golden swan

The Golden Swan (Jataka Tales – 31)


Once, the Buddha was born as a virtuous house-holder in Varanasi. He worked hard to maintain his small family of a wife and three daughters. After his death he was reborn as a golden swan with the consciousness of his former existence.

One day, being overwhelmed with the memory of the family of his previous birth, he visited them in his old house in Varanasi. There, he introduced himself and informed them of his previous life’s relationship. Later, before saying good-bye, he offered them one golden feather and advised them to sell it in the market to overcome their poverty.

Since then he was a regular visitor to his old family; and upon every visit he offered them one golden feather. With the proceeds of the feathers, soon the family overcame its poverty.

The mother of the daughters was, however, greedy and cruel. She wanted to be much richer in much less time. So, one day, she advised her daughters to pluck out all the feathers of the bird upon his next visit and become rich in no time. The daughters strongly opposed her malicious intention and warned her to refrain from any cruel act, which could pain their benefactor.

Next time, when the bird visited the family, the wife coaxed him to come near her. When he hopped on her lap, she seized him violently and plucked out his feathers. But to her surprise and disappointment what she could pluck was just the ordinary feathers. This was because the bird’s feathers were to change into ordinary ones when plucked against his wish.

The poor bird in his great agony tried hard to fly but could not. The woman then threw him away into an abandoned barrel. When his daughters saw him groaning in severe pain they gave him necessary first aid and took care of him until his fresh wings once again grew. He then flew again. But this time when he flew he never came back again.

Suvanna hamsa jataka

meditation

Zen and Fear of Death (Zen)


A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.

“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”

“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”

“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.

When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive Zen instruction.

Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat you patients with kindness. That is Zen.”

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of you patients.”

It was not yet clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on his fourth visit he complained: “My friend told me when one learns Zen one loses the fear of death. Each time I come here all you tell me is to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you any more.”

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued in concentration for another year and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern over life and death.

Then when he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

grimms17

The Three Advices (Irish Folktales – 3)


There once came, what of late has happened so often in Ireland, a hard year. When the crops failed, there was beggary and misfortune from one end of the island to the other. At that time many poor people had to quit the country from want of employment, and through the high price of provisions. Among others, John Carson was under the necessity of going over to England, to try if he could get work; and of leaving his wife and family behind him, begging for a bite and a sup up and down, and trusting to the charity of good Christians.

John was a smart young fellow, handy at any work, from the hay field to the stable, and willing to earn the bread he ate; and he was soon engaged by a gentleman. The English are mighty strict upon Irish servants; he was to have twelve guineas a year wages, but the money was not to be paid until the end of the year, and he was to forfeit the entire twelve guineas in the lump, if he misconducted himself in any way within the twelve months. John Carson was to be sure upon his best behavior, and conducted himself in every particular so well for the whole time, there was no faulting him late or early, and the wages were fairly his.

The term of his agreement being expired, he determined on returning home, notwithstanding his master, who had a great regard for him, pressed him to remain, and asked him if he had any reason to be dissatisfied with his treatment.

“No reason in life, sir,” said John; “you’ve been a good master and a kind master to me; the Lord spare you over your family; but I left a wife and two small children of my own at home, after me in Ireland, and your honor would never wish to keep me from them entirely, the wife and the children.”

“Well, John,” said the gentleman, “you have earned your twelve guineas, and you have been, in every respect, so good a servant, that, if you are agreeable, I intend giving you what is worth the twelve guineas ten times over, in place of your wages. But you shall have your choice. Will you take what I offer, on my word”?

John saw no reason to think that his master was jesting with him, or was insincere in making the offer; and, therefore, after a slight consideration, told him that he agreed to take for his wages whatever he would advise, whether it was the twelve guineas or not.

“Then listen attentively to my words,” said the gentleman. “First, I would teach you this: Never to take a by-road when you have the highway. Secondly: Take heed not to lodge in the house where an old man is married to a young woman. And thirdly: Remember that honesty the best policy. These are the three advices I would pay you with; and they are in value far beyond any gold; however, here is a guinea for your traveling charges, and two cakes, one of which you must give to your wife, and the other you must not eat yourself until you have done so, and I charge you to be careful of them.”

It was not without some reluctance on the part of John Carson that he was made to accept mere words for wages, or could be persuaded that they were more precious than golden guineas. His faith in his master was, however, so strong, that he at length became satisfied.

John set out for Ireland the next morning early; but he had not proceeded far, before he overtook two pedlars who were traveling the same way. He entered into conversation with them, and found them a pair of merry fellows, who proved excellent company on the road. Now it happened, towards the end of their day’s journey, when they were all tired with walking, that they came to a wood, through which there was a path that shortened the distance to the town they were going towards, by two miles. The pedlars advised John to go with them through the wood; but he refused to leave the highway, telling them, at the same time, he would meet them again at a certain house in the town where travelers put up.

John was willing to try the worth of the advice which his master had given him, and he arrived in safety, and took up his quarters at the appointed place. While he was eating his supper, an old man came hobbling into the kitchen, and gave orders about different matters there, and then went out again. John would have taken no particular notice of this, but immediately after, a young woman, young enough to be the old man’s daughter, came in, and gave orders exactly the contrary of what the old man had given, calling him, at the same time, such as old fool, and old dotard, and so on.

When she was gone, John inquired who the old man was.

“He is the landlord,” said the servant; “and, heaven help him! A dog’s life has he led since he married his last wife.”

“What,” said John, with surprise, “is that young woman the landlord’s wife? I see I must not remain in this house tonight;” and, tired as he was, he got up to leave it, but went no further than the door before he met the two pedlars, all cut and bleeding, coming in, for they had been robbed and almost murdered in the wood. John was very sorry to see them in that condition, and advised them not to lodge in the house, telling them, with a significant nod that all was not right there; but the poor pedlars were so weary and so bruised, that they would stop where they were, and disregarded the advice.

Rather than remain in the house, John retired to the stable, and laid himself down upon a bundle of straw, where he slept soundly for some time. About the middle of the night, he heard two persons come into the stable, and on listening to their conversation, discovered that it was the landlady and a man, laying a plan how to murder her husband. In the morning John renewed his journey; but at the next town he came to, he was told that the landlord in the town he had left had been murdered and that two pedlars, whose clothes were found all covered with blood, had been taken up for the crime, and were going to be hanged. John, without mentioning what he had overheard to any person, determined to save the pedlars if possible, and so returned, in order to intend their trial.

On going into the court, he saw the two men at bar, and the young woman and the man whose voice he had heard in the stable, swearing their innocent lives away. But the judge allowed him to give his evidence, and he told every particular of what had occurred. The man and the young woman instantly confessed their guilt; the poor pedlars were at once acquitted; and the judge ordered a large reward to be paid to John Carson, as through his means the real murderers were brought to justice.

John proceeded towards home, fully convinced of the value of two of the advices which his master had given him. On arriving at his cabin he found his wife and children rejoicing over a purse full of gold, which the eldest boy had picked up on the road that morning. Whilst he was away they had endured all the miseries which the wretched families of those who go over to seek work in England are exposed to. With precarious food, without a bed to lie down on, or a roof to shelter them, they had wandered through the country, seeking food from door to door of a starving population; and when a single potato was bestowed, showering down blessings and thanks on the giver, not in the set phrases of the mendicant, but in the burst of eloquence too fervid not to gush direct from the heart. Those only who have seen a family of such beggars as I describe, can fancy the joy with which the poor woman welcomed her husband back, and informed him of the purse full of gold.

