Other Stories

The thief and the beggar

Once upon a time in ancient India, a thief running away from guards noticed a beggar sleeping in a dark alley. He secretly put the small but priceless piece of jewelry he had just stolen into the pocket of the beggar. He then ran away, intending to come back and steal from the beggar after he outran the guards.

Overnight, the thief was accidentally killed during a struggle with the guards. The beggar was now a rich man. In his pocket, he had enough wealth to live comfortably for life, but he never once checked his own pocket, so he never knew. He lived the rest of his life as a beggar.

You never know what you will find when you look within—there may be hidden treasures.


The Wind and the Sun

A dispute arose between the Wind and the Sun about who was the stronger of the two. They decided to settle the issue by seeing who could get a passing traveler to take off his cloak first. The Wind blew with all his might, but the harder the Wind blew, the tighter the traveller grasped his cloak and wrapped it around himself. Then the Sun shined it’s soft, kind rays, and as the traveller felt more of the genial warmth, he finally removed his cloak. The Sun was declared the winner.

The Golden Windows

There was a little boy who would look across the sprawling meadows outside his house every morning and see in the distance a house with golden windows. He would stare and revel in the radiant beams streaming his way from far away. He asked his father one day if they could visit the house with the golden windows. The father obliged, and they started to walk. They walked and walked until they approached the house. The young lad stood perplexed. He saw no windows of gold. But a little girl inside saw them staring at her home and came out to ask if they were looking for something. “Yes.” replied the boy, “I wanted to see the house with the golden windows that I see every morning.” “Oh, you’ve come to the wrong place.” she said quickly. “If you wait here a little until sunset, I will show you the house with the golden windows that I see every evening.” She then pointed to the house in the distance – the home of the little boy.


She Never Said Can't

She Never Said Can’t
I want to share with you a true story about a Romanian girl who was born with no legs . . .  and was left at the hospital by her parents.
A couple from middle America adopted her and instilled in her love and one prohibition:  Never say the word can’t!
Since they adopted her as an new born infant, that message was buried deeply within her and it reverberated throughout the rest of her life.
Her name is Jennifer Bricker and she became a champion gymnast.  That’s right, a gymnast.
As she was growing up, she saw Dominique Moceanu win the Olympic gymnastic competition at the age of 14 and she was immediately attracted to her.   Actually, she was mesmerized by her and she vowed at an early age to emulate her and become a gymnast, too.  Did I mention, she has no legs?  But she also had been imbued with the admonition to never say “can’t.”
So she started training and after many spills and attempts, she became a bone fide gymnast and eventually won school championships for gymnastics – not as a disabled person, but as a full-fledged gymnast against other gymnasts.
After the age of 16, she asked her mother if there was anything she had not told her about her natural parents and she responded “yes” and told her she had discovered that Dominique was actually her natural sister.  Jennifer contacted Dominique by mail and laid out all the proof she had and they were eventually reunited.
Perhaps the most interesting part is that Dominque had a terrible relationship with her father, who pushed her to achieve greatness as a champion gymnast by hitting her and cursing her and generally intimidating her.
Meanwhile, Jennifer had grown up in a loving and respectful family who had taught her that she could do anything – as long as she never said “can’t.”
To this day, Jennifer does not think of herself as handicapped or disabled.  In fact, she remarked that she “feels terrible taking someone else’s parking spot who really needs it” since she does not see herself as disabled in any way.
She has made a life for herself performing, using her abilities as a gymnast on stage and lives by herself in Hollywood.  She stays in touch with her family and her sisters now and they only wish they had grown up in a family like Jennifer’s who demonstrate such love and acceptance.  When asked, Jennifer says “it was all perfect” about her life.  I agree.  Everything is always in perfect order – except in our mind’s judgment.
I have carried around a poem in my wallet entitled “Can’t” (author unknown)for over 30 years ( I had to use a magnifying lens to read it because it is so faded . . . and I don’t like the use of the word “hated” but the overall idea is perfect) which goes like this:
Can’t is a word that is foe to ambition
an enemy ambush to shatter your will.
It’s prey is forever a man with a mission,
and bows but to patience, courage and skill.
So hate it with hatred that’s deep and undying.
For once it is welcomed, ’twill break any man.
So whatever the goal you are seeking, 
keep trying,
and answer the demon by saying “I can.”
Apparently, that small child’s adoptive parents knew the message of that poem many years ago and they instilled it in their so-called disabled child.  She never sees herself as disabled to this day.
She is a tribute to positive conditioning of the mind to achieve greatness.  As the interviewer said, she made him embarrassed to complain about anything in his life after seeing her.
Both children achieved greatness, but the one who won the Olympics eventually emancipated herself from her parents.  Meanwhile, Jennifer’s family is intact and is a beautiful example of love in action every day. . . and Dominque visits them often.
Other Stories

