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  • Enemy Serpent

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  • Zen Stories

    Sufi Tales
    The Path




    Fish & Whistle ©John Prine

    I been thinking lately about the people I meet
    The carwash on the corner and the hole in the street
    The way my ankles hurt with shoes on my feet
    And I'm wondering if I'm gonna see tomorrow.

    Father forgive us for what we must do
    You forgive us we'll forgive you
    We'll forgive each other till we both turn blue
    Then we'll whistle and go fishing in heaven.

    I was in the army but I never dug a trench
    I used to bust my knuckles on a monkey wrench
    Then I'd go to town and drink and give the girls a pinch
    But I don't think they ever even noticed me.

    Fish and whistle, whistle and fish
    Eat everything that they put on your dish
    And when we get through we'll make a big wish
    That we never have to do this again again? again?

    On my very first job I said thank you and please
    They made me scrub a parking lot down on my knees
    Then I got fired for being scared of bees
    And they only give me fifty cents an hour.

    Fish and Whistle notes: I was writing about exactly what was going on that day. There was this hole in the street right in front of my house. All these trucks would hit the hole, and the house would shake. And down the street, they built a car wash, which I liked because I always like to keep my cars clean. I took my car down there - there were no attendants, you just put your money in - and everything worked except the rinse cycle. So all the soap dried up in my car. That was the kind of day it was. I really did scrub a parking lot on my knees ("On my very first job/I said thank you and please/They make me scrub a parking lot/Down on my knees"). My first job, when I was 12 or 13, was at Skip's Fiesta Drive-In, which was the big place for the hot rods to hang out. I worked there during the daytime and helped this old Swedish janitor with his chores. The carhops wore hula skirts, and kids would buy the cheapest thing, a cup of custard, so they could watch the carhops and stuff. And then they'd take the custard and throw it on the ground. The next day, I'd be out there on my knees with hot boiling water with ammonia, trying to scrape this custard off. I thought, “This is what it's all about, all my jobs are going to be like this.”



    To a Mouse by Robert Burns

    Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
    O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
    Wi' bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
    Wi' murd'ring pattle!

    I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
    Has broken nature's social union,
    An' justifies that ill opinion,
    What makes thee startle
    At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
    An' fellow-mortal!

    I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
    What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
    A daimen icker in a thrave
    'S a sma' request;
    I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
    An' never miss't!

    Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
    It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
    An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
    O' foggage green!
    An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
    Baith snell an' keen!

    Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
    An' weary winter comin fast,
    An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
    Thou thought to dwell -
    Till crash! the cruel coulter past
    Out thro' thy cell.

    That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
    Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
    Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
    But house or hald,
    To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
    An' cranreuch cauld!

    But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain;
    The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
    Gang aft agley,
    An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
    For promis'd joy!

    Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me;
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But och! I backward cast my e'e,
    On prospects dreaer!
    An' forward, tho' I canna see,
    I guess an' fear!



    Manual for Climbing Mountains by Paulo Coelho

    1. Choose the mountain you want to climb: don’t pay attention to what other people say, such as “that one’s more beautiful” or “this one’s easier”. You’ll be spending lots of energy and enthusiasm to reach your objective, so you’re the only one responsible and you should be sure of what you’re doing.

    2. Know how to get close to it: mountains are often seen from far off – beautiful, interesting, full of challenges. But what happens when we try to draw closer? Roads run all around them, flowers grow between you and your objective, what seemed so clear on the map is tough in real life. So try all the paths and all the tracks until eventually one day you’re standing in front of the top that you yearn to reach.

    3. Learn from someone who has already been up there: no matter how unique you feel, there is always someone who has had the same dream before you and ended up leaving marks that can make your journey easier; places to hang the rope, trails, broken branches to make the walking easier. The climb is yours, so is the responsibility, but don’t forget that the experience of others can help a lot.

    4. When seen up close, dangers are controllable: when you begin to climb the mountain of your dreams, pay attention to the surroundings. There are cliffs, of course. There are almost imperceptible cracks in the mountain rock. There are stones so polished by storms that they have become as slippery as ice. But if you know where you are placing each footstep, you will notice the traps and how to get around them.

    5. The landscape changes, so enjoy it: of course, you have to have an objective in mind – to reach the top. But as you are going up, more things can be seen, and it’s no bother to stop now and again and enjoy the panorama around you. At every meter conquered, you can see a little further, so use this to discover things that you still had not noticed.

    6. Respect your body: you can only climb a mountain if you give your body the attention it deserves. You have all the time that life grants you, as long as you walk without demanding what can’t be granted. If you go too fast you will grow tired and give up half way there. If you go too slow, night will fall and you will be lost. Enjoy the scenery, take delight in the cool spring water and the fruit that nature generously offers you, but keep on walking.

    7. Respect your soul: don’t keep repeating “I’m going to make it”. Your soul already knows that, what it needs is to use the long journey to be able to grow, stretch along the horizon, touch the sky. An obsession does not help you at all to reach your objective, and even ends up taking the pleasure out of the climb. But pay attention: also, don’t keep saying “it’s harder than I thought”, because that will make you lose your inner strength.

    8. Be prepared to climb one kilometer more: the way up to the top of the mountain is always longer than you think. Don’t fool yourself, the moment will arrive when what seemed so near is still very far. But since you were prepared to go beyond, this is not really a problem.

    9. Be happy when you reach the top: cry, clap your hands, shout to the four winds that you did it, let the wind - the wind is always blowing up there - purify your mind, refresh your tired and sweaty feet, open your eyes, clean the dust from your heart. It feels so good, what was just a dream before, a distant vision, is now part of your life, you did it!

    10. Make a promise: now that you have discovered a force that you were not even aware of, tell yourself that from now on you will use this force for the rest of your days. Preferably, also promise to discover another mountain, and set off on another adventure.

    11. Tell your story: yes, tell your story! Give your example. Tell everyone that it’s possible, and other people will then have the courage to face their own mountains.



    A Fable by Thaddeus Golas "The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment"; 1972© ISBN: 0553263587

    Once upon a time there dwelt an old King in a palace. In the center of a golden table in the main hall, there shone a large and magnificent jewel. Each day of the King's life the stone sparkled more resplendently.

    One day a thief stole the jewel and ran from the palace, hiding in a forest. As he stared with deep joy at the stone, to his amazement the image of the King appeared in it.

    "I have come to thank you," said the King. "You have released me from my attachment to Earth. I thought I was freed when I acquired the jewel, but then I learned that I would be released only when I passed it on, with a pure heart, to another.

    "Each day of my life I polished that stone, until finally this day arrived, when the jewel became so beautiful that you stole it, and I have passed it on, and am released.

    "The jewel you hold is Understanding. You cannot add to its beauty by hiding it and hinting that you have it, nor yet by wearing it with vanity. Its beauty comes of the consciousness that others have of it. Honor that which gives it beauty."



    Step Right Up lyrics by Tom Waits

    Step right up
    step right up
    step right up
    Everyone's a winner, bargains galore
    That's right, you too can be the proud owner
    Of the quality goes in before the name goes on
    One-tenth of a dollar
    one-tenth of a dollar
    we got service after sales
    You need perfume? we got perfume
    how 'bout an engagement ring?
    Something for the little lady
    something for the little lady
    Something for the little lady, hmm
    Three for a dollar
    We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
    And a smoke-damaged furniture
    you can drive it away today
    Act now, act now
    and receive as our gift, our gift to you
    They come in all colors, one size fits all
    No muss, no fuss, no spills
    you're tired of kitchen drudgery
    Everything must go
    going out of business
    going out of business
    Going out of business sale
    Fifty percent off original retail price
    skip the middle man
    Don't settle for less
    How do we do it?
    how do we do it?
    volume, volume, turn up the volume
    Now you've heard it advertised, don't hesitate
    Don't be caught with your drawers down
    Don't be caught with your drawers down
    You can step right up, step right up

    That's right, it filets, it chops
    It dices, slices, never stops
    lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
    And it mows your lawn
    and it picks up the kids from school
    It gets rid of unwanted facial hair
    it gets rid of embarrassing age spots
    It delivers a pizza
    and it lengthens, and it strengthens
    And it finds that slipper that's been at large
    under the chaise longe for several weeks
    And it plays a mean Rhythm Master
    It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
    And it's only a dollar, step right up
    it's only a dollar, step right up

    'Cause it forges your signature.
    If not completely satisfied
    mail back unused portion of product
    For complete refund of price of purchase
    Step right up
    Please allow thirty days for delivery
    don't be fooled by cheap imitations
    You can live in it, live in it
    laugh in it, love in it
    Swim in it, sleep in it
    Live in it, swim in it
    laugh in it, love in it
    Removes embarrassing stains from contour sheets
    that's right
    And it entertains visiting relatives
    it turns a sandwich into a banquet
    Tired of being the life of the party?
    Change your shorts
    change your life
    change your life
    Change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy
    get rid of your wife
    And it walks your dog, and it doubles on sax
    Doubles on sax, you can jump back Jack
    see you later alligator
    See you later alligator
    And it steals your car
    It gets rid of your gambling debts, it quits smoking
    It's a friend, and it's a companion
    And it's the only product you will ever need
    Follow these easy assembly instructions
    it never needs ironing
    Well it takes weights off hips, bust
    thighs, chin, midriff
    Gives you dandruff, and it finds you a job
    it is a job
    And it strips the phone company free
    take ten for five exchange
    And it gives you denture breath
    And you know it's a friend, and it's a companion
    And it gets rid of your traveler's checks
    It's new, it's improved, it's old-fashioned
    Well it takes care of business
    never needs winding
    Never needs winding
    never needs reminding
    Gets rid of blackheads, the heartbreak of psoriasis
    Christ, you don't know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy
    C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
    'Cause it's effective, it's defective
    it creates household odors
    It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection
    It gives you an erection
    it wins the election
    Why put up with painful corns any longer?
    It's a redeemable coupon, no obligation
    no salesman will visit your home
    We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot
    prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed
    How do we do it
    how do we do it
    how do we do it
    how do we do it
    We need your business
    we're going out of business
    We'll give you the business
    Get on the business
    end of our going-out-of-business sale
    Receive our free brochure, free brochure
    Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions
    batteries not included
    Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available
    Step right up
    step right up
    step right up
    You got it buddy: the large print giveth
    and the small print taketh away
    Step right up
    you can step right up
    you can step right up
    C'mon step right up
    (Get away from me kid, you bother me...)
    Step right up, step right up, step right up
    c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
    Step right up
    you can step right up
    c'mon and step right up
    C'mon and step right up



    Wandering far, going alone, bodiless, lying in a cave: the mind.
    Those who restrain it; from Mara's bonds they'll be freed.

    - Dhammapada, 3, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.


    The Allegory of the Cave from Plato's "The Republic" , Book VII

    Socrates:   And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:, Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

    Glaucon:   I see.

    Socrates:   And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

    Glaucon:   You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

    Socrates:   Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

    Glaucon:   True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

    Socrates:   And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

    Glaucon:   Yes, he said.

    Socrates:   And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

       And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy, when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

    Glaucon:   No question, he replied.

    Socrates:   To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

    Glaucon:   That is certain.

    Socrates:   And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision,, what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing And when to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

    Glaucon:   Far truer.

    Socrates:   And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?

    Glaucon:   True, he said.

    Socrates:   And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities?

    Glaucon:   Not all in a moment, he said.

    Socrates:   He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

    Glaucon:   Certainly.

    Socrates:   Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

    Glaucon:   Certainly.

    Socrates:   He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

    Glaucon:   Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about it.

    Socrates:   And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

    Glaucon:   Certainly, he would.

    Socrates:   And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,

    "Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?"
    Glaucon:   Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

    Socrates:   Imagine once more, I said, such a one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

    Glaucon:   To be sure, he said.

    Socrates:   And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

    Glaucon:   No question, he said.

    Socrates:   This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed, whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

    Glaucon:   I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.

    Socrates:   Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

    Glaucon:   Yes, very natural.

    Socrates:   And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, when they returned to the den they would see much worse than those who had never left it. himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?

    Glaucon:   Anything but surprising, he replied.

    Socrates:   Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he has a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.

    Glaucon:   That, he said, is a very just distinction.

    Socrates:   But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes?

    Glaucon:   They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

    Socrates:   Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.

    Glaucon:   Very true.

    Socrates:   And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?

    Glaucon:   Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.

    Socrates:   And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the virtue of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue, how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eye-sight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness?

    Glaucon:   Very true, he said.

    Socrates:   But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below, if, I say, they had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.

    Glaucon:   Very likely.

    Socrates:   Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely, or Neither rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able educated ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.

    Glaucon:   Very true, he replied.

    Socrates:   Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all, they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.

    Glaucon:   What do you mean?

    Socrates:   I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not.

    Glaucon:   But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?

    Socrates:   You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

    Glaucon:   True, he said, I had forgotten.

    Socrates:   Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. That is why each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State, which is also yours will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.

    Glaucon:   Quite true, he replied.

    Socrates:   And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly light?

    Glaucon:   Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.

    Socrates:   Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.

    Glaucon:   Most true, he replied.

    Socrates:   And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?

    Glaucon:   Indeed, I do not, he said.

    Socrates:   And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.

    Glaucon:   No question.

    Socrates:   Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will be the men who are wisest about affairs of the state.


    End Notes for Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"by Richard Hooker©1996

    1. If you understand this first distinction, the much more difficult division of the intelligible world will make more sense. Think over this carefully: the visible world, that is, the world you see, has two kinds of visible objects in it. The first kind are shadows and reflections, that is, objects you see but aren't really there but derive from the second type of visible objects, that is, those that you see and are really there. The relation of the visible world to the intelligible world is identical to the relation of the world of reflections to the world of visible things that are real.

    2. The lower region of the intelligible world corresponds to the upper region in the same way the lower region of the visible world corresponds to the upper region. Think of it this way: the lower region deals only with objects of thought (that are, in part, derived from visible objects), which is why it is part of the intelligible world. There have to be certain first principles (such as the existence of numbers or other mathematical postulates) that are just simply taken without question: these are hypotheses. These first principles, however, derive from other first principles; the higher region of the intelligible world encompasses these first principles. So you can see that the lower region derives from the higher region in that the thinking in the lower region derives from the first principles that make up the higher region, just as the mirror reflects a solid object. When one begins to think about first principles (such as, how can you prove that numbers exist at all?) and derives more first principles from them until you reach the one master, first principle upon which all thought is based, you are operating in this higher sphere of intellection. Plato's line is also a hierarchy: the things at the top (first principles) have more truth and more existence; the things at the bottom (the reflections) have almost no truth and barely exist at all.


    Commentary for Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by S. Marc Cohen©2K2

    1. Plato realizes that the general run of humankind can think, and speak, etc., without (so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of his realm of Forms.

    2. The allegory of the cave is supposed to explain this.

    3. In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave.  Behind them burns a fire.  Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave.  The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.  Here is an illustration of Plato's Cave:

    4. Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows.

    5. So when the prisoners talk, what are they talking about? If an object (a book, let us say) is carried past behind them, and it casts a shadow on the wall, and a prisoner says "I see a book," what is he talking about?

      He thinks he is talking about a book, but he is really talking about a shadow. But he uses the word "book." What does that refer to?

    6. Plato gives his answer at line (515b2). The text here has puzzled many editors, and it has been frequently amended. The translation in Grube/Reeve gets the point correctly:
      "And if they could talk to one another, don't you think they'd suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them?"

    7. Plato's point is that the prisoners would be mistaken. For they would be taking the terms in their language to refer to the shadows that pass before their eyes, rather than (as is correct, in Plato's view) to the real things that cast the shadows.

      If a prisoner says "That's a book" he thinks that the word "book" refers to the very thing he is looking at. But he would be wrong. He's only looking at a shadow. The real referent of the word "book" he cannot see. To see it, he would have to turn his head around.

    8. Plato's point: the general terms of our language are not "names" of the physical objects that we can see. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind.

    9. When the prisoners are released, they can turn their heads and see the real objects. Then they realize their error. What can we do that is analogous to turning our heads and seeing the causes of the shadows? We can come to grasp the Forms with our minds.

    10. Plato's aim in the Republic is to describe what is necessary for us to achieve this reflective understanding. But even without it, it remains true that our very ability to think and to speak depends on the Forms. For the terms of the language we use get their meaning by "naming" the Forms that the objects we perceive participate in.

    11. The prisoners may learn what a book is by their experience with shadows of books. But they would be mistaken if they thought that the word "book" refers to something that any of them has ever seen.

      Likewise, we may acquire concepts by our perceptual experience of physical objects. But we would be mistaken if we thought that the concepts that we grasp were on the same level as the things we perceive.



      Japanese Sun Goddess Myth by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D. and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D. of Cultural Creatives, based on eighth century Japanese Shinto and Buddhist texts.

      No one today can remember the time when Amaterasu Omikami, the Great Mother Sun, hid herself deep in the Cave of Heaven and refused to come out. But to those who know the story, every mirror is a reminder that there once was a time when all the spirits of living things had to join together to bring life back to the Earth.

      In those very early times, the spirit of every living thing was called its kami. The kami of the mountain was lavender and long. The kami of trees was great and green. Animals' kami was smooth as silk. The kami of rocks and rivers was silent as the moon. All the strength of these kami poured forth from Amaterasu Omikami, and in her honor the great pattern of the seasons of planting and harvest was woven.

      One day it happened that Amaterasu Omikami fell into despair because of the actions of her jealous brother Susanowo. Some say he betrayed the Great Goddess by tearing through the rice paddies in a drunken fit of rage, until every plant in every field was broken and dying. Others remember Susanowo heaving a calf through the windows of the celestial weaving house, smashing the looms and breaking the sacred threads of connection between every living thing. But though some say this and some say that, everyone agrees on what happened next.

      Amaterasu Omikami fled to the Cave of Heaven and locked herself inside. Without her light, all the realms of heaven and earth were plunged into darkness,. The kami of the rice withered. The kami of the birds and animals and mountains and trees and fishes turned into frail gray ghosts. The Earth and all that was of it began to die.

      Eventually, and none too soon, the kami gathered together to discuss what to do. "We must moan and weep outside her cave," some said. "That will never work," said others. "Who wants to join a crowd that's moaning and weeping?" Finally someone said, "Let's have a celebration with songs that make us laugh and music that sets our feet tapping. And let's have dances with lots of stomping and whirling. Surely that will bring the Great Sun out of her cave."

      Everyone agreed, but they decided that one more thing was needed: a huge mirror. "If we reflect Amaterasu's radiance back to her," they said to each other, "maybe she'll take heart and remember us. Maybe she'll return to the Round of Life."

      But as soon as they thought of the need for a great mirror, their courage failed. Because not one of them had the strength to lift such a mirror. Then someone whispered, in a voice so feeble everyone had to strain to hear, "Let's each bring a tiny piece of mirror and hide it in our clothes. As soon as Amaterasu Omikami peeks out of her cave, we'll all hold up our shards at the same time – and our tens of thousands will make a single mirror."

      An that's precisely what they did. The very next day, all the kami in the world collected outside the Cave of Heaven and slowly, almost inaudibly, started to sing. In time their voices rose high and rich into the night. But even while the kamis' drums beat their irresistible rhythms and even while the kamis' feet stomped and tapped in splendid whirling dances, no one forgot to watch the door of the Cave of Heaven. Finally, very late in the evening, the cave door cracked open, and a single beam of light slipped out. Instantly, the kami lifted their slivers of mirror to Amaterasu's radiance.

      The goddess gasped in amazement. Fascinated, she took a step forward. And another. Soon she had stepped all the way out of her cave. Laughing and clapping her hands to see herself reflected in so many thousands upon thousands of forms, the Great Mother Sun danced all the way out of her hiding place and all the way into the wide blue sky.

      Once again the kami of the mountains grew lavender and long. The kami of trees was great and green. Animals again had kami as smooth as silk. The kami of rocks and rivers and fish and flowers once more poured forth from the Great Mother Sun. And in her honor the pattern of the seasons of planting and harvest was again woven. And so it is to this very day.



      A Conversation of Waves

      There was once a small wave who was unhappy. "I'm so miserable," it moaned. "The other waves are big and powerful, while I'm so little and weak. Why is life so unfair?"

      Another wave passing by heard the small wave and decided to stop by. "You only think so because you haven't seen your own 'original nature' clearly. You think you're a wave and you think you're suffering. In reality you are neither."

      "What?" The small wave was surprised. "I'm not a wave? But it's obvious I'm a wave! I've got my crest, see? And there's my wake, little as it is. What do you mean I'm not a wave?"

      "This thing you call 'wave' is merely a temporary form you assume for a short time. You're really just water! When you understand completely that this is your fundamental nature, you will no longer be confused about being a wave, and you will be free of your misery."

      "If I'm water, what about you?"

      "I'm water too. I'm temporarily assuming the form of a wave somewhat larger than you, but that doesn't change my fundamental essence - water! I'm you and you're me. We're part of a greater self."

      Most people, mired in the illusion known as the material world, mistakenly assume they belong only to themselves. Therefore they compare themselves to other people. When they perceive some sort of lack or inequity, they become totally miserable. They would feel quite differently if they see clearly that all of us are part of nature. Everyone of us is connected to one another in a fundamental way beyond the explanation of science. We're part of a greater whole - the Oversoul, the Universal Sentience, God....



      A Fable About Matter and Form by George Santayana from "Reason in Science"

      In order to live - if such a myth may be allowed - the Titan Matter was eager to disguise his incorrigible vagueness and pretend to be something. He accordingly addressed himself to the beautiful company of Forms, sisters whom he thought all equally beautiful, though their number was endless, and equally fit to satisfy his heart.

      He wooed them hypocritically, with no intention of wedding them; yet he uttered their names in such seductive accents (called by mortals intelligence and toil) that the virgin goddesses offered no resistance - at least such of them as happened to be near or of a facile disposition.

      They were presently deserted by their unworthy lover; yet they, too, in that moment's union, had tasted the sweetness of life. The heaven to which they returned was no longer an infinite mathematical paradise. It was crossed by memories of earth, and a warmer breath lingered in some of its lanes and grottoes.

      Henceforth its nymphs could not forget that they had awakened a passion and that - unmoved themselves - they had moved a strange indomitable giant to art and love.


      It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig.
      - George Santayana


      An Honorable Tale by George Santayana from "Dialogues in Limbo"

      All living souls welcome whatsoever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.

      So: the mother of the first tailless child - for men formerly had tails - wept bitterly and consulted the soothsayers, elders conspicuous for their long and honorable tails, who gave out oracles from the hollow of ancient trees; and she asked what unwitting impiety she or her husband could have committed, that the just gods should condemn their innocent child to such eternal disgrace.

      When, however, other tailless births began to occur, at first the legislators had the little monsters put rigorously to death; but soon, as the parents began to offer resistance, they suffered a scapegoat to be sacrificed instead; and persons with­out a tail were merely condemned to pass their lives in slavery, or at least without the rights of citizenship; because the philosophers, who all belonged to the elder generation with ample tails, declared that without a tail no man was really human or could be admitted after death into the company of the gods.

      Yet later, when that hinder ornament had become rare, opinion was reversed, until the priests, legislators, and sages gathered in council and decreed, by a majority vote, that a tail in man was unnatural, and that the tradition that such things had existed was an invention of ignorant poets, and absurd.

      When, however, by a casual reversion and sport of nature, a child with a tail was born here and there, not only was the infant instantly dispatched, but the mother was burned alive for having had commerce with a devil.



      The Beatitudes, what some feel to be the core of the Sermon of the Mount as told by Matthew
      (also available in shockwave from Interview with God dot com).

      Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

      Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

      Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

      Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

      Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

      Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.

      Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Blessed are ye when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

      Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.

      Matthew, Chapter Five, Verses Three through Twelve - American Standard Version Bible



      The Beatitudes, what some feel to be the core of the Sermon of the Mount as told by Luke this time, unlike Matthew's more famous record, the "woe" section is unique to Luke.

      “Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God.

      “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

      Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

      Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

      Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

      Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

      Blessed are you when men hate you when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

      Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

      Luke, Chapter Six, Verses Twenty-one through Twenty-five from bible.org: Defining Discipleship.



      The Apocryphal Beatitudes by Jorge Luis Borges from "Fragmentos de un Evangelio Apocrifoby"

      • Blessed is he who insisteth not on being in the right, for no man is wholly in the right.

      • Blessed is he who forgiveth others, and he who forgiveth himself.

      • Blessed are they which hunger not after righteousness: for they see that our lot, whether kindly or cruel, is an act of chance and unknowable.

      • There is no commandment which may not be broken: neither those I say unto you, nor those laid down by the prophets.

      • The deeds of men are worthy neither of heaven nor hell.

      • And if thy right hand offend thee, forgive it: for thou art thy whole body and thy whole soul, and it is not profitable for thee to divide them.

      • Thou shalt not magnify the worship of truth: for at the day's end there is no man who hath not lied many times with good reason.

      • To bless thine enemy may be righteous and is not difficult: but to love him is a task for angels, not for men.

      • Give that which is holy unto the dogs, cast thy pearls before swine: for the thing that mattereth is giving.

      • Nothing is built upon rock: for all is built upon sand: but let each man build as if sand were rock.



      Autobiography in Five Chapters

      Chapter 1)   

      I walk down the street.

      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

      I fall in.

      I am lost . . . I am hopeless.

      It isn't my fault.

      It takes forever to find a way out.

      Chapter 2)   

      I walk down the same street.

      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

      I pretend I don't see it.

      I fall in again.

      I can't believe I’m in the same place.

      But it isn't my fault.

      It still takes a long time to get out.

