. No it wasn’t in a plush ballroom of a grand hotel. No there weren’t famous celebrities, nor anyone rich or powerful. It was held at 3am in a small seedy cafe in Honolulu, the guest of honour was a prostitute, the fellow guests were prostitutes, and the man who threw it was a minister!

The idea came to minister Tony Campolo very early one morning as he sat in the cafe. He was drinking coffee at the counter, when a group of prostitutes walked in and took up the stools around him. One of the girls, Agnes, lamented the fact that not only was it her birthday tomorrow but that she’d never had a birthday party.

Tony thought it would be a great idea to surprise Agnes with a birthday party. Learning from the cafe owner, a guy named Harry, that the girls came in every morning around 3.30am Tony agreed with him to set the place up for a party. Word somehow got out on the street, so that by 3.15 the next morning the place was packed with prostitutes, the cafe owner and his wife, and Tony.

When Agnes walked in she saw streamers, balloons, Harry holding a birthday cake, and everyone screaming out “Happy Birthday!” Agnes was overwhelmed. The tears poured down her face as the crowd sang Happy Birthday. When Harry called on her to cut the cake she paused. She’d never had a birthday cake and wondered if she could take it home to show her mother. When Agnes left there was a stunned silence. Tony did what a human being should. He shared the joyful celebration with the cafe owner Harry, Harry’s wife , inviting all the employees of the cafe and a roomful of prostitutes in wishing Agnes on her birthday.

It was a birthday party rarely seen in Honolulu – thrown by a minister for a 39 year old prostitute who had never had anyone go out of their way to do something like this and who expected nothing in return. Indeed, so surprising was this turn of events that the cafe owner found it hard to believe there were people who would do this sort of thing, but if there were then that’s the sort of communities he’d be prepared to be a part of .

Attitude of gratitude

There was a bird who lived in a desert, very sick, no feathers, nothing to eat and drink, no shelter to live in. One day a dove was passing by, so the sick unhappy bird stopped the dove and inquired “where are you going?” it replied ” I am going to heaven”.

So the sick bird said “please find out for me, when my suffering will come to an end?” The dove said, “sure, I will.” and bid a good bye to the sick bird. The dove reached heaven and shared the message of the sick bird with the angel incharge at the entrance gate.
The angel said, “For the next seven years of its life the bird has to suffer like this, no happiness till then.”

The dove said, “When the sick bird hears this he will get disheartened. could you suggest any solution for this.”

The Angel replied, “Tell him to recite this verse “Thank you God for everything.” The dove on meeting the sick bird again, delivered the message of the angel to it .

After seven days the dove was passing again passing by and saw that bird was very happy, feathers grew on his body, a small plant grew up in the desert area, a small pond of water was also there, the bird was singing and dancing cheerfully. The dove was astonished. The Angel had said that there would be no happiness for the bird for the next seven years. With this question in mind the dove went to visit the angel at heaven’s gate.

The dove put forth his query to the Angel. The Angel replied, “yes it is true there was no happiness for the bird for seven years but because the bird was reciting the verse “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING” in every situation, his life changed.

When the bird fell down on the hot sand it said “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING”

When it could not fly it said, “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING”

When it was thirsty and there was no water around, it said, “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING”

Whatever the situation, the bird kept on repeating, “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING” and therefore the seven years got dissolved in seven days.

When I heard this story, I felt a tremendous shift in my way of feeling, thinking, accepting and viewing life.

I adopted this verse in my life. WHATEVER the situation I faced I started reciting this verse “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING”. It helped me to shift my view from what i did not have to what i have in my life.

For instance; if my head pains I THANK GOD that the rest of my body is completely fine and healthy and I notice that the headache does not bother me at all.

In the same manner i started using this verse in my relationships (whether family, friends, neighbours, colleagues ) finances, social life, business and everything with which I can relate. I shared this story with everyone I came in touch with and it brought a great shift in their behaviour too.

This simple verse really had a deep impact on my life, i started feeling how blessed I am, how happy I am, how good life is.

The purpose of sharing this message is to make all of us aware of how powerful the attitude of gratitude is. It can reshape our lives.
Lets recite this verse continuously to experience the shift in our life.

So be grateful, and see the change in your attitude.

Be humble, and you will never stumble.