- The thief who became a disciple
- Kisa Gotami
- A parable
- Arresting the stone Buddha
- Working very hard
- The moon cannot be stolen
- A cup of tea
- Time to die
- The burden
- Is that so?
- Who knows…
- Wight and wrong
- The lantern
- Four holy men
- Be a lion not a dog
- Time to die
- The three questions
- One paragraph that explains life – by Arthur Ashe
- He needed a son
- The horseman
- Widow robbed gets unexpected gift from suspect’s teen son
- Find your own destiny
- Literate and illiterate
- Robber and police
- Stop stressing so much
- Your good deeds could change the world
- Your talent only matters if you are somewhere it can be used
- The hand
- The warrior’s destiny
- The real meaning of peace
- When the wind blows
- The cookie thief
- The hospital window
- The 99 Club
- The cracked pot
- Let go of your stresses
- Four stories of great teachers with great students
A number of stories presented here might have been told and retold by different sources such that each of them may have several versions. Never mind what version is more accurate. Never mind whether the stories are fictional. They are posted here for you to discover, meaning to think, to meditate, to explore – all by yourself. For this reason, any explanation or discussion connected to the stories are removed. The purpose is to avoid spoon-feeding of food for thought.
More stories will be posted, so once in a while come back to check this blog.
Kisa Gotami was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. Her story is one of the more famous ones in Buddhism.
After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became desperate and asked if anyone could help her. Her sorrow was so great that many thought she had lost her mind. An old man told her to see the Buddha. The Buddha told her that before he could bring the child back to life, she should find white mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She desperately went from house to house, but to her disappointment, she could not find a house that had not suffered the death of a family member. Finally the realization struck her that there is no house free from mortality. She returned to the Buddha, who comforted her and preached to her the truth. She was awakened.
Buddha told a parable in sutra:
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger ran after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
The thief who became a disciple
One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding wither his money or his life.
Shichiri told him: “Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer.” Then he resumed his recitation.
A little while afterwards he stopped and called: “Don’t take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow.”
The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.
A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offense against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness, he said: “This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him some money and he thanked me for it.”
After the man had finished his prison term, he went to Shichiri and became his disciple.
Arresting the stone Buddha
A merchant bearing fifty rolls of cotton goods on his shoulders stopped to rest from the heat of the day beneath a shelter where a large stone Buddha was standing. There he fell asleep, and when he awoke his goods had disappeared. He immediately reported the matter to the police.
A judge named O-oka opened court to investigate. “That stone Buddha must have stolen the goods,” concluded the judge. “He is supposed to care for the welfare of the people, but he has failed to perform his holy duty. Arrest him.”
The police arrested the stone Buddha and carried it into the court. A noisy croud followed the statue, curious to learn what kind of a sentence the judge was about to impose.
When O-oka appeared on the bench he rebuked the boisterous audience. “What right have you people to appear before the court laughing and joking in this manner? You are in contempt of court and subject to a fine and imprisonment.”
The people hastened to apologize. “I shall have to impose a fine on you,” said the judge, “but I will remit it provided each one of you brings one roll of cotton goods to the court within three days. Anyone failing to do this will be arrested.”
One of the rolls of cloth which the people brought was quickly recognized by the merchant as his own, and thus the thief was easily discovered. The merchant recovered his goods, and the cotton rolls were returned to the people.
Working very hard
A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, “I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it?”
The teacher’s reply was casual, “Ten years.” Impatiently, the student answered, “But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice everyday, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?”
The teacher thought for a moment, “20 years.”
The moon cannot be stolen
Ryokan lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.
Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you shoud not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”
The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.
Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”
A cup of tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Time to die
Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked: “Why do people have to die?”
“This is natural,” explained the older man. “Everything has to die and has just so long to live.”
Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: “It was time for your cup to die.”
Two monks were returning to their monastery. It had rained hard, so the ground everywhere was muddy. At one road side a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went to her, lifted her up, walked across the road and brought her down on the other side of the road. Then both men continued walking in silence.
When they reached their monetary, the younger told the elder monk, “Brother, how come you a monk, hold a woman in your arms?”
The elder monk said “I left her at that place, how come you brought her here?”
Is that so?
The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.
A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.
This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.
In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.
When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.
A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market.
The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.
Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”
Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Who knows…,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Who knows…,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Who knows…,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Who knows…,” said the farmer.
Wight and wrong
When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.
Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.
When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.
In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.
“I do not need a lantern,” he said. “Darkness or light is all the same to me.”
“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it.”
The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. “Look out where you are going!” he exclaimed to the stranger. “Can’t you see this lantern?”
“Your candle has burned out, brother,” replied the stranger.
Four holy men
In four caves in the district of Gaya, four holy men lived. They belonged to four different religions. One was a Hindu, the second was a Muslim, the third was a Christian and the fourth was a Buddhist.
They never saw each other, neither did they ever speak to each other. Years later when they all reached salvation, the end of their religious paths, they found that they had all arrived at the same place. Then they became friends and started living in the same cave.
Be a lion not a dog
A small boy saw a monk sitting near and asked him to give him some wisdom.
The monk advised “My child, be a lion, not a dog.”
“What does that mean? would you please explain?” inquired the boy.
“When you throw a ball in front of the dog, it will run after the ball. When you throw something at the lion its attention is still on you, not on the object you throw. It will be waiting to grab hold of you. Always focus on the source, not the incidents, not the effects. Go to the source.”
Time to die
Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked: “Why do people have to die?”
“This is natural,” explained the older man. “Everything has to die and has just so long to live.”
Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: “It was time for your cup to die.”
The three questions
It once occurred to a certain king that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.
And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to anyone who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was the most important thing to do.
And learned men came to the king, but they all answered his questions differently.
In reply to the first question, some said that to know the right time for every action, one must draw up in advance a table of days, months, and years, and must live strictly according to it. Only thus, said they, could everything be done at its proper time. Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action, but that, not letting oneself be absorbed in idle pastimes, one should always attend to all that was going on, and then do what was most needful. Others, again, said that however attentive the king might be to what was going on, it was impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for every action, but that he should have a council of wise men who would help him to fix the proper time for everything.
But then again others said there were some things which could not wait to be laid before a council, but about which one had at once to decide whether to undertake them or not. But in order to decide that, one must know beforehand what was going to happen. It is only magicians who know that; and, therefore, in order to know the right time for every action, one must consult magicians.
Equally various were the answers to the second question. Some said the people the king most needed were his councilors; others, the priests; others, the doctors; while some said the warriors were the most necessary.
To the third question, as to what was the most important occupation, some replied that the most important thing in the world was science. Others said it was skill in warfare; and others, again, that it was religious worship.
All the answers being different, the king agreed with none of them, and gave the reward to none. But still wishing to find the right answers to his questions, he decided to consult a hermit, widely renowned for his wisdom.
The hermit lived in a wood which he never quitted, and he received none but common folk. So the king put on simple clothes and, before reaching the hermit’s cell, dismounted from his horse. Leaving his bodyguard behind, he went on alone.
When the king approached, the hermit was digging the ground in front of his hut. Seeing the king, he greeted him and went on digging. The hermit was frail and weak, and each time he stuck his spade into the ground and turned a little earth, he breathed heavily.
The king went up to him and said: “I have come to you, wise hermit, to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important and need my first attention?”
The hermit listened to the king, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.
“You are tired,” said the king, “let me take the spade and work awhile for you.”
“Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the king, he sat down on the ground.
When he had dug two beds, the king stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:
“Now rest awhile – and let me work a bit.”
But the king did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the king at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:
“I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.”
“Here comes someone running,” said the hermit. “Let us see who it is.”
The king turned round and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing from under them. When he reached the king, he fell fainting on the ground, moaning feebly. The king and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The king washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the king again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and re-bandaged the wound. When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The king brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the king, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed, the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the king was so tired from his walk and from the work he had done that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep – so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night.
When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on the bed and gazing intently at him with shining eyes.
“Forgive me!” said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw that the king was awake and was looking at him.
“I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the king.
“You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!”
The king was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised to restore his property.
Having taken leave of the wounded man, the king went out into the porch and looked around for the hermit. Before going away he wished once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.
The king approached him and said, “For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.”
“You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the king, who stood before him.
“How answered? What do you mean?” asked the king.
“Do you not see?” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug these beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important – now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.”
One paragraph that explains life – by Arthur Ashe
Arthur Ashe was the first black man to win the U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon. During a heart surgery in 1983, he got infected by the blood that he received and contracted AIDS.