      Chapter 3)   

      I walk down the same street.

      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

      I see it is there.

      I still fall in . . . it's a habit

      My eyes are open

      I know where I am

      It is my fault. I get out immediately.

      Chapter 4)   

      I walk down the same street.

      There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

      I walk around it.

      Chapter 5)   

      I walk down another street.



      Carrying Baggage by Joan Borysenko

      In working through repetitive conflicts, we begin to see our shadows and old baggage more clearly. There's an old Zen story that makes this point very well:

      It concerns an interesting "couple," two monks who were walking in silence by a river at sunrise, early in the spring. Swollen with the melting snows, the river had overflowed its banks and swamped the small footbridge that was the only point of crossing for many miles.

      A young woman, in much distress, stood forlornly by the swiftly running river, pleading with her eyes for the monks' help. Sweeping her into his arms, the older monk bore her aloft through the swirling current and put her down safely on the other side. The two monks walked in silence until sunset, when the vows of their order allowed them to talk.

      The younger monk then turned on his brother with unbridled fury. "How could you have picked that woman up!" he accused. His face grew red as he shook his fists at the older monk. "You, of all people, know the vows of our Order. It is forbidden even to think of a woman, let alone to touch one! You have defiled yourself. Indeed, you have shamed the entire Order!"

      The elder monk turned to him complacently. "My brother," he said. His eyes were soft with the wisdom of forgiveness. "I put that woman down on the other side of the river this morning. It is you who have been carrying her around all day."

      And in an alternate give from Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"

      “Two Zen monks were once traveling together when they came to a stream widened by recent rainfall. By the bank stood a beautiful young woman dressed in fine clothes. She obviously wanted to cross the water but was distressed at the prospect of ruining her finery. Without hesitation one of the monks offered to carry the young woman across the stream on his back. She gratefully accepted his kind offer. The monk helped to hoist her up on his back and without more ado carried her across and put her down on the dry ground. The two monks then continued on their way, but the other monk started complaining. "It is not right to touch a woman, especially one so young and lovely. It is against our commandments to experience close contact. How could you go against the rules for monks?" The monk who had carried the woman walked along silently for a few minutes before replying. Finally he said, "I set her down by the river, but you are still carrying her." ”

      “Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
      - Charles Dudley Warner, editor and author (1829-1900)



      Circle of Life

      Where there is life
      There is suffering

      Where there is suffering
      There are always lessons

      Where there is lesson
      There is always growth

      Where there is growth
      There is always hope

      Where there is hope
      There is always strength

      Where there is strength
      There is always Love

      Where There is Love
      There are always miracles

      Where there are miracles
      There is always God

      Where there is God
      There is always life anew

      Never lose hope!
      Many beautiful things await



      Finding Time

      I knelt to pray but not for long,
      I had too much to do.
      I had to hurry and get to work
      For bills would soon be due.

      So I knelt and said a hurried prayer,
      And jumped up off my knees.
      My religious duty was now done
      My soul could rest at ease.

      All day long I had no time
      To spread a word of cheer.
      No time to speak of God to friends,
      They'd laugh at me I'd fear.

      No time, no time, too much to do,
      That was my constant cry,
      No time to give to souls in need
      But at last the time, the time to die.

      I went before the Lord,
      I came, I stood with downcast eyes.
      For in his hands God held a book;
      It was the book of life.

      God looked into his book and said
      ”Your name I cannot find.
      I once was going to write it down...
      But never found the time..."



      An Apache Wedding Prayer

      Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
      Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth for the other.
      Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
      Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
      Go now to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life together.
      And may your days be good, and long upon the earth.

      Related:
      American Indian Wisdom
      Indian Funeral Prayer


      Indian Funeral Prayer

      Do not stand at my grave and weep,
      I am not there. I do not sleep.
      I am a thousand winds that blow,
      I am the diamond glint on snow.
      I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
      I am the gentle autumn rain.
      When you wake in the morning hush,
      I am the swift uplifting rush
      Of quiet birds in circling flight.
      I am the soft starlight at night.
      Do not stand at my grave and cry,
      I am not there. I did not die.

      Related:
      American Indian Wisdom
      Apache Wedding Ceremony



      The Wise Woman's Stone

      A Wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler 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.” “Please give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”



      Magical People

      The cosmos recognizes people in whom Spirit flowers

      There is a sensuousness a centeredness a fluid grace to their movement.

      There is a relaxed gentility of power flowing quietly within and beneath their action.

      There is a humble assuredness about them, a reverence, a sense of humor and an awe of the sacred entwined.

      These are the magical people for whom the cosmos has longed.



      Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

      Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
      Life is but an empty dream!
      For the soul is dead that slumbers,
      And things are not what they seem
      Life is real! Life is earnest!
      And the grave is not its goal;
      Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
      Was not spoken of the soul.
      Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
      Is our destined end or way;
      But to act, that each tomorrow
      Find us farther than today.
      Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
      And our hearts, though stout and brave,
      Still, like muffled drums, are beating
      Funeral marches to the grave.
      In the world's broad field of battle,
      In the bivouac of Life,
      Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
      Be a hero in the strife!
      Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
      Let the dead Past bury its dead!
      Act,—act in the living Present!
      Heart within, and God o'erhead!
      Lives of great men all remind us
      We can make our lives sublime,
      And, departing, leave behind us
      Footprints on the sands of time;
      Footprints, that perhaps another,
      Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
      A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
      Seeing, shall take heart again.
      Let us, then, be up and doing,
      With a heart for any fate;
      Still achieving, still pursuing,
      Learn to labor and to wait.


      End Note for "Psalm of Life"

      Three years after Longfellow's young wife died, he still yearned for her. Life is not an empty dream, he told himself. He must be up and doing! The poem above is the result.



      Rancher/Farmer's Guide to Life

      • Don't squat with your spurs on.
      • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig tight and bull-strong.
      • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
      • Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier 'n puttin' it back in.
      • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
      • If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
      • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
      • If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
      • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
      • After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
      • Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
      • There's two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works.
      • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
      • It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
      • Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.
      • Never slap a man who's chewin' tobacco.
      • Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
      • Always drink upstream from the herd.
      • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
      • When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.

        When will we learn that ‘teaching someone a lesson’ never teaches anything but resentment
        --that it only inspires the recipient to greater acts of defiance.”
        - Harry Browne

      • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
      • The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
      • Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
      • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
      • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
      • The best sermons are lived, not preached.
      • There are three kinds of men. The ones that learns by reading. The few that learns by observation. The rest of them have to pee on that electric fence.
      • It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
      • Every path has a few puddles.
      • Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
      • Don't judge folks by their relatives.
      • Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
      • Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
      • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
      • Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
      • The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
      • Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.



      The Lone Ranger Creed By Fran Striker (circa 1933)

      I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.

      That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.

      That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.

      In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.

      That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.

      That 'This government, of the people, by the people and for the people' shall live always.

      That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.

      That sooner or later... somewhere...somehow... we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.

      That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever. In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.



      A Ritual to Read to Each Other by William Stafford

      If you don't know the kind of person I am and I don't know the kind of person you are a pattern that others made may prevail in the world and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

      For there is many a small betrayal in the mind, a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood storming out to play through the broken dyke.

      And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail, but if one wanders the circus won't find the park, I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

      And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy, a remote important region in all who talk: though we could fool each other, we should consider - lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

      For it is important that awake people be awake, or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep; the signals we give - yes, no, or maybe - should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.



      READ THIS WHOLE THING. IT'S SO DANG TRUE

      • You are unique.

      • You are loved.

      • A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

      • The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.

      • At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.

      • At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

      • Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

      • If not for you, someone may not be living.

      • You mean the world to someone.

      • Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.

         

      • When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.

      • When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

      • When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you believe in yourself, probably, sooner or later, you will get it.

      • Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about any rude remarks.

      • Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.



      All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

      All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

      These are the things I learned:

      • Share everything.
      • Play fair.
      • Don't hit people.
      • Put things back where you found them.
      • Clean up your own mess.
      • Don't take things that aren't yours.
      • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
      • Wash your hands before you eat.
      • Flush.
      • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
      • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
      • Take a nap every afternoon.
      • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
      • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
      • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
      • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

      Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

      Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

      And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.



      The Eleven Commandments by Willis Barnstone, from Harper's, March 2K2.
      His translation of the New Testament, "The New Covenant" is published by Riverhead Books.

      1. I am the Lord and I brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. There are other gods. But you have one God. I am I.

      2. Make no idols. I am the maker. Those who create art will compete with me. You may wor­ship them and lose me. If you make idols I shall punish your children for three and four genera­tions. If you love me, since I am a lonely God I will care for you for a thousand generations. Love me, obey me. No statues.

      3. In argument or court or the market, do not use my name for influence. I am a private God. I intervene when I wish, but you are not me. Do not stand in the pulpit babbling as if you are God. If you pass for me, I will erase you like an idol.

      4. Shabbat is mine. I labored to form letters and place them on cloth of black fire in order to read those letters as words and speak cre­ation. I created twice. Once in six days. And then all in one day when I created a garden with Adam and Eve. Two cosmic efforts. Re­member what I did. It was for you. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and I delivered you. Now pause, enjoy, even meditate. I com­mand you to loaf. If you are not lazy and joyful on your day of rest, I will tumble stones on your heads and then you may remember our labors. I have blessed Shabbat.

      5. Honor your father and mother who, like me, are your makers. Dishonor to them is abuse of me. If you honor your father and mother, they will like you and forget honor and walk with you in gardens.

      6. Do not kill. I kill. Time kills. Disease dis­members and kills. Do not add to that misery. If someone tries to kill you, whisper some­thing quickly to me. Unfortunately, I may be absent. I tend to many and tend to be online elsewhere. But all my work does not give you license to own guns or kill. Burn the weapons, big and small, of killing. Have a good life.

      7. Do not sleep with the spouse of another. There are many to sleep with, including your solitude, which may delight you with never imagined feasts. The world has a mountain of partners. Why look for trouble. If your heart is beating with desire, remember me, your Lord, who has everyone and no one. I stand alone in the sky.

      8. Do not steal the shirt of your kin or even your enemy. And worry about it, since even I who know all do not distinguish between stealing and enterprise. Even your prosperity may help or steal from your neighbor, and your poverty may help or steal from your cousin. Look into the mirror. If you see only two figures, you and your heart, if your hand does not shiver, forget this commandment. If you steal and your hand does not shiver, you are des­tined for great power.

      9. Do not rat. A silent face is diamond. If you rat on friend or enemy, a circle of smoke will turn you into a rodent. Not a hare but a rat. Better to be a siren, a singing Josephine who comforts her fellow mousefolk who live in shadows and pipes, than to rat.

      10. I am the jealous God. You must not be like me. I possess the world, and its people die, and wives and husbands, slaves and oxen and neighbors, all become dust, and I possess nothing of them. You will have nothing if you do not learn from death, from the dust maker - for your soul, if you covet the things of others, will turn deadly. You will not look in yourself where you are a sky infinitely deep and with unending aromas. Do not be jealous like me.

      11. I am a weary God, who has not been lis­tened to. That may be just, since I have taken to long absences. My plate is empty. Do not quibble whether I have been good or bad, whether my commandments are good or bad, whether I am or am not. If you want a good life, I tell you to listen to my commandments. Or do not listen. And if you cannot listen, hear your soul. It is there, asking you to loaf. And when you have truly seen your soul and believed, and are comforted by its vastly inti­mate rain forest, enter her and forget me.



      The Kybalion - Seven Hermetic Principles attributed to Hermes Trismegistus – a pre-historic Egyptian Seer.

      PRINCIPLE OF MENTALISM: The ALL is MIND: The Universe is Mental.

      PRINCIPLE OF CORRESPONDENCE: As above, so below; As below, so above.

      PRINCIPLE OF VIBRATION: Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.

      PRINCIPLE OF POLARITY: Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pairs of opposites: like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; All truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

      PRINCIPLE OF RHYTHM: Everything flows, out and in; Everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing manifests in everything – the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; Rhythm compensates.

      PRINCIPLE OF CAUSE AND EFFECT:Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; Everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; There are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.

      PRINCIPLE OF GENDER: Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on all planes.

      Hermetic Axioms

      1. The possession of Knowledge, unless accompanied by a manifestation and expression in Action, is like the hoarding of precious metals – a vain and foolish thing. Knowledge, like Wealth, is intended for Use. The Law of Use is Universal, and he who violates it suffers by reason of his conflict with natural forces.

      2. To change your mood or mental state – change your vibration.

      3. To destroy an unfavorable rate of mental vibration, put into operation the Principle of Polarity and concentrate upon the opposite pole to that which you desire to oppress. Kill out the undesirable by changing its polarity.

      4. Mind may be transmuted from state to state; degree to degree; condition to condition; pole to pole; vibration to vibration.

      5. Rhythm may be neutralized by an application of the Art of Polarization.

      6. Nothing escapes the Principle of Cause and Effect, but there are many planes of Causation, and one may use the laws of the higher to overcome the laws of the lower.

      7. The wise ones serve on the higher, but rule on the lower. They obey the laws coming from above them, but on their own plane – and those below them – they rule and give orders. And yet, in so doing, they form a part of the Principle, instead of opposing it. The wise man falls in with the Law, and by understanding its movements he operates it instead of being its blind slave. Just as does the skilled swimmer turn this way and that way, going and coming as he will, instead of being the log which is carried here and there – so is the wise man as compared to the ordinary man – and yet both swimmer and log, wise man and fool, are subject to Law. He who understands this is well on the road to mastery.

      8. True Hermetic Transmutation is a Mental Art; The ALL is MIND.



      The Looking Glass, A Fable exerpt from "The Snow Queen," by Hans Christian Andersen (1845)

      YOU must attend to the commencement of this story, for when we get to the end we shall know more than we do now about a very wicked hobgoblin; he was one of the very worst, for he was a real demon.

      One day, when he was in a merry mood, he made a looking-glass which had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever. The most lovely landscapes appeared like boiled spinach, and the people became hideous, and looked as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies. Their countenances were so distorted that no one could recognize them, and even one freckle on the face appeared to spread over the whole of the nose and mouth. The demon said this was very amusing. When a good or pious thought passed through the mind of any one it was misrepresented in the glass; and then how the demon laughed at his cunning invention.

      All who went to the demon’s school—for he kept a school—talked everywhere of the wonders they had seen, and declared that people could now, for the first time, see what the world and mankind were really like. They carried the glass about everywhere, till at last there was not a land nor a people who had not been looked at through this distorted mirror. They wanted even to fly with it up to heaven to see the angels, but the higher they flew the more slippery the glass became, and they could scarcely hold it, till at last it slipped from their hands, fell to the earth, and was broken into millions of pieces.

      But now the looking-glass caused more unhappiness than ever, for some of the fragments were not so large as a grain of sand, and they flew about the world into every country. When one of these tiny atoms flew into a person’s eye, it stuck there unknown to him, and from that moment he saw everything through a distorted medium, or could see only the worst side of what he looked at, for even the smallest fragment retained the same power which had belonged to the whole mirror. Some few persons even got a fragment of the looking-glass in their hearts, and this was very terrible, for their hearts became cold like a lump of ice. A few of the pieces were so large that they could be used as window-panes; it would have been a sad thing to look at our friends through them. Other pieces were made into spectacles; this was dreadful for those who wore them, for they could see nothing either rightly or justly.

      At all this the wicked demon laughed till his sides shook—it tickled him so to see the mischief he had done. There were still a number of these little fragments of glass floating about in the air, and now you shall hear what happened with one of them.



      The Man, The Snake and The Stone by Indries Shah

      One day a man who had not a care in the world was walking along a road. An unusual object to one side of him caught his eye. “I must find out what this is,” he said to himself.

      As he came up to it, he saw that it was a large, very flat stone.

      “I must find out what is underneath this,” he told himself. And he lifted the stone. No sooner had he done so than he heard a loud, hissing sound, and a huge snake came gliding out from a hole under the stone. The man dropped the stone in alarm. The snake wound itself into a coil, and said to him: “Now I am going to kill you, for I am a venomous snake.”

      “But I have released you,” said the man, “how can you repay good with evil? Such an action would not accord with reasonable behaviour.”

      “In the first place,” said the snake, “you lifted the stone from curiosity and in ignorance of the possible consequences. How can this now suddenly become "I have released you"?”

      “We must always try to return to reasonable behaviour, when we stop to think,” murmured the man.

      “Return to it when you think invoking it might suit your interests,” said the snake.

      “Yes,” said the man, “I was a fool to expect reasonable behaviour from a snake.”

      “From a snake, expect snake-behaviour,” said the snake ”To a snake, snake-behaviour is what can be regarded as reasonable.”

      “Now I am going to kill you,” it continued.

      “Please do not kill me,” said the man, “give me another chance. You have taught me about curiosity, reasonable behaviour and snake-behaviour. Now you would kill me before I can put this knowledge into action.”

      “Very well,” said the snake, “I shall give you another chance. I shall come along with you on your journey. We will ask the next creature whom we meet who shall be neither a man nor a snake, to adjudicate between us.”

      The man agreed, and they started on their way.

      Before long they came to a flock of sheep in a field. The snake stopped, and the man cried to the sheep;

      “Sheep, sheep, please save me! This snake intends to kill me. If you tell him not to do so he will spare me. Give a verdict in my favour, for I am a man, the friend of sheep.”

      One of the sheep answered; ”We have been put out into this field after serving a man for many years. We have given him wool year after year, and now that we are old, tomorrow he will kill us for mutton. That is the measure of the generosity of men. Snake, Kill that man!”

      The snake reared up and his green eyes glittered as he said to the man; “If this is how your friends see you. I shudder to think what your enemies are like!”

      “Give me one more chance,” cried the man in desperation. “Please let us find someone else to give an opinion, so that my life may be spared.”

      “I do not want to be as unreasonable as you think I am,” said the snake, “and I will therefore continue in accordance with your pattern, and not with mine. Let us ask the next individual whom we may meet - being neither a man nor a snake - what your fate is to be.”

      The man thanked the snake and they continued on their journey.

      Presently they came upon a lone horse, standing hobbled in a field.The snake addressed him; “Horse, horse, why are you hobbled like that?”

      The horse said; “For many years I served a man. He gave me food, for which I had not asked, and he taught me to serve him. He said that this was in exchange for the food and stable. Now that I am too infirm to work, he has decided to sell me soon for horsemeat. I am hobbled because the man thinks that if I roam over this field I will eat too much of his grass.”

      “Do not make this horse my judge, for God's sake!” exclaimed the man.

      “According to our compact,” said the snake inexorably, “this man and I have agreed to have our case judged by you.”

      He outlined the matter, and the horse said; “Snake, it is beyond my capabilities and not in my nature to kill a man. But I feel that you, as a snake, have no alternative but to do so if a man is in your power.”

      “If you will give me just one more chance,” begged the man, “I am sure that something will come to my aid. I have been unlucky on this journey so far, and have only come across creatures who have a grudge. Let us therefore choose some animal which has no such knowledge and hence no generalised animosity towards my kind.”

      “People do not know snakes,” said the snake, “and yet they seem to have a generalised animosity towards them. But I am willing to give you just one more chance.”

      They continued on their journey. Soon they saw a fox, lying asleep under a bush beside the road. The man woke the fox gently, and said; “Fear nothing, brother fox. My case is such-and-such, and my future depends upon your decision. The snake will give me no further chance, so only your generosity or altruism can help me.”

      The fox thought for a moment, and then he said; “I am not sure that only generosity or altruism can operate here. But I will engage myself in this matter. In order to come to a decision I must rely upon something more than hearsay. We must demonstrate as well. Come, let us return to the beginning of your journey, and examine the facts on the spot.”

      They returned to where the first encounter had taken place.

      “Now we will reconstruct the situation,” said the fox; “snake, be so good as to take your place once more, in your hole under that flat stone.”

      The man lifted the stone, and the snake coiled itself up in the hollow beneath it. The man let the stone fall. The snake was now trapped again, and the fox turning to the man, said; “We have returned to the beginning. The snake cannot get out unless you release him. He leaves our story at this point.”

      “Thank you, thank you,” said the man, his eyes full of tears.

      “Thanks are not enough, brother,” said the fox; “In addition to generosity and altruism there is the matter of my payment.”

      “How can you enforce payment?” asked the man.

      “Anyone who can solve the problem which I have just concluded,” said the fox, “is well able to take care of such a detail as that. I again invite you to recompense me, from fear if not from any sense of justice. Shall we call it, in your words, being "reasonable?" ”

      The man said, “Very well, come to my house and I will give you a chicken.”

      They went to the man's house. The man went into his chicken-coop, and came back in a moment with a bulging sack. The fox seized it and was about to open it when the man said, “Friend fox, do not open the sack here. I have human neighbours and they should not know that I am co-operating with a fox. They might kill you, as well as censuring me.”

      “That is a reasonable thought,” said the fox; “what do you suggest I do?”

      “Do you see that clump of trees yonder?” said the man, pointing.

      “Yes,” said the fox.

      “You run with the sack into that cover, and you will be able to enjoy your meal unmolested.”

      The fox ran off.

      As soon as he reached the trees a party of hunters, whom the man knew would be there, caught him. He leaves our story here.

      And the man? His future is yet to come.



      The Parable of “CARE” as quoted by Rollo May in "Love & Will" also quoted in Heidegger's "Being & Time", and Goethe's "Faust"

      Once when 'Care' was crossing a river, she saw some clay; she thoughtfully took up a piece and began to shape it. While she was meditating on what she had made, Jupiter (Zeus) came by. 'Care' asked Jupiter to give the shaped clay spirit, and this he gladly granted. But when she wanted her name to be bestowed upon it, he forbade this, and demanded that it be given his name instead. While 'Care' and Jupiter were disputing, Earth arose and desired that her own name be conferred on the creature, since she had furnished it with part of her body.

      They asked Saturn (Time) to be their arbiter, and he made the following decision, which seemed a just one:
      “Since you, Jupiter, have given its spirit, you shall receive that spirit at its death; and since you, Earth, have given its body, you shall receive its body. But since ‘Care’ first shaped this creature, she shall possess it as long as it lives. And because there is now a dispute among you as to its name, let it be called "homo," for it is made out of humus (earth).”

      [This fascinating parable illustrates the important point brought out by the arbiter Saturn, (Time) that though Man is named "Homo" after the earth, he is still constituted in his human attitudes by Care. She is given charge of him in the parable during his temporal sojourn in this world. This also shows the realization of the three aspects of time: past, future, and present. Earth gets man in the past; Jupiter in the future; but since “Care first shaped this creature, she shall possess it as long as it lives,” i.e, in the ongoing present. Rollo May observes that Care is a state in which something does matter: 'Care' is the opposite of apathy (the gradual letting go of involvement until one finds that life itself has gone by) - Life comes from physical survival; but the good life comes from what we care about.]



      The Path by William Cozzolino; 1997, Raissa Publishing, ISBN: 0965816303

      Dream Time

      Student: “How did this reality begin?”

      Master: “Reality has no beginning, and no ending. What you call reality is and always has been a potential of The One, and there are many realities. For you, this reality began when your mind began giving attention to a possibility of The One that was the focus of your desire and intent. What you call your reality was but one of many experiences available to you. Realities are nothing more than experiences isolated within limited awareness. Experiences become limited when you lose awareness of the potential of The One within them. When many agree on the same limited experience, and when the many lose awareness, reality becomes a shared illusion. The illusion is not in the experience. The illusion is in the conflict, in the separation.”

      The Movie Experience

      Student: “Why is it that we remember most of what happens during the day but little of what happens when we dream at night?”

      Master: “Are you sure that you are dreaming while you are sleeping, or is it possible that you are awake in your dreams, and dreaming while you think you are awake?”

      Student: “This is not a dream. This is reality. I'm sitting here talking to you, and you're not a dream. I'm quite sure that I know the difference between being awake and being asleep. Things happen in dreams that aren't real. You can do things in your dreams that you could never do while you're awake.”

      Master: “What is it that you can do in a dream that you cannot do while you are awake?”

      Student: “Well, lot's of things happen in dreams that can't be real, I mean, you can even fly through the air in your dreams.”

      Master: “And this is not possible while you are, ah, what you call, awake?”

      Student: “You mean levitation. I suppose it is, but when it happens it's an exception.”

      Master: “There can be no exceptions in an absolute reality. Exceptions only happen in dreams. Perhaps you have not yet awakened from your dream.”

      Holographic

      Master: “All that is, is of The One. There is no separation, no time as you know it, and no limitation in The One. All that is, is of The One.”

      The Paradigm

      Student: “Is there a time when the secrets of the universe will be revealed?”

      Master: “There are no secrets in the universe. The One is not hidden. The One is obvious anywhere you choose to look. You need only look with the Heart.”

      Student: “We are looking. We're trying to learn and understand all we can about the world we live in.”

      Master: “You are looking with your mind. Your mind does not allow you to see clearly. Your mind decides, before you look, what you will see. You must learn to look with your Heart.”

      The mind and Mind

      Master: “All that you experience is a product of your senses and is a result of your mind in action. It is your mind that makes this thing you call reality seem so real. Your mind is very limited. It gives you awareness of only those things that meet your expectations. You must learn to listen to your Heart.”

      The mind and the Computer

      Student: “It's our mind that allows us to understand our world and ourselves. How can our mind be the cause of our limitations?”

      Master: “Your mind is not the cause. Your attention is the cause. You are now giving your attention to this conversation. In doing so, your mind is limiting your awareness.”

      Student: “But I can't talk to you without thinking about it.”

      Master: “Are you aware of what is going on around you while we talk?”