“And where did Mick my boy, find it,” inquired John Carson.

“It was the young squire, for certain, who dropped it,” said his wife, “for he rode down the road this morning, and was leaping his horse in the very gap where Micky picked it up; but sure, John, he has money enough, besides, and never the halfpenny have I to buy my poor childer a bit to eat this blessed night.”

“Never mind that,” said John. “Do as I bid you, and take up the purse at once to the big house, and ask for the young squire. I have two cakes which I brought every step of the way with me from England, and they will do for the children’s supper. I ought surely to remember, as good right I have, what my master told me for my twelvemonths’ wages, seeing I never, as yet, found what he said to be wrong!”

“And what did he say,” inquired the wife.

“That honesty is the best policy,” answered John.

“‘Tis very well; and ’tis mighty easy for them to say so that have never been sore tempted by distress and famine to say otherwise, but your bidding is enough for me, John.”

Straightways she went to the big house, and inquired for the young squire; but she was denied the liberty to speak to him.

“You must tell me your business, honest woman,” said the servant, with a head all powdered and frizzled like a cauliflower, and who had on a coat covered with gold and silver lace and buttons, and everything in the world.

“If you knew but all,” said she, “I am an honest woman, for I’ve brought a purse full of gold to the young master; for surely it is his; as nobody else could have so much money.”

“Let me see it,” said the servant. “Ay, it’s all right. I’ll take care of it. You need not trouble yourself any more about the matter;” and so saying, he slapped the door in her face.

When she returned, her husband produced the two cakes which his master gave him on parting; and breaking one to divide between his children, how was he astonished to find six guineas, in it; and when he took the other and broke it, he found as many more. He then remembered the words of his generous master, who desired him to give one of the cakes to his wife, and not to eat the other himself until that time; and this was the way his master took to conceal his wages, lest he should have been robbed, or have lost the money on the road.

The following day, as John was standing near his cabin door and turning over in his own mind what he should do with his money, the young squire came riding down the road. John pulled off his hat, for he had not forgotten his manners through the means of traveling to foreign parts, and then made so bold as to inquire if his honor had got the purse he lost.

“Why, it is true enough, my good fellow,” said the squire, “I did lose my purse yesterday, and I hope you were lucky enough to find it; for if that is your cabin, you seem to be very poor, and shall keep it as a reward for your honesty.”

“Then the servant at the big house never gave it to you last night, after taking it from Nance — she’s my wife, your honor — and telling her it was all right?”

“Oh, I must look into this business,” said the squire.

“Did you say your wife, my poor man, gave my purse to a servant — to what servant?”

“I can’t tell his name rightly,” said John, “because I don’t know it; but never trust Nance’s eye again if she can’t point him out to your honor, if so your honor is desirous of knowing.”

“Then do you and Nance, as you call her, come up to the hall this evening, and I’ll inquire into the matter, I promise you.” So saying, the squire rode off.

John and his wife went up accordingly in the evening, and he gave a small rap with the big knocker at the great door. The door was opened by a grand servant, who, without hearing what the poor people had to say, exclaimed, “Oh, go! — go! what business can you have here?” and shut the door.

John’s wife burst out a crying. “There,” said she, so sobbing as if her heart would break. “I knew that would be the end of it.”

But John had not been in old England merely to get his twelve guineas packed in two cakes. “No,” said he, firmly; “right is right, and I’ll see the end of it.”

So he sat himself down on the steps of the door, determined not to go until he had seen the young squire, and as it happened, it was not long before he came out.

“I have been expecting you for some time, John,” said he; “come in and bring your wife in;” and he made them go before him into the house. Immediately he directed all the servants to come up stairs; and such an army of them as there was! It was a real sight to see them.

“Which of you,” said the young squire, without making further words, “which of you all did this honest woman give my purse to?” but there was no answer. “Well I suppose she must be mistaken, unless she can tell herself.”

John’s wife at once pointed her finger towards the head footman; “there he is,” said she, “if all the world were in the fore — clergyman, magistrate, judge, jury and all. There he is, and I am ready to take my bible-oath to him. There he is who told me it was all right when he took the purse, and slammed the door in my face, without as much as thank ye for it.”

The conscious footman turned pale.

“What is this I hear?” said his master. “If this woman gave you my purse, William, why did you not give it to me?”

The servant stammered out a denial; but his master insisted on his being searched, and the purse was found in his pocket.

“John,” said the gentleman, turning round, “you shall be no loser by this affair. Here are ten guineas for you; go home now, but I will not forget your wife’s honesty.”

Within a month John Carson was settled in a nice new-slated house, which the squire had furnished and made ready for him. What with his wages, and the reward he got from the judge, and the ten guineas for returning the purse, he was well to do in the world, and was soon able to stock a little farm, where he lived respected all his days. On his deathbed, he gave his children the very three advices which his master had given him on parting:

Never to take a by-road when they could follow the highway.

Never to lodge in a house where an old man was married to a young woman.

And, above all, to remember that honesty is the best policy.

Compiled by D.L.Ashliman

Ra

The Story of Ra (Egyptian Mythology)


In the beginning, before there was any land of Egypt, all was darkness, and there was nothing but a great waste of water called Nun. The power of Nun was such that there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Ra.

Now Ra was all-powerful, and he could take many forms. His power and the secret of it lay in his hidden name; but if he spoke other names, that which he named came into being.

“I am Khepera at the dawn, and Ra at noon, and Atum in the evening,” he said. And the sun rose and passed across the sky and set for the first time.

Then he named Shu, and the first winds blew; he named Tefnut the spitter, and the first rain fell. Next he named Geb, and the earth came into being; he named the goddess Nut, and she was the sky arched over the earth with her feet on one horizon and her hands on the other; he named Hapi, and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt and made it fruitful.

After this Ra named all things that are upon the earth, and they grew. Last of all he named mankind, and there were men and women in the land of Egypt.

Then Ra took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh, ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands of years, and giving such harvests that for ever afterwards the Egyptians spoke of the good things “which happened in the time of Ra”.

But, being in the form of a man, Ra grew old. In time men no longer feared him or obeyed his laws. They laughed at him, saying: “Look at Ra! His bones are like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair is the colour of lapis lazuli!”

Ra was angry when he heard this, and he was more angry still at the evil deeds which men were doing in disobedience to his laws. So he called together the gods whom he had made – Shu and Tefnut and Geb and Nut – and he also summoned Nun. Soon the gods gathered about Ra in his Secret Place, and the goddesses also. But mankind knew nothing of what was happening, and continued to jeer at Ra and to break his commandments. Then Ra spoke to Nun before the assembled gods: “Eldest of the gods, you who made me; and you gods whom I have made: look upon mankind who came into being at a glance of my Eye. See how men plot against me; hear what they say of me; tell me what I should do to them. For I will not destroy mankind until I have heard what you advise.”

Then Nun said: “My son Ra, the god greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet.”
Ra answered: “Even now fear is falling upon them and they are fleeing into the desert and hiding themselves in the mountains in terror at the sound of my voice.”

“Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!” cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing before Ra until their foreheads touched the ground.

