One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.
Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender.
The Moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful Daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his Daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the Proposal.
So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let Providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black Pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.
1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.
3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two Black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag. Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order To save her father from his debt and imprisonment.
Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.
What would you recommend to the girl to do?
Well, here is what she did….
The girl put her hand into the money bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles. "Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked." Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into An extremely advantageous one.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
Every problems has a solution, we only need to think creatively and ‘out of the box’. So just retain your cool & think. There is a normal & logical thinking (called vertical thinking) and there is the lateral or creative thinking. Real solutions are got by the latter.
Vertical thinkers would have been concerned with the fact that the girl has to take a pebble. Lateral thinkers become concerned with the pebble that is left behind. Vertical thinkers take the most reasonable view of a situation and then proceed logically and carefully to work it out. Lateral thinkers tend to explore all the different ways of looking at something, rather than accepting the most promising and proceeding from that."
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.
Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.
The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.
Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.
Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her, “Who was that man?” he asked.
The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.
“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His Son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this Gentleman’s Name? “
The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey………”
The next time someone needs you … just be there. Stay.
Shared on Facebook, and is said to be excerpts from ‘Life of LT Michael P. Murphy’, biography of Navy SEAL who earned the Medal of Honor on June 28, 2005 for his bravery during a fierce fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
(A dialogue between His Holiness Shri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswami and a Disciple): [His Holiness was the Sringeri Mathadhipati 1912-1954]
H.H. : I hope you are pursuing your studies in the Vedanta as usual?
D. : Though not regularly, I do make some occasional study.
H.H. : In the course of your studies, you may have come across many doubts.
D. : Yes, one doubt repeatedly comes up to my mind.
H.H. : What is it?
D. : It is the problem of the eternal conflict between fate and free-will. What are their respective provinces and how can the conflict be avoided?
H.H. : If presented in the way you have done it, the problem would baffle even the highest of thinkers.
D. : What is wrong with my presentation? I only stated the problem and did not even explain how I find it to be a difficult one.
H.H. : Your difficulty arises in the very statement of the problem.
D. : How?
H.H. : A conflict arises only if there are two things. There can be no conflict if there is only one thing.
D. : But here there are two things, fate and free-will.
H.H. : Exactly. It is this assumption of yours that is responsible for your problem.
D. : It is not my assumption at all. How can I ignore the fact that the two things exist as independent factors, whether I grant their existence or not?
H.H. : That is where you are wrong again.
D. : How?
H.H. : As a follower of our Sanatana Dharma, you must know that fate is nothing extraneous to yourself, but only the sum total of the results of your past actions. As God is but the dispenser of the fruits of actions, fate, representing those fruits, is not his creation but only yours. Free-will is what you exercise when you act now.
D. : Still I do not see how they are not two distinct things.
H.H. : Have it this way. Fate is past karma; free-will is present karma. Both are really one, that is, karma, though they may differ in the matter of time. There can be no conflict when they are really one.
D. : But the difference in time is a vital difference which we cannot possibly overlook.
H.H. : I do not want you to overlook it, but only to study it more deeply. The present is before you and, by the exercise of free-will, you can attempt to shape it. The past is past and is therefore beyond your vision and is rightly called adrishta, the unseen. You cannot reasonably attempt to find out the relative strength of two things unless both of them are before you. But, by our very definition, free-will, the present karma, alone is before you and fate, the past karma, is invisible. Even if you see two wrestlers right in front of you, you cannot decide about their relative strength. For, one may have weight, the other agility; one muscles and the other tenacity; one the benefit of practice and the other coolness of judgment and so on. We can go on building arguments on arguments to conclude that a particular wrestler will be the winner. But experience shows that each of these qualifications may fail at any time or may prove to be a disqualification. The only practical method of determining their relative strength will be to make them wrestle. While this is so, how do you expect to find by means of arguments a solution to the problem of the relative value of fate and free-will when the former by its very nature is unseen!
D. : Is there no way then of solving this problem?
H.H. : There is this way. The wrestlers must fight with each other and prove which of them is the stronger.
D. : In other words, the problem of conflict will get solved only at the end of the conflict. But at that time the problem will have ceased to have any practical significance.
H.H. : Not only so, it will cease to exist.
D. : That is, before the conflict begins, the problem is incapable of solution; and, after the conflict ends, it is no longer necessary to find a solution.
H.H. : Just so. In either case, it is profitless to embark on the enquiry as to the relative strength of fate and free-will.
D. : Does Your Holiness then mean to say that we must resign ourselves to fate?
H.H. : Certainly not. On the other hand, you must devote yourself to free-will.
D. : How can that be?
H.H. : Fate, as I told you, is the resultant of the past exercise of your free-will. By exercising your free-will in the past, you brought on the resultant fate.
By exercising your free-will in the present, I want you to wipe out your past record if it hurts you, or to add to it if you find it enjoyable. I any case. whether for acquiring more happiness or for reducing misery. you have to exercise your free-will in the present.
D. : But the exercise of free-will however well-directed, very often fails to secure the desired result, as fate steps in and nullifies the action of free-will.
