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Archive for November, 2013

The Sower

One day, as the reaper went about his daily business of reaping what someone else had sown, he saw a man off in the far distance. Hoping against hope that today might be that long awaited special day, he said a silent prayer and took off running in the man’s direction, dropping his sickle as he went. He never noticed that the plants were getting smaller and less mature along the way. He was too caught up in the moment and the hope that he had that today would be the day that he had waited for all his life. After what seemed like an eternity, the reaper finally reached the man and as he caught his breath he saw for the first time what the other man had been doing all this time. He would reach into a large sack at his side and pull out what appeared to be seeds and then he would scatter them all around. He did this over and over. “Oh thank you God,” the reaper said out loud and at this the seed scattering man stopped his seed scattering and noticed the reaper for the first time.

“Hello, are you the sower?” The reaper asked slowly, deliberately.

“Yes and it has taken you long enough, hasn’t it? I’ve expected you for a long while now,” said the sower. “What took you so long?”

“I just now saw you for the first time. How could I have gotten here quicker?”

“You’ve always had the faith and the vision, but you have lacked the trust that God requires. Even now a question burns in your soul. Ask it and be done.”

“Very well since you insist, I will. Why sower, why do you plant here and there and not everywhere equally? Why is there a patch of fruit here and there, but not everywhere? Why can’t we sow and harvest equally all over?”

“You saw me just now, but yet your eyes tell you nothing. I have always tossed the seeds far and wide. Just as much here as there. I have sown along the path and on rocky ground and among thorns and on good soil too. What you have not seen is that those along the path are often trampled on and eaten by birds and that those seeds that fell on rocky soil had no root and soon withered away and that the seeds that were tossed amongst the thorns were soon choked out by the brambles. All that you have seen is the crop that is left from the good soil.”

“Well then,” began the reaper, “why shouldn’t all soil be made equally? Wouldn’t that be more fair?”

“And then you would make yourself God, for that is what you are saying. You know how to make everything equal and fair and right and God doesn’t. Isn’t that what you are saying?”

“No, I mean, why is it like this?” The reaper pleaded now trying to understand.

“God has a reason for everything. There are reasons for every orphan, every addict, every victim, every crime and every suicide. Perhaps the reason that bad things happen is so that good things have a meaning, but only God knows and only God can know. It isn’t simply beyond our understanding, if we somehow could know, it would damage creation by taking away from the glory that belongs only to God. And God forbid that that should ever happen.”

“Now come on,” continues the sower in a more somber tone, “we have work to do.

 

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The Explorer

canoe

The explorer returned to his people, who were eager to know about the Amazon. But how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded his heart when he saw exotic flowers and heard the night-sounds of the forests; when he sensed the danger of wild beasts or paddled his canoe over treacherous rapids?

He said, “Go and find out for yourselves.”

To guide them he drew a map of the river.

They pounced upon the map.

They framed it in their Town Hall.

They made copies of it for themselves.

And all who had a copy considered themselves experts on the river, for did they not know it’s every turn and bend, how brood it was, how deep, where the rapids were and where the falls were?

But no one took the journey. No one wanted to experience the journey themselves!

 

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Finding Answers Within

Look Within

The village elders had failed time after time to resolve a difficult problem. They invited a very wise person from another village to come and help them. In time, she came. People gathered to hear her wisdom. She asked them: “Do you know what I am going to tell you?” In unison they responded, “NO”. The wise women replied, “You will only learn what you already know, and if you don’t know, I am leaving.” She left. The village was in an uproar.

Months passed and the problem didn’t go away. The elders debated and issued a second invitation to the wise women. In advance of her arrival, they coached the villagers.

When the woman arrived the second time, the village gathered. Again she asked, “Do you know what I am going to tell you?” The villagers shouted in unison, “YES”. She stared at the people. “If you already know, then I have nothing to tell you.” She left.

The village became even more frustrated, but after many months, the issued a third invitation. This time they were ready for the wise woman

“Do you know what I am going to tell you?” Half the villagers shouted “YES”; the other half shouted “NO”. The wise woman looked at the people and said, “Those who know should now get together with those who don’t; and then you will all know.”

She rose, left and never returned.

That night, an elderly woman had a dream. “Last night, a voice told me the meaning of the message from the wise women. She wanted us to know that we need to look within and find our answers. Everyone sees the same thing or situation from his/her own point of view and perspective. When you embark in the process to look within, you ask questions, make choices. In the process, you would have matured. The answers would be not be someone else – handed down to you. They would be your answers. “

(Note: There is a similar story about Buddha. Will try and share in another post)

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The Heart Donkey

Heart Donkey

There was a man in Turkey who was travelling with his favorite donkey, a faithful companion for years and an animal very close to his heart. At the end of a hard day on the road he came to an inn and decided to rest there for the night. No sooner than he had taken off the saddle bags than a youth working for the inn came out to greet him.

“Salaam Aleikum, sir, welcome to our humble shelter! Please, come inside and get some warm soup and sit beside the fire.”

“Of course, I’d love to but first I must make sure my donkey is well cared for.” The man said, patting his donkey on the back. The youth smiled generously.

“Please, sir, allow me to attend to such details, you are an honoured guest here.”

“But it’s just that he’s an old donkey and needs a nice bed of hay to lie in.”