So at the terrible glance from the Eye of Ra his daughter came into being, the fiercest of all goddesses. Like a lion she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in blood. At the bidding of Ra she came into Upper and Lower Egypt to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him: she killed them among the mountains which lie on either side of the Nile, and down beside the river, and in the burning deserts. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood.

Presently Ra looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. Then he called to her, saying: “Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands.”

Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: “By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices.”

Now for many nights the Nile ran red with blood, and Sekhmet’s feet were red as she went hither and thither through all the land of Egypt slaying and slaying.

Presently Ra looked out over the earth once more, and now his heart was stirred with pity for men, even though they had rebelled against him. But none could stop the cruel goddess Sekhmet, not even Re himself: she must cease from slaying of her own accord -and Ra saw that this could only come about through cunning.

So he gave his command: “Bring before me swift messengers who will run upon the earth as silently as shadows and with the speed of the storm winds.” When these were brought he said to them: “Go as fast as you can up the Nile to where it flows fiercely over the rocks and among the islands of the First Cataract; go to the isle that is called Elephantine and bring from it a great store of the red ochre which is to be found there.”

The messengers sped on their way and returned with the blood-red ochre to Heliopolis, the city of Ra where stand the stone obelisks with points of gold that are like fingers pointing to the sun. It was night when they came to the city, but all day the women of Heliopolis had been brewing beer as Ra bade them.

Ra came to where the beer stood waiting in seven thousand jars, and the gods came with him to see how by his wisdom he would save mankind.

“Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer,” said Ra, and it was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like the blood of men.

“Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises,” said Ra. And while it was still night the seven thousand jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to the depth of nine inches — three times the measure of the palm of a man’s hand-with the strong beer, whose other name is “sleep-maker”.

When day came Sekhmet the terrible came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no living creature in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was blood indeed — the blood of those whom she had slain.

Then she laughed with joy, and her laughter was like the roar of a lioness hungry for the kill. Thinking that it was indeed blood, she stooped and drank. Again and yet again she drank, laughing with delight; and the strength of the beer mounted to her brain, so that she could no longer slay.

At last she came reeling back to where Ra was waiting; that day she had not killed even a single man.

Then Ra said: “You come in peace, sweet one.” And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor laid low men and women only with the great power of love. But for ever after her priestesses drank in her honor of the beer of Heliopolis colored with the red ochre of Elephantine when they celebrated her festival each New Year.

So mankind was saved, and Ra continued to rule old though he was. But the time was drawing near when he must leave the earth to reign for ever in the heavens, letting the younger gods rule in his place. For dwelling in the form of a man, of a Pharaoh of Egypt, Ra was losing his wisdom; yet he continued to reign, and no one could take his power from him, since that power dwelt in his secret name which none knew but himself. If only anyone could discover his Name of Power, Ra would reign no longer on earth; but only by magic arts was this possible.

Geb and Nut had children: these were the younger gods whose day had come to rule, and their names were Osiris and Isis, Nephthys and Set. Of these Isis was the wisest: she was cleverer than a million men, her knowledge was greater than that of a million of the noble dead. She knew all things in heaven and earth, except only for the Secret Name of Ra, and that she now set herself to learn by guile.
Now Ra was growing older every day. As he passed across the land of Egypt his head shook from side to side with age, his jaw trembled, and he dribbled at the mouth as do the very old among men. As his spittle fell upon the ground it made mud, and this Isis took in her hands and kneaded together as if it had been dough. Then she formed it into the shape of a serpent, making the first cobra — the uraeus, which ever after was the symbol of royalty worn by Pharaoh and his queen.

Isis placed the first cobra in the dust of the road by which Ra passed each day as he went through his two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. As Ra passed by the cobra bit him and then vanished into the grass. But the venom of its bite coursed through his veins, and for a while Ra was speechless, save for one great cry of pain which rang across the earth from the eastern to the western horizon. The gods who followed him crowded round, asking: “What is it? What ails you?” But he could find no words; his lips trembled and he shuddered in all his limbs, while the poison spread over his body as the Nile spreads over Egypt at the inundation. When at last he could speak, Ra said: “Help me, you whom I have made. Something has hurt me, and I do not know what it is. I created all things, yet this thing I did not make. It is a pain such as I have never known before, and no other pain is equal to it. Yet who can hurt me?-for none knows my Secret Name which is hidden in my heart, giving me all power and guarding me against the magic of both wizard and witch. Nevertheless as I passed through the world which I have created, through the two lands that are my special care, something stung me. It is like fire, yet is not fire; it is like water and not water. I burn and I shiver, while all my limbs tremble. So call before me all the gods who have skill in healing and knowledge of magic, and wisdom that reaches to the heavens.”

Then all the gods came to Ra, weeping and lamenting at the terrible thing which had befallen him. With them came Isis, the healer, the queen of magic, who breathes the breath of life and knows words to revive those who are dying. And she said:
“What is it, divine father? Has a snake bitten you. Has a creature of your own creating lifted up its head against you? I will drive it out by the magic that is mine, and make it tremble and fall down before your glory.”

“I went by the usual way through my two lands of Egypt,” answered Ra, “for I wished to look upon all that I had made. And as I went I was bitten by a snake which I did not see — a snake that, I had not created. Now I burn as if with fire and shiver as if my veins were filled with water, and the sweat runs down my face it runs down the faces of men on the hottest days of summer.”

“Tell me your Secret Name.” said Isis in a sweet, soothing voice. “Tell it me, divine father; for only by speaking your name in my spells can I cure you.”

Then Ra spoke the many names that were his: “I am Maker Heaven and Earth.” he said. “I am Builder of the Mountains. I am Source of the Waters throughout all the world. I am Light and Darkness. I am Creator of the Great River of Egypt. I am the Kindler of the Fire that burns in the sky; yes, I am Khepera in the, morning, Ra at the noontide, and Tum in the evening.”

But Isis said never a word, and the poison had its way in the veins of Ra. For she knew that he had told her only the names which all men knew, and that his Secret Name, the Name of Power, still lay hidden in his heart.

At last she said: “You know well that the name which I need to learn is not among those which you have spoken. Come, tell me the Secret Name; for if you do the poison will come forth and you will have an end of pain.”

The poison burned with a great burning, more powerful than any flame of fire, and Ra cried out at last: “Let the Name of Power pass from my heart into the heart of Isis! But before it does, swear to me that you will tell it to no other save only the son whom you will have, whose name shall be Horus. And bind him first with such an oath that the name will remain with him and be passed on to no other gods or men.”

Isis the great magician swore the oath, and the knowledge of the Name of Power passed from the heart of Ra into hers.
Then she said: “By the name which I know, let the poison go from Ra for ever!”

So it passed from him and he had peace. But he reigned upon earth no longer. Instead he took his place in the high heavens, traveling each day across the sky in the likeness of the sun itself, and by night crossing the underworld of Amenti in the Boat of Ra and passing through the twelve divisions of Duat where many dangers lurk. Yet Ra passes safely, and with him he takes those souls of the dead who know all the charms and prayers and words that must be said. And so that a man might not go unprepared for his voyage in the Boat of Ra, the Egyptians painted all the scenes of that journey on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs, with all the knowledge that was written in The Book of the Dead, of which a copy was buried in the grave of lesser men so that they too might read and come safely to the land beyond the west where the dead dwell.