      Student: “Not just then, but I can be just by thinking about it.”

      Master: “And you can still speak with me?”

      Student: “Yes, of course.”

      Master: “Are you aware of what is happening outside while we talk?”

      Student: “If I don't pay attention to our conversation, I won't be able to interact with you.”

      Master: “Perhaps if you gave less attention to what is going on in your mind as a result of our conversation, you would become more aware of what is being said.”

      Student: “You mean don't think about it?”

      Master: “You may think about it, but do not limit your thoughts so much. Allow your mind to drift, to expand. Listen to the answers being given without words by those around you, by the growing of the trees, by the flowing of the water, by the wind.”

      The mind is a Powerhouse

      Student: “If I just allow my mind to wander, I won't even have any questions.”

      Master: “You will have questions, but you will also have answers.”

      Student: “I'll have the answers to all my questions?”

      Master: “Answers arrive with the question. All that is, is of The One. The One is Balance. It is not possible to ask a question without the answer appearing. There is the Balance. But while your Heart already knows the answers, the attention of your mind is on the question. Here the limitations begin.”

      Student: “So the answers to every question are always with the question?”

      Master: “It must be so. Balance is. The answers are in the very energy of the question you voice.”

      Student: “So if I asked, "What's my son doing right now?" The answer would automatically be here?”

      Master: “That is correct. This is because of the Balance of The One.”

      Student: “And this is true of any question I ask?”

      Master: “Any thought you hold in your Heart contains the whole of that thought. Nothing is hidden in The One. Consider this carefully, and hold it in your Heart. Nothing is hidden in The One.”

      Paradigm Limits

      Student: “Then the purpose of the mind is to limit all that information, all those answers?”

      Master: “This is not the purpose of the mind. Your mind allows you to experience your thoughts. Your thoughts, and your mind, are also of The One.”

      Student: “Is every single thought I have of The One?”

      Master: “All that is, is of The One. Every thought you have has its origin in The One. You are of The One. There is only The One.”

      Student: “Then everything that I can imagine is a possibility?”

      Master: “All that you can imagine is possible. What you can imagine is only that which has the potential to be, and that potential is of The One. A thought is a thing. If a thought were not possible, it would not have the potential to become a thing.”

      The Magic of Agreeing

      Master: “When many agree on the same experience, and when the many lose awareness, the experience of reality becomes a shared illusion.”

      Student: “You mean that this whole world is an illusion?”

      Master: “Your reality is not an illusion. It is your creation, and it is very real. The illusion is in the limitation, in the conflict. Your reality is not the illusion. The illusion is that your reality is all that is.”

      Consensus Reality

      Student: “If all this is an illusion, why does everybody experience the same thing?”

      Master: “Do all experience the same thing?”

      Student: “Well, we have different opinions about the little things, but the laws of physics are the same for all of us.”

      Master: “The laws of physics are the same for all?”

      Student: “Okay, some people seem to be able to overcome them sometimes, but they are pretty consistent.”

      Master: “When you are having what you call an illusion, you are experiencing something that others in your reality believe should not be. This is your personal illusion. It appears real only to you. It does not agree with the expectations of others. When many agree on an illusion, it does not appear as an illusion to them because it meets the expectations of the many. The laws you speak of are agreed upon by many. This only means that many have agreed upon the illusion. This does not mean that it is not an illusion.”

      Out There

      Master: “All that is, is of The One. There is only The One.”

      Maya

      Student: “It's easy to think of reality as an illusion, but treating it as an illusion is very difficult for most of us. When we experience something in our reality, it seems very real. How do we treat experience as an illusion?”

      Master: “Limited experience is something that you have created, and what you have created is indeed very real. You may participate fully in your reality without losing yourself in it. The illusion is in the conflict, the struggle. There is no conflict. Everything is as it should be. Everything is in balance. All that is, is of The One. Your reality is not the illusion. The illusion is that you are separate from your creation. This sense of separation causes the conflict.”

      The Path in the mind

      Student: “Do we choose the life we will have before we are born.”

      Master: “Choices are not made before. Choices are made now. There is only the now.”

      Student: “I know that's true, but it seems that sometimes we have no control over what happens to us. Do we choose those experiences before are were born?”

      Master: “You did not choose. You choose. Every moment holds the fullness of The One. This is not something that goes away simply because you are not aware of it.”

      The One

      Master: “All that is, is of The One.”

      Balance

      Student: “What can we do to make this Knowledge a part of our daily lives?”

      Master: “There is nothing to do. Doing only causes the mind to create more expectations. You cannot have expectations without having limi­tations. There is only to be. Be in the moment. When you consider the past, give it only a thought, and then let it go. When you plan for the future, give it the same reflective thought, and let it go. There is no effort involved in being. You are, at this very moment, at the very center of The One. This has always been true, but you have not known it. Now you can know it. Now you can be.”

      Student: “I know that's true, but it seems like we're always struggling to remain aware of it in our daily lives. There seems to be a continual struggle.”

      Master: “Your struggle is internal. It is because you have not learned that there is Balance in The One. Your mind thinks that you are not in Balance.”

      Student: “Then should we just accept everything that comes our way and not do anything?”

      Master: “To do, as you say, is to attempt to correct something that your mind tells you is not in Balance. All is in Balance. All is in The One. All you do must be in this Balance, and your being is the learning to recognize this Balance.”

      Student: “It still sounds like just accepting everything that comes along.”

      Master: “Balance in doing is like taking a step. In order to move, you must leave where you are. In this motion, there is the appearance of not having Balance. But it is just the appearance, the Balance is in the motion. In all things that appear in conflict, in all that is presented by your mind as opposites, observe both, but choose neither. In doing so, you remain in Balance, in motion. The moment you chose, you have stopped the motion. The positive and negative aspects of your reality are a product of your mind. All is as it should be. All that is, is of The One. There is only Balance, and this Balance is in motion.”

      Falling

      Student: “What about when things really seem bad, I mean, when there are major changes in our lives that we seem to have no control over? I know that there is Balance in that, too, but what are we to do?”

      Master: “All of these things are the result of your choices, and are of your creation. In all of these things there is Balance. It is your mind telling you that you are not in Balance. All that is, is of The One. How can Balance not be?”

      Student: “Knowing that is one thing, but applying it in those situations is another.”

      Master: “And yet the Master does just that.”

      Meditation

      Student: “How should I meditate?”

      Master: “Meditate on the center.”

      Student: “But shouldn't I practice a certain kind of meditation?”

      Master: “Meditation is the focus of attention, nothing more. Meditate in your center, and allow your Balance to be.”

      Student: “Should I choose something that reminds me of The One?”

      Master: “Is your body pleasing to you?”

      Student: “No, not really. I mean it is, but not for meditation.”

      Master: “Your body is a reflection of your mind and is of The One. It will do you no good to focus your attention on something outside yourself unless you are pleased with yourself. Meditate with your body. Begin with your breath, and become aware of the Balance within yourself.”

      Karma

      Student: “Do I have any Karma as a result of my past lives?”

      Master: “The only Karma you have is the Karma you choose to keep.”

      Reincarnation

      Student: “Is reincarnation a fact? Have people here lived past lives?”

      Master: “Yes. Many here have lived in experience before.”

      Student: “Is it a part of some plan so that we can learn and grow?”

      Master: “A plan?”

      Student: “Yes, a plan so we can learn that we don't have to come back.”

      Master: “No one must come back. Many choose to, but that is their choice.”

      Student: “Then why come back?”

      Master: “It is a choice, but many make the choice not knowing. Most do not leave this experience with the Knowledge they require in order to return to The One.”

      Student: “Why would anyone choose to come here in the first place?”

      Master: “Reason is not required for a choice to be made.”

      Student: “But once we make the choice, we're stuck with it?”

      Master: “No one is stuck anywhere. You are free to leave now. You are also free to have any life you wish, any illusion you wish, in any time you wish. This includes all the past lives you speak of. They are all there, in The One.”

      The Script

      Student: “I know we have a limited perspective of the world around us. Do children have a broader perspective?”

      Master: “Have you not heard the Masters tell you to become like little children? Very small children are aware of much more than most adults. A child must learn to respond to the illusion around them. This takes much time, and many lessons.”

      Worthiness

      Student: “I've done so much in the past that I feel I have to go through some kind of cleansing or something. You tell me that I'm worthy now, that all are worthy now. I believe it, but how can I convince my mind that it's true? I still have these feelings.”

      Master: “This idea of unworthiness-this is a result of your mind, your ego. When you consider the past, you should know that it is neither good nor bad. The potential for your past, for everyone's past, always has been. That potential still is. It has not gone away. It is in Balance. You must see it in Balance. It can be no other way.”

      Student: “But what if what I've done has caused something bad to happen.”

      Master: “Good and bad exist only in your illusion. Even as you experience the illusion, there is only Balance. Your mind chooses to remember the imbalance you have been taught to see. Your mind will not allow you to see what Balance there is in the bad that you say you have done. All is in Balance. All is as it should be. It can be no other way. You must know that.”

      Student: “How would you define evil?”

      Master: “There is no definition, for the concept of evil is not with us; but for you to understand, evil is that which is limiting.”

      The Movie Will End

      Master: “The reality that you know is in constant motion. This is because there is constant motion in The One. To become still is to become one with the motion of The One. This is the first and the natural state of the human spirit. To become still is to exist in this flow of motion.”

      Student: “Isn't the motion in our reality the same as the motion of The One? I've heard the saying, "As above, so below." Isn't it true that all we experience has its motion in The One?”

      Master: “It is true, but the truth of the saying in your reality is limited to your concept of experience. The One holds all potential always. All experience is available always, and with just a thought. One can enjoy experience without the need to sacrifice awareness. Your experience involves a process of limiting awareness. This is the process we call death. You think of it as the death of the body, but it is the death of awareness.”

      Student: “Then, if we were aware, our body would live longer?”

      Master: “That would be your choice. The body is but a reflection of your awareness. Your body begins to grow old when your awareness becomes more limited. This happens as you grow from a child to what you call an adult.”

      Transition

      Student: “What happens to us when we die?”

      Master: “When you die?”

      Student: “When our physical life ends?”

      Master: “What happens to you depends on you. What you call death is not an ending, but a beginning. It is a birth, and you must decide now if it is to be a birth of experience or a birth of awareness.”

      The Transpersonal Realm

      Student: “What happens when we no longer desire experience and become fully aware of The One?”

      Master: “It begins again.”

      Student:But if we are already perfect, if we're already of The One, it seems that all this isn't necessary, that it's all a mistake.”

      Master: “Mistake? A child is born perfect, with all the abilities of an adult, yet the child must grow. This is because the child has chosen the experience. This is not a mistake. It is a choice.”

      Student: “But is it necessary?”

      Master: “It is not necessary. It is the choice of the child. Your experience is not necessary, but you have chosen it.”

      Student: “Then there is no purpose in it, no reason for it?”

      Master: “There is only the purpose that you have chosen, only the reason that you give.”


      Student:I once asked you what happens when we become fully aware of The One. You said that it begins again. How does it begin again?”

      Master: “I do not recall that question.”

      Student: “We were talking about experience being unnecessary. You said that experience is not necessary, that it is a choice.”

      Master: “The choice of either experience or awareness is the choice of Spirit. Balance is in the Heart. The desire for experience is the nature of Spirit. The desire for awareness is the nature of Spirit. The Heart is the center. It is without beginning and without end.”

      Student: “Then why did you say that it would begin again? ”

      Master: “Your question asked what happens when you no longer desire experience. When you no longer desire experience, you are no longer in Balance. The desire for experience is the nature of the creative Spirit. The desire for awareness is the nature of the creative Spirit. The Heart is the center. The One is all. You are in The One always, but you experience The One only when you are in Balance. When you do not recognize your desire for experience, you have left the Heart, where there is no beginning or end, and created a beginning for yourself.”


      A Master

      Student: “Isn't there something I could do that would help my growth? I feel like I should be doing something.”

      Master: “A Master is still, yet there is always motion. The motion is the process of continual emptying.”

      Student: “Well, I still feel like I should be doing something. How can we be emptying ourselves without doing?”

      Master: “What would you do? You know that all is in Balance, and that you are, and always have been, in the very center of this Balance. Is there something that must be changed, something that must be corrected?”

      Student: “No, I know that there is nothing of that sort to do, but I still feel like I should be doing something. Perhaps it is just my mind.”

      Master: “There is something to do, something you do while you are in Balance. You reflect the Balance of The One, that is all. You do this right where you are, right now. Empty yourself of your awareness. Empty yourself of your experience. Empty your Balance into this thing your mind calls reality. This is the doing of the Master. To seek change by doing is the activity of the mind. There is nothing to change, nothing to do. To empty your Balance into The One is to be.”


      Master: “You have questions?”

      Student: “No, I don't have any questions.”

      Master: “Ah! But there is a question on your Heart. Tell me about your question.”

      Student: “Well, it feels like a question, but there is no way I could put it into words. It's more like a feeling than a question. It feels like a wonder - like an awe. Why does it feel like a question when it's a wonder?”

      Master: “It is the mind understanding the Heart. What will you do with this question?”

      Student: “I don't understand. What's there to do?”

      Master: “What do you think of this question?”

      Student: “There isn't any thinking, there is just the wonder of it all.”

      Master: “You have no further need for me. Now you are the Master.“



      The Prince and the Magician from The Magus, by John Fowles and The Structure of Magic by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

      Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, and he did not believe in God. His father, the king, had told him that such things did not exist. As there were no prin­cesses or islands in his father's domains, and no sign of God, the prince believed his father.

      But then one day the prince ran away from his palace and came to the next land. There to his astonishment from the coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.

      "Are those real islands?" asked the young prince.

      "Of course they are real islands," said the man in evening dress.

      "And those strange and troubling creatures?"

      "They are all genuine and authentic princesses."

      "Then God must also exist!"cried the prince.

      "I am God," replied the man in evening dress, with a bow.

      The young prince returned home as quickly as he could.

      "So, you are back," said his father, the king.

      "I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God" said the prince reproachfully.

      The king was unmoved. "Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God exist."

      "I saw them!"

      "Tell me how God was dressed."

      "God was in full evening dress."

      "Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?"

      The prince remembered that they had been.

      The king smiled. "That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived."

      At this, the prince returned to the next land and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.

      "My father, the king, has told me who you are," said the prince indignantly. "You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician."

      The man on the shore smiled. "It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father's kingdom, there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father's spell, so you cannot see them."

      The prince pensively returned home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eye. "Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?"

      The king smiled and rolled back his sleeves. "Yes, my son, I'm only a magician."

      "Then the man on the other shore was God."

      "The man on the other shore was another magician."

      "I must know the truth, the truth beyond magic."

      "There is no truth beyond magic," said the king.

      The prince was full of sadness. He said, "I will kill myself."

      The king by magic caused Death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince.

      The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands, and the unreal but beautiful princesses.

      "Very well," he said, "I can bear it."

      "You see, my son," said the king, "you, too, now begin to be a magician."



      The Secret of Life

      There was once an argument among the gods over where to hide the secret of life so that men and women would not find it. One god said: “Bury it under a mountain; they will never look there. No, the others said, one day they will find ways to dig up mountains and will uncover it. Another said : “Sink it in the depths of the ocean; it will be safe there. No the others objected, humans will one day find a way to plumb the ocean's depths and find it easily. Finally another god said: “Put it inside them; men and women will never think of looking for it there for a long time – by the time they are intelligent enough to discover the secret, perhaps they will also be wise enough to use it properly.

      All the gods agreed, and so that is how the secret of life came to be hidden within us.



      Secrets o' Love

      The first secret: the power of thought. Love begins with our thoughts. We become what we think. Loving thoughts create loving experiences and loving relationships. Affirmations can change our beliefs and thoughts about ourselves and others. If we want to love someone, we need to consider their needs and desires. Thinking about your ideal partner will help you recognize him or her when you meet.

      The second secret: the power of respect. You cannot love anyone or anything unless you first respect them. The first person you need to respect is yourself. To begin to gain self-respect ask yourself, "What do I respect about myself?" To gain respect for others, even those you may dislike, ask yourself, "What do I respect about them?"

      The third secret: the power of giving. If you want to receive love, all you have to do is give it! The more love you give, the more you will receive. To love is to give of yourself, freely and unconditionally. Practice random acts of kindness. ...The secret formula of a happy, lifelong relationship is to always focus on what you can give instead of what you can take.

      The fourth secret: the power of friendship. To find true love you must first find a true friend. Love does not consist of gazing into each other's eyes, but rather looking outward together in the same direction. To love someone completely you must love them for who they are, not what they look like. Friendship is the soil through which love's seeds grow. If you want to bring love into a relationship, you must first bring friendship.

      The fifth secret: the power of touch. Touch is one of the most powerful expressions of love, breaking down barriers and bonding relationships. Touch changes our physical and emotional states and makes us more receptive to love.

      The sixth secret: the power of letting go. If you love something, let it be free. ...Even in a loving relationship, people need their space. If we want to learn to love, we must first learn to forgive and let go of past hurts and grievances. Love means letting go of our fears, prejudices, egos, and conditions.

      The seventh secret: the power of communication. ...To love someone is to communicate with them. Let the people you love know that you love and appreciate them. Never be afraid to say, "I love you." Never let an opportunity pass to praise [and acknowledge] someone. Always leave someone you love with a loving word...it could be the last time you see them.

      The eighth secret: the power of commitment. If you want to have love in abundance, you must be committed to it... Commitment is the true test of love. If you want to have loving relationships, you must be committed to loving relationships. When you are committed to someone or something, quitting is never an option. Commitment distinguishes a fragile relationship from a strong, loving one.

      The ninth secret: the power of passion. Passion ignites love and keeps it alive. Lasting passion does not come through physical attraction alone. It comes from deep commitment, enthusiasm, interest and excitement. ...The essence of love and happiness are the same, all we need to do is to live each day with passion.

      The tenth secret: the power of trust. ...You cannot love someone completely unless you trust them completely. Act as if your relationship with the person you love will never end. Trust is essential in all loving relationships." Trust yourself, trust others and trust the world. It is the foundation for love. Please don't keep these ten secrets a secret anymore. Share them with everyone you love. Practice them and you will become a genuinely loving human being.



      The Stonecutter

      There was once a stonecutter, who was dissatisfied with himself and his position in life.

      One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could live like the merchant. Then he no longer would have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

      To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"

      Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passes.

      It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"

      Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"

      Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, pushed away by some great force, and he realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. I wish I could be the wind.

      Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that could not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it — a huge, towering stone. "How powerful that stone is!" he thought. "I wish I could be that stone!"

      Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding on a chisel into the solid rock, and he felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the stone?" he thought.

      He looked down below and saw the figure of a stonecutter.



      The Wooden Bowl

      A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor."

      So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

      The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food from when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

      The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. Neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.



      The Threadballs (on the ground) from Peer Gynt by H. Ibsen

      We are thoughts; You should have thought us;
      Little feet, to life; You should have brought us!
      We should have risen; With glorious sound;
      But here like threadballs; We are earth-bound.

      Withered Leaves

      We are a watchword; You should have used us!
      Life, by your sloth, Has been refused us.
      By worms we're eaten; All up and down;
      No fruit will have us; For spreading crown.

      A Sighing in the Air

      We are songs; You should have sung us!
      In the depths of your heart; Despair has wrung us!
      We lay and waited; You called us not.
      May your throat and voice; With poison rot!

      Dewdrops

      We are tears; Which were never shed.
      The cutting ice; Which all hearts dread
      We could have melted; But now its dart
      Is frozen into; A stubborn heart.
      The wound is closed; Our power is lost.

      Broken Straws

      We are deeds; You have left undone;
      Strangled by doubt, Spoiled ere begun.
      At the Judgement Day; We shall be there
      To tell our tale; How will you fare?



      Tzutujil Story of Birth from The Secrets of the Talking Jaguar by Martin Prechtel

      The Tzutujil are a tree and bird people. Everybody is metaphorically a Bird or a Tree, depending on what you're trying to say. The tribe is a tree, rooted in the first placenta of creation, with its trunk coming through the other three layers of heartwood, xylem, and bark, into this fifth world of the fruit, as it is called, or ruachu/iu, meaning Earth Fruit. The other four creations were still happening right now, just like the fifth one, and everything in this fifth one was rooted and created in one of the other four. All these creations were taking place right under your feet. I knew a guy who showed me a rock you could pull up to see them!

      Every child born into the village had already been born into and passed through the other four layers of creation, one layer at a time. In each of these consecutive creations, the child received an essential layer of his/her own physical and spiritual composition. After having received and lived these four layers of lives, the child was given form and born into this fifth layer of the Earth Fruit, the world of form, this world. In this way, all of us humans relived the history of the world and actually were diminutive earths walking around in the earth, with everything inside us in miniature that was visible to us on the outside.

      The first creation was stone and fire; in this layer you received what was hard and hot. Here you got your bones, your heart, and your gall blad­der. Grandfather Fire lived in your bones, and the Mother of Life lived in your heart. Your personal soul was housed in the gall bladder. Dreams originated from the gall bladder, and its tenant was called Q'aq’al or Fire Soul.

      In the second layer you were given your flesh because this creation had all the food plants, flowers, and trees. All Tzutujil people know that flesh comes from eating plants. In the third creation you acquired the layer of your blood and nerves and all the liquids of your body, because here was the land of water, rivers, rain, lakes, springs, clouds, mist, and lightning. In the fourth, a layer of breath, vision, and movement was tied into you, this being the layer of wind and animals. Then you were born into the fifth layer, here to have form, becoming fruit on the branches of the Old Life Tree of the Village.

      Two Deities, an Old Man and an Old Woman, sat in each of these cre­ation layers, and they were the ones who assembled you. In each creation, Deities did different things to put you together. The Old Man would be putting male things together to make a child, and the Old Woman in each creation would be doing female things to add to the child's makeup. Every child got both elements, regardless of gender.

      As each pair of Old People did this in each creation, they uttered special magical words and phrases. These words became the very things they described. The Gods spoke the world into life by continuously repeating their names. When they reach the fifth creation, the Deities' names take on physical form and function.

      These words were a kind of counting, sacred prayer counting. In one creation layer, the Old Man tied knots to make a child's muscles, while his consort wove a story into its life. As the Old Man and Old Woman did this, they counted out roll calls of sacred things your body needs. These count­ing prayers never ended, going from one layer to the next, being basically the Mayan calendar. We are made of words, and those words are places in our bodies and on the earth, too. The fifth world gave all those Old Peo­ple's words a place to have form and run around, happy to be alive and eating together.

      Each pair of Old Folks passed you to the next creation, where the next pair got busy putting you together, and on to the next, and so on until you were passed into this world, where hopefully the village and your mother's midwife were waiting for you to welcome you Home. A child was actually counted into life by the Gods.

      That's why it was so easy to become a part of the village, because every Tzutujil started out in life as a sincere amnesiac who spent the rest of his or her life putting back together his or her memory of the other worlds, enough so as to serve the greater good of the village and the World-Earth Fruit, and teach those new amnesiacs to remember.

      Not only did we owe our births to the Deities of the other layers, but our tactile life of movement and eating, the Earth Fruit existence, was fueled and kept alive by other Deities and forces living in these same other worlds, spirit worlds. Just like the tree, our world was the fruit, and the Deities were the Roots, Trunk, Heartwood, and Bark; and through these the Gods of the other worlds pumped the sap of life into our world, where we enjoyed what they could not.

      Though the old Gods and Deities of the layers made our lives possible, they still had to stay in their own worlds. Yet this fifth world is so delicious that they desire it. A spiritual contract between the people of the village and the Gods said that they would keep life coming to us if we promised to send them remembrance. The fruit of our remembrance was this earth and our lives, and we had to send them some of its deliciousness by means of ritual.

      Just as each villager worked hard to carry his or her own weight in the economy of each family compound, the village as a whole had to maintain the spiritual expense of its existence by giving the food of remembrance to the spirits, Gods, and forces of the magnificent layers of the other worlds. Just like the old people in the village, the Gods were never left out or for­gotten. We always sent to the elders our gifts, food, and a percentage of what­ever we had, to remember them by keeping them well fed and healthy. By remembering our elders, we learned not to forget the Gods. The old re­minded us today to feed what had fed us as people up till now.

      The Gods gave us life so that we could remember them, to keep them alive. The Gods of all layers ate remembrance. The Gods gave us things they didn't have, so we could create beautiful rituals, speeches, objects, and ways of being that remembered, put the Gods together again, just like they did us in the womb.



      Creation Myth



      Unraveling Through Meditation by Eman8ations

      Meditation is simply unraveling.

      The fabric of our minds – thought - dissolves naturally.

      Barriers fall when we become quiet.

      That is our task, our only job

      To allow everything to settle

      To allow the events of our lives to unwind within.

      It is a seemingly endless and therefore hopeless task

      But in reality we naturally flow toward resolution -- toward peace.

      There are many ways to view this process.

      One is physics entropy: “as the universe runs down, so do our minds empty.

      We will know peace through waiting

      And there are no right or wrong answers, only process.

      The Way lies within each of us

      In the resolution of confusions, fears, anger, loneliness.

      The busy noise from within will subside when we are still.

      There is a silence within, but we cannot hear it.

      Listen for it.You will know it when you hear it.

      If you wish, you may argue with any idea.

      But just listen and you will hear that you are not arguing.

      The argument argues: you are only an observer.

      You do not fight nor resist.

      Only the fight fights, and the resistance resists.

      When you accept these forces as apart from yourself

      Not acting in your best interest.

