The Tree of Knowledge
The Villager and the Happy Man
In a small village, in the valley, lived a man who was always happy, kind, and well disposed to everyone he met. He always smiled, and had kind and encouraging words to say, whenever it was necessary. Everyone who met him, left feeling better, happier and elated. People knew they could count on him, and regarded him as a great friend.
One of the village dwellers was curious to know what his secret was, and how he could always be so kind and helpful. He wondered, how is it that he held no grudge toward anyone, and always was happy.
Once, upon meeting him in the street, he asked him: “Most people are selfish and unsatisfied. They do not smile as often as you do; neither are they as helpful or kind as you are. How do you explain it?”
The man smiled at him and replied, “When you make peace with yourself, you can be at peace with the rest of the world. If you can recognize the spirit in yourself, you can recognize the spirit in everyone, and then you find it natural to be kind and well disposed to all. If your thoughts are under your control, you become strong and firm. The personality is like a robot programmed to do certain tasks. Your habits and thoughts are the tools and programs that control your personality. Become free from being programmed, and then the inner good and the happiness that reside within you will be revealed.”
“But a lot of work is necessary. Good habits have to be developed. The ability to concentrate and to control the thoughts has to be strengthened. The work is difficult and endless. There are many walls that need to be to climbed. It is not an easy task.” Lamented the villager.
“Do not think about the difficulties, otherwise this is what you will see and experience. Just quieten your feelings and thoughts, and try to stay in this peace. Just try to be calm, and do not let yourself be carried away by your thoughts.”
“Is that all?” asked the villager.
“Try to watch your thoughts and see how they come and go. Stay in the quietness that arises. The moments of peace will be brief at first, but in time they will get longer. This peace is also strength, power, kindness, and love. In time, you will realize that you are one with the Universal Power, and this will lead you to act from a different dimension – point of view – consciousness, not from the selfish, small, limited ego.”
“I will try to remember your words,” said the villager, and continued, “there is another thing that I am curious about. You do not seem to be influenced by the environment. You have a kind word for everyone, and you are helpful. People treat you well, and never exploit your goodness.”
“Being good and being kind do not necessarily point to weakness. When you are good, you can also be strong. People sense your inner strength, and therefore, do not impose on you. When you are strong and calm inside, you help people, because you can, and you want to. You act from strength, not from weakness. Goodness is not a sign of weakness, as some people erroneously think. It can manifest together with power and strength.”
* * *
Flying above the storm
Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it high above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring high above it, gliding with ease. The eagle does not escape the storm; it just simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm into its world.
When the storms of life come upon us — and all of us will experience them — we can rise above them by setting our minds and faith toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that brings sickness, pain, tragedy, failure and disappointments in our lives, and make something good come from it. We can soar above the storm. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, but it is how we handle them that counts.
* * *
The Wise Woman’s Stone
A wise woman who was travelling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
* * *
Always remember those who serve
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.
The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.
There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies – you see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.
* * *
Giving when it counts
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the colour returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. You see, after all, understanding and attitude are everything.
* * *
Crossing the water
A farmer’s daughter duty was to deliver fresh milk to customers in various villages. To reach the house of one of the customers who was a priest, the milkmaid had to cross a good-sized stream. People crossed it by a sort of ferry raft, for a small fee. One day the priest, who performed worship daily with the offering to God of fresh milk, finding it arrived very late, scolded the poor woman.
“What can I do?” she said, “I start out early from my house, but I have to wait a long time for the boatman to come.” Then the priest said (pretending to be serious), “What! People have even walked across the ocean by repeating the name of God, and you can’t cross this little river?”
This milkmaid took him very seriously. From then on she brought the priest’s milk punctually every morning. He became curious about it and asked her how it was that she was never late anymore. “I cross the river repeating the name of the Lord,” she replied, “just as you told me to do, without waiting for the ferry.”
The priest didn’t believe her, and asked, “Can you show me this, how you cross the river on foot?” So they went together to the water and the milkmaid began to walk over it. Looking back, the woman saw that the priest had started to follow her and was floundering in the water. “Sir!” she cried, “You are uttering the name of God, yet all the while you are holding up your clothes from getting wet. That is not trusting in God!”
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