Text and images courtesy: egyptianmyths.net

nurse

Never too late (Inspirational)


It was an unusually busy day for the hospital staff on the sixth floor. Ten new patients were admitted and Nurse Susan spent the morning and afternoon checking them in.

Her friend Sharron, an aide, prepared ten rooms for the patients and made sure they were comfortable. After they were finished she grabbed Sharron and said, “We deserve a break. Let’s go eat.”

Sitting across from each other in the noisy cafeteria, Susan noticed Sharron absently wiping the moisture off the outside of her glass with her thumbs. Her face reflected a weariness that came from more than just a busy day.

“You’re pretty quiet. Are you tired, or is something wrong?” – Susan asked.

Sharron hesitated. However, seeing the sincere concern in her friend’s face, she confessed, “I can’t do this the rest of my life, Susan. I have to find a higher-paying job to provide for my family. We barely get by. If it weren’t for my parents keeping my kids, well, we wouldn’t make it.”

Susan noticed the bruises on Sharron’s wrists peeking out from under her jacket.

“What about your husband?”

“We can’t count on him. He can’t seem to hold a job. He’s got . . . problems.”

“Sharron, you’re so good with patients, and you love working here. Why don’t you go to school and become a nurse? There’s financial help available, and I’m sure your parents would agree to keep the kids while you are in class.”

“It’s too late for me, Susan; I’m too old for school. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, that’s why I took this job as an aide; at least I get to care for patients.”

“How old are you?” – Susan asked.

“Let’s just say I’m thirty-something.”

Susan pointed at the bruises on Sharron’s wrists. “I’m familiar with ‘problems’ like these. Honey, it’s never too late to become what you’ve dreamed of. Let me tell you how I know.”

Susan began sharing a part of her life few knew about. It was something she normally didn’t talk about, only when it helped someone else.

“I first married when I was thirteen years old and in the eighth grade.”

Sharron gasped.

“My husband was twenty-two. I had no idea he was violently abusive. We were married six years and I had three sons. One night my husband beat me so savagely he knocked out all my front teeth. I grabbed the boys and left.

“At the divorce settlement, the judge gave our sons to my husband because I was only nineteen and he felt I couldn’t provide for them. The shock of him taking my babies left me gasping for air. To make things worse, my ex took the boys and moved, cutting all contact I had with them.

“Just like the judge predicted, I struggled to make ends meet. I found work as a waitress, working for tips only. Many days my meals consisted of milk and crackers. The most difficult thing was the emptiness in my soul. I lived in a tiny one-room apartment and the loneliness would overwhelm me. I longed to play with my babies and hear them laugh.”

She paused. Even after four decades, the memory was still painful. Sharron’s eyes filled with tears as she reached out to comfort Susan. Now it didn’t matter if the bruises showed.

Susan continued, “I soon discovered that waitresses with grim faces didn’t get tips, so I hid behind a smiling mask and pressed on. I remarried and had a daughter. She became my reason for living, until she went to college.

“Then I was back where I started, not knowing what to do with myself – until the day my mother had surgery. I watched the nurses care for her and thought: I can do that. The problem was, I only had an eighth-grade education. Going back to high school seemed like a huge mountain to conquer. I decided to take small steps toward my goal. The first step was to get my GED. My daughter used to laugh at how our roles reversed. Now I was burning the midnight oil and asking her questions.”

Susan paused and looked directly in Sharron’s eyes. “I received my diploma when I was forty-six years old.”

Tears streamed down Sharron’s cheeks. Here was someone offering the key that might unlock the door in her dark life.

“The next step was to enroll in nursing school. For two long years I studied, cried and tried to quit. But my family wouldn’t let me. I remember calling my daughter and yelling, ‘Do you realize how many bones are in the human body, and I have to know them all! I can’t do this, I’m forty-six years old!’ But I did. Sharron, I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt when I received my cap and pin.”

Sharron’s lunch was cold, and the ice had melted in her tea by the time Susan finished talking. Reaching across the table and taking Sharron’s hands, Susan said, “You don’t have to put up with abuse. Don’t be a victim – take charge. You will be an excellent nurse. We will climb this mountain together.”

Sharron wiped her mascara-stained face with her napkin. “I had no idea you suffered so much pain. You seem like someone who has always had it together.”

“I guess I’ve developed an appreciation for the hardships of my life,” Susan answered. “If I use them to help others, then I really haven’t lost a thing. Sharron, promise me that you will go to school and become a nurse. Then help others by sharing your experiences.”

Sharron promised. In a few years she became a registered nurse and worked alongside her friend until Susan retired. Sharron never forgot her colleague or the rest of her promise.

Now Sharron sits across the table taking the hands of those who are bruised in body and soul, telling them, “It’s never too late. We will climb this mountain together.”

Author: Linda Apple

Source: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Older and Wiser

staring chickens

The Chickens are Staring at Me! (Short Story)


Before class, one of my students spoke up: “Professor Howard, I think I remember you telling us you have a cow.”

“Yes, Abby, that’s right.”

“Can I come milk your cow? I’m from Los Angeles, and after living here in Idaho for four months now, I’ve hardly even seen one.”

I paused. Twice a day I milk our Jersey cow, Leah, and it hardly seems like something a person would yearn to experience. But I just smiled and said, “I guess you can.”

Another hand shot up. “Can I come, too?” A few more chimed in. I shrugged. “Sure, anyone can come.” I decided to extend the invitation to my other classes, too. After all, how many students would show up? Maybe 10?

Well, word got around, and soon friends of friends were asking my students if they could come. When the big day arrived, we had a 60-plus crowd of would-be farmers.

And I made sure everyone had a chance to try milking. I herded half the students into a line on my side of the cow, while my wife lined up the other half on her side. One by one, we coached each student along. Our ever-gentle Leah patiently put up with all the attention, as if it normally took an entire barnyard of folks to milk her.

At the very end of the line stood Abby. Her hand shook as she reached out to milk. When her fingers were just inches from an udder, Leah swung her tail. Abby screamed and jumped back. When she screamed, I jumped so high I think my head brushed the roof. I also lost about half my hearing. Leah never even budged.

Eventually, we all settled back down, and Abby was able to milk a little. You never saw anyone so proud. It gave her the confidence to step forward when we asked if anybody wanted to gather eggs.

I opened the coop, letting all but a few lingering chickens into the yard. Abby confidently stepped inside, then froze. “The chickens are staring at me,” she murmured.

“They’re chickens,” I assured her. “They stare at everyone.”

“But what if they attack me? You know, for stealing their eggs?”

Unable to convince Abby that vengeful chickens wouldn’t come flying at her, I shooed the last few hens from their roosts. Relieved, Abby reached for an egg, then stopped.

“They’re staring through the doorway.”

You had to give her points for observation, because, yes, a few hens still fixed us with curious, unblinking attention. I sighed and shut the door. Safe at last, Abby searched and gathered, ecstatic as a child at an Easter egg hunt.

Proudly clutching her hard-won eggs, Abby said, “I think I would make a great farm girl.”

I just smiled.