      You may watch your thoughts as we watch a child -

      Accepting and loving the helpless blundering

      That is as ancient as humanity,

      As basic as the fall of mankind

      Yet resolution, forgiveness, and love

      Are as natural as the wind and the rain and moonlight.

      Be still and allow all things to be exactly as they are.

      It is through acceptance that the soul is what remains

      When the illusions are allowed to dissolve of their own accord.

      Only the truth will remain

      Inexpressibly beautiful

      Hopeless to communicate

      Ecstasy to be trusted

      Fellows to be loved

      No explanations to be offered

      In simple reality.



      When the Waters Were Changed from: ‘Tales of the Dervishes’ by Indries Shah

      Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world that had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed with different water, which would drive men mad.

      Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the other water to change its character.

      On the appointed day the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

      When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before, yet they had no memory of what had happened, or of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

      At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day.

      Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.



      Myths And Legends Of The Bantu by Alice Werner [1933]

      Introduction, Who are the Bantu?

      BANTU is now the generally accepted name for those natives of South Africa (the great majority) who are neither Hottentots nor Bushmen-that is to say, mainly, the Zulus, Xosas (Kafirs), Basuto, and Bechuana -to whom may be added the Thongas (Shangaans) of the Delagoa Bay region and the people of Southern Rhodesia, commonly, though incorrectly, called Mashona.

      Abantu is the Zulu word for 'people' (in Sesuto batho, and in Herero ovandu) which was adopted by Bleek, at the suggestion of Sir George Grey, as the name for the great family of languages now known to cover practically the whole southern half of Africa. It had already been ascertained, by more than one scholar, that there was a remarkable resemblance between the speech of these South African peoples and that of the Congo natives on the one hand and of the Mozambique natives on the other. It was left for Bleek-who spent the last twenty years of his life at the Cape-to study these languages from a scientific point of view and systematize what was already known about them. His Comparative Grammar of South African Languages, though left unfinished when he died, in 1875, is the foundation of all later work done in this subject.

      The Bantu languages possess a remarkable degree of uniformity. They may differ considerably in vocabulary, and to a certain extent in pronunciation, but their grammatical structure is, in its main outlines, everywhere the same. But to speak of a 'Bantu race' is misleading. The Bantu-speaking peoples vary greatly in physical type: some of them hardly differ from some of the 'Sudanic'-speaking 1 Negroes of West Africa (who, again, are by no means all of one pattern), while others show a type which has been [1. Most of these languages, which had long seemed to be a hopeless chaos, have been found to belong to one family, called by Professor Westermann the 'Sudanic.' Typical members of this family are Twi (spoken in the Gold Coast Colony), Ewe, and Yoruba.] accounted for by a probable 'Hamitic' invasion from the north.

      But on questions connected with 'race' and racial characteristics ethnologists themselves are by no means agreed, and in any case we need not discuss them in this book. The Bantu-speaking peoples, then, include such widely separated tribes as the Duala, adjoining the Gulf of Cameroons, in the north-west; the Pokomo of the Tana valley, in the north-east; the Zulus in the south-east; and the Hereros in the south-west. Some are tall and strongly built, like the Zulus; some as tall or taller, but more slender, though equally well formed, like the Basuto-or even over-tall and too thin for their height, like the Hereros; others short and sturdy, like the Pokomo canoe-men, or small, active, and wiry, like some of the Anyanja. They vary greatly in colour, from a very dark brown (none, I think, are quite black) to different shades of bronze or copper. Colour may not be uniform within the same tribe: the Zulus themselves, for instance, distinguish between ' black'-that is, dark brown-and ' red '-or lighter brown-Zulus.1

      It does not seem likely, then, that all these various tribes ever formed parts of one family, as their languages may be said to do. But it may be assumed that a considerable body, speaking the same language, set out (perhaps two or three thousand years ago) from somewhere in the region of the Great Lakes towards the south and east. Whether they came into Africa across the Isthmus of Suez, bringing their language with them, or-as seems more likely developed it in that continent need not concern us here. As they moved on, separating in different directions (as our Teutonic ancestors did when they moved into Europe), their several languages grew up. [1. The expression 'Red Kafirs,' however, so often heard in South Africa, does not refer to skin colour, but to the custom of painting the body with red ochre or some similar mineral-a custom not without hygienic justification, under the given conditions.]

      The Bushmen

      They did not find an empty continent awaiting them. The only previous inhabitants of whom we have any certain knowledge are the Bushmen, the Pygmies of the Congo forests (and some scattered remnants of similar tribes in other parts), and perhaps the Hottentots.1 The present-day Bushmen, most of whom are to be found in the Kalahari Desert, are small (often under four feet in height), light-complexioned (Miss Bleek says "about putty-colour"), and in various other respects differ markedly from the Bantu. They live by hunting, trapping, and collecting whatever small animals, insects, fruits, and roots are regarded as edible. They were driven into the more inhospitable regions and partially exterminated, first by the invading Bantu and then by Europeans-whose treatment of them is a very black page in our history. The Bantu, however, in some cases killed the men only, and married the women, which accounts for unusual types met with here and there among the South African Bantu.2 And sometimes (as G. W. Stow thought was the case with the earliest Bechuana immigrants) the newcomers may have settled down more or less peaceably with the old inhabitants. This I think not unlikely to have happened in the district west of the Shire, in Nyasaland, where the local Nyanja-speaking population (calling themselves, not quite correctly, 'Angoni') are small, dark, and wiry, and seem to have absorbed a strong Bushman element. This fact, if true, may explain some of their notions about the origin of mankind, as we shall see later on.

      The Bantu Languages

      The Bantu languages, on the whole, are beautiful and harmonious. None of them differ from each other much [1. I say 'perhaps' because, though we know that the Hottentots were in the Cape Peninsula long before the first Bantu reached the Fish river, we do not know the relative times of their earlier migrations. 2. Indeed, tradition records that a certain Xosa chief chose a Bushwoman for his principal wife, so impressed was he by her skill in preparing a certain kind of food to his taste.] more than French does from Spanish or English from Danish. No two, for instance, would be as far apart as English and French, or French and Welsh, though all these belong to the same Indo-European family. The words used are often quite different (we know that English and American people, both speaking English, may use different words for the same thing); but the grammar is everywhere, in its main outlines, the same. It is scarcely necessary, at this time of day, to say that an unwritten language may have a grammar,1 and even a very complicated one. It is not often that a speaker of one Bantu language can understand another without previously learning it; but most natives pick up each other's speech with surprising quickness. An East African who has traveled any considerable distance from his home will probably speak three or four dialects with ease.

      Customs and Beliefs: The Spirit World

      Besides this relationship in language, all the Bantu have many customs and beliefs in common. All of them have, more or less vaguely, the idea of one God, though some of them do not clearly distinguish him from the sky or the sun, or even, as we shall see, from the first ancestor of the tribe. They believe in survival after death, and think that the ghosts of the dead can interfere to almost any extent in the affairs of the living. They do not seem to have any idea of immortality, as we understand it; in fact, some distinctly say that the ghosts go on living only as long as people remember them (which is very much what Maeterlinck says in The Blue Bird!). Ordinary people have no memory or [1. This is not the place to give details of Bantu grammar; but it may be explained that nouns are divided into classes, distinguished by prefixes, which also serve to differentiate the singular and plural. The class, which consists of nouns denoting persons, has, in the singular, the prefix Mu or M, in the plural Ba, or some modification of the same; thus Mu-ila is one individual of the Ila tribe, Ba-ila more than one. Sometimes the plural prefix Ama is used, as in Ama-ndebele. Other prefixes (Ki, Chi, Si, or Se- sometimes Lu) are used with the same stem to indicate the language, as Ki-swahili, Chi-nyanja, Se-suto, Lu-ganda. But it is often more convenient to use the stem without the prefix.] tradition of anyone beyond their great-grandparents, so that, except for great chiefs and heroes, there would never be more than three generations of ghosts in existence. But, however that may be, the influence of the dead is seen in every department of life. A man gets directions from his father's spirit before starting on any undertaking-either in a dream, or by consulting a diviner, or through all sorts of omens. For instance, a Yao,1 when thinking of going on a journey, would go to his chief, who would then take a handful of flour and drop it slowly and carefully on the ground. If it fell in the shape of a regular cone the omen would, so far, be good. They would then cover up the cone with a pot, and leave it till the next morning. If it was found to be quite undisturbed the man could go on his journey with an easy mind; but if any of the flour had fallen down he would give it up at once. Either the spirits did not, for some reason of their own, wish him to go, or they knew that some danger awaited him, and this was their warning.

      If anyone is ill it is supposed that some ancestral ghost is offended and has sent the sickness, or else that some human enemy has bewitched the patient. In either case the diviner has to consult the spirits to find out who is responsible and what is the remedy. Drought, floods, a plague of locusts, or any other natural calamity may be due to the anger of the spirits. In short, one may say that this belief in the power and influence of the dead is the basic fact in Bantu religion. We hear, rather doubtfully, of other spirits, some of which may be personified nature powers, but many of these (such as the Mwenembago, 'Lord of the Forest,' of the Wazaramo, in Tanganyika Territory) seem to have been human ghosts to begin with.

      The dead are supposed to go on living for an indefinite time underground, very much as they have done on the upper earth. There are many stories describing the [1. The home of the Yao tribe is in the Lujenda valley, in Portuguese East Africa, whence they have spread into Tanganyika Territory and Nyasaland.] adventures of people who have accidentally reached this country (called by the Swahili kuzimu1), usually through following a porcupine, or some other burrowing animal, into its hole. This happened, in Uganda, to Mpobe the hunter, to the Zulu Uncama, and to an unnamed man of the Wairamba (in Eastern Unyamwezi). The story is found in so many different places that the idea seems to be held wherever a Bantu language is spoken. One does not hear very much of ghosts appearing to survivors "in their habit as they lived"; though it -is a common occurrence (as I suppose it is everywhere) for people to see and talk with their dead friends in dreams. But they often come back in other shapes-mostly as snakes, and very often as birds-sometimes in the form of that uncanny insect the mantis, which some people call "the spirits' fowl." Later on we shall find some very striking tales, in which the ghost of a murdered man or woman haunts the murderer in the shape of a bird and calls on the kinsmen to avenge the slain.

      The High God

      The High God, when thought of as having a definite dwelling-place at all-for usually they are rather vague about him-is supposed to live above the sky, which, of course, is believed to be a solid roof, meeting the earth at the point which no one can travel far enough to reach. People have got into this country by climbing trees, or, in some unexplained way, by a rope thrown up or let down; and, like Jack after climbing the beanstalk, find a country not so very different from the one they have left. In a Yao tale a poor woman, who had been tricked into drowning her [1. The Swahili are a Bantu-speaking people, descended partly from Arab traders and colonists, and partly from the different African tribes with whom these Arabs intermarried. Their home is the strip of coast from Warsheikh to Cape Delgado, but they have travelled far and wide as traders, carriers, and Europeans' servants, and spread their language over a great part of the continent. The root -zimu, with different prefixes, is found in many Bantu languages, and sometimes means a mere ghost, sometimes a kind of monster or cannibal ogre.] baby, climbed a tree into the Heaven country and appealed to Mulungu,1 who gave her child back to her. The High God is not always, perhaps not often, connected with creation. The earth is usually taken for granted, as having existed before all things. Human beings and animals are sometimes spoken of as made by him, but elsewhere as if they had originated quite independently. The Yaos say, "In the beginning man was not, only Mulungu and the beasts." But they do not say that God made the beasts, though they speak of them as "his people." The curious thing is that they think Mulungu in the beginning lived on earth, but went up into the sky because men 2 had taken to setting the bush on fire and killing "his people." The same or a similar idea (that God ceased to dwell on earth because of men's misconduct) is found to be held by other Bantu-speaking tribes, and also by the Ashanti people in West Africa and the 'Hamitic' Masai in the east. It may be connected with the older and cruder notion (still to be traced here and there) that the sky and the earth, which between them produced all living things, were once in contact, and only became separated later.

      Whatever may once have been the case, prayers and sacrifices are addressed to the ancestral spirits far more frequently than to Mulungu or Leza. The High God is not, as a rule, thought of as interfering directly with the course of this world; but this must not be taken too absolutely. Mr C. W. Hobley, among the Akamba, and the Rev. D. R. Mackenzie, among the people of North Nyasaland, [1. This word, which in some languages means 'the sky,' is used for 'God' by the Yaos, the Anyanja, the Swahili (who shorten it into Muungu), the Giryama, and some others. Other names are Chiuta, Leza, Kalunga (in Angola), Nzambe (on the Congo; American Negroes have made this into jumbi, mostly used in the plural, meaning ghosts or bogies of some sort), Katonda (in Uganda), and Unkulunku (among the Zulus). This last (which-is not, as some have thought, the same word as Mulungu) has sometimes been taken to mean the High God, sometimes the first ancestor of the tribe, who lived so long ago that no one can trace his descent from him.] 2. For whom Mulungu was in no way responsible. The first human pair was found by the chameleon (a prominent character in African mythology) in his fish-trap! See Duff Macdonald, Africana, Vol i, p. 295.] have recorded instances of direct prayer to the High God in times of distress or difficulty.

      The Origin of Mankind

      As to the way in which mankind came into being, there are different accounts. The Zulus and the Thongas (Delagoa Bay people) used to believe that the, first man came out of a reed; some say a reed-bed, but the more unlikely sounding alternative is probably the true one, as some native authorities distinctly mention the exploding of the reed to let him out. Besides, it is a custom of the Basuto to stick a reed in the ground beside the door of a hut in which a baby has been born. The Hereros think their ancestors came out of a certain tree called Omumborombonga. This identical tree (I understand that ordinary members of the species are not uncommon) is believed to exist somewhere in the Kaoko veld, north of the Ugab river, in the Southwestern Territory. The Hereros, who are great stock breeders (or were till the tribe fell on evil days), said that their cattle came out of Omumborombonga along with them, but the small stock, sheep and goats (kleinvee in Dutch), came out of a hole in the ground, along with the Bushmen and, presumably, the game on which the Bushmen lived. The mention of sheep and goats in this connexion is curious, as the Bushmen never kept any domestic animals, except dogs. The Bechuana did not attempt to account for the origin of the Bushmen: they had been in the country, along with the game, from time immemorial, before the Bechuana came into it.

      The hole in the ground is interesting, because the Anyanja of Nyasaland used to say that the first people came out of a hole or cave somewhere to the west of Lake Nyasa: the place, which is called Kapirimtiya, has even been pointed out to Europeans. The footprints of the first man and of the animals, which came out with him, are said to be impressed on a rock in this place. The Bantu never seem to have regarded death as an inevitable process of nature. Everywhere we find stories explaining how it began, and usually blaming the chameleon. I shall tell some of these in a later chapter. People who do not accept the chameleon story sometimes speak of Death as a person, and call him Walumbe, or Lirufu, or Kalunga-ngombe.

      We hear now and then about people who live in the sky, though it is not very clear who they are. In the legends of the Baganda Heaven (Gulu), his sons, and his daughter Nambi are very much like an ordinary human family; but Heaven is less personal in the thought of the Bathonga, who call it Tilo, and speak of its sending rain, lightning, locusts, and-twins! M. Junod says it "is sometimes looked on as a real being, sometimes as an impersonal power"; and the 'rain-doctor' when facing the approaching thunderstorm, shouts, "You, Heaven, go further! I have nothing against you! I do not fight against you!" addressing it as a person. Besides Tilo himself, little people called Balungwana, who have sometimes been seen to fall from the clouds when some disaster was about to befall the country, inhabit the sky. Twins, too, are called the "children of Heaven." 1 Elsewhere the Heaven-dwellers are, strangely enough, described as having tails; but it is difficult to learn much about them. There is in the legends of some South African tribes a mysterious being called Hobyana (Huveane) or Khudjana, sometimes said to be "the creator of heaven and earth and the first ancestor of the race, and sometimes the son of the creator (Rivimbi, Luvimbi, or Levivi, by others vaguely identified with a famous rain-maker of old times). But at the same time he is represented as a tricksy being, some of whose exploits recall those of the European Till Eulenspiegel. He does not seem to be known beyond the Zambezi-indeed, I doubt whether his legend reaches as far as that; but parts of it coincide with incidents in the life of some very different heroes-Kachirambe and the boy who saved his people from the Swallowing Monster, as we shall see later on. [1. Twins are in some parts of Africa considered very lucky, in others very unlucky-so much so that it has sometimes been the custom to kill one or both.] As a rule one does not go to fairy-tales for high moral teaching; they are the playground of irresponsible fancy, and we do not look too closely into the ethics of Jack the Giant-killer or Rumpelstilzchen. Legends, of a more or less religious character, are a different matter, and this story of the Swallowing Monster may be taken as coming under that description. There is another type of story embodying a deep feeling of right and wrong, in which the spirit of a murdered person haunts the slayer in the form of a bird, and at last brings him to justice, as in the stories of "Nyengebule" and "Masilo and Masilonyane."

      Ogres (Amazimu) The monster just mentioned links on to a class of beings variously described in English as 'cannibals,' 'ogres,' or merely 'monsters'-in Zulu amazimu; in other languages madimo, madimu, or zimwi. It is a little misleading to call them cannibals, as they are never merely human beings, though sometimes taking (temporarily, at least) human shape. Zulu folklore is full of them, but one meets them more or less everywhere, and one favourite story, about the girl who, in some versions, was swallowed, in others carried about in a bag, crops up in all sorts of unexpected places. The irimu of the Chaga people (on Kilimanjaro mountain) is sometimes spoken of as a leopard; but he is clearly not an ordinary leopard, and in a Nyanja story, which will be told in full later on, we shall find a hyena who can turn himself into a man when he pleases. It is everywhere thought possible for animals to change into human beings, or human beings into animals; there are even at the present day people who say they have known it to happen: it is a favourite trick of the most wicked kind of witch. Besides turning themselves into animals, witches and wizards have the power of sending particular creatures out on their horrid errands-the baboon, the hyena, the owl; sometimes the leopard and the wild cat. This is why Zulus do not (or did not till lately) like you to use the words ingwe (leopard) and impaka (wild cat; the domestic cat, ikati, does not matter); you must call them by some other name. Another kind of familiar is the resuscitated and mutilated corpse (Zulu umkovu, Yao ndondocha), of which some account will be given in Chapter XVI.

      Animal Stories

      Many of the stories, which I shall have to tell, are entirely concerned with animals, which are shown speaking and acting just as if they were human beings. We all remember the "Uncle Remus" stories, which originally came from Africa, though naturally somewhat changed through being adapted to American surroundings: Uncle Remus felt called upon to explain that "de beastesses," were once upon a time like people; the original story-teller would not have thought it necessary, since, to his mind, there was no great difference. We do not hear animals talk, but that may be because we cannot understand their language-and why should we suppose that their minds work otherwise than ours? It seems quite likely that our Æsop's Fables originated in Africa. Luqman, the Arab fabulist spoken of with approval by Muhammad, in the thirty-first chapter of the Koran, is said to have been an 'Ethiopian'-that is, a Negro-slave. His stories were passed on to Greece, where he was known as Aithiops, and this was taken to be his name and turned into Æsop.

      The favourite animal in the Bantu stories is the Hare: there are no rabbits in Africa south of the Sahara, and it would seem that Europeans, warned by the calamities of Australia, have refrained from introducing them. Uncle Remus, knowing more about rabbits than hares, has turned him into Brer Rabbit, just as the hyena (who cheats and ill-treats the hare, and is finally 'bested' by him) has become Brer Wolf or Brer Fox. If Uncle Remus nearly always gives animals a title-'Brer Rabbit,' 'Mis' Cow,' and so on-this must be because his African forefathers did the same; we generally find them distinguished in some way when figuring in tales; sometimes, indeed, they are called by quite a different name. But the Bantu do not go as far as the Bushmen, who use different forms of words (with extra clicks) for the speeches of animals in the stories, and have a different tone of voice for each animal when reciting these speeches. In some parts, as in the Congo forest country, where there are no hares, the same tales are told of a little antelope, the water chevrotain (Dorcatherium), called by the Congo natives nseshi. The reason why these two creatures, so small and weak, are made the principal heroes of African folklore seems to be a deep-seated, inarticulate feeling that the strong cannot always have things their own way and the under-dog must some time or other come into his own. The lion and the elephant stand for stupid, brutal force, though the hyena, on the whole, gets the worst character; the tortoise overcomes every one else in the end (even the hare) by quiet, dogged determination; but he sometimes (not always) shows a very un-amiable side to his disposition.

      These are the principal figures in the animal stories, though a good many others make their appearance incidentally. The Zulu stories which have been collected (there must still be many others not published or even written down) are more or less like our own fairy-tales: about chiefs' sons and beautiful maidens, lost children, ogres, witches, enchanters, and so forth; but they also have their hare stories.

      Much the same may be said of the Basuto, only they give some of the hare's most famous adventures to the jackal. This trait is probably borrowed from the Hottentots, who, like the Galla in North-eastern Africa (where the Hottentots came from, no one knows how long ago), have no opinion of the hare's intelligence, and tell you that it is the jackal who is the clever one. And some of the same incidents are told by the Zulus of a queer little being called Hlakanyana, a sort of Tom Thumb, apparently human, but by some people identified not with the hare, but with a kind of weasel. The circumstances of his birth are peculiar, which is also the case with some very different personages: Kachirambe of the Nyanja, Galinkalanganye of the Hehe, and usually the boy-hero who slays the Swallowing Monster. Ryang'ombe, the hero of the Lake Regions, distinguished himself by eating a whole ox when only a few hours old-a feat in which he even surpassed Hlakanyana.

      The Baganda and Banyaruanda have many tales or legends of a type similar to those mentioned above, while other Bantu tribes seem to have more animal stories and less of the other kind; but they probably exist side by side everywhere. In attempting, as I have done, to present the most attractive specimens of both I have sometimes found it necessary to combine two or more versions so as to get a more complete and coherent whole.



      Where Man Came From, and How Death Came

      No one seems to know when the South African Bantu first came into the country now occupied by them. It is certain that the Bushmen, and in some places the Hottentots, were there before them. One proof of this is found in the names of places, and especially of rivers, which in the Cape Province often contain clicks (the Iqora, called by Europeans Bushman's River; the Inxuba, which is the Fish river; and many others); while in Natal and Zululand most of the river-names have a decided Bantu sound-Umgeni, Tugela, and so on. The Bantu came from the north-east, and reached the Kei river about the end of the seventeenth century, when they first came in contact with the Dutch colonists. But they must have been in Natal and the regions to the north-east long before that, for in 1498, when Vasco da Gama's fleet touched somewhere near the mouth of the Limpopo, one of his crew, Martin Affonso, found he could understand the talk of the natives, because it was very much like what he had picked up on the West Coast, probably in Angola or on the Congo. It is also known that the Makaranga, who are still living in Southern Rhodesia, were there in 1505, when the Portuguese first heard of them, and they must have settled there long before, as they had something like an organized kingdom, under a paramount chief, whom the Portuguese called Monomotapa.

      Zulu Clan Tradition These Makaranga are by some thought to be the ancestors of the Amalala, the first of the Bantu to take up their abode in the countries we know as Natal and Zululand. One of their tribes has a quaint story of the way in which their first ancestor brought his family to their new home. This was Malandela, son of Gumede, who came into the Umhlatuze valley, Father Bryant thinks, about 1670. It is said that when they had marched, day after day, for many weary miles, and the old man found his strength failing, he made his wives and children get into an isilulu - "one of the huge globular baskets still used for storing grain."1 He then, with one last effort, launched the basket on its way with one mighty kick, and fell back dead. It rolled on "over hill and dale, river and forest, till at last it stopped and steadied; and when those within ventured to look out they found themselves in this country where we now live," so some of their descendants, "who are still nicknamed 'those belonging to the basket,'" told Miss Colenso.2 But Father Bryant, who has made very careful inquiries into Zulu traditions, has unkindly spoilt this story. He says that the real meaning of "those belonging to the basket" is that Malandela's family, when driven by famine from their old homes, brought with them these grain-baskets, which were then a novelty to the people among whom they settled.

      However that may be, Malandela was the father of Ntombela, the father of Zulu, and so the ancestor of the great Zulu kings. Solomon, son of Dinuzulu, who has recently died, was the twelfth in descent from him. The graves of these kings, from Malandela to Senzangakona, father of Tshaka, are pointed out near Babanango, in the valley of the White Imfolozi river. Dinuzulu too is buried near them, but his father lies in the Inkandhla forest, in Zululand, and his grandfather, Mpande, at Nodwengu.

      Tribal Migrations Zulus and Xosas alike trace their descent from a tribe called Nguni (Abenguni, a name still preserved by the Angoni of Nyasaland), who, after coming from the north, as well as the Basuto, Bechuana, and Hereros, settled somewhere in the Upper Limpopo valley. Father Bryant thinks that they must have made a long circuit to the west, [1. Alas, the degenerate izilulu (plural) of the present day are not more than three or four feet across! 2. Josiah Gumede, who came to England in 1919 to petition the Imperial Government for justice to the Zulus, claims to be a descendant of this family.] crossing the Zambezi near its source, or even going round its head-waters, as it would have been impassable to them "by any eastern or even central crossing."1 Be that as it may, while some of the Nguni remained in the Limpopo valley part of the tribe set off about the year 1300 to the eastward, and these, again, two hundred years later, broke up into two sections, one of which continued its southward march, and ultimately gave rise to the Xosa and Tembu tribes. Zulu and Xosa may now be considered as dialects of the same language: they do not differ much more, if at all, than Lowland Scots and standard English, and originally, of course, they were one.