H.H. : You are again ignoring our definition of fate. It is not an extraneous and a new thing which steps in to nullify your free-will. On the other hand, it is already in yourself.
D. : It may be so, but its existence is felt only when it comes into conflict with free-will. How can we possibly wipe out the past record when we do not know nor have the means of knowing what it is?
H.H. : Except to a very few highly advanced souls, the past certainly remains unknown. But even our ignorance of it is very often an advantage to us. For, if we happen to know all the results we have accumulated by our actions in this and our past lives, we will be so much shocked as to give up in despair any attempt to overcome or mitigate them. Even in this life, forgetfulness is a boon which the merciful God has been pleased to bestow on us, so that we may not be burdened at any moment with a recollection of all that has happened in the past. Similarly, the divine spark in us is ever bright with hope and makes it possible for us to confidently exercise our free-will. It is not for us to belittle the significance of these two boons-forgetfulness of the past and hope for the future.
D. : Our ignorance of the past may be useful in not deterring the exercise of the free-will, and hope may stimulate that exercise. All the same, it cannot be denied that fate very often does present a formidable obstacle in the way of such exercise.
H.H. : It is not quite correct to say that fate places obstacles in the way of free-will. On the other hand, by seeming to oppose our efforts, it tells us what is the extent of free-will that is necessary now to bear fruit. Ordinarily for the purpose of securing a single benefit, a particular activity is prescribed; but we do not know how intensively or how repeatedly that activity has to be pursued or persisted in. If we do not succeed at the very first attempt, we can easily deduce that in the past we have exercised our free-will just in the opposite direction, that the resultant of that past activity has first to be eliminated and that our present effort must be proportionate to that past activity. Thus, the obstacle which fate seems to offer is just the gauge by which we have to guide our present activities.
D. : The obstacle is seen only after the exercise of our free-will; how can that help us to guide our activities at the start?
H.H. : It need not guide us at the start. At the start, you must not be obsessed at all with the idea that there will be any obstacle in your way. Start with boundless hope and with the resumption that there is nothing in the way of your exercising the free-will. If you do not succeed, tell yourself then that there has been in the past a counter-influence brought on by yourself by exercising your free-will in the other direction and, therefore, you must now exercise your free-will with re-doubled vigor and persistence to achieve your object. Tell yourself that, inasmuch as the seeming obstacle is of your own making, it is certainly within your competence to overcome it. If you do not succeed even after this renewed effort, there can be absolutely no justification for despair, for fate being but a creature of your free-will can never be stronger than your free-will. Your failure only means that your present exercise of free-will is not sufficient to counteract the result of the past exercise of it. In other words, there is no question of a relative proportion between fate and free-will as distinct factors in life. The relative proportion is only as between the intensity of our past action and the intensity of our present action.
D. : But even so, the relative intensity can be realized only at the end of our present effort in a particular direction.
H.H. : It is always so in the case of everything which is adrishta or unseen. Take, for example, a nail driven into a wooden pillar. When you see it for the first time, you actually see, say, an inch of it projecting out of the pillar. The rest of it has gone into the wood and you cannot now see what exact length of the nail is imbedded in the wood. That length, therefore, is unseen or adrishta, so far as you are concerned. Beautifully varnished as the pillar is, you do not know what is the composition of the wood in which the nail is driven. That also is unseen or adrishta. Now, suppose you want to pull that nail out, can you tell me how many pulls will be necessary and how powerful each pull has to be?
D. : How can I? The number and the intensity of the pulls will depend upon the length which has gone into the wood.
H.H. : Certainly so. And the length which has gone into the wood is not arbitrary, but depended upon the number of strokes which drove it in and the intensity of each of such strokes and the resistance which the wood offered to them.
D. : It is so.
H.H. : The number and intensity of the pulls needed to take out the nail depend therefore upon the number and intensity of the strokes which drove it in.
D. : Yes.
H.H. : But the strokes that drove in the nail are now unseen and unseeable. They relate to the past and are adrishta.
D. : Yes.
H.H. : Do we stop from pulling out the nail simply because we happen to be ignorant of the length of the nail in the wood or of the number and intensity of the strokes which drove it in? Or, do we persist in pulling it out by increasing our effort?
D. : Certainly, as practical men we adopt the latter course.
H.H. : Adopt the same course in every effort of yours. Exert yourself as much as you can. Your will must succeed in the end.
D. : But there certainly are many things which are impossible to attain even after the utmost exertion.
H.H. : There you are mistaken. There is nothing which is really unattainable. A thing, however, may be unattainable to us at the particular stage at which we are, or with the qualifications that we possess. The attainability or otherwise of a particular thing is thus not an absolute characteristic of that thing but is relative and proportionate to our capacity to attain it.
D. : The success or failure of an effort can be known definitely only at the end. How are we then to know beforehand whether with our present capacity we may or may not exert ourselves to attain a particular object, and whether it is the right kind of exertion for the attainment of that object?