The Drought

Once, in a faraway country there was a drought. There had been no rain for days. No rain for weeks. No rain for months. And the land was dry, dry. And hard and cracked and brown and dusty. And the sun beat down relentlessly. And the heat was unbearable. Like living in an oven. Impossible to breathe. And everywhere the dust. On the ground. In the air. On your skin. In your eyes. In your throat. Suffocating dust.
And the plants were dying. Changing from green through yellow to brown, they withered and died. And the animals were starving: the cattle, the sheep, the pigs, the goats – getting thinner and thinner and thinner … and dying. And the people were starving too, for there was nothing to eat. And the drought went on and on and on.
So one day; all the men went into the temple to pray for rain. In the sweltering heat they got down on their knees on the hard, dusty ground and they prayed and they prayed and they prayed for rain. But still there was no rain.
And so another day, all the women went into the temple to pray for rain. In the sweltering heat they got down on their knees on the hard dusty ground and they prayed and they prayed and they prayed for rain. But still there was no rain.
And then one day, a little girl went up the steps to the temple. She was about nine and she was wearing a dirty yellow dress that was torn. Her feet were bare and her legs and arms were dusty. Her long hair was tangled and in a mess. There was dirt on her face. And up she went up the steps of the temple, to pray for rain. But do you know what she had with her? She had with her an umbrella. Not a posh umbrella. A scruffy old broken umbrella. But an umbrella just the same. And she skipped into the temple and got down on her knees and put her umbrella on the ground beside her and she prayed and she prayed and she prayed for rain.
And do you know what? When she came out of the temple, it was raining.

Other Stories

The Snake

Some cowherd boys used to tend their cows in a meadow where a terrible poisonous snake lived. Everyone was on the alert for fear of it.
One day a brahmachari was going along the meadow. The boys ran to him and said; ‘Revered sir, please don’t go that way. A venomous snake lives over there.’ ‘What of it, my good children?’ said the brahmachari. ‘I am not afraid of the snake. I know some mantras.’ So saying, he continued on his way along the meadow. But the cowherd boys, being afraid, did not accompany him.
In the mean time the snake moved swiftly toward him with upraised hood. As soon as it came near, he recited a mantra, and the snake lay at his feet like an earthworm. The brahmachari said: ‘Look here. Why do you go about doing harm? Come, I will give you a holy word. By repeating it you will learn to love God. Ultimately you will realize Him and so get rid of your violent nature.’
Saying this, he taught the snake a holy word and initiated him into spiritual life. The snake bowed before the teacher and said, ‘Revered sir, how shall I practise spiritual discipline?’ ‘Repeat that sacred word’, said the teacher, ‘and do no harm to anybody.’ As he was about to depart, the brahmachari said, ‘I shall see you again.’
“Some days passed and the cowherd boys noticed that the snake would not bite. They threw stones at it. Still it showed no anger; it behaved as if it were an earthworm. One day one of the boys came close to it, caught it by the tail, and, whirling it round and round, dashed it again and again on the ground and threw it away. The snake vomited blood and became unconscious. It was stunned. It could not move. So, thinking it dead, the boys went their way.
Late at night the snake regained consciousness. Slowly and with great difficulty it dragged itself into its hole; its bones were broken and it could scarcely move. Many days passed. The snake became a mere skeleton covered with a skin. Now and then, at night, it would come out in search of food. For fear of the boys it would not leave its hole during the day-time. Since receiving the sacred word from the teacher, it had given up doing harm to others. It maintained its life on dirt, leaves, or the fruit that dropped from the trees.
About a year later the brahmachari came that way again and asked after the snake. The cowherd boys told him that it was dead. But he couldn’t believe them. He knew that the snake would not die before attaining the fruit of the holy word with which it had been initiated.
He found his way to the place and, searching here and there, called it by the name he had given it. Hearing the teacher’s voice, it came out of its hole and bowed before him with great reverence. ‘How are you?’ asked the brahmachari. ‘I am well, sir’, replied the snake. ‘But’, the teacher asked, ‘why are you so thin?’ The snake replied: ‘Revered sir, you ordered me not to harm anybody. So I have been living only on leaves and fruit. Perhaps that has made me thinner.’
The snake had developed the quality of sattva; it could not be angry with anyone. It had totally forgotten that the cowherd boys had almost killed it.
The brahmachari said: ‘It can’t be mere want of food that has reduced you to this state. There must be some other reason. Think a little.’ Then the snake remembered that the boys had dashed it against the ground. It said: ‘Yes, revered sir, now I remember. The boys one day dashed me violently against the ground. They are ignorant, after all. They didn’t realize what a great change had come over my mind. How could they know I wouldn’t bite or harm anyone?’
The brahmachari exclaimed: ‘What a shame! You are such a fool! You don’t know how to protect yourself. I asked you not to bite, but I didn’t forbid you to hiss. Why didn’t you scare them by hissing?’