      As centuries progressed, old words and forms fell out here and new came in there, each section developing its speech along different lines, till to-day Ntungwa and Xosa are separated by a quite considerable extent of dialectical difference in speech. The Xosa language, it may be noted, has preserved for us the old-time term ebu Nguni (Nguniland-there whence they came) as signifying "in the West." 2 The differences in vocabulary are considerable, just as we find that in different English counties the same things are not always called by the same names; the grammar is almost identical; but the Xosa intonation, rather than the pronunciation of individual sounds, is decidedly strange to an ear accustomed to Zulu. This being so, it is only to be expected that both sections of the South-eastern Bantu should have many tales and legends in common, and I shall not always try to distinguish between them.

      The Reed and the Reed-bed

      The Bantu, as a rule, do not try to account for the origin of the human race as a whole, or, rather, their legends seem to assume that the particular tribe in question is the human race; though, as we have seen, there are some who condescend to recognize the Bushmen [1. Yet we know that Zwangendaba's host crossed in 1835 near Zumbo in the height of the dry season, when the river was very low. 2. Bryant, Olden Times, p. 9.]. They also frequently fail to distinguish between a non-human creator and the first human ancestor, which has led to a good deal of discussion as to the real meaning of the Zulu Unkulunkulu, who 'broke off' mankind from Uhlanga. Uhlanga means a reed, and there seems no reason to doubt that this at first was intended quite literally, for, as one native told Dr Callaway, "it was said that two people came out of a reed. There came out a man and a woman." Some have refused to believe that this was really meant, and take Callaway's view that uhlanga is a metaphorical expression for "a source of being." It certainly has come to be used in this sense, but I should be inclined to look on this as a later development and the reed as the original idea. The Baronga of Delagoa Bay1 told M. Junod that "one man and one woman suddenly came out from a reed, which exploded, and there they were!" Some native authorities say that the first pair came out of a reed-bed (umhlanga), but one is inclined to think that the cruder version is the more primitive, and is reminded of the Hereros and their Omumborombonga tree.

      The Chameleon

      Most) if not all, of the Bantu have the legend of the chameleon-everywhere much the same, though differing in some not unimportant details-explaining how death came into the world, or, rather, how it was not prevented from coming. I will give it first as it was told to Dr Callaway by Fulatela Sitole, and afterwards mention some of the variations. It is said he (Unkulunkulu) sent a chameleon; he said to it, "Go, chameleon (lunwaba), go and say, 'Let not men die!'" The chameleon set out; it went slowly, it loitered in the way; and as it went it ate of the fruit of a bush which is called [1. The Baronga are a branch of the great Thonga nation (Amatonga). Father Bryant says that "the relationship between the Nguni (Zulu-Xosa), Sutu (Basuto), and Thonga Bantu families may be likened to that existing in Europe between the English, Germans, and Scandinavians of the Nordic race."] Ubukwebezane. At length Uhkulunkulu sent a lizard [intulo, the blue-headed gecko] after the chameleon, when it had already set out for some time. The lizard went; it ran and made great haste, for Unkulunkulu had said, "Lizard, when you have arrived say, 'Let men die!'" So the lizard went, and said, "I tell you, it is said, 'Let men die!'" The lizard came back again to Unkulunkulu before the chameleon had reached his destination, the chameleon, which was sent first-which was sent and told to go and say, "Let not men die!" At length it arrived and shouted, saying, "It is said, 'Let not men die!'" But men answered, "Oh, we have accepted the word of the lizard; it has told us the word, 'It is said "Let men die!'" We cannot hear your word. Through the word of the lizard men will die." 1 Here no reason is given for Unkulunkulu's sending the second messenger. I do not think any genuine native version suggests that he changed his mind on account of men's wickedness. Where this is said one suspects it to be a moralizing afterthought, due perhaps to European influence.

      The Luyi Legend

      Some other versions assume that the creator had not made up his mind, and decided to let the issue depend on which messenger arrived first. The Luyi tribe of the Zambezi call the creator Nyambe, and give him a wife, Nasilele.2 She wanted men to die for ever, but Nyambe wished them to live again. Nyambe had a dog of whom he was very fond. The dog died, and Nyambe wished to restore him to life, but Nasilele objected. "He is a thief, and I do not like him." Some time after this Nasilele's mother died. (Nyambe and his wife are stated to have been the first human couple; but the student of mythology must learn not to be surprised at contradictions of this sort.) She asked Nyambe to revive her mother, but he refused, because she had wanted his dog to stay dead. Some versions add that he gave in after a time, and set to work, [1. Callaway, Amazulu, p. 3. 2. Told in full by Jacottet, "Textes Louyi," No. XLV.] but when the process was nearly complete Nasilele ruined everything by her curiosity. Then came the question whether mankind in general should die for ever or live again, and they agreed to settle it by sending the chameleon andnot the lizard, but the hare, who, as might be expected, arrived first.

      Elsewhere the lizard overhears the message, and, out of mere spiteful mischief, hastens to get in first with the (alleged) counter-order. It is not surprising that both these creatures should be held unlucky. No unsophisticated African will touch a chameleon if he can help it, or likes to see a European handling one; while for an intulo to enter a Zulu hut is the worst of evil omens. In some parts, indeed, the herd-boys, whenever they find a chameleon, will poison it by squirting tobacco-juice or sprinkling snuff into its open mouth. The chameleon is the creature usually associated with this legend among Bantu-speaking peoples; the Hottentots, in a similar story, make the messenger the hare, who is sent out by the Moon to tell people, "As I die and, dying, live, so shall ye die and, dying, live." In some versions he reverses the message out of forgetfulness or stupidity; in one he does it wilfully, having taken the place of the insect who was to have carried the message.' It is to be noticed that the idea throughout is not that man should be exempt from death, but that he should return to life after it.

      Legends current in Uganda The Bantu must have brought this legend with them when they came from the north, for it is also known to the people of Uganda, as well as to others in between. But the Baganda have another story telling how Death came-Death, who, in this tale, is thought of as a person, and called Walumbe. This one belongs to the Bahima (or Batusi) cowherds, who came in from the north with their long-horned cattle, and made themselves chiefs in Uganda and Unyoro [1. Bleek, Reynard the Fox in South in South Africa, pp. 69-73; Schulte, Namaland und Kalahari, p. 448.] and Ankole.1 But it is the peasants, the original Bantu living in the country before the Bahima came, who have the chameleon story. The tale of Kintu, the first man, who married the daughter of Heaven (Gulu), has been told so often that it need not be repeated here. It may be read in Dr Roscoe's The Baganda, and in a charming little book by Mrs Baskerville, The King of the Snakes. There, too, can be found the story of Mpobe, the hunter, who wandered into the presence of Death, but was allowed to depart with a warning never to speak of what he had seen. He was able to resist all persuasion to do so, till at last his mother overcame his reluctance, and Death immediately came to claim him.

      Such personifications of Death do not seem to be very common in Bantu mythology; but the Basumbwa of North-western Unyamwezi, in a somewhat similar legend, call him Lirufu, and one occasionally hears of a "chief of the ghosts," who may be identical with him.

      Kalunga of the Ambundu

      The Ambundu of Angola speak of Kalunga, a word which may mean either Death, the King of the Netherworld (usually called, why I do not know, Kalunga-ngombe, "Kalunga of the cattle"), or the sea. This is not strange when one remembers that, though living, many of them, on the coast, they are a seagoing people, and to the sense of dread and mystery with which the ocean would naturally affect them would be added the memory of the thousands carried away on slave-ships, never to return. The Ndonga and Kwanyama, to the south of Angola, use this name for their High God, whom the Hereros too call Njambi Karunga. Some Mbundu stories give us a glimpse of Kalunga and his kingdom. Here are two of them.2 [1. They are no longer a separate people in Uganda itself, as they are in Ankole and Ruanda, since even their kings and great chiefs married women of the country. 2. Chatelain, Folk-tales of Angola, pp. 223 and 249.]

      The first is called "King Kitamba kia Shiba." Kitamba was a chief who lived at Kasanji. He lost his head-wife, Queen Muhongo, and mourned for her many days. Not only did he mourn himself, but he insisted on his people sharing his grief. "My village, too, no man shall do anything therein. The young people shall not shout; the women shall not pound; no one shall speak in the village." His headmen remonstrated with him, but Kitamba was obdurate, and declared that he would neither speak nor eat nor allow anyone else to do so till his queen was restored to him. The headmen consulted together, and called in a 'doctor' (kimbanda). Having received his fee (first a gun, and then a cow) and heard their statement of the case, he said, "All right," and set off to gather herbs. These he pounded in a 'medicine-mortar,' and, having prepared some sort of decoction, ordered the king and all the people to wash themselves with it. He next directed some men to "dig a grave in my guest-hut at the fireplace," which they did, and he entered it with his little boy, giving two last instructions to his wife: to leave off her girdle (i.e., to dress negligently, as if in mourning) and to pour water every day on the fireplace. Then the men filled in the grave. The doctor saw a road open before him; he walked along it with his boy till he came to a village, where he found Queen Muhongo sitting, sewing a basket, She saw him approaching, and asked, "Whence comest thou?" He answered, in the usual form demanded by native politeness, "Thou thyself, I have sought thee. Since thou art dead King Kitamba will not eat, will not drink, will not speak. In the village they pound not; they speak not; he says, 'If I shall talk, if I eat, go ye and fetch my head-wife.' That is what brought me here. I have spoken." 1 The queen then pointed out a man seated a little way off, and asked the doctor who he was. As he could not say, she told him, "He is Lord Kalunga-ngombe; he is always consuming us, us all." Directing his attention to another man, who was chained, she asked if he knew him, and he [1. Chatelain's literal translation of his speech.] answered, "He looks like King Kitamba, whom I left where I came from." It was indeed Kitamba, and the queen further informed the messenger that her husband had not many years to live,1 and also that "Here in Kalunga never comes one here to return again. She gave him the armlet which had been buried with her, to show to Kitamba as a proof that he had really visited the abode of the dead, but enjoined on him not to tell the king that he had seen him there. And he must not eat anything. in Kalunga; otherwise he would never be permitted to return to earth. One is reminded of Persephone and the pomegranate seed, but the idea is one which frequently recurs in Bantu legends of the Underworld, there is no reason to suppose that it was borrowed, directly or indirectly, from the Greeks. It seems quite natural to think that the food of the dead would be fatal to the living.

      Meanwhile the doctor's wife had kept pouring water on the grave. One day she saw the earth beginning to crack; the cracks opened wider, and, finally, her husband's head appeared. He gradually made his way out, and pulled his small-son up after him. The child fainted when he came out into the sunlight, but his father washed him with some 'herb-medicine,' and soon brought him to. Next day the doctor went to the headmen, presented his report, was repaid with two slaves,3 and returned to his home. The headmen told Kitamba what he had said, and produced the token. The only comment he is recorded to have made, on looking at the armlet, is "Truth, it is the same." We do not hear whether he countermanded the official mourning, but it is to be presumed he did so, for he made no further difficulty about eating or drinking. Then, after a few years, he died, and the story concludes, "They wailed the funeral; they scattered." [1. This seems to be shown by the appearance of his wraith in the Underworld, but the point is not further explained. 2. Kalunga therefore denotes the place, as well as its ruler. 3. Chatelain's informants in the eighteen-eighties treat this sort of thing quite as a matter of course.]

      How Ngunza Defied Death

      The other story is about two brothers. Ngunza Kilundu was away from home when a dream warned- him that his younger brother Maka was dead. On his return he asked his mother, "What death was it that killed Maka?" She could only say that it was Lord Kalunga-ngombe who had killed him. "Then," said Ngunza, "I will go out and fight Kalunga-ngombe." He went at once to a blacksmith and ordered a strong iron trap. When it was ready he took it out into the bush and set it, hiding near by with his gun. Soon he heard a cry, as of some creature in distress, and, listening, made out words of human speech: "I am dying, dying." It was Kalunga-ngombe who was caught in the trap, and Ngunza took his gun and prepared to shoot. The voice cried out, "Do not shoot me! Come to free me! Ngunza asked, "Who are you, that I should set you free?" The answer came: "I am Kalunga-ngombe." "Oh, you are Kalunga-ngombe, who killed my younger brother Maka!" Kalunga-ngombe understood the threat which was left unspoken, and went on to explain himself. "You accuse me of killing people. I do not do it wantonly, or for my own satisfaction; people are brought to me by their fellow-men, or through their own fault. You shall see this for yourself. Go away now and wait four days: on the fifth you may go and fetch your brother in my country."

      Ngunza did as he was told, and went to Kalunga. It is not said how he got there-probably by some such means as the doctor in the other story. There he was received by Kalunga-ngombe, who invited him to take his place beside him. The new arrivals began to come in. Kalunga-ngombe asked the first man, "What killed you?" The man answered that on earth he had been very rich; his neighbours were envious and bewitched him, so that he died.1 The next to arrive was a woman, who admitted that 'vanity' had been the cause of her death-that is, she had been [1. A more likely occurrence-and one that has been known to take place-would have been that an accusation of witchcraft was trumped up, which led to his execution.] greedy of finery and admiration, had coquetted with men, and had in the end been killed by a jealous husband. So it went on: one after another came with more or less the same story, and at last Kalunga-Ngombe said, "You see how it is - I do not kill people; they are brought to me for one cause or another. It is very unfair to blame me. Now you may go to Milunga and fetch your brother Maka." Ngunza went as directed, and was overjoyed at finding Maka just as he had left him at their home, and, apparently, leading much the same sort of life as he had on earth. They greeted each other warmly, and then Ngunza said, "Now let us be off, for I have come to fetch you home." But, to his surprise, Maka did not want to go. "I won't go back; I am much better off here than I ever was while I lived. If I come with you, shall I have as good a time?" Ngunza did not know how to answer this, and, very unwillingly, had to leave his brother where he was. He turned away sadly, and went to take leave of Kalunga, who gave him, as a parting present, the seeds of all the useful plants now cultivated in Angola, and ended by saying, "In eight I days I shall come to visit you at your home."

      This part of the story grows very puzzling, as no reason is given for the visit, and it would almost seem, from what follows, as if some condition had been imposed which Ngunza did not keep.2 Kalunga came to Ngunza's home on the eighth day, and found that he had fled eastward that is, inland. He pursued him from place to place, and finally came up with him. Ngunza asked why Kalunga should have followed him, adding, "You cannot kill me, for I have done you no wrong. You have been insisting that you do not kill anyone-that people are brought to you through some fault of theirs." Kalunga, for all answer, threw his hatchet at Ngunza, and Ngunza "turned into a kituta spirit." This is not further explained, but we [1. It is not clear what this place was. Chatelain could not even make out the word in the original manuscript. 2 Chatelain seems to have had some difficulty in getting a connected narrative out of the "poorly written notes" left by a native helper who died.] find elsewhere that a kituta (or kianda) is "a spirit or demon . . . who rules over the water and is fond of great trees and of hill-tops." Such river-spirits figure in several other stories from Angola. In the story from Uganda already referred to Mpobe had to die because he had, in spite of the warning received, spoken about his visit to the kingdom of the dead. Something of the sort may have been said in the correct version of the Mbundu story. Then, again, Ngunza is not said to have been killed, but to have become a kituta-one does not see why. In the ordinary course of things, one gathers, those who depart this life go on living for an indefinite time in Kalunga; but after that they die again, and this time cease, to exist. We shall have to consider this point more fully, when speaking of the ancestral spirits. It seems quite clear from all these legends that the African does not, when he thinks about the matter at all, look upon death as an essential fact in nature. It appears to be accepted that, but for some unforeseen accident, or perhaps some piece of carelessness or wilful disobedience, people need never have died at all. To the same set of ideas belongs the prevalent belief that any death whose cause is not understood (and the number of such deaths is now steadily decreasing) must be due to witchcraft. Kalunga, if we are to think of him as the High God, is exceptional for living underground. Leza, Mulungu, Iruwa, and so on, if they have a local habitation at all, are placed in the sky, as we shall see in the next chapter.

      Legends of the High Gods

      The Leza and Nyambe of the Upper and Middle Zambezi tribes exhibit the same confusion between the High God and the first man which we noticed in the case of the Zulu Unkulunkulu; and, further, they appear to be more or less identified with the sky and the rain. The Basubiya say that Leza once lived on earth. He was a very strong man, a great chief; when he was seated in his khotla (place of the chief's council) "it was as though the sun were sitting there." It was he who sent out the chameleon with the message that men should live again after death. Leza is said to send rain; the Baila use such expressions as "Leza will fall much water, Leza throws down water." The Rev. E. W. Smith obtained from these people a curious story,1 the conclusion of which recalls the only comfort Gautama Buddha could give to the bereaved mother. It also indicates the belief that Leza causes death-at any rate, premature death.

      The Woman's Search for God

      An old woman, whose parents had died when she was a child, lost all her sons and daughters, one after another, and was left with no one belonging to her. When she was very old and weary she thought she must be about to follow them; but instead of that she found herself growing younger, and was seized with a strong desire to find Leza and ask him the meaning of it all. Thinking that he had his abode in the sky, she began to cut down trees and make a scaffolding by which she could climb up. A similar device is said to have been tried by the Baluyi, by the Wasu of Pare (East Africa), and by the ancestors of the Ashanti. But when she had built it up to a considerable height the lower poles rotted away, and the whole fell down, she falling with it. She was not hurt, and tried again, but with no better success. At last she gave up in despair, and set out [1 Smith and Dale, The Ila-speaking Peoples, vol. ii, p. 197.] to reach the place where, as she believed, the sky joins the earth. So she wandered through one country after another, and when the people asked her what she wanted she said, "I am seeking Leza." "What do you want of him?" "My brothers, you ask me? Here in the nations is there one who has suffered as I have suffered? . . . I am alone. As you see me, a solitary old woman, that is how I am!" The people answered, "Yes, we see! That is how you are! Bereaved of friends and kindred? In what do you differ from others? Shikakunamo1 sits on the back of every one of us, and we cannot shake him off!"

      Prayer to the High God It is often stated that Africans in general neither pray to the High God nor offer sacrifices to him, nor, in fact, notice him at all, beyond recognizing his existence. This is certainly not true in the case of the Baila, and we have evidence to the same effect from various quarters. The Bapedi (a branch of the Basuto living in the Transvaal) say that their High God (Modimo o mogolo) is called Huveane, and they pray to him for rain.2 He made the sky and the earth, and when he had finished them he climbed up into the sky (conceived, of course, as a solid vault) by driving in pegs on which he set his feet, taking out each one as soon as he had stepped on the next, so that people should not be able to follow him. And in the sky he has lived ever since. This seems to be the original form of the incident, which, when the myth had degenerated into a comic folk-tale, appears as a trick played by the graceless Huveane on his father.

      Mr Hobley distinctly states that the Akamba tribe, in Kenya Colony, pray to the God whom they call Engai, [1. Shikakunamo is one of the names sometimes used by the Baila for Leza; it means 'the besetting one,' the one who will never let you alone-in this case sending one affliction after another. But in general he is described as compassionate and merciful, despite the unreasonableness of mankind, who beg him for, boons, and then complain of what they get. 2. We shall meet with a different Huveane-or with a very different conception of the same being-in a later chapter.] especially in seasons of distress. When sickness is rife among the people the headman prays first to Engai and then to the spirit (imu) supposed to have caused the sickness." They first pray to Engai, because they believe the spirit has gone to Engai." Gutmann speaks of sacrifices offered to God (Iruwa) by the Wachaga, which are clearly distinguished from offerings made to the ancestral spirits, and quotes old forms of prayer used on such occasions. The Ngonde (Konde) people, at the north end of Lake Nyasa, pray to Kyala (also known as Ndorombwike), and other instances might be cited. Thus the High God cannot in all cases be described as 'otiose, dwelling apart and not concerning himself with mankind or his affairs.

      Chungu's Prayer

      The Ngonde, just mentioned, say as a rule that they do not pray directly to Kyala, but ask the spirits of their forefathers to intercede for them with him. Yet sometimes they pray directly: "Be gracious to us, O God, and hear the prayers of those whom we have named" - i.e., the ancestral spirits. Mr Mackenzie tells of a chief called Chungu, known to his people as "the man who speaks with God," and relates a remarkable story1 of this Chungu having been called in when the Domira steamer had run aground (near Karonga's, on Lake Nyasa) and could not be got off. Chungu came down to the shore and prayed, after sacrificing a white cock, and immediately the vessel floated. It is a pity that this incident does not seem to have been reported by any of the Europeans who must have been on board.

      Legend of Ngeketo

      These same Ngonde people have a strange legend about one Ngeketo, once a god of theirs, but now, as they say, worshipped only by the white men. He was the youngest of three, the others being Lyambilo (still worshipped by the Wakinga) and Mbasi, by some writers called 'the Devil,' [1. The Spirit-ridden Konde, p. 23.] though that notion is wholly foreign to Bantu thought. These two became jealous of Ngeketo, because he was the first to plant maize in the country-the old home of the Ngonde, near what is now Mahenge. Together with "the elders of the people" (who usually, on principle, dislike innovations), they conspired to kill Ngeketo; but after three days he came back to life in the form of a serpent. Thereupon they cut him in pieces, but the pieces joined together, and he revived once more. Again they killed him, and again he arose. Some people saw him, but he disappeared and went away to the coast, "where he became the god of the white men."

      We are assured that this story cannot be due to missionary influence: it was known to the old men before the white men came, and they told Mr Mackenzie that it had not been changed in any way. It seems most likely that Ngeketo was not really a High God, but a human ancestor, though not honoured as such in the ordinary way, either because his family had died out or because the tribe had moved away from the place where he was buried and where only offerings could be made to his spirit. If he really introduced the maize plant (which, as we know, was brought from Brazil by the Portuguese) his legend must certainly be later than the sixteenth century; but the mention of that grain may be a modernizing touch, in the usual manner of story-tellers, and, originally, he may have planted millet or beans, both of which seem to have been known from very early times. It is interesting to note, in passing, that where there is a tradition about millet the discovery is attributed to a woman, and, strangely enough, is usually associated with a discreditable motive.

      Imana of the Ruanda

      The people of Ruanda recognize a Supreme Being called Imana, clearly distinguished from the deified hero Ryang'ombe, whose legend will be given in another chapter, and from the imandwa, or ghosts. He is often spoken of as a helper in difficulty and distress, but is never prayed to direct: appeals to him are always expressed, one might say, as conditional wishes. Thus: "If Imana were with me he would help me." Imana is frequently referred to in Ruanda proverbs, such as: "Imana gives you-it is not a thing bought" (i.e., his gifts are free); "He who has received a gift from Imana is not stripped of it by the wind"; "Imana has long arms"; "There is none equal to Imana"; "A cultivator who has not Imana on his side has [at any rate] his two arms." This last seems to mean that a man must depend on his own exertions, instead of waiting on Providence, and so might be held to run counter to the general trend of thought as expressed in the others. But it may be merely a counsel of despair; in any case, one has not sufficient information to see what lies at the back of this utterance.

      Imana figures in various legends, which show him distinctly acting and speaking as a person, though, strangely enough, his name is not, grammatically, placed in the personal class, but in that containing the names of animals - a point which opens up avenues of speculation not to be entered on here.1

      The Serpent, the Enemy

      One of these legends2 suggests marked Hamitic influence, in the mention of the serpent. Imana, once upon a time, used to talk with men. One day he said to a man (whether this was the first man on earth does not appear), "Do not go to sleep to-night; I am coming to give you some good news." There was a serpent hidden in the hut, who overheard these words. The man kept awake till cockcrow, after which he was overpowered by sleep, and did not hear when Imana came and called him. The serpent was on the watch and answered the call. Imana (who is never assumed to be omniscient) thought the man was speaking, and said, [1. Spirits, as a rule, are not placed in the personal class of nouns, but yet not in the same class as Imana. Mulungu would have the plural milungu (not Walungu, as if personal), but I must say I have never come across it in the plural, except where there was reason to suspect European influence. 2 Johanssen, Ruanda, p. 119.] You will die, but you will rise again; you will grow old, but you will get a new skin, you, your children, and your grandchildren." Next morning the man went to see Imana, and complained that he had not received any message. Imana asked, It was not you, then, to whom I spoke in the night?" "No." "Then it must have been the snake, who is for ever accursed. If a Tusi ever comes across that snake let him kill it-likewise the Hutu and the Twa. Let them kill one wherever they find it. But as for you, you will die, you and your children and your children's children." Abarea, a local headman of the Galla, in the north-east of Kenya Colony, told me a somewhat similar story current among his people. In some respects it has a closer resemblance to the chameleon legend: here the messenger is a bird (as far as I could make out, a sort of hornbill) who is beguiled by the snake into reversing his message. As Abarea remarked in Swahili, "Nyoka ni adui-the snake is the enemy."

      It seems to be assumed that Imana is unable to reverse the doom incurred through the serpent's treachery. Batusi, Bahutu, and Batwa are the three tribes who make up the population of Ruanda: the shepherd aristocracy, the Bantu cultivators, and the potter serfs, probably descended from the forest Pygmies.