Story by Daris Howard, St. Anthony, Idaho;Illustration by Kevin Rechin. Source: The Country Magazine

cephalus and procris

Cephalus and Procris (Greek Mythology)


Cephalus was a beautiful youth and fond of manly sports. He would rise before the dawn to pursue the chase. Aurora saw him when she first looked forth, fell in love with him, and stole him away. But Cephalus was just married to a charming wife whom he devotedly loved. Her name was Procris. She was a favorite of Diana, the goddess of hunting, who had given her a dog which could outrun every rival, and a javelin which would never fail of its mark; and Procris gave these presents to her husband. Cephalus was so happy in his wife that he resisted all the entreaties of Aurora, and she finally dismissed him in displeasure, saying, “Go, ungrateful mortal, keep your wife, whom, if I am not much mistaken, you will one day be very sorry you ever saw again.”

Cephalus returned, and was as happy as ever in his wife and his woodland sports. Now it happened some angry deity had sent a ravenous fox to annoy the country; and the hunters turned out in great strength to capture it. Their efforts were all in vain; no dog could run it down; and at last they came to Cephalus to borrow his famous dog, whose name was Lelaps. No sooner was the dog let loose than he darted off, quicker than their eye could follow him. If they had not seen his footprints in the sand they would have thought he flew. Cephalus and others stood on a hill and saw the race. The fox tried every art; he ran in a circle and turned on his track, the dog close upon him, with open jaws, snapping at his javelin, when suddenly he saw both dog and game stop instantly. The heavenly powers who had given both were not willing that either should conquer. In the very attitude of life and action they were turned into stone. So lifelike and natural did they look, you would have thought, as you looked at them, that one was going to bark, the other to leap forward.

Cephalus, though he had lost his dog, still continued to take delight in the chase. He would go out at early morning, ranging the woods and hills unaccompanied by any one, needing no help, for his javelin was a sure weapon in all cases. Fatigued with hunting, when the sun got high he would seek a shady nook where a cool stream flowed, and, stretched on the grass, with his garments thrown aside, would enjoy the breeze. Sometimes he would say aloud, “Come, sweet breeze, come and fan my breast, come and allay the heat that burns me.” Some one passing by one day heard him talking in this way to the air, and, foolishly believing that he was talking to some maiden, went and told the secret to Procris, Cephalus’s wife. Love is credulous.

Procris, at the sudden shock, fainted away. Presently recovering, she said, “It cannot be true; I will not believe it unless I myself am a witness to it.” So she waited, with anxious heart, till the next morning, when Cephalus went to hunt as usual. Then she stole out after him, and concealed herself in the place where the informer directed her. Cephalus came as he was wont when tired with sport, and stretched himself on the green bank, saying, “Come, sweet breeze, come and fan me; you know how I love you! you make the groves and my solitary rambles delightful.” He was running on in this way when he heard, or thought he heard, a sound as of a sob in the bushes. Supposing it some wild animal, he threw his javelin at the spot.

A cry from his beloved Procris told him that the weapon had too surely met its mark. He rushed to the place, and found her bleeding, and with sinking strength endeavoring to draw forth from the wound the javelin, her own gift. Cephalus raised her from the earth, strove to stanch the blood, and called her to revive and not to leave him miserable, to reproach himself with her death. She opened her feeble eyes, and forced herself to utter these few words: “I implore you, if you have ever loved me, if I have ever deserved kindness at your hands, my husband, grant me this last request; do not marry that odious Breeze!” This disclosed the whole mystery: but alas! what advantage to disclose it now! She died; but her face wore a calm expression, and she looked pityingly and forgivingly on her husband when he made her understand the truth.

Thomas Bulfinch (Age of Fables)

patient

He Needed Me (Inspirational)


A nurse escorted a tired, anxious young man to the bed side of an elderly man. “Your son is here,” she whispered to the patient. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened. He was heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack and he dimly saw the young man standing outside the oxygen tent.

He reached out his hand and the young man tightly wrapped his fingers around it, squeezing a message of encouragement. The nurse brought a chair next to the bedside. All through the night the young man sat holding the old mans hand, and offering gentle words of hope. The dying man said nothing as he held tightly to his son.

As dawn approached, the patient died. The young man placed on the bed the lifeless hand he had been holding, and then he went to notify the nurse.

While the nurse did what was necessary, the young man waited. When she had finished her task, the nurse began to say words of sympathy to the young man.

But he interrupted her. “Who was that man?” He asked.

The startled nurse replied, “I thought he was your father.”

“No, he was not my father,” he answered. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?” asked the nurse.

He replied, “I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, I knew how much he needed me…”

bride groom

Love and Madness


A long time ago, before the world was created and humans set foot on it for the first time, and vices floated around and were bored, not knowing what to do.

One day, all the vices and virtues were gathered together and were more bored than ever. Suddenly, Ingenious came up with an idea: “Let’s play hide and seek!”

All of them liked the idea and immediately Madness shouted: “I want to count, I want to count!” And since nobody was crazy enough to want to seek Madness, all the others agreed.

Madness leaned against a tree and started to count: “One, two, three…”

As Madness counted, the vices and virtues went hiding.

Tenderness hung itself on the horn of the moon…

Treason hid in a pile of garbage…

Fondness curled up between the clouds…and Passion went to the centre of the earth….

Lie said that it would hide under a stone, but hid at the bottom of the lake… whilst Avarice entered a sack that he ended up breaking.

And Madness continued to count: …. “seventy nine, eighty, eighty one…”

By this time, all the vices and virtues were already hidden – except Love. For undecided as Love is, he could not decide where to hide. And this should not surprise us, because we all know how difficult it is to hide Love.

Madness: “…ninety five, ninety six, ninety seven…”

Just when Madness got to one hundred………Love jumped into a rose bush where he hid.

And Madness turned around and shouted: “I’m coming, I’m coming!”

As Madness turned around, Laziness was the first to be found, because Laziness had no energy to hide. Then he spotted Tenderness in the horn of the moon, Lie at the bottom of the lake and Passion at the centre of the earth. One by one, Madness found them all – except Love.

Madness was getting desperate, unable to find Love.

Envious of Love, Envy whispered to Madness: “You only need to find Love and Love is hiding in the rose bush.”

Madness grabbed a wooden pitch fork and stabbed wildly at the rosebush. Madness stabbed and stabbed until a heartbreaking cry made him stop.

Love appeared from the rose bush, covering his face with his hands. Between his fingers ran two trickles of blood from his eyes.

Madness, so anxious to find Love, had stabbed out Love’s eyes with a pitch fork. “What have I done! What have I done!” Madness shouted. “I have left you blind! How can I repair it?”

And Love answered: “You cannot repair my eyes. But if you want to do something for me, you can be my guide.”

And so it came about that from that day on, Love is blind and is always accompanied by Madness.

diggingBoy1

Never give up (Inspirational)


Have you ever observed the behaviour of birds in the face of adversity ?

For days and days they make their nest, sometimes gathering materials brought from far away.

And when they have completed the nest and are ready to lay eggs, the weather or the work of humans, or some animal, destroys it, and it falls to the ground, all that they have done with so much effort.

Do they stop?

Bewildered, and leave their work ?

No Way !!

They start over building the nest again and again until they have eggs in the nest again.

Sometimes, and very often before the chicks are hatched, an animal, a child, or a storm destryos the nest once again, but this time with its valuable contents.

It hurts to go back and begin again…..

Even so, the birds do not stop, they continue to sing and build , and keep singing and building.

Do you sometimes get the feeling that your life, your work, your family is not what you had dreamed. Do you sometimes want to say ‘ENOUGH’, the effort is not worthwhile. It is all too much for me!