From all over the world, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed: “Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease”?
To this, Arthur Ashe replied:
“ The world over – 50 million children start playing tennis, 5 million learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi final, 2 to the finals, when I was holding a cup I never asked God ‘Why me?’ And today in pain I should not be asking God ‘Why me?’ ”
“ Happiness keeps you Sweet, Trials keep you Strong, Sorrow keeps you Human, Failure keeps you humble and Success keeps you glowing, but only Faith & Attitude Keeps you going.”
He needed a son
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.
Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.
The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.
Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.
Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her, “Who was that man?” he asked.
The nurse was startled, “Was he your father?” she answered.
“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, I knew how much he needed me. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this gentleman’s name?”
The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey …”
Widow robbed gets unexpected gift from suspect’s teen son
A 78-year-old Oklahoma widow who was mugged while visiting her husband’s grave two weeks after he died received a special gift — from the suspected robber’s 15-year-old son.
Christian Lunsford sought out Tona Herndon of Bethany, Okla., after seeing his father’s mug shot on TV. Shane Lunsford, often in trouble with the law, is accused of stealing $700 and Herndon’s purse.
The son of the suspect and the victim would meet in a church parking lot. Christian Lunsford apologized for his father and presented Herndon with $250, money that his father had given him for a band trip a few weeks before.
“It needed to be done,” Christian Lunsford told CBS News. “She needed an apology from somebody. If I didn’t apologize, who would?”
“I thought that was so, so precious,” Herndon said. “Any 15-year-old boy who has that much conscience is extraordinary.”
Shane Lunsford gave $250 to his son for a band trip, money that he may have stolen from Herndon.
Herndon was so moved, she gave the money right back to the teen so he could go on the trip.
“I accepted the money back,” she told the network, “and it was mine to do with what I wanted.”
Find your own destiny
Once five men were caught in a thick forest.
The first man said: “I will go left. Because my intuition said so.”
The second one said: “I will go the right, because the right comes from the word rightness.”
The third one said: “I will go back the way we came.”
The fourth one said: “I will go straight. We should move forward, the forest will end and we will go somewhere new.”
The fifth said “You are all wrong. There is a better solution. Wait for me.”
He climbed the tallest tree he could find while everyone else went their own way. From above he saw the shortest way to exit. He could also see the order in which the others would exit. He understood the problem and found the best solution!
He knew that he did everything right. The others were wrong. They were stubborn and they didn’t listen to him. He was the real Wise Man!
But he was wrong. Everyone was right. They were all wise.
The man who went to the left found himself in the thicket. He had to starve and fight with wild animals, but he learned how to survive in the forest. He became a part of the forest and could teach others the same.
The man who went to the right was robbed of everything and was forced to join them. After some time, he had reminded the thieves of something they had forgotten – humanity and compassion.
The man who went back created a trail through the forest which soon became a road for those who wanted to enjoy the forest without the fear of getting lost.
The man who went straight became a pioneer. He went places where nobody else had been before and created new opportunities for others.
The man who climbed the tree became a guide. People turned to him when they wanted to find the most efficient ways to deal with their problems.
These five wise men created their destiny by listening to their intuition. You can create your own path.
Listen to yourself and you will find your destiny.
Literate and illiterate
A learned man arrived on the banks of a river. He asked the boatman to take him to the opposite bank. “I’ll give you a rupee,” he said.
The boatman looked up. He could see dark clouds.
“Don’t worry about rain,” the Pundit said, “I have an umbrella.”
The Pundit sat in the boat and the boatman started rowing the boat. He wanted to reach the other side before the weather turned nasty.
The Pundit was a talkative man. “Do you know about movement of planets and stars? Have you studied astrology?” he asked the boatman.
The boatman told the Pundit that he had no knowledge of astrology.
“Oh, no,” the Pundit exclaimed, “A quarter of your life is wasted.” The boatman paid no attention to him. He was looking up, keeping a watch on the clouds.
“Have you studied grammar? Sanskrit grammar?” the Pundit asked.
Of course, the boatman had no knowledge of Sanskrit. “Half of your life is wasted!” the Pundit declared with profound sadness. The boatman was shaken. No, it wasn’t because of what the Pundit had just said. He had seen lightning flash across the sky.