      The Story of the Glutton

      Then we have the tale of Sebgugugu, the Greedy Man,1 enforcing the homely old moral of the Goose who laid the Golden Eggs, through a quite extraordinary case of stupid and obstinate selfishness. Sebgugugu was a poor man whose sole wealth was a white cow with her calf. One day, while his wife was away, hoeing her garden-plot in the jungle, and he was sitting in the sun outside his hut, a bird came and perched on the gate-post. It began to sing, and as he listened he seemed to hear these words: "Sebgugugu, kill the White One (Gitale); kill the White One and get a [1. Père Hurel, La Poésie chez les primitifs, p. 174 . The story is also told, with variations, by Johanssen, Ruanda, p. 120.] hundred!" When his wife came home the bird was still singing, and he said, "Look here, wife! Do you hear what this bird says?" She answered, "Nonsense! It's only a bird singing." Again it sang the same words, and Sebgugugu said, "Don't you understand? Imana is telling me that if I kill Whitey I shall get a hundred cows. Isn't it so?" "What do you mean? I have to feed our children on her milk, and if you kill her they will die. Do you mean to say you are going to believe what a bird tells you?" But he would not listen; he took his axe and went and killed the cow. The family had beef for dinner, and lived for some time on the rest of the meat, but no cows appeared in place of the White One. Then the bird came again, and this time advised him to kill the calf, which he did, in spite of his wife's opposition. When the meat was finished and no cows were forthcoming they all began to be very hungry. (An African might ask, "What about the garden produce?" - but no doubt it was the wrong time of year for that.) Sebgugugu said to his wife, "Now the children are starving!" She answered, "Did I not tell you what would happen when you would kill Whitey?" Then, in despair, they decided to tramp in search of food.

      He tied up some of the children in mats, and put the rest into a basket, which his wife carried on her head; he took up the bundles, and so they started. They went on till they were quite tired out, and sat down by the wayside, and Sebgugugu cried out in his despair, "What shall I do with my children?" Then Imana, who is the creator, came along and said, "Sebgugugu, what is your trouble?" The man told him, and Imana pointed to a distant hill, saying, "See, yonder is a cattle-kraal. Go there and drink the milk of the cows. They are being herded for me by a crow. You must always give him some of the milk, and be sure never to strike him or use bad words to him." So they went to the kraal. There was no one there, but they found vessels full of milk. When Sebgugugu had drunk as much as he wanted he gave his wife some, and she fed the children. Then they all sat down and waited to see what would happen.

      When the sun was low they saw the cattle coming home; there was no man or boy with them, but a great white-necked. crow kept flying to and fro above them, calling them and keeping them together. When they arrived Sebgugugu lit a fire at the kraal gate to drive away the mosquitoes, fetched a pail, and milked the cows, doing as he had been told and giving a bowl full of milk to the crow herdsman, before they all had their supper.

      In this way all went well for some time, and then Sebgugugu began to be discontented. It is not clear what he had to complain of; but evidently he was "that sort of man." He said to his wife, "Now the children are old enough to herd the cattle for me I don't see what we want with that crow. I shall kill him." The wife protested in vain, and Sebgugugu, taking his bow and arrows, lay in wait for the return of the cattle when evening fell. When the crow came near enough he shot an arrow at him, missed, shot again-the crow flew away, and when he looked round there were no cattle to be seen-not so much as a stray calf! The family were once more reduced to destitution. Sebgugugu said, "What shall I do?" His wife, of course, could give him no comfort, so they picked up the children and set out on their travels. Worn out, as they sat by the wayside resting, he cried once more to Imana, and the long-suffering Imana directed him to a wonderful melon-vine growing in the bush, from which he could gather not only melons and gourds, but a variety of other fruits. Only he must not attempt to cultivate or prune the vine, or do anything but gather daily supplies from it. He found the vine, gathered gourds, and his wife cooked them. So again for a time all -went well, till the man took it into his head that the vine would be more productive if its branches were cut, and it immediately withered away, like Jonah's gourd. Again he was in despair, but Imana gave him one more chance. Going into the bush to cut firewood, he came across a rock with several small clefts, from which oozed forth Guinea corn, milk, beans, and other kinds of food. He gathered up what he could carry and returned to his wife.

      Next day he went back to the rock, taking with him a basket and ajar; but he grew impatient, because the corn, and so on, trickled out slowly, and he took a long time in filling his basket. He complained of this to his wife, but persevered for some days, and then told her that he was going to widen the cracks in the rock, so that they could get more abundant supplies. She tried to dissuade him, with the usual result: he went and cut some stout poles and hardened them in the fire. He went to the rock and tried to enlarge the clefts, using his poles as levers, but, with a crash like thunder, they closed up, and no more corn or milk -came forth. He went back to the camping-place and found no one there; his wife and children had disappeared without leaving a trace, and he was alone in the forest. We are left to suppose that this was the end of him. Another version gives one more incident, perhaps less dramatically effective, in which he is guilty of wilful disobedience, and is devoured by a monstrous wild beast. Both agree in showing that Imana's patience had its limits.

      Imana and the Childless Woman One more legend1 about Imana suggests the idea of a wise and loving providence. A childless woman came to him with the petition made by such women in all ages. Imana, reader of hearts, said to her, "Go home, and if you find a little creature in your path take it up and be kind to it." She set out, pondering over these words, of which she could not see the sense, and as she drew near her sister's house she saw the latter's little children playing in the dirt. One of them getting in her way, she pushed it back, saying angrily, "Be off! You're all over mud!" The child's mother came out, picked it up, and washed it clean. Her sister went home and waited a year: nothing happened. She went again to Imana, who asked if she had not seen the little creature he told her of. She answered, No." He said, "You saw it, but you would not touch it with your hands." She still denied it, and he explained, telling her [1. Johanssen, Ruanda, p. 124.] that she was not fit to be a mother and should have no children. Another story, in which Imana appears in a very human aspect, will be given in the next chapter.

      It has been suggested that Imana may be the same as Kihanga, supposing this last name to be derived from kuhanga (in some languages kupanga), 'to form, construct, create.' But Kihanga is a different person, an ancient king of Ruanda, who, legend says, was the first to introduce cattle to that country. (Or, rather, it was his injured daughter Nyiraruchaba who was responsible, but "that's another story.") Imana must also be distinguished from Ryang'ombe, who is supposed to be the chief of the imandwa (ghosts). His roper lace is among the heroes, and we shall come to his legend later on.



      American Indian Wisdom

      “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”
      - Ancient Indian Proverb

      “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”
      - Iroquois Nation Maxim

      “One does not sell the land people walk on.”
      - Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875

      “The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just as the buffalo belonged....”
      - Luther Standing Bear, 1868-1937, Oglala Sioux

      “Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.”
      - Luther Standing Bear, 1868-1937, Oglala Sioux

      “You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round... The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours...”
      - Black Elk, 1863-1950, Oglala Sioux, Holy Man

      “Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”
      - Black Elk, 1863-1950, Oglala Sioux, Holy Man

      “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
      - Crowfoot, 1890, Blackfoot, warrior and orator

      “In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.. all things tell of Tirawa.”
      - Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa), Pawnee

      “All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly.... We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.”
      - Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa), Pawnee

      “...everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.”
      - Mourning Dove, 1888-1936, Salish

      “Children were encouraged to develop strict discipline and a high regard for sharing. When a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots, they were given away to an elder so she would share her future success. When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give compliments, pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl. The child was encouraged not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling.”
      - Mourning Dove, 1888-1936, Salish

      “From Wakan-Tanka, the Great Mystery, comes all power. It is from Wakan-Tanka that the holy man has wisdom and the power to heal and make holy charms. Man knows that all healing plants are given by Wakan-Tanka, therefore they are holy. So too is the buffalo holy, because it is the gift of Wakan-Tanka.”
      - Flat-Iron (Maza Blaska), Oglala Sioux, Chief

      “The traditions of our people are handed down from father to son. The Chief is considered to be the most learned, and the leader of the tribe. The Doctor, however, is thought to have more inspiration. He is supposed to be in communion with spirits... He cures the sick by the laying of hands, and payers and incantations and heavenly songs. He infuses new life into the patient, and performs most wonderful feats of skill in his practice.... He clothes himself in the skins of young innocent animals, such as the fawn, and decorated himself with the plumage of harmless birds, such as the dove and hummingbird...”
      - Sarah Winnemucca, 1844-1891, Paiute

      “The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us...”
      - Big Thunder (Bedagi), Wabanaki Algonquin

      “...I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.”
      - Lone Man (Isna-la-wica), Teton Sioux

      “All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason WakanTanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here by WakanTanka to be an independent individuality and to rely upon itself.”
      - Shooter, Teton Sioux

      “Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Every one might act different from what was considered right did he choose to do so, but such acts would bring upon him the censure of the Nation.... This fear of the Nation's censure acted as a mighty band, binding all in one social, honorable compact.”
      - George Copway (Kah-ge-ga-bowh), 1818-1863, Ojibwa Chief

      “Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun. Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, "Never! Never!"”
      - Tecumseh Shawnee

      “The white people, who are trying to make us over into their image, they want us to be what they call "assimilated," bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is very different from our way.”

      “We want freedom from the white man rather than to be intergrated. We don't want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and live in peace. We don't want power, we don't want to be congressmen, or bankers....we want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.”

      “The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had "freedom and justice," and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this.”
      - From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians

      “True, the white man brought great change. But the varied fruits of his civilization, though highly colored and inviting, are sickening and deadening. And if it be the part of civilization to maim, rob, and thwart, then what is progress? I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization... ”
      - Chief Luther Standing Bear (in his 1933 autobiography)

      “The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.”
      - Chief Plenty Coups, Crow

      “How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right.”
      - Black Hawk, Sauk

      “My father, you have made promises to me and to my children. If the promises had been made by a person of no standing, I should not be surprised to see his promises fail. But you, who are so great in riches and power; I am astonished that I do not see your promises fulfilled!”
      - Shinguaconse ("Little Pine")

      “I would have been better pleased if you had never made such promises than that you should have made them and not performed them...”
      - Shinguaconse ("Little Pine")

      “There are many things to be shared with the Four Colors of humanity in our common destiny as one with our Mother the Earth. It is this sharing that must be considered with great care by the Elders and the medicine people who carry the Sacred Trusts, so that no harm may come to people through ignorance and misuse of these powerful forces.”
      - Resolution of the Fifth Annual Meetings of the Traditional Elders Circle, 1980

      “We know our lands have now become more valuable. The white people think we do not know their value; but we know that the land is everlasting, and the few goods we receive for it are soon worn out and gone.”
      - Canassatego

      “If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the... present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child's feet in the path of my forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian!”
      - Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker

      “We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow, and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory. But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit.”
      - Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker

      “When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things. We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don't chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. ...the White people pay no attention. ...How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? ...everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore.”
      - Wintu Woman, 19th Century

      “Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology.... has led modern society to a damaged and seared earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction, and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path that the traditional native people have traveled and are now seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there.”
      - William Commanda, Mamiwinini, Canada, 1991

      “When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
      - Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725

      “We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.”
      - Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation

      “A wee child toddling in a wonder world, I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.”
      - Zitkala-Sa

      “If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace.....Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.......Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade....where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.”
      - Chief Joseph, Nez Perces'

      “When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.”
      - Chief Seattle

      “When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.”
      - Chief Seattle

      “In early days we were close to nature. We judged time, weather conditions, and many things by the elements--the good earth, the blue sky, the flying of geese, and the changing winds. We looked to these for guidance and answers. Our prayers and thanksgiving were said to the four winds--to the East, from whence the new day was born; to the South, which sent the warm breeze which gave a feeling of comfort; to the West, which ended the day and brought rest; and to the North, the Mother of winter whose sharp air awakened a time of preparation for the long days ahead. We lived by God's hand through nature and evaluated the changing winds to tell us or warn us of what was ahead.
      Today we are again evaluating the changing winds. May we be strong in spirit and equal to our Fathers of another day in reading the signs accurately and interpreting them wisely. May Wah-Kon-Tah, the Great Spirit, look down upon us, guide us, inspire us, and give us courage and wisdom. Above all, may He look down upon us and be pleased.”
      - ? addressing the National Congress of American Indians in the mid 1960's

      “I was hostile to the white man...We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be let alone. Soldiers came ...in the winter ...and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came...They said we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape...but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. After that I lived in peace, but the government would not let me alone. I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting...They tried to confine me..and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken.”
      - Crazy Horse, Sioux chief

      “I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows. We are poor..but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die...we die defending our rights.”
      - Sitting Bull Hunkpapa Sioux

      “In 1868, men came out and brought papers. We could not read them and they did not tell us truly what was in them. We thought the treaty was to remove the forts and for us to cease from fighting. But they wanted to send us traders on the Missouri, but we wanted traders where we were. When I reached Washington, the Great Father explained to me that the interpreters had deceived me. All I want is right and just.”
      - Red Cloud (Makhpiya-luta), April, 1870

      “They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; They promised to take our land, and they took it.”
      - Red Cloud (Makhpiya-luta), April, 1870

      “...I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.”
      - Red Cloud (Makhpiya-luta), April, 1870

      “Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book?”
      - Sogoyewapha, "Red Jacket" - Senaca

      “This war did not spring up on our land, this war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land without a price, and who, in our land, do a great many evil things... This war has come from robbery - from the stealing of our land.”
      - Spotted Tail

      “Our land is everything to us... I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it - with their lives.”
      - John Wooden Legs, Cheyenne

      “You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife and tear my mother's bosom? Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest.”

      “You ask me to dig for stones! Shall I dig under her skin for bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again.”

      “You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it and be rich like white men, but how dare I cut my mother's hair?”

      “I want my people to stay with me here. All the dead men will come to life again. Their spirits will come to their bodies again. We must wait here in the homes of our fathers and be ready to meet them in the bosom of our mother.”
      - Wovoka, Paiute

      “Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. "We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.”
      - Chief Maquinna, Nootka

      “I will follow the white man's trail. I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his burdens. I will be cunning as a coyote. I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children, and their children. The Great Spirit has shown me - a day will come when they will outrun the white man in his own shoes.”
      - Many Horses

      “My Father: a long time has passed since first we came upon our lands; and our people have all sunk into their graves. They had sense. We are all young and foolish, and do not wish to do anything that they would not approve, were they living. We are fearful we shall offend their spirits if we sell our lands; and we are fearful we shall offend you if we do not sell them. This has caused us great perplexity of thought, because we have counselled among ourselves, and do not know how we can part with our lands.

      My Father, we have sold you a great tract of land already; but it is not enough! We sold it to you for the benefit of your children, to farm and to live upon. We have now but a little left. We shall want it all for ourselves. We know not how long we shall live, and we wish to leave some lands for our children to hunt upon. You are gradually taking away our hunting grounds. Your children are driving us before them. We are growing uneasy. What lands you have you may retain. But we shall sell no more.”
      - Metea, a Potowatami chief of the Illinois nation “I love this land and the buffalo and will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. Write it on paper ...I hear a great deal of good talk from the gentlemen the Great Father sends us, but they never do what they say. I don't want any of the medicine lodges (schools and churches) within the country. I want the children raised as I was.”

      “I have heard you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. I don't want to settle. I love to roam over the prairies. There I feel free and happy, but when we settle down we grow pale and die.”

      “A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting.”
      - Santana, Kiowa Chief

      “It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

      It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

      I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

      It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul, if you can be faithless and therefore be trustworthy.

      I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

      I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon "Yes!"

      It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone. and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

      It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

      It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

      I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”
      -- Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

      Prayer for Healing

      In the house made of dawn.
      In the story made of dawn.
      On the trail of dawn.
      O, Talking God.
      His feet, my feet, restore.
      His limbs, my limbs, restore.
      His body, my body, restore.
      His mind, my mind, restore.
      His voice, my voice, restore.
      His plumes, my plumes, restore.

      With beauty before him, with beauty before me.
      With beauty behind him, with beauty behind me.
      With beauty above him, with beauty above me.
      With beauty below him, with beauty below me.
      With beauty around him, with beauty around me.

      With pollen beautiful in his voice, with pollen beautiful in my voice.
      It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty.
      In the house of evening light.
      From the story made of evening light.
      On the trail of evening light.
      - Navajo

      Navaho: “Diyin God Baahózhó Nihimá Bikéyah Nízhoníye!” - "God Bless America!"

      Related:
      Apache Wedding Ceremony
      Indian Funeral Prayer



      African Proverbs

      “Counsel them and advise them; if they do not listen, let adversity teach them.”

      “A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.”

      “A village without music, is a dead village.”

      “Sewa Kan”   ("Without music there is no happiness, but without happiness there is also no music.")

      “We dance, therefore we are.”

      “A man with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace.”

      “Those who respect the elderly pave their own road toward success.” It is not what you are called, but what you answer to. One must talk little and listen much. The end of an ox is beef, and the end of a lie is grief.

      Ambede

      • “If you carry the egg basket do not dance.”

      Anlo-Ewe

      • “La kuku dea gbe wu la gbagbe.”
        ("A dead animal cries louder than a live one.")

      Ashanti

      • “One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.”

      • “Money is sharper than a sword.”

      • “He who is guilty is the one that has much to say.”

      • “If you understand the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.”

      • “By coming and going, a bird weaves its nest.”

      • “One cannot both feast and become rich.”

      Bambara

      • “Ijö, djembefola! Afö!”
        ("Stand up, djembe drummer! Play it!" - Adam Rugo)

      Bangala

      • “Beating drums is fun, but also tiring.”

      • “The dog never forgets its owner.”

      Burkina Fasso, Kossi

      • “If the rhythm of the drum beat changes, the dance step must adapt.”

      Burundi

      • “Who made the drum knows best what is inside.”

      • “Without effort no harvest will be abundant.”

      • “Mu mahoro umuhoro urgamwa”
        ("Where there is Peace a billhook (sickle) can be used to cut your hair or shave your beard." - Peace is a very important asset on which every success depends.)

      • “Ingoma yagukanze irahuhuma ugahunga.”
        ("When a drum that used to scare you is drumming, you have to run away." - It is wise to recognize the signs of danger.)

      • “Uwutazi umuti awubishako.”
        ("When She/He does not know a medicine, he/she defecates on it." - Ignorance kills.)

      • “Amayira abiri yananiye imfyisi.”
        ("It has been always difficult for a hyena to go through two ways." - Opposite things cannot be done at the same time.)

      • “Amabanga abiri ntabangikana.”
        ("Two responsibilities cannot be held at the same time" - Two important tasks cannot be done honorably and well, simutaneously.)

      Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Ekonda

      • “Even without drumbeats, banana leaves dance.”

      • “Between imitation and envy, imitation is better.”

      • “When your finger is in pain, your sight is not lazy.”

      • “If the metal is not good, you cannot take it out on the blacksmith.”

      Ethiopia

      • “Better a single decision maker than a thousand advisors.”

      • “Half of one’s strength in conflict situations is one’s verbal skills.”

      • “A tune is made meaningful by lyrics; a point is elucidated by analogies and idioms.”

      • “It is not becoming to uncover one's behind to cover the face.”

      • “As the chimp gets higher and higher climbing the tree it exposes its unflattering behind.”

      • “The horse can take you to the battlefield but cannot do the fighting for you.”

      • “An aging man gets closer to his land and an aging husband closer to his wife.”

      • “Because he hardly closes his mouth the fool's teeth suffer from frost.”

      • “Kinship is like the scales; it keeps one on balance.”

      • “The coin of love has two sides: to love as one knows how or wishes to love and even better, to love as one's lover wishes to be loved.”

      Gambia

      • “Before healing others, heal yourself.”

      Ghana

      • “A cracked bell can never sound well.”

      • “If things are getting easier, maybe you're headed downhill.”

      • “No one tests the depth of the river with both feet.”

      • “The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.”

      • “When a man is coming toward you, you need not say, "Come here."”

      • “Hate has no medicine.”

      Accra

      • “There is no medicine against old age.”

      • “Silafo etsoo filafo gbe.”
        ("A blind man does not show the way to a blind man.")

      • “He who marries a real beauty is seeking trouble.”

      Akan

      • “The family is like the forest, if you are outside it is dense, if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.”

      • “If all seeds that fall were to grow, then no one could follow the path under the trees.”

      • “Onipa baako nsa nkata Nyame ani.”
        ("A single hand (of a person) cannot cover the sky." - Although the Akan use the word Nyame for God who is essentially a spirit, they use the same word, on occasion, for the sky. The proverb suggests that one person's hand cannot cover the sky, it will take many hands to accomplish that task. Cooperation and mutual help lead to the accomplishment of difficult tasks.)

      • “Onipa ho anto no a, na efi ne nneyee.”
        ("If a person is unhappy, the cause lies in his or her conduct." - Unhappiness in life is often caused by a person's own conduct; and the proverb emphasizes the need for taking personal responsibility for some of life's negative experiences, instead of putting the blame on someone else.)

      • “Onipa a wahintiw awu no, wontutu mmirika nko n'ayiase.”
        ("One does not run to the funeral of a person who died by stumbling over a stone." - It is important to learn from the mistakes of others (which led to injury or death) in order not to repeat them.)

      • “Onipa fa adamfo ansa na wanya amane.”
        ("It is better for a person to make friends first before he or she gets into trouble." - In time of trouble, one may or may not know anybody but if that person had made friends earlier, they would come to help him or her. The proverb advises us not to wait till trouble comes before looking for someone to befriend so that that person can help us.)

      • “Onipa anim nye ahina na woapun mu daa.”
        ("The human face is not like a water-pot which should be smoked and freshened everyday." - The Akan use pots to store drinking water; and to keep the water fresh, the pot is cleaned and smoked regularly. This practice led to this proverb; for rebuking or reprimanding a person, is like washing and cleaning that person's face. A person should therefore avoid actions which would call for rebuke everyday.)

      • “If an ass goes a-traveling, he'll not come home a horse.”
      Akan Proverbs associated with gold weights
        Wisdom Knot
      • "The leader's right to his higher position by virtue of his greater wisdom." (A square, reef or Hercules knot design is often featured on objects of leadership art.)
        Hornbill Caught by a Snake
      • "Optimism and patience." (According to legend, the hornbill was deeply indebted to the snake but did not pay its debts because it reasoned that it could always fly away if the snake tried to catch it. This tactic was successful until it got careless one day and the snake, which had been quietly and patiently for just this opportunity, caught it.)
        Headless Fish
      • "How a fish should not be divided." (The story associated with this goldweight is of a man who caught a fish and gave the head to his "head" first and older wife, and the rest (the edible part) to his second, younger and favorite wife. The head wife killed herself with grief over the insult, and the chief had his goldsmith make a goldweight in the form of a headless fish as a reminder of the discord that follows an unjust action.)
        Ivory Side-Blown Warhorns with Attached Enemy Jawbone Trophies
      • "A recognition of valor must be earned." (The jawbones of defeated enemies were attached to a leader's warhorns as emblems of bravery, but also as a warning to potential enemies. Such use also dishonored the enemy, because warhorns sang the praises of their owners, and the sounds now emerged through the very jaws of those whom he had slain.)
        Shield Framework
      • "Men die, but their words and works live on, or alternatively, a person's true nature does not change, but may only be revealed through adversity."
        Porcupine
      • "The readiness of the Asante nation to wage war on its enemies." (Don't get into an altercation with someone who has more power than you do - such as the chief - or you will certainly be the loser.
        The porcupine, or kotoko, is the Asante national emblem, and the motto "Kum apem a, apem beba" - "Kill a thousand, a thousand will come" in reference to the porcupine's quills as symbols of Asante warriors, is still quoted.
        )
        Two Birds Confronted over a Cockroach
      • "He who falls victim to his enemies can expect little mercy."
        A Flock of Birds on a Tree
      • "Class consciousness: Birds of a feather flock together."
        Chicken Head
      • "A plea for appropriate action: small issues call for small responses, more important ones call for more serious action." (Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.)
        Groundnut (peanut)
      • "Marriage is like groundnuts; you have to crack them to see what's inside." (You can't tell what it's like until you try it.)
        Leopard
      • "The rain wets the leopard's spots but does not wash them off." (The leopard cannot change its spots; a One's true nature will not change. )

      Guinea

      • “The man who can't dance says the band can't play.”

      • “A camel does not joke about the hump of another camel.”

      • “For news of the heart, ask the face.”

      • “He who has done evil, expects evil.”

      Mandingo

      • “Death is like a robe everyone has to wear.”

      Iraq

      • “Tireed erneb- ukhuth erneb. Tireed ghazal- ukhuth erneb.”
        ("You want a rabbit? Take a rabbit. You want a deer? Take a rabbit.")

      Kenya

      Bantu

      • “You can take a feather from a bird but when you get home that won't make you fly.”

      • “The wise are as rare as eagles that fly high in the sky.”

      • “It is better to have no law than not enforcing it.”

      • “The bull should be taken by the horns, a man at his word.”

      • “Visitors' footfalls are like medicine; they heal the sick.

      Gikuyu

      • “An enemy defeated by truth will never return, but an enemy defeated by weapon is certain to return.”

      • “The rain that will not fall uses the wind as an excuse.”

      • “When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.”

      • “The man may be the head of the home; the wife is the heart.”

      • “A word in the heart does not win.”

      Kolawole

      • “Only the wise can dance the rhythm of life.”

      Luyia

      • “Bad dancing does not break an engagement.”

      • “Blind belief is dangerous.”

      • “A child points out to you the direction and then you find your way.”

      • “Suppression of hunger leads to death.”

      • “Misery loves company.”

      • “He who feeds you keeps an eye on you.”

      Nairobi

      • “Only a medicine man gets rich by sleeping.”

      • “Regular work tires a woman but totally wrecks a man.”

      • “All monkeys can not hang on the same branch.”

      • “An orphaned calf licks its own back.”

      • “No child should be babied while another is offered to the hyena to bite.”

      • “The possessor may become dispossessed.”

      Kiganda

      • “Drums are never beat without reason.”

      • “If you educate a woman, you have educated a population.”

