The Tree of Knowledge
Inspiring stories and poems
Stories and poems have always been used to teach, inspire and motivate. I hope and believe that the following stories will do the same. Read them attentively and you will find information and guidance about developing and increasing your spiritual power and mind power.
The secrets of Ganesha’s success through wisdom
Both Ganesha and Kartikeya wanted to get married and told their parents of their wish. They began arguing over who should get married first, putting their parents in a difficult position of choosing one son over another. Wanting to be fair, they decided to hold a competition that required Ganesha and Kartikeya to circumambulate the world thrice, visiting all pilgrimage centres on the way. Whoever returned from this trip first would be married off first.
Ganesha was disadvantaged. His brother Kartikeya was slender and swifter with a mighty peacock as his vahana, whereas the plump and rotund Ganesha only had a humble mouse as his vahana to be his vehicle. So Kartikeya left and had already finished two circumambulations, while Ganesha had not moved an inch and was still pondering on how to win. After deep meditation Ganesha had an idea. The next day, he went about his ablutions and post sanctifying himself, summoned his parents to sit in front of him. He then circumambulated his parents seven times, a sacred number, and then demanded his winning prize of getting married first. Perplexed, his parents asked how he could declare himself the winner when he hadn’t even started his task yet. Ganesha wittily replied that he indeed had completed the task; as Shiva and Parvati were not just his parents, but also the greatest gods in the world, and by taking their rounds, he had circumambulated the entire universe!
Pleased with their son’s wisdom, Ganesha was declared the winner and was married even before Kartikeya’s return.
This extremely amusing story humorously brings to the fore the importance of wisdom in life. Ganesha had all the odds against him. He was heavier and had a smaller, slower vahana. Kartikeya, on the contrary, had all the advantages with a slender body and a swift peacock. But still Ganesha defeated his brother of all abilities by using his extraordinary presence of mind and wit. He introspected, and in accordance with his own personal circumstances and weaknesses, realized a solution that was so effective that it led him to victory.
We are hence made aware of the gravity of wisdom in every aspect of real life. Wisdom is indispensable, especially in situations where we are disadvantaged. Yet with wisdom, we can overcome these disadvantages – be it in our professional or personal lives – and invariably be led to wealth, victory and success. We all possess wisdom in various degrees, but most of us never take the pain to introspect and realize what we can do. You need to get out of your comfort zones and bring out that latent dexterity that exists within you. It’s also important to ensure that you don’t utilize that intelligence to venture into negativity! Adapting to such methods in life will help you remove roadblocks and happily saunter into a more content, blissful existence replete with victories at every step.
* * *
Sufi Master on – Can I see God?
On the top of the mountain, lived a Sufi Master. Once every month he used to visit the village at the foot of the mountain. On one such visit, a man approached him and asked, How come I cannot have sight of the God? Can you help me to see God?
“Sure”, was the reply of the Sufi Master, but for that you will have to help me.
“What help do you need Master?”
“You will have to pick up five stones of equal size and weight. Carry them to the top of the mountain, so that I can use them to build a platform outside my hut.”
The seeker agreed. Both started their journey way up on the mountain. Soon the man got tired and walking became a very difficult task for him.
“Discard one of the stones,” the Sufi Master told, “then it will be easier for you.”
The man discarded one of the stone and walking became easier. Once again the man got tired. Walking towards the mountaintop was becoming very tough. The master again asked him to discard one of the stone. Likewise all five stones were discarded on top of the mountain.
The Sufi Master then said to the man, “Now I have shown you the way to God.”
The man was perplexed. He said, “I cannot see God.” The Master explained, “The five stones symbolize our major weaknesses to see God. They are Lust, Anger, Greed, Desires and Ego. Learn to discard these. Let me be the first one to warn you, it will not be easy. Strive hard, I shall help you. When all you succeed in throwing away all these stones. which are but curtains between you and God, then effortlessly you will have sight of your beloved God.”
Thus the man began his journey on the Sufi Path under a Sufi Master.
* * *
Story of Every Man
One day Lord Vishnu was sitting in a deep cave within a far mountain meditating with his disciple. Upon the completion of the meditation the disciple was so moved that he prostrated himself at Vishnu’s feet and begged to be able to perform some service for his Lord in gratitude.
Vishnu smiled and shook his head, “It will be most difficult for you to repay me in actions for what I have just given you freely.”
“Please Lord,” the disciple said, “allow me the grace of serving you.”
“Very well,” Vishnu relented, “I would like a nice cool cup of water.”
“At once Lord,” the disciple said, and he ran down the mountain singing in joy. After a while he came to a small house at the edge of a beautiful valley and knocked at the door.
“May I please have a cool cup of water for my Master,” he called. “We are wandering sannyasins and have no home on this earth.”
A wondrous maiden answered his call, and looked at him with undisguised adoration. “Ah,” she whispered, “you must serve that holy saint upon the far mountain. Please, Good sir, enter my house and bestow your blessing therein.”
“Forgive my rudeness,” he answered, “but I am in haste. I must return to my Master with his water immediately.”