It started raining. The Pundit opened the umbrella and continued to talk. “Do you at least know how to read and write in your mother tongue?” he asked.
The boatman replied that he had not gone to school, and therefore, had not learned to read or write.
“Three quarters of your life is wasted,” said the Pundit. The boatman was now worried as it began to rain heavily. The wind too had picked up.
The boatman turned to Pundit. “The river is getting rough, Punditji. If something happens to our boat, we may have to swim to reach the other bank.”
“Swim? I don’t know swimming!” blabbered the pundit, now frightened.
“Then your entire life is wasted, Punditji,” said the boatman, even as there was ear-shattering thunder.
Next moment, the boat turned upside down, and both were now in rough waters.
The frightened Pundit held on to the boatman, as the young man began to swim.
As they managed to reach the shore, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. The grateful pundit hugged the boatman. Then he asked, “I’ll be staying here for a month. Will you teach me swimming?”
“Gladly, Sir,” said the boatman. “And you can teach me to read and write.”
Robber and police
In ancient Talakad, there was a school to train the local police force. Students came from many kingdoms, far and near.
“It is important to understand the mind of a thief. Once you understand how a thief thinks, it is easy to catch him,” Guru Dandapani would say. “You must become a thief to catch a thief,” he would add. One of his students, Kushala, took these words seriously. He became an expert in the art of catching thieves by becoming a thief, mentally. The Guru was pleased with him.
“Is there anything more I have to master, Gurudev?” asked Kushala.
“You still have something more to learn. Only Kala Yama, the Kotwal of Mysuru, can teach you that,” said Guru Dandapani.
Kushala decided to leave for Mysuru the very next day. “Remember, Kala Yama will not teach you if you simply ask him to teach,” said the guru. “Steal something from his home and hide it somewhere. Then watch how the Master thief-catcher goes about finding the treasure you hide.”
Kushala reached Mysuru in the evening. He went straight to Kala Yama’s house. He was received with honour due to a guest. The host invited him to have dinner with him and stay for the night. He was served food on a large golden plate. Kushala expressed his admiration for the golden plate.
“If I had two of them, I would have gifted one to you,” said his host. “With my meager earnings, I could manage to have only one such plate, which I use for special guests, like you.”
Kala Yama then asked his young guest how far he had progressed in his studies. “I want to be a great thief catcher like you, Sir,” said Kushala. Kala Yama laughed. “Let me see whether you are a good thief first,” he said as he got up to wash hands.
Kushala was determined to show his host how good he was. He decided to steal the golden plate in which he was served dinner. In the dead of night, when everyone was asleep, Kushala got up and started looking for the golden plate.
He looked for it in the kitchen, then in all the rooms, one by one. Nowhere could he see the plate. Finally, he entered Kala Yama’s bedroom. He found his host snoring away. Hanging above him was the golden plate he was looking for. He could easily reach for the plate, but there was a catch. The plate was filled with water to the brim. If he removed the plate, water would spill on Kala Yama, who would then wake up. He had to remove the plate without waking up the host. Kushala smiled. He liked challenges.
Hanging above Kala Yama was the golden plate. Kushala could easily reach for the plate, but there was a catch. The plate was filled with water to the brim.
He thought of a plan. In no time the plate was in his hand. Now, he had to hide it in a place where it could not be found by Kala Yama, the Master thief-catcher. Again, Kushala thought of a plan. He hid the plate in a safe place, and went back to his room to sleep.
In the morning, Kushala got up, and had his bath. His host greeted him with a smile and invited him to have breakfast. When the breakfast was served, Kushala turned pale. He was served in the same golden plate! “You said you have only one golden plate …” he blurted. “Yes, only one. But why do you ask?”
Kushala gave some excuse, finished the breakfast in a hurry. As he prepared to leave, his host escorted him to the door. Kushala stopped “Don’t you offer a gift to your guests?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. What would you like to have?” asked Kala Yama. “Don’t ask for my golden plate,” he said as he broke into laughter.
“No. You can keep it yourself. Only tell me, how did you trace it?”
“How did I trace it? You mean it was stolen?”
Kushala simply nodded his head.
“All right. I’ll tell you, if you first tell me how you stole it,” said Kala Yama. “No thief had ever stolen a thing from my home. You are the first one.”