      • “A united family eats from the same plate.”

      • “A person who never travels, believes his mother's cooking is the best in the world.”

      • “Elderliness is not a disease, but a richness.”

      Lango (Lango is the name for two distinct languages spoken in Sudan and Uganda)

      • “Who does not love to dance, does not love to sing.”

      Luo

      • “You do not beat a drum with one finger.”

      • “Disease and disasters come and go like rain, but health is like the sun that illuminates the entire village.”

      • “Hunger pushes the hippopotamus out of the water.”

      • “Alone a youth runs fast, with an elder slow, but together they go far.”

      • “Those who do not listen to the voice of the elderly are like trees without roots.”

      • “A village without elderly is unhappy.”

      • “Happiness is like a field you can harvest every season.”

      • “A friend is someone who walks by your side.”

      • “The turtle does not suffer when running.”

      Mandingo

      • “Before killing the chicken carefully observe the character of your guest.”

      • “An empty sack cannot stand.”

      • “Also the black cow produces white milk.”

      Morocco

      • “Make a bed for the children of other people in the place where your own children sleep.”
        ("Wisdom of the African World," Reginald McKnight, ed.)

      Mozambique, Macua

      • “Walking in two is medicine.”

      Nigeria

      • “It is the woman whose child has been eaten by a witch who best knows the evils of witchcraft.”

      • “Ngon jin zjhan del ishe ah, abaka nhgari.”
        ("When a drum begins to sound melodiously, it is near to bursting.")

      • “It is the first step that is difficult.”

      • “It takes a village to raise a child.”

      • “Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.”

      • “Fine words do not produce food.”

      • “A tree is known by its fruit.”

      Efik

      • “Talking to you is like pouring water on the back of a fowl.”

      • “Sweet and sour walk hand in hand.”

      Hausa

      • “If a blind man says, "Let's throw stones," be assured that he has stepped on one.”

      • “The coward is like sand, even when you knead it together, if water is poured on it, it falls into pieces.”

      • “Shimfidar fuska ta fi ta tabarma.”
        ("Spreading of the face is better than the spreading of the mat." - Cheerfulness is better welcome than an offer of seat. When a person is warmly welcomed though not well entertained.)

      • “Ikon Allah kare a bakin zomo.”
        ("In God's will the dog will be in the hare's mouth." - To underline God's omnipotence.)

      • “Accomplishment of purpose is better than making a profit.”

      • “Even silence speaks.”

      Igbo

      • “An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.”

      • “Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”

      • “A man who pays respect to the great, paves the way for his own greatness.”

      • “When the moon is shining, the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.”

      • “Olorun ki i fi nkan se ni ki o ma fi aye ope sile.”
        ("God does not allow anyone to suffer without leaving a gap for thankfulness." - To console someone in time of adversity.)

      • “When the soup sours, the orphan gets an unusually large amount.”

      • “Look for a black goat while it is still daytime.”

      • “The frog does not run in the daytime for nothing.”

      • “Agwo nabu ana na-cju ukpa.”
        ("A snake which escapes fills a basket." - The snake which escpaes is always described as big enough to fill a basket. Use to accuse someone of exaggerating what cannot be verified.)

      • “Akwa ohuru na-akpa mamiri.”
        ("A new cloth induces urine." - If people have new clothes, they will seek any occasion for showing them off by getting up and going out of church to urinate and coming back again.)

      • “When you are eating with the devil, you must use a long spoon.”

      Kanuri

      • “Hold a true friend with both your hands.”

      • “The pillar of the world is hope.”

      • “One does not love if one does not accept from others.”

      Yoruba

      • “Before you ask a man for clothes, look at the clothes that he is wearing.”

      • “The sword does not recognize the head of the blacksmith who made it.”

      • “May death not kill the man who tortures us, may the gods protect the man who ill-treat us; however long it may be before our destiny will give us victory.”

      • “To be happy in one's home is better than to be a chief.”

      • “The river is never so full that it covers the eyes of the fish.”

      Nilotic (Nile valley, mainly Uganda & Sudan)

      • “Where a river flows, there is abundance.”

      • “A guest is a gift, a thief a tragedy.”

      • “Working in the fields is hard, but hunger is harder.”

      • “Remember, after the storm there will be a rainbow.”

      • “The wiseman's promises are like dew on the field.”

      • “A mother's tenderness for her children is as discreet as the dew that kisses the earth.”

      • “A sandstorm passes; the stars remain.”

      • “The voyager's path is marked by the stars and not the sand dunes.”

      • “Only the feet of the voyager know the path.”

      • “Who listens to the voice of the elderly is like a strong tree; who turns a deaf ear is like a twig in the wind.”

      • “If the tiger sits, do not think it is out of respect.”

      • “Do not insult a crocodile while your feet are still in the water.”

      • “A village without elderly is like a well without water.”

      • “A father without sons is like a bow without arrows.”

      • “Who mistrusts everybody is the real enemy of the village.”

      • “Who does not know the path should ask.”

      • “A friend is someone you share the path with.”

      • “A friend is like a source of water during a long voyage.”

      • “A friend works in the light of the sun, an enemy in the dark.”

      • “If you have a lot, give some of your possessions; if you have little; give some of your heart.”

      • “A generous man must eat if he wants to continue to be one.”

      • “There is more wisdom in listening than in speaking.”

      • “Youths talk first and then listen, the elderly listen and then talk.”

      • “The youth walks faster than the elderly but the elderly knows the road.”

      • “Youths look at the future, the elderly at the past, our ancestors live in the present.”

      • “The wisdom of the elderly is like the sun, it illuminates the village and the great river.”

      Ovambo

      • “The drum knows its owner's hands.”

      Rwanda

      • “In a fiddler's house, all are dancers.”

      • “You can out-distance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.”

      • “In a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins his case.

      • “You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

      • “You can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy.

      Senegal, Wolof

      • “The teeth of a man serve as a fence.”

      • “Children will hate all those who give all things to them.”

      • “If there is cause to hate someone, the cause to love has just begun.”

      • “Rising early makes the road short.”

      • “It is better to walk than curse the road.”

      Somalia

      • “If you can’t resolve your problems in Peace, you can’t solve War.”

      South Africa

      • “The drums of war are the drums of hunger.”

      Lesotho

      • “Mpa-tsehla ha e bolaee.”
        ("A full belly does not kill." - Food without clothing is better than clothing without food.)

      • “Ho fahla 'muso ka lehlabathe.”
        ("To put sand into the eyes of the government." - He/she has committed a criminal offence.)

      • “Mo-ja-pele o ts'oana le mo-ja-morao.”
        ("The first eater is like the latter eater." - Waiting time is the time that pays best.)

      • “'Mele oa motho e mong ke chaba se hole.”
        ("Somebody else's body is a far-away nation." - What is experienced by one cannot be experienced by others.)

      • “Ngoan'a lelala o antse khonong.”
        ("A child of a blacksmith has suckled well." - A person has taken after his/her industrious parent.)

      Swahili

      • “The disease of love has no physician.”

      • “If birds travel without coordination, they beat each others wings.”

      • “The country rooster dows not crow in the town.”

      • “Aachaye kweli huirudia (m.y. Afanyaye mema mahali fulani arudipo hupokelewa vizuri).”
        ("He who leaves truth behind, returns to it" (i.e. a person who does something good somewhere, when he comes back people receive him/her with gladness).)

      Uganda

      • “The hunter in pursuit of an elephant does not stop to throw stones at birds.”

      • “The weak warrior wearing sandals overcomes the brave with a thorn in his foot.”

      • “One who sees something good must narrate it.”

      Yakut

      • “Blacksmith and shaman come from the same nest.”

      Yoruba

      • “Fear a silent man. He has lips like a drum.”

      • “Quick loving a woman means quick not loving a woman.”

      • “Only what you have fought for will last.”

      • “Work is the medicine for poverty.”

      Zambia, Kaonde (Bantu)

      • “Ñoma yalunga yo isabika.”
        ("The drum that beats well is the one that breaks." - Leaders do not live long, because people kill them out of jealousy.)

      • “Kulu ko walemeneko, ko ukasunkuchila.”
        ("The lame leg will be used for limping." - You will never forget a happy time, even though many years have passed --you are only able to limp with your leg now, but you remember when it was good.)

      • “Pekala bakulu, kechi pechika muto ne.”
        ("Where there are old people, the soup will not be poured out (thrown away)." - The elders have the wisdom to solve problems.)

      • “Bikondama kuya nshiku bikoloka.”
        ("All bent things, as days go by, will be straightened." - Time heals all wounds.)

      • “Kujimuka kwa kitengwe kana wamona bwishi.”
        ("The cleverness of the kitengwe (a bird which goes to a grass fire to catch insects) when it sees smoke." - Everyone is clever when he is drinking. He knows it all.)

      • “Pafwa bichi pashipa mabula.”
        ("Dying trees spit out leaves." - No leader is irreplaceable, i.e., you can always find a successor.)

      • “Lonzhi wa kukokela mukoyo uchibika.”
        ("A rope which is pulled for a long time, breaks." - If you continue to provoke someone, you are sure to make him erupt in anger.)

      • “Mukola kuzhika mambo a nsulo.”
        ("A river is deep because of the source." - One should respect parents and elders because they are the source of our life.)

      Zimbabwe, Shona

      • “Traveling is learning.”

      • “A coward has no scar.”

      • “We will be grateful to flowers only if they have born fruits.”

      • “An elephant's tusks are never too heavy for it.”

      Zulu

      • “Old age does not announce itself.”


      The Cornerstone of Peace

      Almighty God, the Great Thumb we cannot evade to tie any knot:
      The Roaring Thunder that splits mighty trees;
      the all-seeing Lord up on high who sees
      even the footprints of an antelope on a rock mass here on earth.
      You are the one who does not hesitate to respond to our call.
      You are the cornerstone of Peace.
      African, appropriate for many faiths.



      The Optimist & The Pessimist

      My personal all time favorite joke that I have told and refined for many years.

      The difference between the Optimist and the Pessimist is that the Optimist thinks that “This is the Best of all Possible worlds,” the odd thing is that the Pessimist agrees.

      They are back to back facing in opposite directions, where the Pessimist is facing away from the Light and sees nothing but shadow, the Optimist is facing the Light and sees No shadow. If the Pessimist wishes to change up their vibe then all that is required is to change the direction of their view.

      I feel that this is bourne out by the demonstrable fact that while it is possible to bring Light into a dark place and make it Lit, it is impossible to bring Dark into a Lighted place and make it totally Dark.

      However, it is also observable that Everyone Brightens a room.......some by coming in and others....... by leaving.
      - Reverend R Clark

      “An optimist thinks this is the best of all worlds. A pessimist fears the same may be true.”
      - Doug Larson

      “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong.
      No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”
      - Terry Pratchett, "Reaper Man"

      “Some people are optimists, they think the glass is half full.
      Some people are pessimists, they think the glass is half empty.
      Others are realists & know that sooner or later, they are going to have to wash that thing.
      Then there are those [who], like me, march to the beat of a different drummer &
      see the glass [as] full - half fluid and half air.
      - Maureen S. Christopher

      “Pessimism, when you get used to it, is just as agreeable as optimism.”
      -Enoch Arnold Bennett

      “No sense being pessimistic. It wouldn't work anyway.”
      - A realist

      “In order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”
      - David Ben Gurion

      “I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I am a possibilitist.”
      - Max Lerner

      “An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight.... The truly wise person is colorblind.”
      - Albert Schweitzer

      “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”
      - Helen Keller

      “Optimists convert stumbling blocks to stepping stones.”
      - W. Howard Wight, Jr.

      “Sometimes I go about pitying myself
      And all the while
      I am being carried across the sky
      By beautiful clouds.”
      - An Ojibway Indian Expression

      RainbowBridge

      RainbowBridge

      RainbowBridge

      The Color of Friendship
      Posted by: congas44@yahoo.com to [SiestaDrumCircle] listserv on Monday, 10 JUL 2K 03:15:11 -0000 and on Friday, 12 AUG 2K5 10:58:21 -0400 (EDT) my friend Maryln sends me a link for a Shockwave version please check Spiritisup for this and other inspirational and tasty Shockwave eye-candy. If unavailable try here.

      “Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best. The most important. The most useful. The favorite.

      GREEN said: Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.

      BLUE interrupted: You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and Peace and serenity. Without my Peace, you would all be nothing.

      YELLOW chuckled: You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.

      ORANGE started to blow her trumpet: I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes and pawpaws. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.

      RED could stand it no longer, he shouted out: I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood! I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy.

      PURPLE rose up to his full height: He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey. Finally,

      INDIGO spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination: Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner Peace.

      And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening, thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

      In the midst of the clamor, Rain began to speak: You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me. Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.

      The Rain continued: From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in Peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow. And so, whenever a good rain washes the world, and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.

      In my search for the Rainbow's end, I found, not a pot o' GOLD, but you my FRIEND!

      RainbowBridge

      Reason, Season, or LifeTime

      People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
      When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person..
      When someone is in your life for a REASON,
      it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
      They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
      to provide you with guidance and support,
      To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
      They may seem like a godsend and they are.
      They are there for the reason you need them to be.
      Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
      this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
      Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
      Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
      What we must realize is that our need has been met,
      our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
      The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

      Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
      because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
      They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
      They may teach you something you have never done.
      They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
      Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

      LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons,
      things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
      Your job is to accept the lesson,
      love the person and put what you have learned
      to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
      It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.



      The Mayonnaise Jar & Coffee

      When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the coffee....
      A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

      When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.

      He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

      The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “Yes.”

      The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

      “Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things ­ God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passion, things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

      “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

      “Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.”

      “Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

      One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”



      The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz, ISBN: 1878424319

      Be impeccable with your word. -- Speak with integrity, say only what you mean, avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

      Don't take anything personally. -- Nothing others do is because of you what others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you will not be the victim of needless suffering.

      Don't make assumptions. -- Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want to communicate with others as clearly as your can to avoid misunderstandings , sadness and drama.

      Always do your best. -- This will change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment self-abuse and regret.



      Contrary, Heavenly, and Cardinal Virtues

      In this world of iniquity, they are a few gleams of hope in the mire of our shameful indulgences. Various formulations of Virtue have been proposed over the ages.

      The Cardinal Virtues: prudence, temperance, courage, and justice
      Classical Greek philosophers considered the foremost virtues to be prudence, temperance, courage, and justice.
      Early Christian Church theologians adopted these virtues and considered them to be equally important to all people, whether they were Christian or not.

      The Theological Virtues: love, hope, and faith
      St. Paul defined the three chief virtues as love, which was the essential nature of God, hope, and faith.
      Christian Church authorities called them the three theological virtues because they believed the virtues were not natural to man in his fallen state, but were conferred at Baptism.

      The Seven Contrary Virtues: humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality, and diligence
      The Contrary Virtues were derived from the Psychomachia ("Battle for the Soul"), an epic poem written by Prudentius (c. 410).
      Practicing these virtues is alleged to protect one against temptation toward the Seven Deadly Sins: humility against pride, kindness against envy, abstinence against gluttony, chastity against lust, patience against anger, liberality against greed, and diligence against sloth.

      The Seven Heavenly Virtues: faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance, and prudence
      The Heavenly Virtues combine the four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude -- or courage, and justice, with a variation of the theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. I'm still researching the origins and popular usage of this formulation.

      The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy
      Continuing the numerological mysticism of Seven, the Christian Church assembled a list of seven good works that was included in medieval catechisms.
      They are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give shelter to strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, minister to prisoners, and bury the dead.


      The Seven Deadly Sins by Ashley Cooper, writer

      1.  Truth, if it becomes a weapon against a person.

      2.  Beauty, if it becomes vanity.

      3.  Love, if it becomes possessive.

      4.  Loyalty, if it becomes blind, careless trust.

      5.  Tolerance, if it becomes indifference.

      6.  Self-confidence, if it becomes arrogance.

      7.  Faith, if it becomes self-righteous. 



      Ten Rules for Being Human by Cherie Carter-Scott

      1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's yours to keep for the entire period.
      2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, "life."
      3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately "work."
      4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
      5. Learning lessons does not end. There's no part of life that doesn't contain its lessons. If you're alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
      6. "There" is no better a place than "here." When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here."
      7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
      8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
      9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life's questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
      10. You will forget all this.



      How to Love Yourself by Louise Hay

      • Stop All Criticism. Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

      • Don't Scare Yourself. Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It's a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure (mine is yellow roses), and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.

      • Be Gentle, Kind and Patient. BE gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking.Treat yourself as you wold someone you really loved.

      • Be Kind to Your Mind. Self hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Don't hate yourself for having thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.

      • Praise Yourself. Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can.Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

      • Support Yourself. Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.

      • Be Loving to Your Negatives. Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.

      • Take Care of Your Body. Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise can you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.

      • Mirror Work. Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself while looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents while looking into the mirror. Forgive them too. At least once a day, looking into the mirror, say "I love you, I really love you."

      • Love Yourself . . . begin it now. Do the best you can.



      Cradle the Baby - Yvonne Rand, Buddhist householder nun as quoted in "How Now: 100 Ways To Celebrate The Present Moment" by Raphael Cushnir; ISBN: 0811848612

      Just like physical pain, emotional pain resides in the body. There’s nowhere else we ever feel it. The next time you feel a constriction in any part of your body and have an inkling that it’s emotion-related, gently place your attention at that location. Don’t try to change or understand the sensation. Just let it be exactly as it is. Soon this acceptance will allow the constriction to release. Keep your attention on this emotion as it wells up and begins to move through you.

      This approach works beautifully with almost all painful emotions, but it requires an additional component when you’re facing the most challenging types of hurt, loss, and disappointment. That’s where "cradling the baby" comes in, a practice refined by Buddhist nun Yvonne Rand. It creates a powerful healing bond between the part of ourselves that feels the pain and the part that observes it.

      The Practice: If you find yourself beset by a particularly difficult emotion begin by opening to it as described above. Once you’re in direct contact with the emotion’s physical presence, regard the sensation in the way a parent does a crying infant. Bring your attention close enough to the pain that it feels safe and nurtured, but not so close that it feels pressured in any way. Maintain this tender orientation to the pain until you become calm and peaceful.

      This is the act of cradling. It’s how we reunite with the parts of ourselves that we like the least and with the experiences that we want the least. Cradling is one of the deepest forms of presence, as well as the epitome of self-love.



      The Principles of Attitudinal Healing

      • The essence of our being is Love.
      • Health is inner Peace.
      • Healing is letting go of Fear.
      • Giving and Receiving are the same.
      • We can let go of the past and of the future.
      • Now is the only time there is and each instant is for giving.
      • We can learn to Love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging.
      • We can become Love finders rather than fault finders.
      • We can choose and direct ourselves to be Peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.
      • We are students and teachers to each other.
      • We can focus on the whole of life rather than the fragments.
      • Since Love is eternal, death need not be viewed as fearful.
      • We can always perceive ourselves and others as either extending Love or giving a call for help.



      The Top 10 Quotes for a Balanced Wonderful Life by Rev. Bob Estling.

      Over the years many people have offered their models of the "Good Life", and some have left quotes that nicely summarize important truths.

      The following are ten of my personal favorites:
      1. Know Thyself – Socrates.  From ancient Greece comes this reminder that introspection, keeping a journal, paying attention to the heart of things, comes first.  Before we can know the world around us, and make wise choices, we must first come to grips with who we are and what we value.

      2. To Thine Own Self Be True – Shakespeare.  In life there is no substitute for integrity.  My grandmother was fond of saying, “If you don't stand for something, then you'll fall for anything!” [- Jim Rohn]  Integrity is about going beyond the truth to full and complete honesty, openness and fairness.

      3. And the Greatest of These is Love – St Paul.  He also observed that "without love I am just a clanging symbol or a noisy gong."  Without love, caring relationships, and compassion, life is indeed a dry and shallow thing.

      4. Imagination Rules the World – Albert Einstein.  The good life is at least partly based on dreams that are worthy of us, dreams that elevate and challenge and inspire our best.  Bobby Kennedy noted, "Others look at the world and ask, 'Why?'  I dream of a world that never was and ask, 'Why not?'"  Martin Luther King's defiant cry, "I have a dream!" will live long after most of us are gone and forgotten.

      5. Too much of a good thing is just right. – Mae West.  The good life is about living large, about expressing the joy and love of life.  about song, exuberance, and about taking chances, and "going for it".

      6. Opportunities multiply as they are seized. – SunTzu.  Success depends on the courage to act, and courage in turn requires a level of faith that every opportunity acted upon will lead to more and better ways to serve, learn, grow and prosper.

      7. Do, or do not.  There is no "try". – Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back). Life requires action, boldness and decisiveness.  Mae West also observed, "He who hesitates is a damned fool."

      8. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine de St. Exupery.  Henry Thoreau recommended, "Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Let your concerns be as 2 or 3, not more."  Friends, work, the media and this thing called the Internet, along with our own "wish lists" try to seduce us to complexity, busy-ness and anxiety.  Keep it simple!

      9. The artist is nothing without gift, but gift is nothing without work – Emile Zola.  Only focused, intelligent, diligent effort turns potential into reality.  Without creative effort, talent and "gift" seem to atrophy and die.  Truly a case of "use it or lose it".

      10. There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein.    I highly recommend practicing the attitude of gratitude. What else is there?



      The Ten Principles of Conscious Creation Kahu Fred Sterling and the Honolulu Church of Light

      The Ten Principles of Conscious Creation: What Are They?

      The Ten Principles of Conscious Creation are powerful tools of awakening that, when studied and practiced, allow you to create the life you truly desire. In short, "you can have it all." Each Principle is a key to unlocking higher levels of conscious awareness and tapping into your own powers of creation.

      Truth

      Truth is the essence of Love from which all reality extends and the basis of your light on Earth. The integrity of thought, word and deed that creates the freedom to be who you truly are. Truth is the foundation of the other nine Principles.

      Trust

      Trust is an inner knowing which comes from the Truth that you are part of the Creator and connected to all levels of reality. The understanding that everything in your life unfolds in perfection.

      Passion

      Passion is the core energy by which you feel the presence of your own Creator light. Passion is the realization that you are a limitless being of light and is the force that allows your life journey to continually evolve.

      Clarity

      In its simplest form, Clarity is the acknowledgement that your physical self is part of a greater, non-physical power.

      Communication

      Communication is the exchange of energies and information (including words) between humans, between your physical self and the essential or higher self, and between you and the unseen forces of light.

      Completion

      Completion is the knowing that the conclusion of an experience, a process or a journey exists on multiple levels of understanding and opens to the beginning of a new experience, process or journey.

      Prayer

      Prayer is the communication between your human self and your higher self, the Creator, and other unseen forces of light. It is an opportunity for you to define the life journey that you truly desire. In Kirael’s words, "Prayer is the asking; meditation is the hearing" of the answers to your prayers.

      Meditation

      The practice of quieting your mind such that you are able to consciously receive information, wisdom and guidance. In Kirael’s words, "Prayer is the asking; meditation is the hearing" of the answers to your prayers.

      Sleepstate Programming

      Sleepstate Programming is the practice of enlisting your own higher self, or essential light, to contact and communicate with the higher self of another during the sleep state.

      Masterminding

      Masterminding is the act of creating a collective consciousness focused on manifesting a particular experience or outcome. This collective consciousness can be comprised of physical humans, human essential selves, angels, guides and other unseen forces of light.


      These Principles are magically interrelated in many ways:

      "The Three Keys"

      • Truth
      • Trust
      • Passion
      • Anchoring the love of the Creator within the Self
      • At the root of all the other Principles
      • The basis upon which the spirit self prepares for an evolutionary human journey
      • Keys to increasing your conscious awareness

      "The Three C’s"

      • Clarity
      • Communication
      • Completion
      • The experience of being human
      • Guiding our thoughts and actions in our daily lives
      • Determining the quality of experiencing any act of creation
      • Keys to increasing your conscious awareness

      "The Four Pillars"

      • Prayer
      • Meditation
      • Sleepstate Programming
      • Masterminding
      • Practical ways of creating in a conscious fashion
      • Practices that help you to manifest your dreams and heartfelt desires
      • The realm you work within once you realize that you are so much more than merely human (i.e., you are a multi-dimensional free spirit having a human experience)



      Ten Ways to Remain Young

      1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them.

      2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. (keep this In mind if you are one of those grouches)

      3. Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain get idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

      4. Enjoy the simple things.

      5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and Lots of time with Him/Her.

      6. The tears happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is yourself. LIVE while you are alive.

      7. Surround yourself with what you love: Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

      8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. if it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

      9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county, to a foreign country, but Not to where the guilt is.

      10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.



      The Piano

      Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Pladerewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her.

      Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE!" When the houselights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

      Suddenly the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing".

      Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. And the audience was mesmerized.

      Whatever our situation in life and history - however outrageous, however desperate, whatever dry spell of the spirit, whatever dark night of the soul - God is whispering deep within our beings, "Don't quit. Keep playing. You are not alone. Together we will transform the broken patterns into a masterwork of my creative art. Together we will mesmerize the world with our song of peace."



      The Pause of Mr. Claus - Arlo Guthrie

      This next song we're going to dedicate to a great American organization. Tonight I'd like to dedicate this to our boys in the FBI.

      Well, wait a minute. It's hard to be an FBI man. I mean, first of all, being an FBI man, you have to be over 40, years old. And the reason is that it takes at least 25 years with the organization to be that much of a bastard. It's true. You just can't join, you know. It needs an atmosphere where your natural bastardness can grow and develop and take a meaningful shape in today's complex society.