“Sir, we guarantee you the best care possible.”

“But you will sweep the floor first to make sure there are no stones? He gets in a terrible mood if he doesn’t sleep well.”

“Please, sir, just trust me, we are professionals here.”

“But you will add some water to his straw – his teeth are getting shakey and he likes just a little fresh grass to begin with.”

“Sir, you are embarrassing me!

“And you will give him a little rubdown along the spine – he goes crazy for that!”

“Sir, please just leave everything to me.”

So finally the man gave in and entered the establishment to enjoy a fine dinner by the fire and a comfortable bed. Meanwhile the youth rolled his eyes and… then went out to play cards in a nearby den.

The man could not sleep somehow, despite the silk sheets, as he kept having nightmares of his donkey chained up without water or food, lying on the cold stone. The vision wouldn’t leave him and so he got up in his dressing gown, walked down the steps to the stable and there! His donkey was in exactly the condition he’d imagined – cold, hungry and dying of thirst.

[Rumi then sums up by saying: the world is full of those who say whatever is necessary to get their way. When it comes to looking after your heart donkey, it’s entirely up to us. We are the only real keepers of our feelings and no one knows better than us what we really need, hence the value of trusting our intuition and taking care of our hearts as though it really were an old, faithful companion.]

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Tibet needs our support

I usually don’t support any political stand. But I feel this is much more than a cause. Please sign up and do your part.

Master & me

Tibet campaign

 

Tibetans who refuse to fly the Chinese flag above their homes risk being beaten or shot in the latest attempt to break their spirits. But now is the best moment in ages to bring hope to Tibet’s proud, but desperate people.

China’s leaders are mounting an intense campaign to draw a veil over their rights abuses and persuade governments to vote them onto the UN Human Rights Council. So if enough of us shine a light on what’s going on in Tibet — squashing an ancient religion, banning journalists, dawn arrests —we can get China to back away from its hard-line policy to be sure of getting the 97 votes it needs.

Let’s show the Tibetan people that the world hasn’t forgotten them. China is feeling the heat as 13 governments just called them out on human rights in Tibet. Sign to stand with Tibet, then share this with…

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eagle or chicken

’Once upon a time a man found an eagle’s egg and placed it under a brooding hen. The eaglet hatched with the chickens and grew to be like them. He clucked and cackled; scratched the earth for worms; flapped his wings and managed to a few feet in the air.

Years passed. One day, the eagle, now grown old, saw a magnificent bird above him in the sky. It glided in graceful majesty against the powerful wind, with scarcely a movement of its golden wings.

Spellbound, the eagle asked, “Who’s that?“

“That’s the king of the birds, the eagle, “said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to earth—we’re chickens.”

So the eagle lived and a chicken for that’s what he thought he was.’

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The Songbird

Life in Cage

There was once a successful businessman who had everything – a beautiful wife, adorable children and a big house in which they all lived happily. The pride of his life though was his exotic songbird which he kept in a cage and fed delicious titbits when it entertained his guests.

One day the man had to go on a journey far to the south and he asked his wife and children what presents they would like from abroad – they asked for fine silks, honeycomb and clockwork toys. Finally he asked his songbird if he would like him to bring anything back.

“I wish only for one small favour.” The songbird replied.

“Anything!” his master declared.

“Just this – when you see my cousins in the trees in the place you’re going to, please tell them about my conditions here.”

“Are you sure? I could bring you back a fine jewel-encrusted mirror or dried tropical fruit?”

“No, just this, thank you.” The songbird replied and the man went away feeling a little disconcerted but resolved to carry out his pet’s wishes.

The man made his trip safely and carried out his business to satisfaction and spent his remaining time there buying the presents his family had requested. Finally, he went to a park and saw some birds in the trees that bore a remarkable resemblance to his own songbird. He called up to one of them and told them about how his own bird lived in cage and sang for him.

But no sooner had he finished speaking than one of these exotic birds trembled on its perch and tumbled to the ground and ceased to move. The man held his head in grief and the incident quite spoiled his trip.

He returned home and greeted his wife and family who were delighted at their presents but he couldn’t share their pleasure as long as the forthcoming encounter with his songbird remained on his conscience. Finally he found the courage to go down to the garden.

“Well?” his songbird asked and, hesitantly, the man told him exactly what had happened. The song bird listened intently, then trembled on his perch and fell to the bottom of his cage, dead.

The man was now beside himself with grief and confusion. Weeping openly, he opened the door of the cage and carried out his beloved songbird in his hands. No sooner had he done so, however, the songbird returned to life and flew up to the branches of the nearest tree and let out a shrill of joy at finding its freedom.

The man scratched his head in wonder and eventually asked:

“Okay, you win. But tell me please, what was in the message that contained this trick?”

The songbird looked down at him with pity and said:

“My cousin in Africa showed me that it was my beauty that kept me in the cage. Were it not for the delight of my singing voice you would have lost interest long ago. I had to give up that life in order to become free.”

[The image of dying unto oneself is a common Sufi theme, in particular dying unto this world and the things that we hold precious in order to experience the true freedom of living in grace. In one sense this story is about the self-limitation of vanity but at a deeper level there’s the notion that as long as we’re in love with ourselves we will always be in a cage of our own making.]

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