Kushala started his side of the story, “When I found the plate was filled with water to its brim, I knew I could not touch it without spilling it. So, first I had to get rid of the water.”
Kala Yama waited patiently.
“So, I drank up the water,” said Kushala with a triumphant look.
“How?” asked Kala yama.
“I went out of the house and found a bamboo straw. Using the straw, I sucked up all the water,” Kushala said. “The rest was easy. I removed the plate and hid it in a safe place. I mean what I then thought was a safe place,” Kushala said. “Now tell me how did you find out the hiding place,” asked Kushala.
Kala Yama smiled. “I woke up early in the morning and was quite shocked to see only ropes dangling above. The plate gone,” he said. “I immediately knew it was your work. But where was the proof? I had to find the stolen plate.”
“How?” asked Kuhala eagerly.
“I came to your room where you were sleeping peacefully. I noticed your feet were somewhat wet. I sat next to you and examined you closely. I could see you were wet right up to your waist. I knew in a flash where you had hidden the plate. I went straight to the lake close to our home and started wading into the water. I kept wading in the water till it came to my waist. I walked a little further, as I’m slightly shorter than you. Then I dipped into the water. And there it was — the golden plate. I brought it back home.”
“Thank you,” said Kushala, “I’ve learnt from you, how to ‘read’ a thief.”
“So have I, from you,” said Kala Yama. “Now tell me what is your plan? To become a Mahachor — a great thief?” asked Kala Yama.
“No. I want to be a great thief catcher, like you,” said Kushala, as he took leave of his host.
Stop stressing so much
The psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they”d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I”m holding?”
Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.
She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it”s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn”t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”
As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”
Your good deeds could change the world
Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home. There”s a lake located in one corner of the park. Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water”s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.
This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her. As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap. There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap. She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.
“Hello,” I said. “I see you here every Sunday morning. If you don”t mind my nosiness, I”d love to know what you”re doing with these turtles.”
She smiled. “I”m cleaning off their shells,” she replied. “Anything on a turtle”s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle”s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim. It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”
“Wow! That”s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.
She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out. It”s my own strange way of making a difference.”
“But don”t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.
“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.
I scratched my head. “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent? I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world. And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells. So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”
The woman giggled aloud. She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world’.”
Your talent only matters if you are somewhere it can be used
A mother and a baby camel were lying around under a tree.
Then the baby camel asked, “Why do camels have humps?”
The mother camel considered this and said, “We are desert animals so we have the humps to store water so we can survive with very little water.”
The baby camel thought for a moment then said, “Ok…why are our legs long and our feet rounded?”
The mama replied, “They are meant for walking in the desert.”
The baby paused. After a beat, the camel asked, “Why are our eyelashes long? Sometimes they get in my way.”
The mama responded, “Those long thick eyelashes protect your eyes from the desert sand when it blows in the wind.”
The baby thought and thought. Then he said, “I see. So the hump is to store water when we are in the desert, the legs are for walking through the desert and these eye lashes protect my eyes from the desert then why in the Zoo?”
Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment — to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.
Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student’s art. And they were.
But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher’s true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.
Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.
His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went — until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.
When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas’ desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was.
The little boy looked away and muttered, It’s yours, teacher.
She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, “Take my hand, Douglas, we’ll go outside.” Or, “Let me show you how to hold your pencil.” Or, “Let’s do this together.” Douglas was most thankful for his teacher’s hand.
Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.
The warrior’s destiny
A great Japanese warrior named Nobunaga was going to war with a fierce enemy with only one-tenth the number of men the opposition commanded. He knew that he could win the fight with a well planned strategy, but his soldiers were in doubt.
On the way the leader stopped at a Shinto shrine and told his men: “After my visit to the shrine I will toss a coin. If the head comes, we will win; if tails, we will lose. Destiny holds us in her hand.”
Nobunaga entered the shrine and offered his prayers. Then he came forth and tossed a coin in front of his men. Heads appeared. The soldiers were filled with confident and were eager to win the battle.
“No one can change the hand of destiny,” one of his attendants told him after the battle.
“Indeed not,” said Nobunaga and showed the coin which was doubled with heads on the both side.