“Surely, just your blessing won’t upset him. After all he is a great holy man, and as his disciple you are obligated to help those of us who are less fortunate. Please, just your blessing for my humble house. It is such an honour to have you here and to be enabled to serve the Lord through you.”
So the story goes, he relented, and entered the house and blessed all therein. And then it was time for dinner, and he was persuaded to stay and further the blessing by partaking of her food (thereby making it also holy), and since it was so late – and so far back to the mountain, and he might slip in the dark and spill the water – he was persuaded to sleep there that night and get an early start in the morning.
But in the morning, the cows were in pain because there was no one to help her milk them, and if he could just help her this once (after all, cows are sacred to Lord Krishna, and should not be in pain) it would be so wondrous. And days became weeks, and still he remained. They were married, and had numerous children. He worked the land well and brought forth good harvests. He purchased more land and put it under cultivation, and soon his neighbours looked to him for advice and help, and he gave it freely. His family prospered.
Temples were built through his effort, schools and hospitals replaced the jungle, and the valley became a jewel upon the earth. Harmony prevailed where only wilderness had been, and many flocked to the valley as news of its prosperity and peace spread throughout the land. There was no poverty or disease there, and all men sang their praises to God as they worked. He watched his children grow and have their own children, and it was good.
One day as an old man, as he stood upon a low hill facing the valley, he thought of all that had transpired since he had arrived: farms and happy prosperity as far as the eye could see. And he was pleased. Suddenly there was a great tidal wave, and as he watched, it flooded the whole valley, and in an instant all was gone. Wife, children, farms, schools, neighbours – all gone.
He stared, bewildered, at the holocaust that spread before him. And then he saw riding upon the face of the waters his Master, Vishnu, who looked at him and smiled sadly, and said, “I’m still waiting for my water!”
This is the story of man. This is what has happened to everybody. We have completely forgotten why we are here, why we came in the first place, what to learn, what to earn, what to know, who we are and from whence and to where, what is our source and the cause of our journey into life, in the world, and what we have attained up to now. And if a tidal wave comes – and it is going to come, it always comes; its name is death – all will be gone: children, family, name, fame, money, power, prestige.
All will be gone in a single moment and you will be left alone, utterly alone. All that you had done will be undone by the tidal wave. All that you had worked for will prove nothing but a dream, and your hands and your heart will be empty. And you will have to face the Lord; you will have to face existence. And the existence has been waiting for you; long, long it has been waiting for you to bring something for which you had been sent in the first place. But you have fallen asleep, and you are dreaming a thousand and one dreams. All that you have been doing up to now is nothing but a dream, because death comes and all is washed away.
* * *
An old Cherokee story:
An old Cherokee told his grandson:
‘My son there is a battle between two wolves inside all of us.
‘One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies & ego.
‘The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy & truth.’
The boy thought about it, and asked: ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’
The old man quietly replied: ‘The one you feed.’
* * *
The Many Wines
— Jalaluddin Rumi
God has given us a dark wine so potent that,
drinking it, we leave the two worlds.
God has put into the form of hashish a power
to deliver the taster from self-consciousness.
God has made sleep so
that it erases every thought.
God made Majnun love Layla so much that
just her dog would cause confusion in him.
There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstacies
are the same!
Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk with barley.
Drink from the presence of saints,
not from those other jars.
Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight.
Be a connoisseur,
and taste with caution.
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.”
Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it’s been untied,
and is just ambling about.
* * *
I find you, Lord, in all Things and in all
– Rainer Maria Rilke
I find you, Lord, in all Things and in all
my fellow creatures, pulsing with your life;
as a tiny seed you sleep in what is small
and in the vast you vastly yield yourself.
The wondrous game that power plays with Things
is to move in such submission through the world:
groping in roots and growing thick in trunks
and in treetops like a rising from the dead.
* * *
– Colin Oliver
Like the wind searching,
lifting feathers round
the sparrow’s neck,
lifting leaves in a wave
across the bean field,
I find no place
where I can say,
here my being ends.
* * *
I Am All
— Jiddu Krishnamurti
I am the blue firmament and the black cloud,
I am the waterfall and the sound thereof,
I am the graven image and the stone by the wayside,
I am the rose and the falling petals thereof,
I am the flower of the field and the sacred lotus,
I am the sanctified waters and the still pool,
I am the tree that towereth among the mountains
And the blade of grass in the peaceful lane,
I am the tender spring leaf and the evergreen foliage.
I am the barbarian and the sage,
I am the impious and the pious,
I am the ungodly and the godly,
I am the harlot and the virgin,
I am the liberated and the man of time,
I am the the indestructible and the destructible,
I am the renunciation and the proud possessor.
I am all few know me.
I am neither This nor That,
I am neither detached nor attached,
I am neither heaven nor hell — few know me —
I am neither philosophies nor creeds,
I am neither the Guru nor the disciple.
I contain all.
I am clear as the mountain stream,
Simple as the new spring leaf.
Happy are they
That meet with me.
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