Are you tired of it all? Do you feel that the daily struggle is a waste of time, your trust has been betrayed, your goals not reached just as you were about to get them ?

Life strikes you down sometimes, but keep moving, say a prayer, put your faith in hope, not darkness? Do not worry Gather yourself together and rebuild your life, so that it runs well again.

No matter what happens……Never give up as long as you are alive

sailing ship

The Wicked prince (Hans Christian Andersen)


There lived once upon a time a wicked prince whose heart and mind were set upon conquering all the countries of the world, and on frightening the people; he devastated their countries with fire and sword, and his soldiers trod down the crops in the fields and destroyed the peasants’ huts by fire, so that the flames licked the green leaves off the branches, and the fruit hung dried up on the singed black trees. Many a poor mother fled, her naked baby in her arms, behind the still smoking walls of her cottage; but also there the soldiers followed her, and when they found her, she served as new nourishment to their diabolical enjoyments; demons could not possibly have done worse things than these soldiers! The prince was of opinion that all this was right, and that it was only the natural course which things ought to take. His power increased day by day, his name was feared by all, and fortune favoured his deeds.

He brought enormous wealth home from the conquered towns, and gradually accumulated in his residence riches which could nowhere be equalled. He erected magnificent palaces, churches, and halls, and all who saw these splendid buildings and great treasures exclaimed admiringly: “What a mighty prince!” But they did not know what endless misery he had brought upon other countries, nor did they hear the sighs and lamentations which rose up from the débris of the destroyed cities.

The prince often looked with delight upon his gold and his magnificent edifices, and thought, like the crowd: “What a mighty prince! But I must have more—much more. No power on earth must equal mine, far less exceed it.”

He made war with all his neighbours, and defeated them. The conquered kings were chained up with golden fetters to his chariot when he drove through the streets of his city. These kings had to kneel at his and his courtiers’ feet when they sat at table, and live on the morsels which they left. At last the prince had his own statue erected on the public places and fixed on the royal palaces; nay, he even wished it to be placed in the churches, on the altars, but in this the priests opposed him, saying: “Prince, you are mighty indeed, but God’s power is much greater than yours; we dare not obey your orders.”

“Well,” said the prince. “Then I will conquer God too.” And in his haughtiness and foolish presumption he ordered a magnificent ship to be constructed, with which he could sail through the air; it was gorgeously fitted out and of many colours; like the tail of a peacock, it was covered with thousands of eyes, but each eye was the barrel of a gun. The prince sat in the centre of the ship, and had only to touch a spring in order to make thousands of bullets fly out in all directions, while the guns were at once loaded again. Hundreds of eagles were attached to this ship, and it rose with the swiftness of an arrow up towards the sun. The earth was soon left far below, and looked, with its mountains and woods, like a cornfield where the plough had made furrows which separated green meadows; soon it looked only like a map with indistinct lines upon it; and at last it entirely disappeared in mist and clouds. Higher and higher rose the eagles up into the air; then God sent one of his numberless angels against the ship. The wicked prince showered thousands of bullets upon him, but they rebounded from his shining wings and fell down like ordinary hailstones. One drop of blood, one single drop, came out of the white feathers of the angel’s wings and fell upon the ship in which the prince sat, burnt into it, and weighed upon it like thousands of hundredweights, dragging it rapidly down to the earth again; the strong wings of the eagles gave way, the wind roared round the prince’s head, and the clouds around—were they formed by the smoke rising up from the burnt cities?—took strange shapes, like crabs many, many miles long, which stretched their claws out after him, and rose up like enormous rocks, from which rolling masses dashed down, and became fire-spitting dragons.

The prince was lying half-dead in his ship, when it sank at last with a terrible shock into the branches of a large tree in the wood.

“I will conquer God!” said the prince. “I have sworn it: my will must be done!”

And he spent seven years in the construction of wonderful ships to sail through the air, and had darts cast from the hardest steel to break the walls of heaven with. He gathered warriors from all countries, so many that when they were placed side by side they covered the space of several miles. They entered the ships and the prince was approaching his own, when God sent a swarm of gnats—one swarm of little gnats. They buzzed round the prince and stung his face and hands; angrily he drew his sword and brandished it, but he only touched the air and did not hit the gnats. Then he ordered his servants to bring costly coverings and wrap him in them, that the gnats might no longer be able to reach him. The servants carried out his orders, but one single gnat had placed itself inside one of the coverings, crept into the prince’s ear and stung him. The place burnt like fire, and the poison entered into his blood. Mad with pain, he tore off the coverings and his clothes too, flinging them far away, and danced about before the eyes of his ferocious soldiers, who now mocked at him, the mad prince, who wished to make war with God, and was overcome by a single little gnat.

persian mysticism

Death for Immortality (Sufi)


There was once a dervish who had sixty disciples who he had taught as well as he could, and decided that the time had come for them to have a new experience. He told them that they must go on a long journey, and that something — he knew not what — would happen while they were on it. Those who had absorbed enough to enter this stage, he told them, would be able to go and remain with him on this journey.

He told them that they all had to memorize the phrase, “I must die instead of the dervish,” and must be prepared to shout it whenever the dervish raised both of his arms. The disciples, upon hearing this, became suspicious of the dervish’s motives and began muttering among themselves.

Fifty-nine of them deserted him, believing that he knew that he would be in danger at some point, and wanted to sacrifice themin his stead. They told him that they thought he might be planning a crime — even a murder — and that they could not follow him under the conditions he demanded.

So, the dervish set out with his one remaining companion. Shortly before they entered the nearest city, a wicked tyrant had taken it over. Wishing to consolidate his control of the city with a dramatic show of force, he assembled his soldiers together and told them to capture someone passing through the town who looked harmless, and he would sentence him as a miscreant. The soldiers obeyed him and set out into the streets to find such a wayfarer.

The first person they came upon was the disciple of the dervish, who they arrested. Followed by the dervish, they took the disciple to the king, where the populace, hearing the drum of death and already frightened, gathered around. The dervish’s disciple was thrown in front of the king, who decreed that he had resolved to make an example of a vagbond to show them that he would not tolerate nonconformists or attempted escape, and sentenced the disciple to death.

Upon hearing this, the dervish called out to the king asking that he be allowed to die instead of the disciple, since he was to blame for having persuaded the disciple to embark on the life of a wayfarer. So saying the dervish raised both arms over his head, and the disciple cried out to the king begging to be allowed to die instead of the dervish.

The king was stunned. He asked his counsselors for advice, wondering what kind of people the dervish and his disciple could be, vying with each other to die; he worried that if their actions were taken as heroism, the populace might turn against him.

After conferring with each other, the counselors told the king that if this was heroism, there was little they could do about it except to act even more cruelly until the people lost heart, but that they had nothing to lose by asking the dervish why he was so eager to die.

When asked, the dervish replied that it had been foretold that a man would die in that place and would rise again and thereafter be immortal, and that naturally both he and his disciple wanted to be that man.

The king wondered to himself why he should make another immortal when he was not himself, and after pondering it a moment, ordered that he should be executed right away instead of the dervish or his disciple.

Immediately the most evil of his accomplices, also eager for immortality, killed themselves. Neither they nor the king rose again, and the dervish and his disciple left in the midst of the confusion.