The real meaning of peace
There once lived a king who announced to prize the artist who would paint the best painting depicting peace. Many great painters sent the king several of their best art pieces. One of the pictures among the various master pieces was of a calm lake perfectly mirroring peacefully towering snow-capped mountains. Overheard was a blue clear sky with fluffy clouds. The picture was perfect. Most of the people who viewed the pictures of peace from various artist thought that it was the best among all.
But when the king announced the winner, everyone was shocked. The picture which won the prize had a mountains too but it was rugged and bare. The sky looked very angry, there were lightning. This did not look peaceful at all. It looked like the artist has mistakenly submitted his painting depicting storm rather than peace. But if anyone looked closely at the painting, he could see a tiny bush growing in the cracks in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her next. In the midst of the rush of angry weather, the bird sat on her nest with peace.
The peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble. Peace means to be in the midst of all the chaos and still be calm in the heart. The real peace is the state of mind, not the state of the surroundings. The mother bird at her her calm, despite her chaotic surrounding indeed was the best representation for peace.
When the wind blows
Once there lived a farmer who owned a land along the coast of the Atlantic ocean. Even after letting out several advertisements for recruitment to take care of his farm, no one seemed to sign up for it.
People were reluctant to work along the Atlantic, it had frequent raging storms. These storms were cruel, violent and destroyed every building and crop-field they touched.
After months of advertising and request refusals, a man approached the farmer for the job to take care of the farm.
“Do you have any skills or experience to work on a farm like this?” the farmer asked him.
“Well, I may not have enough experience, but I can sleep when the wind blows”, replied the man.
Although the farmer wasn’t much convinced by the man’s answer, the farmer was too desperate to have someone to help him on the field that he hired him anyway. The man worked well around the farm. The farmer was pretty satisfied with the man.
Then one stormy night, the wind howled waking the farmer. The farmer immediately got off his bed, grabbed a lantern, and headed towards the quarter where his helper was sleeping.
“Wake up” the farmer yelled, throwing the soundly asleep man off the bed- “ A storm is coming. Tie things down before they get blown away”.
The man sat up and said- “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”
The farmer turned red with fury after listening to this. He controlled all his will to fire the man because at the moment it was more important to secure his fields and barn that to argue with his helper. The farmer ran out to tie the things up and was surprised by what he saw.
All of the haystacks were covered with tarpaulins. The chickens were in the coops, the cows were in the barn, the doors were closed and barred, and the shutters were firmly secured. Everything was tied down so that nothing could be blown away.
The farmer smiled as he comprehended what his employer said. Now, he understood what the man meant by when he said he could sleep when the wind blows. He went off to bed and slept soundly through the storm.
The cookie thief
A woman was waiting at an airport for her hours long flight. Since her flight was delayed, she had several hours on her hand. So, she went to airport shops and bought a book and bag of cookies. She took a seat next to a man and started to read the book she had bought. While she was engrossed in her book, she happened to see, that the man sitting beside her boldly grabbed a cookie from the cookie bag. She ignored the incident to avoid a scene.
She munched some cookies from the bag and went back to her book. But the man seemed to have enjoyed the cookies way too much, he took some more cookies from the bag and started munching it.
By the passing time she was getting more and more irritated as the cookie thief finished her cookie stock. Every time she took a cookie from the bag, he took one. When the last cookies was left, the man nervously took that cookie and broke it in half . he offered the other half to the lady and smiled. The lady snatched the other half of the cookie from his and thought, “this guy has some nerve that even after eating a half bag of my cookies, he didn’t show any gratitude.”
She had been so galled by the man, and was relieved when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate. She boarded the plane and sat in her seat reading her book. She reached her hand in her baggage, she was surprised to find a bag full of cookies in it.
If my cookies are here, she moaned in despair, the other one which she was eating from were his, and he tried to share. While she was flushed with anger about her cookies , the man was happily sharing his cookie with her. She was filled with the feeling of guilt and regret. But, It was too late to apologize.
The hospital window
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid 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 two roommates quickly bonded and started talking for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room-mate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color 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 warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band — he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, he allowed his envy to erode into resentment and it soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep.
He should be by that window — that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life. Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence — deathly silence.
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 was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other 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 at the world outside.
“There is nothing to see from here. Where are all the wonderful things he saw? He described everything so vividly. Is this a new and recent wall? Why did he give me such vivid details that don’t exist?” He asked.
The nurse shook her head and answered his questions, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you and make you happy. You see, your roommate was totally blind”.
