Sunday, 31 July 2011

Wisdom of the world - Week 157

The Chess Game

A young man said to the abbot from the monastery: "I’d actually like to be a monk, but I haven’t learned anything in life. All my father taught me was to play chess, which does not lead to enlightenment. Apart from that, I learned that all games are a sin."
"They may be a sin but they can also be a diversion, and who knows, this monastery needs a little of both," was the reply. The abbot asked for a chess board, sent for a monk and told him to play the young man. But before the game began, he added:
"Although we need diversion, we cannot allow everyone to play chess the whole time. So, we only have the best players here; if our monk loses, he will leave the monastery and his place will be yours."
The abbot was serious. The young man knew he was playing for his life, and broke into a cold sweat; the chess board became the centre of the world.
The monk began badly. The young man attacked, but then saw the saintly look on the monk’s face; at that moment, he began playing badly on purpose. After all, he would rather lose; a monk is far more useful to the world.
Suddenly, the abbot threw the chess board to the floor.
"You have learned far more than was taught you," he said. "You concentrated yourself enough to win, were capable of fighting for that which you desire. Then, you had compassion, and were willing to make a sacrifice in the name of a noble cause.
Welcome to the monastery, because you know how to balance discipline with compassion."

Paulo Coelho

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Wisdom of the world - Week 156

Two drops of oil

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.
However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world. The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.
With considerable patience, he listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness. He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours' time.
"However, I want to ask you a favour, “he added, handing the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. "While you walk, carry this spoon and don't let the oil spill."
The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.
"So," asked the sage, "did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?"
Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.
"So, go back and see the wonders of my world," said the wise man. "You can't trust a man if you don't know his house."
Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.
"But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?" asked the sage.
Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.
"Well, that is the only advice I have to give you," said the sage of sages. "The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon."

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Wisdom of the world - Week 155

Should He Bite Me
One time a large stone fell upon Snake and covered her so that she could not rise. A man came upon her and lifted the stone, but when he had done so, she wanted to bite him. The man said, "Stop! Let us first go to someone wise." They went to Hyena, and the m Man asked him, "Is it right that Snake should want to bite me, even though I helped her so much?"
Hyena (who was looking for his own share of the man's body) said, "If you were bitten, what would it matter?" So Snake thought that settled it, but the man said again, "Wait a little, and let us go to other wise people, that I may hear whether this is right." They went and met Jackal, and the man put the same question to him.
Jackal replied, "I don't believe that Snake could ever be so covered by a stone that she could not rise. Unless I saw it with my two eyes, I wouldn't believe it. Take me to the place where you say it happened so I can see for myself whether it can possibly be true."
They went together to that place, and Jackal said, "Snake, lie down, and let yourself be covered." Snake did so, and the man covered her with the stone; and although she tried with all her strength Snake couldn't get up. Then the man wanted to let Snake go again, but Jackal stopped him saying, "Don't life the stone. She wanted to bite you, therefore, let her get up and lift it herself."
Then they both went away and left Snake there, just as before.

Roger D. Abrahams

Wisdom of the world - Week 154

The handwriting on the wall

A weary mother returned from the store
Lugging groceries through the kitchen door.
Awaiting her arrival was her eight-year-old son
Anxious to relate what his younger brother had done.

"While I was out playing and Dad was on a call
T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall!
It's on the new paper you just hung in the den
I told him you'd be mad at having to do it again."

She let out a moan and furrowed her brow
"Where is your little brother right now?"
She emptied her arms and with a purposeful stride
She marched to his closet where he had gone to hide.

She called his full name as she entered his room
He trembled with fear -- he knew that meant doom!
For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved
About the expensive wallpaper and how she had saved.

Lamenting all the work it would take to repair
She condemned his actions and total lack of care.
The more she scolded, the madder she got
Then stomped from his room, totally distraught.

She headed for the den to confirm her fears
When she saw the wall, her eyes flooded with tears.
The message she read pierced her soul with a dart
It said, "I Love Mommy," surrounded by a heart.

Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she found it
With an empty picture frame hung to surround it.
A reminder to her, and indeed to all
Take time to read the handwriting on the wall.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Wisdom of the world - Week 153

Paying Double For Camels

A camel dealer reached a village to sell fine animals at a very good price. Everyone bought one, except Mr. Hoosep.
Some time later, the village received a visit from another dealer, with excellent camels, but they were much more expensive. This time, Hoosep bought some animals.
“You did not buy the camels when they were almost for free, and now you pay almost double,” criticized his friends.
“Those cheap ones were very expensive for me, because at that time I had very little money,” answered Hoosep, “these animals might seem more expensive, but for me they are cheap, because I have more than enough to buy them.”

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