Source Author: Idries Shah

sailing ship

The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor (Arabian Nights – Part – 14)


In the times of the Caliph Haroun-al-Rashid there lived in Bagdad a poor porter named Hindbad, who on a very hot day was sent to carry a heavy load from one end of the city to the other. Before he had accomplished half the distance he was so tired that, finding himself in a quiet street where the pavement was sprinkled with rose water, and a cool breeze was blowing, he set his burden upon the ground, and sat down to rest in the shade of a grand house. Very soon he decided that he could not have chosen a pleasanter place; a delicious perfume of aloes wood and pastilles came from the open windows and mingled with the scent of the rose water which steamed up from the hot pavement. Within the palace he heard some music, as of many instruments cunningly played, and the melodious warble of nightingales and other birds, and by this, and the appetising smell of many dainty dishes of which he presently became aware, he judged that feasting and merry making were going on. He wondered who lived in this magnificent house which he had never seen before, the street in which it stood being one which he seldom had occasion to pass. To satisfy his curiosity he went up to some splendidly dressed servants who stood at the door, and asked one of them the name of the master of the mansion.

“What,” replied he, “do you live in Bagdad, and not know that here lives the noble Sindbad the Sailor, that famous traveller who sailed over every sea upon which the sun shines?”

The porter, who had often heard people speak of the immense wealth of Sindbad, could not help feeling envious of one whose lot seemed to be as happy as his own was miserable. Casting his eyes up to the sky he exclaimed aloud,

“Consider, Mighty Creator of all things, the differences between Sindbad’s life and mine. Every day I suffer a thousand hardships and misfortunes, and have hard work to get even enough bad barley bread to keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad spends money right and left and lives upon the fat of the land! What has he done that you should give him this pleasant life– what have I done to deserve so hard a fate?”

So saying he stamped upon the ground like one beside himself with misery and despair. Just at this moment a servant came out of the palace, and taking him by the arm said, “Come with me, the noble Sindbad, my master, wishes to speak to you.”

Hindbad was not a little surprised at this summons, and feared that his unguarded words might have drawn upon him the displeasure of Sindbad, so he tried to excuse himself upon the pretext that he could not leave the burden which had been entrusted to him in the street. However the lackey promised him that it should be taken care of, and urged him to obey the call so pressingly that at last the porter was obliged to yield.

He followed the servant into a vast room, where a great company was seated round a table covered with all sorts of delicacies. In the place of honour sat a tall, grave man whose long white beard gave him a venerable air. Behind his chair stood a crowd of attendants eager to minister to his wants. This was the famous Sindbad himself. The porter, more than ever alarmed at the sight of so much magnificence, tremblingly saluted the noble company. Sindbad, making a sign to him to approach, caused him to be seated at his right hand, and himself heaped choice morsels upon his plate, and poured out for him a draught of excellent wine, and presently, when the banquet drew to a close, spoke to him familiarly, asking his name and occupation.

“My lord,” replied the porter, “I am called Hindbad.”

“I am glad to see you here,” continued Sindbad. “And I will answer for the rest of the company that they are equally pleased, but I wish you to tell me what it was that you said just now in the street.” For Sindbad, passing by the open window before the feast began, had heard his complaint and therefore had sent for him.

At this question Hindbad was covered with confusion, and hanging down his head, replied, “My lord, I confess that, overcome by weariness and ill-humour, I uttered indiscreet words, which I pray you to pardon me.”

“Oh!” replied Sindbad, “do not imagine that I am so unjust as to blame you. On the contrary, I understand your situation and can pity you. Only you appear to be mistaken about me, and I wish to set you right. You doubtless imagine that I have acquired all the wealth and luxury that you see me enjoy without difficulty or danger, but this is far indeed from being the case. I have only reached this happy state after having for years suffered every possible kind of toil and danger.

“Yes, my noble friends,” he continued, addressing the company, “l assure you that my adventures have been strange enough to deter even the most avaricious men from seeking wealth by traversing the seas. Since you have, perhaps, heard but confused accounts of my seven voyages, and the dangers and wonders that I have met with by sea and land, I will now give you a full and true account of them, which I think you will be well pleased to hear.”

As Sindbad was relating his adventures chiefly on account of the porter, he ordered, before beginning his tale, that the burden which had been left in the street should be carried by some of his own servants to the place for which Hindbad had set out at first, while he remained to listen to the story.

(To Be Continued….)

Translated by Andrew Lang

smoking computer

Software problem (Humor)


I used to work in a computer store and one day we had a gentleman call in with a smoking power supply. The service rep was having a bit of trouble convincing this guy that he had a hardware problem.

Service Rep: Sir, something has burned within your power supply.

Customer: I bet that there is some command that I can put into the AUTOEXEC.BAT that will take care of this.

Service Rep: There is nothing that software can do to help you with this problem.

Customer: I know that there is something that I can put in… some command… maybe it should go into the CONFIG.SYS.

[After a few minutes of going round and round]

Service Rep: Okay, I am not supposed to tell anyone this but there is a hidden command in some versions of DOS that you can use. I want you to edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT and add the last line as C:DOSNOSMOKE and reboot your computer.

[Customer does this]

Customer: It is still smoking.

Service Rep: I guess you’ll need to call Microsoft and ask them for a patch for the NOSMOKE.EXE.

[The customer then hung up. We thought that we had heard the last of this guy but NO... he calls back four hours later]

Service Rep: Hello Sir, how is your computer?

Customer: I called Microsoft and they said that my power supply is incompatible with their NOSMOKE.EXE and that I need to get a new one. I was wondering, where can I get it done and how much it will cost…

Buddha and men

The Three Choices (Wisdom)


Barka was an African Saint. He lived in the old Country. One day, three men came to him for advice. “We have a problem with our friend Alex. He is domineering, aggressive, intolerant. But we are unable to come to an agreement on how to deal with him.”

“I said that we must confront him,” said Arthur, “gently at first and try to tell him that his behavior bothers us and everyone else. We must try to convince him to change. And if that doesn’t work, we should take tough steps and confront him when his behaviour is inacceptable. Become aggressive if necessary.”

“I am afraid, ‘said Peter, that it may trigger a conflict. I don’t agree with Arthur. It is better if we just move away from him and avoid talking to him any further.”

“This is our friend, said Claudio, we must not ignore him like that. I would prefer that we accept him just the way he is.”

“All three of you are right,’said Barka. Facing negativity and working towards making it better is a good strategy. But if you do fail, take care that this kind of confrontation does not lead to violence or anger. Then its better to let go and choose another strategy: avoid, move away and stay away.”

“I don’t agree, said Claudio. Avoiding seems like an easy way out. Cowards who tend to give up too easily would choose that way”

“If it’s fear of confrontation that makes a person run away from it, said Barka, then you’re right to think so. But if you have tried your best to change things, without success, or if it is beyond your strength to confront any longer, avoidance becomes a good choice.”

“And then there is a third strategy – acceptance. When you cannot change or avoid an unpleasant reality, we must learn to accept it.”

“That would be like giving up, said Arthur. I can’t do that.”

“Acceptance is not giving up, said Barka.”

“What is the difference?” Arthur asked.

“If you can not change or avoid the unpleasant situation change your expectations about it. Change your ideals and learn to like and accept reality as it is. It is when you cannot or do not want to change the reality because of your ideals that you start giving up. That creates frustration and incompetence.”