The 99 Club
There once lived a King who, despite a life filled with luxuries, was neither happy nor content. One day, the King came upon a common pleasant who was singing happily while he worked. The happiness of a common man fascinated the King. Why was the ruler of the land with all the luxuries, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly peasant had so much joy in his life? The King asked the man, “Why are you so happy?”
The man replied, “Your Majesty, I am a common man, but my family and I don’t need much, just warm food to fill us and a roof over our heads .”
The king was not satisfied with the man’s answer so, later in the day, he sought the advice from one of his most trusted advisers. After listening to the King’s woes, the adviser said, “Your Majesty, I believe that the man, you saw, has not yet been made part of The 99 Club.”
“The 99 Club? What is that?” inquired the King.
The adviser replied, “Your Majesty, to understand The 99 Club is, you first need to place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it on the man’s doorstep.”
After tiring day working in the fields, the man was returning back to his house when the man saw a bag on his doorstep. He took the bag into his house and opened it. He let out a great shout of joy when he discovered that the bag was filled with gold coins.
He began to count all the gold coins. After several counts, he was convinced that there were 99 coins. He wondered, “What could’ve happened to that last gold coin? No one would leave just 99 coins!”
He looked everywhere he could, but he did not find the 100th coin. After a while, he was exhausted and decided that he was going to work harder than ever to earn that gold coin and complete his collection with the 100th coin.
From that day, the man’s life was changed. He overworked and turned horribly grumpy. He castigated his family for not helping him achieve his goal to earn the 100th gold coin. He stopped singing while he worked and only thought about getting the 100th coin to complete his collection.
The king witnessed the drastic transformation in the man and was puzzled. The king asked the advisor why the man wasn’t happy and satisfied anymore. The advisor replied, “Your Majesty, the man is now a member of The 99 Club.”
He continued, “The 99 Club contains those people who have enough to be happy, but are not content, because they’re always striving for the extra one telling to themselves: “ will be happy if I get that one final thing in my life.”
We can be happy and content with a little in our lives. The minute desire to get bigger and better overpowers, we forget to appreciate what we already have and enter the world of discontent and unhappiness. We lose our sleep and our happiness.We distance ourselves with the people we love while striving for better. Lack of content is what joining The 99 Club is all about.
The cracked pot
A young boy worked for a merchant who lived on top of a hill. Every day he had to walk down the hill to collect water from a stream. He had two pots to carry water, which he hung upon a pole he could carry over her shoulders. With time one of her pot got a slender crack along its side. He observed the cracks on the pot and decided he could still use it.
Every day, the woman carried those pots down the hill to the stream, filled them to the brim, and walked back up the hill, balancing the pole across her shoulders. By the time he reached the house, the cracked pot would be only half full while the other pot delivered a full portion of water.
The cracked pot glanced at the other pot and saw water filled to the top, and it began to feel desolate. The full pot was proud of its accomplishment while the cracked pot felt ashamed and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it was meant to.
After few years of what the cracked pot perceived to be a failure, it spoke to the lady . “ I apologize for my flaws. The crack on my side, has made me useless. I spill half of the water. I’m of no good!” the pot said.
The lady felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and he said,”But pot, you don’t understand, You haven’t been paying attention. Look around you. As we return to the master’s house, I want you to look at the path we traverse”.
The next time when the lady carried the water up to the hill, the pot carefully observed the path up the hill. For the first time the pot stopped looking inward and instead looked out. On his side of the trail the pot noticed beautiful flowers growing in abundance. While the other side was still dry.
As the women reached the top of the hill, he asked “Did you notice the beautiful flowers on the path? They are only on your side of the path. I had always known about your cracks and I took advantage of it to water those beautiful flowers along the way. Without you being just the way you are, the path uphill would not have this beauty “
The cracked pot was overjoyed. All its sadness was gone. He understood that the very thing he thought to be his flaws turned out to be a blessing for the flowers along the path.
Every one of us is unique and we have our own flaws. And it is our little quirks and faults that make us and the world so interesting.
Stories of great teachers with great students
These are people who rose from humble beginnings and personal struggles to achieve world-renowned success, and all thanks to having great teachers. If you think that even your smallest actions as a teacher can’t make a difference, these 4 stories should convince you otherwise.