H.H. : Your question is certainly a pertinent one. The whole aim of our Dharma Shastras is to give a detailed answer to your question. Religion does not fetter man’s free-will. It leaves him quite free to act, but tells him at the same time what is good for him and what is not. The responsibility is entirely and solely his. He cannot escape it by blaming fate, for fate is of his own making, nor by blaming God, for he is but the dispenser of fruits in accordance with the merits of
actions. You are the master of your own destiny. It is for you to make it, to better it or to mar it. This is your privilege. This is your responsibility.
D. : I quite realize this. But often it so happens that I am not really master of myself. I know, for instance, quite well that a particular act is wrong; at the same time, I feel impelled to do it. Similarly, I know that another act is right; at the same time, however, I feel powerless to do it. It seems that there is some power which is able to control or defy my free-will. So long as that power is potent, how can I be called the master of my own destiny? What is that power but fate?
H.H. : You are evidently confusing together two distinct things. Fate is a thing quite different from the other one which you call a power. Suppose you handle an instrument for the first time. You will do it very clumsily and with great effort. The next time, however, you use it, you will do so less clumsily and with less effort. With repeated uses, you will have learnt to use it easily and without any effort. That is, the facility and ease with which you use a particular thing increase with the number of times you use it. The first time a man steals, he does so with great effort and much fear; the next time both his effort and fear are much less. As opportunities increase, stealing will become a normal habit with him and will require no effort at all. This habit will generate in him a tendency to steal even when there is no necessity to steal. It is this tendency which goes by the name vasana. The power which makes you act as if against your will is only the vasana which itself is of your own making. This is not fate. The punishment or reward, in the shape of pain or pleasure, which is the inevitable consequence of an act, good or bad, is alone the province of fate or destiny. The vasana which the doing of an act leaves behind in the mind in the shape of a taste, a greater facility or a greater tendency for doing the same act once again, is quite a different thing. It may be that the punishment or the reward of the past act is, in ordinary circumstances, unavoidable, if there is no counter-effort; but the vasana can be easily handled if only we exercise our free-will correctly.
D. : But the number of vasanas or tendencies that rule our hearts are endless. How can we possibly control them?
H.H. : The essential nature of a vasana is to seek expression in outward acts. This characteristic is common to all vasanas, good and bad. The stream of vasanas, the vasana sarit, as it is called, has two currents, the good and the bad. If you try to dam up the entire stream, there may be danger. The Shastras, therefore, do not ask you to attempt that. On the other hand, they ask you to submit yourself to be led by the good vasana current and to resist being led away by the bad vasana current. When you know that a particular vasana is rising up in your mind, you cannot possibly say that you are at its mercy. You have your wits about you and the responsibility of deciding whether you will encourage it or not is entirely yours. The Shastras enunciate in detail what vasanas are good and have to be encouraged and what vasanas are bad and have to be overcome. When, by dint of practice, you have made all your vasanas good and practically eliminated the charge of any bad vasanas leading you astray, the Shastras take upon themselves the function of teaching you how to free your free-will even from the need of being led by good vasanas. You will gradually be led on to a stage when your free-will be entirely free from any sort of colouring due to any vasanas. At that stage, your mind will be pure as crystal and all motive for particular action will cease to be. Freedom from the results of particular actions is an inevitable consequence. Both fate and vasana disappear. There is freedom for ever more and that freedom is called Moksha.
Once there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons from Arabia.They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained.
Months passed and one day the head falconer informed the king that though one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky, the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had arrived.
The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to the falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task to the member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the palace window that the bird had still not moved from its perch.
Having tried everything else, the king thought to himself, “May be I need someone more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of this problem.”
So he cried out to his court, “Go and get a farmer.”
In the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. He said to his court, “Bring me the doer of this miracle.”
The court quickly located the farmer, who came and stood before the king. The king asked him, “How did you make the falcon fly?”
With head bowed, the farmer said to the king, ” It was very easy, your highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird was sitting.”
We are all made to fly – to realize our incredible potential as human beings. But instead of doing that, we sit on our branches, clinging to the things that are familiar to us.
The possibilities are endless, but for most of us, they remain undiscovered. We conform to the familiar, the comfortable, the mundane. So for the most part, our lives are mediocre instead of exciting, thrilling and fulfilling. So let us learn to destroy the branch of fear we cling to and free ourselves to the glory of flight.
Monkey-hunters use a box with an opening at the top, big enough for the monkey to slide its hand in. Inside the box are nuts. The monkey grabs the nuts and now its hand becomes a fist. The monkey tries to get its hand out but the opening is big enough for the hand to slide in, but too small for the fist to come out. Now the monkey has a choice, either to let go off the nuts and be free forever or hang on to the nuts and get caught. Guess what it picks every time? You guessed it. He hangs on to the nuts and gets caught.
We are no different from monkeys. We all hang on to some nuts that keep us from going forward in life. We keep rationalizing by saying, "I cannot do this because . . ." and whatever comes after "because" are the nuts that we are hanging on to which are holding us back.
If you too are getting caught, then do check your ‘nuts’.