Other Stories

Haiwatha and the Sticks

A long long time ago, in North America, there lived a great leader called Haiwatha. He was a powerful man, but he had a terrible problem. His country and the next country were at war. Haiwatha had killed many of his enemy but he had also suffered greatly. Haiwatha had lost his parents and his pregnant wife. And Haiwatha was tired of war. He wanted peace. But he knew that his enemy would not accept a peace agreement. And so he had a big problem.

What do you do when you have a big problem in your life?

Haiwatha decided to go deep into Nature, because in a mysterious way, sometimes Nature can give us the answer to our problems. So he crossed the fields, he swam the mighty river, and climbed deep into the mountains. Haiwatha spent many days in the mountains, thinking about how he could make peace in his country.

One cold morning, Haiwatha wanted to make a fire. So he went and picked up wooden sticks. As he picked up the sticks, he looked at the pieces of wood and suddenly realized how he could bring peace to his country.

Carrying the sticks, Haiawatha ran down the mountain, swam the mighty river, walked through the fields and walked into his enemy’s village. This of course was a very dangerous thing to do because his enemy could kill him easily.

The leader of the village came to Haiwatha and Haiwatha said, “let’s have peace, let’s stop fighting, let’s end the war.”

The leader looked at Haiwatha and said, “No there shall be no peace. You have killed my people, you have killed my family and we want revenge.”

Haiwatha expected this answer, and he took one thin stick from the group of sticks. And he said to his enemy, “I will accept war but only if you can break this one thin stick.”

Haiwatha laughed because he was a powerful man and he could easily break the stick. And he raised the stick above his head. Just before his enemy broke the stick, Haiwatha said, “Wait.”

And Haiwatha picked up the large group of sticks, and he carefully put that one thin stick into the middle of the group. Haiwatha said, “Now try to break the stick.”

And now because the thin stick was protected by the group of sticks, his enemy could not break that one stick, no matter how hard he tried.

Haiwatha said, “We are like sticks because when we are divided we are easily broken. But when we come together, we are powerful. Let’s at least try to work for peace.”

And his enemy saw the wisdom of Haiwatha’s words, and this was the beginning of the peace journey.

The moral of the story is, we people of the 21st century are also like sticks. When we gather our role models around us like sticks, we become more powerful, too.”