Les Brown: A moment of clarity
Les Brown is one of the world’s foremost motivational speakers and thought leaders on self-improvement and goal-setting. However, it wasn’t always that way for him. Born in Liberty City, Miami on the floor of an abandoned building, he has known struggle and hardship his entire life.
Academically, Les was a struggling student from the get-go. The story goes that during his school days he was labelled “educable mentally handicapped” by the academic intelligentsia of his day and placed back from 6th grade to 5th grade. To make matters worse, he had a twin brother who was exceptionally bright and gifted, and as such Les became commonly referred to by his peers as the “DT”—the “dumb twin.”
One day a teacher asked him to come up and solve a problem on the chalkboard, but Les refused and said that he couldn’t. “Of course you can,” the teacher responded encouragingly. “Young man, come up here and solve this problem for me.”
“But I can’t,” insisted Les. “I’m educable mentally handicapped.” The rest of the class erupted in laughter. At that point, the teacher stepped out from behind his desk and looked Les straight in the eye. “Don’t ever say that again,” he told him firmly. “Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”
Les never forgot those words, and spent the rest of his life overcoming incredible odds and pursuing his goals with passion and fervour. Time and time again, thanks to that one teacher’s powerful revelation, Les has lived the phrase he’s famous for all over the world: You have greatness within you.
Emily Blunt: From stutter to stagecraft
Most people know Emily Blunt as a Golden Globe-nominated film and stage actress. However, between the ages of 7 and 14 she developed a crippling stutter that had her struggling to even hold a simple conversation. “I was a smart kid and had a lot to say, but I just couldn’t say it,” she claimed in an interview for W Magazine. “I never thought I’d be able to sit and talk to someone like I’m talking to you right now.”
For Blunt, it was one junior high teacher in particular that she claims helped her overcome her fear of speaking by encouraging her to try out for the school play. At first, Blunt resisted the idea, but the teacher wouldn’t give up on her and coaxed her to take acting lessons and experiment with different accents and character voices to help express herself. In the end, those efforts paid off for her immensely. In addition to her incredibly successful career as an actress, she also became a member of the board of directors for the American Institute for Stuttering.
Maya Angelou: Passion in poetry
Before Maya Angelou became the powerful poet and civil rights activist the world remembers her as, she suffered a life of torment and darkness that nearly stole her voice forever. At a very young age she was forced to endure intense physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a family member. As a result, she became mute for nearly five years.
It all changed one day with the help of a family friend, a teacher named Bertha Flowers. Angelou credited Mrs. Flowers for helping her find her own voice again. Through Flowers, she was introduced to African-American female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset. In addition, Mrs. Flowers introduced Angelou to Dickens, Shakespeare, Poe, and several other prolific writers who would come to greatly influence her personal and professional philosophies.
Bill Gates: Questions that matter
When Bill Gates attended Seattle’s View Ridge Elementary, he was a typical nerdy 4th-grade introvert who always did his best to keep to himself. Thanks to a kindly librarian named Blanche Caffiere, he was able to come into his own in a way that would one day change the world forever. Gates sets the stage for this tale on his blog:
“When I first met Mrs. Caffiere, she was the elegant and engaging school librarian at Seattle’s View Ridge Elementary, and I was a timid fourth grader. I was desperately trying to go unnoticed, because I had some big deficits, like atrocious handwriting … and I was trying to hide the fact that I liked to read—something that was cool for girls but not for boys … Mrs. Caffiere took me under her wing and helped make it okay for me to be a messy, nerdy boy who was reading lots of books.”
He credits Mrs. Caffiere for helping him escape his shell in the true spirit of exceptional teaching. First, she encouraged Gates’ passion for reading by helping him explore it through the use of introspective questions, such as what he liked to read and why. Next, she’d go out of her way to source books that were progressively more interesting and challenging for him. Finally, once he’d read them, she would sit down with him and ask him if he liked what he had read, and more importantly, what he’d learned and why. “She genuinely listened to what I had to say,” Gates recalled.
In 2006, shortly after reaching her 100th birthday, Blanche Caffiere sadly passed away—but not before Gates was able to thank her personally for the lasting impact her love and curiosity had on his life.
Note: This article is still open. It will be supplemented when there are new stories.
Compiled by Diep Minh Tam—Nov-2019