“So every time we face something unacceptable, we have these three choices?” asked the three friends

“Yes,” said Barka. “You have the choice between confrontation, avoidance and acceptance. Or dark side: violence, ignoring and giving up. You must choose wisely.”

Barka then served our three young friends a refreshing drink, which only he knew how to make.

Author: Charles Brulhart (French). Translated and edited by Elan (2014). Copying / duplication not permitted without prior permission.

A-Prince-of-Monkeys

The Wise Monkey (Jataka Tales – 30)


Once, there lived a wise monkey, who was the leader of eighty thousand monkeys.

One day, wandering in a forest they went very far and became very thirsty. So, they looked for water and eventually found a water-pond surrounded by densely grown canes.

But before the monkeys could jump into the water to quench their thirst, their leader, the wise monkey, warned them to wait until the safe drinking was assured, as the place was new for them.

So, he made a circuit and scrutinised the foot-prints around the pond. There, he noticed that there were some foot-prints, which appeared to have gone to the water but have not come up again. So, he inferred that there was a water-ogre living in the lake.

The result of the investigation was very disappointing and frustrating for all the monkeys. So, the wise monkey then made the suggestion that they could still drink the water safely by using the canes as straws, as their was a lavish growth of canes there. So, each monkey picked up one cane and made it hollow to use it as a straw and drank the water. Thus, they all quenched their thirst safely by obeying the wise leader.

The water-ogre, however, appeared but could not harm a single monkey, as he was not empowered to touch the land.

(The monkey king is identified with the Bodhisatta; the 80,000 monkeys with his followers; and the ogre with Devadatta).

Source:  Nalapana Jataka

professor

What the Professor Says Vs What he ‘Really’ Means…


You’ll be using one of the leading textbooks in the field. I used it as a grad student.
If you follow these few simple rules, you’ll do fine in the course. If you don’t need any sleep, you’ll do fine in the course.
The gist of what the author is saying is what’s most important. I don’t understand the details either.
Various authorities agree that… My hunch is that…
The answer to your question is beyond the scope of this class. I don’t know.
You’ll have to see me during my office hours for a thorough answer to your question. I don’t know.
In answer to your question, you must recognize that there are several disparate points of view. I really don’t know.
Today we are going to discuss a most important topic. Today we are going to discuss my dissertation.
Unfortunately, we haven’t the time to consider all of the people who made contributions to this field. I disagree with what roughly half of the people in this field have said.
We can continue this discussion outside of class.
I’m tired of this – let’s quit.
You’re winning the argument – let’s quit.
Today we’ll let a member of the class lead the discussion. It will be a good educational experience. I stayed out too late last night and didn’t have time to prepare a lecture.
Any questions? I’m ready to let you go.
The implications of this study are clear. I don’t know what it means either, but there’ll be a question about it on the test.
The test will be 50-questions multiple choice. The test will be 60-questions multiple guess, plus three short-answer questions (1000 words or more), and no one will score above 55 per cent.
The test scores were generally good. Some of you managed a C+.
The test scores were a little below my expectations. Where was the party last night?
Some of you could have done better. Everyone flunked.
Before we begin the lecture for today, are there any questions about previous material? Has anyone opened the book yet?
According to my sources… According to the guy who taught this class last year…
It’s been very rewarding to teach this class. I hope they find someone else to teach it next year.

 

h2o

Ban dihydrogen monoxide (Humor)


A student at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho
Falls Science Fair, April 26. He was attempting to show how conditioned we
have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of
everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a
petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical
“dihydrogen monoxide.”

And for plenty of good reasons, since:

1. it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. it is a major component in acid rain
3. it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. accidental inhalation can kill you
5. it contributes to erosion
6. it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical.
Forty-three (43) said yes,
six (6) were undecided,
and only one (1) knew that the chemical was water.

The title of his prize winning project was, “How Gullible Are We?”

He feels the conclusion is obvious.

Received via email

bride groom

The Recovered Bride (Irish Folk Tales – 2)


There was a marriage in the townland of Curragraigue. After the usual festivities, and when the guests were left to themselves, and were drinking to the prosperity of the bride and bridegroom, they were startled by the appearance of the man himself rushing into the room with anguish in his looks.

“Oh!” cried he, “Margaret is carried away by the fairies, I’m sure. The girls were not left the room for half a minute when I went in, and there is no more sign of her there than if she never was born.”

Great consternation prevailed, great search was made, but no Margaret was to be found. After a night and day spent in misery, the poor bridegroom laid down to take some rest. In a while he seemed to himself to awake from a troubled dream, and look out into the room. The moon was shining in through the window, and in the middle of the slanting rays stood Margaret in her white bridal clothes. He thought to speak and leap out of the bed, but his tongue was without utterance, and his limbs unable to move.

“Do not be disturbed, dear husband,” said the appearance; “I am now in the power of the fairies, but if you only have courage and prudence we may be soon happy with each other again. Next Friday will be May-eve, and the whole court will ride out of the old fort after midnight. I must be there along with the rest. Sprinkle a circle with holy water, and have a black-hafted knife with you. If you have courage to pull me off the horse, and draw me into the ring, all they can do will be useless. You must have some food for me every night on the dresser, for if I taste one mouthful with them, I will be lost to you forever. The fairies got power over me because I was only thinking of you, and did not prepare myself as I ought for the sacrament. I made a bad confession, and now I am suffering for it. Don’t forget what I have said.”

“Oh, no, my darling,” cried he, recovering his speech, but by the time he had slipped out of bed, there was no living soul in the room but himself.

Till Friday night the poor young husband spent a desolate time. The food was left on the dresser over night, and it rejoiced all hearts to find it vanished by morning. A little before midnight he was at the entrance of the old rath. He formed the circle, took his station within it, and kept the black-hafted knife ready for service. At times he was nervously afraid of losing his dear wife, and at others burning with impatience for the struggle.

At last the old fort with its dark high bushy fences cutting against the sky, was in a moment replaced by a palace and its court. A thousand lights flashed from the windows and lofty hall entrance; numerous torches were brandished by attendants stationed round the courtyard; and a numerous cavalcade of richly attired ladies and gentlemen was moving in the direction of the gate where he found himself standing.

As they rode by him laughing and jesting, he could not tell whether they were aware of his presence or not. He looked intent at each countenance as it approached, but it was some time before he caught sight of the dear face and figure borne along on a milk-white steed. She recognized him well enough, and her features now broke into a smile — now expressed deep anxiety.

She was unable for the throng to guide the animal close to the ring of power; so he suddenly rushed out of his bounds, seized her in his arms, and lifted her off. Cries of rage and fury arose on every side; they were hemmed in, and weapons were directed at his head and breast to terrify him. He seemed to be inspired with superhuman courage and force, and wielding the powerful knife he soon cleared a space round him, all seeming dismayed by the sight of the weapon. He lost no time, but drew his wife within the ring, within which none of the myriads round dared to enter. Shouts of derision and defiance continued to fill the air for some time, but the expedition could not be delayed.

As the end of the procession filed past the gate and the circle within which the mortal pair held each other determinedly clasped, darkness and silence fell on the old rath and the fields round it, and the rescued bride and her lover breathed freely. We will not detain the sensitive reader on the happy walk home, on the joy that hailed their arrival, and on all the eager gossip that occupied the townland and the five that surround it for a month after the happy rescue.

Source: Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts (1866)