Other Stories

Conlan and Conan Against the Raid

Once upon a time in a land far away, there was a magnificent kingdom ruled by a magnanimous king. The fields bore fruits and vegetables that were ripe, sweet, and juicy. The forests had many trees of multiple varieties. The other natural resources were plentiful, making this kingdom rich and prosperous, and its people so very content and happy that none bothered to venture beyond its borders.
However, one day a messenger arrived from the neighboring kingdom to the north.
“Your majesty, I bring terrible news. Raiders from the frozen lands far to the north have marched south; destroying all of the other kingdoms, and robbing their lands of their riches. Only your secret vault remains, with the treasure yet intact you promised to loan us. My king sent me here to give you back the key, but you must hurry and send only your bravest knights to retrieve it.”
So the king immediately called his subjects together and made an announcement.
“To the brave knights and any others who bring back this treasure, I will give one-half – to be divided into equal shares among those who carry it to me.”
Two dozen men shouted, “I will go!” and gathered their arms and other supplies to make ready for the arduous journey.
The road north was most treacherous in this kingdom, for it was closest to the headwaters of the river they followed that connected all of the kingdoms in this part of the world. At the base of the mountain range whose long, towering peaks created the border between the southernmost kingdoms, a tunnel had been dug; for the river was too treacherous to float upon, and the cliffs too steep and rocky for a trail. Halfway through the mile-long passageway, the only knight who had ever traveled through it spoke.
“Something is amiss. We should see the light at the other end at this point!”
True enough, when they got to the end, a huge boulder blocked the path. As hard as all of them together tried, they could not budge the enormous rock.
“It is an impossible task!” most cried. “A sure sign from God to turn back!” said the others.
So with heads hung low, the knights from the southernmost kingdom retreated.
Among these men strode a young scribe, small for his years but with the heart of a lion. His name was Conlan. His skill using all weaponry was remarkable, but overlooked due to his size. As he neared the light at beginning of the tunnel, a weird feeling developed in his gut. He recognized it was telling him to remain. Conlan was also a clever young man, so he turned to his knight and said, “Sir Knight, I beg your pardon for I wish to stay here until the raiders from the north return; whereupon I will rush back to you to carry the warning of their arrival.” Being a fairly intelligent man. Sir Knight understood the logic of the plan, and granted Conlan’s wish. He also slipped Conlan the keys to the vault, “just in case.”
As soon as the others had walked out of sight, a strange wizened man trudged out of the forest and walked-up to Conlan. He said his name was Conan.
“Your companions left too soon,” Conan said. “They didn’t try enough ways to remove the rock. They are all quitters.”
“How many ways are ‘enough’?” aped Conlan, angry at the way Conan spoke of his fellows.
“As many as it takes to succeed!” answered Conan.
Then Conan told Conlan several things he knew he didn’t know Conlan didn’t know. He told the scribe that the raiders had stopped raiding as soon as the first snow had fallen. They had won so much treasure that they knew they couldn’t get back to their homeland carrying both their ill-gotten gain and their armory, so they had decided to dig a great pit and hide all their weapons in it until they would return early next summer. The giant boulder at the end of the tunnel covered the pit. Conan also told Conlan he knew a way to remove the huge rock.
“These cracks run deep into the heart of this boulder,” Conan told Conlan as they inspected the rock. “If we can trap enough water inside, the freeze that will soon come should expand the frozen water enough to split this rock into many smaller pieces. Small enough to easily remove them.”
And it came to pass that Conan’s plan worked to perfection, and he and Conlan removed the debris and brought-up the raider’s weapons: which were superior to their kingdom’s in all ways. The weapons were stored in several large carts, so the scribe and old man emptied one and headed for the vault.
The kingdom went wild with excitement when Conlan returned with the weapons and treasure. He rightfully claimed his share, then introduced Conan.
“Forgive me, your Highness, but I must dampen the mood of this celebration. There will be time to celebrate later, but now is the time to prepare for the raiders’ return. For if you fail to plan, you are planning to fall into destruction!” warned Conan.
So the wise king gathered his forces and plotted different strategies for the raiders’ return. And it came to pass that early the next summer when the raiders revisited they were ambushed as soon as they entered the tunnel, and forced to surrender without a fight.
When the good king confronted the raiders, he spoke these words:
“I can appreciate your need for the riches you have taken from our neighbors, for I have heard many tales of the harshness of your barren land. Therefore, I shall give you two choices. You may remain and join my kingdom and work-off your share of what your people have stolen: or, you may return to your lands and keep what you have already taken, but only after you sign a treaty that states you must never return to any of our kingdoms with hostile intent.”
Most of the raiders signed the treaty and returned to their homeland. The king gave his half of the treasure to the neighboring for them to use to rebuild. Conlan also gave a large portion of his share, but not until he married a pretty girl and built a nice home.
And Conan returned to the forest by the tunnel, and contemplated things he didn’t know he didn’t know he didn’t know until the end of his days. Which was actually another beginning.

Other Stories

Learning is Like a River

Sometimes, it can be hard to learn something new because it all seems to go so slowly in the beginning. Naturally it takes time to build connections in the brain and all we really need to do is to spend more time on the activity that we want to learn.
Just like water running down a mountain – it doesn’t begin as a mighty river. Instead, it builds up over time, from the first drops of rain struggling to find their way down a mountainside and then gradually forming a gentle flowing stream to becoming a bigger, faster running river.

And as those drops of water come together and begin to flow, our learning can begin to flow and become easier and easier over time until it becomes completely natural and a beautiful thing to watch. 

Other Stories

A Decision

One night, I was playing guitar and singing in an Irish pub in Japan and a young woman walked in. I knew that I knew her from somewhere, and she clearly recognized me. At the break, she came up and asked me in excellent English that difficult question, “Do you remember me?”
I had to admit that I remembered her face but couldn’t remember where we had met.

She told me that I had been her English teacher 8 years previously in high school, and then it all came back to me. Yes, I remembered her. I remembered her whole class because it was my least favourite class of all my time teaching in high school. I remembered that horrible feeling just walking towards the classroom before either of their two weekly lessons.

And I also remember making a promise to myself at that time that I would try harder in those classes than any other classes. So before every single class, I stood outside for a moment and reminded myself of that decision.  At the end of the year, I was so happy to say goodbye to them. I still didn’t like that group of students, but I had tried.
The young woman in the Irish pub remembered those lessons, too.
“There were some bad students in that class, but you tried so hard in every lesson to teach us that you really made me interested in English. Because of that, I decided to go to the United States to study nursing. Your class really inspired me. It changed my life.”
We never know when our little efforts and little words can change a person’s life and bring happiness in ways that we could never have imagined.