      So that's not why I want to dedicate the song to the FBI. I mean, the job that they have to do is a drag. I mean, they have to follow people around, you know. That's part of their job...

      Follow me around.

      I'm out on the highway and I'm drivin' down the road and I run out of gasoline. I pull over to the side of the road. They gotta pull over too - make believe that they ran out, you know.

      I go to get some gasoline. They have to figure out whether they should stick with the car or follow me. Suppose I don't come back and they're stayin' with the car.

      Or if I fly on the airplanes, I could fly half fare because I'm 12 to 22. And they gotta pay the full fare. But the thing is that when you pay the full fare, you have to get on the airplane first, so that they know how many seats are left over for the half fare kids. Right? And sometimes there aren't any seats left over, and sometimes there are, but that doesn't mean that you have to go.

      Suppose that he gets on and fills up the last seat, so you can't get on. Then he gets off then you can get on. What's he gonna do?

      Well, it's a drag for him. But that's not why I want to dedicate the song to the FBI.

      During these hard days and hard weeks, everybody always has it bad once in a while. You know, you have a bad time of it, and you always have a friend who says "Hey man, you ain't got it that bad. Look at that guy." And you at that guy, and he's got it worse than you. And it makes you feel better that there's somebody that's got it worse than you.

      But think of the last guy. For one minute, think of the last guy. Nobody's got it worse than that guy. Nobody in the whole world. That guy...he's so alone in the world that he doesn't even have a street to lay in for a truck to run him over. He's out there with nothin'. Nothin's happenin' for that cat.

      And all that he has to do to create a little excitement in his own life is to bum a dime from somewhere, call up the FBI. Say "FBl?", they say "Yes", say "I dig Uncle Ho and Chairman Mao and their friends are comin' over for dinner" ....Hang up the phone.

      And within two minutes, and not two minutes from when he hangs up the phone, but two minutes from when he first put the dime in, they got 30,000 feet of tape rollin'; files on tape; pictures, movies, dramas, actions on tape. But then they send out a half a million people all over the entire world, the globe, they find out all they can about this guy.

      'Cause there's a number of questions involved in the guy. I mean, if he was the last guy in the world, how'd he get a dime to call the FBI? There are plenty of people that aren't the last guys that can't get dimes. He comes along and he gets a dime.

      I mean, if he had to bum a dime to call the FBI, how was he gonna serve dinner for all of those people? How could the last guy make dinner for all those people. And if he could make dinner, and was gonna make dinner, then why did he call the FBI?

      They find out all of those questions within two minutes. And that's a great thing about America. I mean, this is the only country in the world...l mean, well, it's not the only country in the world that could find stuff out in two minutes, but it's the only country in the world that would take two minutes for that guy.

      Other countries would say "Hey, he's the last guy...screw him", you know? But, But in America, there is no discrimination, and there is no hypocrisy, 'cause they'll get anybody. And that's a wonderful thing about America.

      And that's why tonight I'd like to dedicate it to every FBI man in the audience. I know you can't say nothin', you know, you can't get up and say "Hey!" cause then everybody knows that you're an FBI man and that's a drag for you and your friends.

      They're not really your friends, are they? I mean, so you can't get up and say nothin' 'cause otherwise, you gotta get sent back to the factory and that's a drag for you and it's an expense for the government, and that's a drag for you.

      We're gonna sing you this Christmas carol. It's for all you bastards out there in the audience tonight. It's called "The Pause of Mr. Claus".

      Why do you sit there so strange?
      Is it because you are beautiful?
      You must think you are deranged
      Why do police guys beat on peace guys?

      You must think Santa Clause weird
      He has long hair and a beard
      Giving his presents for free
      Why do police guys mess with peace guys?

      Let's get Santa Clause 'cause;
      Santa Clause has a red suit
      He's a communist
      And a beard, and long hair
      Must be a pacifist
      What's in the pipe that he's smoking?

      Mister Clause sneaks in your house at night.
      He must be a dope fiend, to put you up tight.
      Why do police guys beat on peace guys?

      ©1968,1969 Appleseed Music Inc. (ASCAP)



      The Christmas Ham

      There was this family that had always gotten together for Christmas every year. In the beginning they had Christmas dinner at the grandmother's house. As the grandmother got older, dinner was passed on to her daughter's home. When the daughter started aging, and her own daughter got married, and had a home of her own, the Christmas dinner ritual was passed on to her home.

      The first time the granddaughter was making Christmas dinner for the family, her husband noticed that she cut the end off of the ham, and threw the end out before she placed the ham in the oven to be cooked. "Why do you cut the end off the ham and throw it out?" the husband asked his new bride. "Because that is how we make the ham in our family", she replied, "That is how my mother made her Christmas ham, and how my grandmother made her Christmas ham before her." The husband questioned his wife again, "But, do you know why your family cuts the end off the ham and throws out a perfectly good peice of meat?" "Because that is my grandmother's secret to a great tasting ham", the wife answered trying to end the interrogation.

      Eventually, the house filled up with people for the granddaughter's first official Christmas dinner. When she served the ham, the family ooohed and aaaahed about how wonderful a job she did. Her husband took that opportunity to question his wife's grandmother. "Grandma - why is it that you cut the end off the ham before you cook it? How did that family tradition begin?" the grandmother answered, "Well, I don't know why my daughter ever did it, or why my granddaughter now does it, but I did it because the whole ham never fit in my oven".



      Tying Up the Cat as told by Reverend R Clark©2K

      Many years ago there was a group of monks who would sit and practice for many hours a day. They found that their cat would wind around their legs and pester them. So during practice they would tie up the cat. Some time later they found as other concerns increased they needed to reduce the amount of practice, and they continued tying up the cat for obvious reasons. When the cat eventually died, another cat was brought forward and tied up. As time moved closer to our time things got busier and the practice time had to be gradually scaled back and back until the practice was eliminated entirely AND they continued to tie up the cat for this is what tradition called for. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice. Much of religion is the tying up of the cat, a dead crystallized empty ritual that once was reasonable. Spirituality is ALL in the practice.



      Miraculous Gautama Buddha

      "It is known that the [Gautama] Buddha could perform miracles. But, like Jesus, miracles displeased him; he disliked performing them. They seemed to him a vulgar ostentation... But the Buddha also performed miracles. For example this one, a miracle of courtesy: The Buddha has to cross a desert at noon. The gods, from their thirty-three heavens, each send him down a parasol. The Buddha does not want to slight any of the gods, so he turns himself into thirty-three Buddhas."
      - Jorge Luis Borges, Seven_Nights, 1966, as quoted by Robert Anton Wilson



      Lovingkindness by Gautama Buddha

      This is what should be done
      By those who are skilled in goodness,
      And those who know the path of peace:
      Let them be able and upright,
      Straightforward and gentle in speech.
      Humble and not conceited,
      Contented and easily satisfied.
      Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
      Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
      Not proud and demanding in nature.
      Let them not do the slightest thing
      That the wise would later reprove.
      Wishing: in gladness and in safety,
      May all beings be at ease.
      Whatever living beings there may be:
      Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
      The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
      The seen and the unseen,
      For those living near and faraway,
      Those born and to-be-born,
      May all beings be at ease.
      Let none deceive another.
      Or despise any being in any state.
      Let none through anger or ill-will
      Wish harm upon another.
      Even as a mother protects with her life
      Her child, her only child,
      So with a boundless heart
      Should one cherish all living beings:
      Radiating kindness over the entire world:
      Spreading upward to the skies,
      And downward to the depths:
      Outward and unbounded,
      Freed from hatred and ill-will,
      Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
      Free from drowsiness,
      One should sustain this recollection.
      This is said to be the sublime abiding,
      By not holding to fixed views,
      The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
      Being freed from all sense desires,
      Is not born again into this world.



      A Credo for Support by Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift, Dedicated to the memory of Tracy Latimer 1995©

      Throughout history, people with physical and mental disabilities have been abandoned at birth, banished from society, used as court jesters, drowned and burned during the Inquisition, gassed in Nazi Germany, and still continue to be segregated, institutionalized, tortured in the name of behavior management, abused, raped, euthanized, and murdered. Now, for the first time, people with disabilities are taking their rightful place as fully contributing citizens. The danger is that we will respond with remediation and benevolence rather then equity and respect. And so, we offer you this Credo for Support.

      Do not see my disability as a problem.
      Recognize that my disability is an attribute.

      Do not see my disability as a deficit.
      It is you who see me as deviant and helpless.

      Do not try to fix me because I am not broken.
      Support me. I can make my contribution to the community in my way.

      Do not see me as your client.
      I am your fellow citizen. See me as your neighbor. Remember, none of us can be self-sufficient.

      Do not try to modify my behavior.
      Be still and listen. What you define as inappropriate may be my attempt to communicate with you in the only way I can.

      Do not try to change me, you have no right.
      Help me learn what I want to know.

      Do not hide your uncertainty behind "professional" distance.
      Be a person who listens and does not take my struggle away from me by trying to make it all better.

      Do not use theories and strategies on me.
      Be with me. And when we struggle with each other, let me give that rise to self-reflection.

      Do not try to control me. I have a right to my power as a person.
      What you call non-compliance or manipulation may actually be the only way I can exert control over my life.

      Do not teach me to be obedient, submissive, and polite.
      I need to feel entitled to say no if I am to protect myself.

      Do not be charitable to me.
      The last thing the world needs is another Jerry Lewis.
      Be my ally against those who exploit me for their own gratification.

      Do not try to be my friend. I deserve more then that.
      Get to know me. We may become friends.

      Do not help me even if it does make you feel good.
      Ask me if I need your help. Let me show you how to better assist me.

      Do not admire me. A desire to live a full life does not warrant adoration.
      Respect me for respect presumes equity.

      Do not tell, correct and lead.
      Listen, support and follow.

      Do not work on me.
      Work with me.



      Installing Love with PC TechSupport

      Tech Support: Yes, ...how can I help you?

      Customer: Well, after much consideration, I've decided to install Love. Can you guide me though the process?

      Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

      Customer: Well, I'm not very technical, but I think I'm ready. What do I do first?

      Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

      Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

      Tech Support: What programs are running?

      Customer: Let's see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

      Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

      Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

      Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

      Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

      Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

      Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program not run on external components.” What should I do?

      Tech Support: Don't worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

      Customer: So, what should I do?

      Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

      Customer: Okay, done.

      Tech Support: Now, copy them to the "My Heart" directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

      Customer: Got it. Hey! My Heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

      Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

      Customer: Thank you, JAH (God).

      Tech Support: It's a business doing pleasure with you.



      Auguries of Innocence by William Blake

      To see a World in a Grain of Sand
      And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
      Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
      And Eternity in an hour
      A Robin Red breast in a Cage
      5
      Puts all Heaven in a Rage
      A Dove house filld with doves & Pigeons
      Shudders Hell thro all its regions
      A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
      Predicts the ruin of the State
      10
      A Horse misusd upon the Road
      Calls to Heaven for Human blood
      Each outcry of the hunted Hare
      A fibre from the Brain does tear
      A Skylark wounded in the wing
      15
      A Cherubim does cease to sing
      The Game Cock clipd & armd for fight
      Does the Rising Sun affright
      Every Wolfs & Lions howl
      Raises from Hell a Human Soul
      20
      The wild deer wandring here & there
      Keeps the Human Soul from Care
      The Lamb misusd breeds Public strife
      And yet forgives the Butchers Knife
      The Bat that flits at close of Eve
      25
      Has left the Brain that wont Believe
      The Owl that calls upon the Night
      Speaks the Unbelievers fright
      He who shall hurt the little Wren
      Shall never be belovd by Men
      30
      He who the Ox to wrath has movd
      Shall never be by Woman lovd
      The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
      Shall feel the Spiders enmity

      He who torments the Chafers sprite
      35
      Weaves a Bower in endless Night
      The Catterpiller on the Leaf
      Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief
      Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly
      For the Last judgment draweth nigh
      40
      He who shall train the Horse to War
      Shall never pass the Polar Bar
      The Beggers Dog & Widows Cat
      Feed them & thou wilt grow fat
      The Gnat that sings his Summers song
      45
      Poison gets from Slanders tongue
      The poison of the Snake & Newt
      Is the sweat of Envys Foot
      The Poison of the Honey Bee
      Is the Artists jealousy
      50
      The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags
      Are Toadstools on the Misers Bagst
      A truth thats told with bad intent
      Beats all the Lies you can invent
      It is right it should be so
      55
      Man was made for Joy & Woe
      And when this we rightly know
      Thro the World we safely go
      Joy & Woe are woven fine
      A Clothing for the soul divine
      60
      Under every grief & pine
      Runs a joy with silken twine
      The Babe is more than swadling Bands
      Throughout all these Human Lands
      Tools were made & Born were hands
      65
      Every Farmer Understands
      Every Tear from Every Eye
      Becomes a Babe in Eternity
      This is caught by Females bright
      And returnd to its own delight
      70
      The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar
      Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore
      The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
      Writes Revenge in realms of death
      The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air
      75
      Does to Rags the Heavens tear
      The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun
      Palsied strikes the Summers Sun
      The poor Mans Farthing is worth more
      Than all the Gold on Africs Shore.
      80
      One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands
      Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands
      Or if protected from on high
      Does that whole Nation sell & buy
      He who mocks the Infants Faith
      85
      Shall be mock'd in Age & Death
      He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
      The rotting Grave shall neer get out
      He who respects the Infants faith
      Triumphs over Hell & Death
      90
      The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons
      Are the Fruits of the Two seasons
      The Questioner who sits so sly
      Shall never know how to Reply
      He who replies to words of Doubt
      95
      Doth put the Light of Knowledge out
      The Strongest Poison ever known
      Came from Caesars Laurel Crown
      Nought can Deform the Human Race
      Like to the Armours iron brace
      100
      When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
      To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow
      A Riddle or the Crickets Cry
      Is to Doubt a fit Reply
      The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile
      105
      Make Lame Philosophy to smile
      He who Doubts from what he sees
      Will neer Believe do what you Please
      If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
      Theyd immediately Go out
      110
      To be in a Passion you Good may Do
      But no Good if a Passion is in you
      The Whore & Gambler by the State
      Licencd build that Nations Fate
      The Harlots cry from Street to Street
      115
      Shall weave Old Englands winding Sheet
      The Winners Shout the Losers Curse
      Dance before dead Englands Hearse
      Every Night & every Morn
      Some to Misery are Born
      120
      Every Morn & every Night
      Some are Born to sweet delight
      Some are Born to sweet delight
      Some are Born to Endless Night
      We are led to Believe a Lie
      125
      When we see not Thro the Eye
      Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
      When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
      God Appears & God is Light
      To those poor Souls who dwell in Night

      But does a Human Form Display
      To those who Dwell in Realms of day



      The Black Riders by Stephen Crane (1871-1900) novelist, poet, short-story writer

      I

      Black riders came from the sea.
      There was clang and clang of spear and shield,
      And clash and clash of hoof and heel,
      Wild shouts and the wave of hair
      In the rush upon the wind:
      Thus the ride of sin.


      II

      Three little birds in a row
      Sat musing.
      A man passed near that place.
      Then did the little birds nudge each other.

      They said, “He thinks he can sing.”
      They threw back their heads to laugh.
      With quaint countenances
      They regarded him.
      They were very curious,
      Those three little birds in a row.



      III

      In the desert
      I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
      who, squatting upon the ground,
      Held his heart in his hands,
      And ate of it.
      I said, “Is it good, friend?”
      “It is bitter -- bitter,” he answered;
      “But I like it
      Because it is bitter,
      And because it is my heart.”


      IV

      Yes, I have a thousand tongues,
      And nine and ninety-nine lie.
      Though I strive to use the one,
      It will make no melody at my will,
      But is dead in my mouth.


      V

      Once there came a man
      Who said,
      “Range me all men of the world in rows.”
      And instantly
      There was terrific clamour among the people
      Against being ranged in rows.
      There was a loud quarrel, world-wide.
      It endured for ages;
      And blood was shed
      By those who would not stand in rows,
      And by those who pined to stand in rows.
      Eventually, the man went to death, weeping.
      And those who staid in bloody scuffle
      Knew not the great simplicity.


      VI

      God fashioned the ship of the world carefully.
      With the infinite skill of an All-Master
      Made He the hull and the sails,
      Held He the rudder
      Ready for adjustment.
      Erect stood He, scanning His work proudly.
      Then -- at fateful time -- a wrong called,
      And God turned, heeding.
      Lo, the ship, at this opportunity, slipped slyly,
      Making cunning noiseless travel down the ways.
      So that, forever rudderless, it went upon the seas
      Going ridiculous voyages,
      Making quaint progress,
      Turning as with serious purpose
      Before stupid winds.
      And there were many in the sky
      Who laughed at this thing.


      VII

      Mystic shadow, bending near me,
      Who art thou?
      Whence come ye?
      And -- tell me -- is it fair
      Or is the truth bitter as eaten fire?
      Tell me!
      Fear not that I should quaver.
      For I dare -- I dare.
      Then, tell me!


      VIII

      I looked here;
      I looked there;
      Nowhere could I see my love.
      And -- this time --
      She was in my heart.
      Truly, then, I have no complaint,
      For though she be fair and fairer,
      She is none so fair as she
      In my heart.


      IX

      I stood upon a high place,
      And saw, below, many devils
      Running, leaping,
      and carousing in sin.
      One looked up, grinning,
      And said, “Comrade! Brother!”


      X

      Should the wide world roll away,
      Leaving black terror,
      Limitless night,
      Nor God, nor man, nor place to stand
      Would be to me essential,
      If thou and thy white arms were there,
      And the fall to doom a long way.


      XI

      In a lonely place,
      I encountered a sage
      Who sat, all still,
      Regarding a newspaper.
      He accosted me:
      “Sir, what is this?"
      Then I saw that I was greater,
      Aye, greater than this sage.
      I answered him at once,
      “Old, old man, it is the wisdom of the age.”
      The sage looked upon me with admiration.


      XII

      “And the sins of the fathers shall be
      visited upon the heads of the children,
      even unto the third and fourth
      generation of them that hate me.”

      Well, then I hate thee, unrighteous picture;
      Wicked image, I hate thee;
      So, strike with thy vengeance
      The heads of those little men
      Who come blindly.
      It will be a brave thing.


      XIII

      If there is a witness to my little life,
      To my tiny throes and struggles,
      He sees a fool;
      And it is not fine for gods to menace fools.


      XIV

      There was crimson clash of war.
      Lands turned black and bare;
      Women wept;
      Babes ran, wondering.
      There came one who understood not these things.
      He said, “Why is this?”
      Whereupon a million strove to answer him.
      There was such intricate clamour of tongues,
      That still the reason was not.


      XV

      “Tell brave deeds of war.”

      Then they recounted tales, --
      “There were stern stands
      And bitter runs for glory.”

      Ah, I think there were braver deeds.


      XVI

      Charity thou art a lie,
      A toy of women,
      A pleasure of certain men.
      In the presence of justice,
      Lo, the walls of the temple
      Are visible
      Through thy form of sudden shadows.


      XVII

      There were many who went in huddled procession,
      They knew not whither;
      But, at any rate, success or calamity
      Would attend all in equality.

      There was one who sought a new road.
      He went into direful thickets,
      And ultimately he died thus, alone;
      But they said he had courage.


      XVIII

      In heaven,
      Some little blades of grass
      Stood before God.
      “What did you do?”
      Then all save one of the little blades
      Began eagerly to relate
      The merits of their lives.
      This one stayed a small way behind,
      Ashamed.
      Presently, God said,
      “And what did you do?”
      The little blade answered, “Oh my Lord,
      Memory is bitter to me,
      For, if I did good deeds,
      I know not of them.”
      Then God, in all His splendor,
      Arose from His throne.
      “Oh, best little blade of grass!” He said.


      XIX

      A god in wrath
      Was beating a man;
      He cuffed him loudly
      With thunderous blows
      That rang and rolled over the earth.
      All people came running.
      The man screamed and struggled,
      And bit madly at the feet of the god.
      The people cried,
      “Ah, what a wicked man!”
      And --
      “Ah, what a redoubtable god!”


      XX

      A learned man came to me once.
      He said, “I know the way, -- come.”
      And I was overjoyed at this.
      Together we hastened.
      Soon, too soon, were we
      Where my eyes were useless,
      And I knew not the ways of my feet.
      I clung to the hand of my friend;
      But at last he cried, “I am lost.”


      XXI

      There was, before me,
      Mile upon mile
      Of snow, ice, burning sand.
      And yet I could look beyond all this,
      To a place of infinite beauty;
      And I could see the loveliness of her
      Who walked in the shade of the trees.
      When I gazed,
      All was lost
      But this place of beauty and her.
      When I gazed,
      And in my gazing, desired,
      Then came again
      Mile upon mile,
      Of snow, ice, burning sand.


      XXII

      Once I saw mountains angry,
      And ranged in battle-front.
      Against them stood a little man;
      Aye, he was no bigger than my finger.
      I laughed, and spoke to one near me,
      “Will he prevail?”
      “Surely,” replied this other;
      “His grandfathers beat them many times.”
      Then did I see much virtue in grandfathers --
      At least, for the little man
      Who stood against the mountains.


      XXIII

      Places among the stars,
      Soft gardens near the sun,
      Keep your distant beauty;
      Shed no beams upon my weak heart.
      Since she is here
      In a place of blackness,
      Not your golden days
      Nor your silver nights
      Can call me to you.
      Since she is here
      In a place of blackness,
      Here I stay and wait


      XXIV

      I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
      Round and round they sped.
      I was disturbed at this;
      I accosted the man.
      “It is futile,” I said,
      “You can never -- ”

      “You lie,” he cried,
      And ran on.


      XXV

      Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
      And near it, a stern spirit.

      There came a drooping maid with violets,
      But the spirit grasped her arm.
      “No flowers for him,” he said.
      The maid wept:
      “Ah, I loved him.”
      But the spirit, grim and frowning:
      “No flowers for him.”

      Now, this is it --
      If the spirit was just,
      Why did the maid weep?


      XXVI

      There was set before me a mighty hill,
      And long days I climbed
      Through regions of snow.
      When I had before me the summit-view,
      It seemed that my labour
      Had been to see gardens
      Lying at impossible distances.


      XXVII

      A youth in apparel that glittered
      Went to walk in a grim forest.
      There he met an assassin
      Attired all in garb of old days;
      He, scowling through the thickets,
      And dagger poised quivering,
      Rushed upon the youth.
      “Sir,” said this latter,
      “I am enchanted, believe me,
      To die, thus,
      In this medieval fashion,
      According to the best legends;
      Ah, what joy!”
      Then took he the wound, smiling,
      And died, content.


      XXVIII

      “Truth,” said a traveller,
      “Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
      Often have I been to it,
      Even to its highest tower,
      From whence the world looks black.”

      “Truth,” said a traveller,
      “Is a breath, a wind,
      A shadow, a phantom;
      Long have I pursued it,
      But never have I touched
      The hem of its garment.”
      And I believed the second traveller;
      For truth was to me
      A breath, a wind,
      A shadow, a phantom,
      And never had I touched
      The hem of its garment.


      XXIX

      Behold, from the land of the farther suns
      I returned.
      And I was in a reptile-swarming place,
      Peopled, otherwise, with grimaces,
      Shrouded above in black impenetrableness.
      I shrank, loathing,
      Sick with it.
      And I said to him,
      “What is this?”
      He made answer slowly,
      “Spirit, this is a world;
      This was your home.”


      XXX

      Supposing that I should have the courage
      To let a red sword of virtue
      Plunge into my heart,
      Letting to the weeds of the ground
      My sinful blood,
      What can you offer me?
      A gardened castle?
      A flowery kingdom?

      What? A hope?
      Then hence with your red sword of virtue.


      XXXI

      Many workmen
      Built a huge ball of masonry
      Upon a mountain-top.
      Then they went to the valley below,
      And turned to behold their work.
      “It is grand,” they said;
      They loved the thing.

      Of a sudden, it moved:
      It came upon them swiftly;
      It crushed them all to blood.
      But some had opportunity to squeal.


      XXXII

      Two or three angels
      Came near to the earth.
      They saw a fat church.
      Little black streams of people
      Came and went in continually.
      And the angels were puzzled
      To know why the people went thus,
      And why they stayed so long within.


      XXXIII

      There was one I met upon the road
      Who looked at me with kind eyes.
      Her said, “Show me of your wares.”
      And this I did,
      Holding forth one.
      He said, “It is a sin.”
      Then held I forth another;
      He said, “It is a sin.”
      Then held I forth another;
      He said, “It is a sin.”
      And so to the end;
      Always he said, “It is a sin.”
      And, finally, I cried out,
      “But I have none other.”
      Then did he look at me
      With kinder eyes.
      “Poor soul!” he said.


      XXXIV

      I stood upon a highway,
      And, behold, there came
      Many strange peddlers.
      To me each one made gestures,
      Holding forth little images, saying,
      “This is my pattern of God.
      Now this is the God I prefer.”

      But I said, “Hence!
      Leave me with mine own,
      And take you yours away;
      I can't buy of your patterns of God,
      The little gods you may rightly prefer.”


      XXXV

      A man saw a ball of gold in the sky;
      He climbed for it,
      And eventually he achieved it --
      It was clay.

      Now this is the strange part:
      When the man went to the earth
      And looked again,
      Lo, there was the ball of gold.
      Now this is the strange part:
      It was a ball of gold.
      Aye, by the heavens, it was a ball of gold.


      XXXVI

      I met a seer.
      He held in his hands
      The book of wisdom.
      “Sir,” I addressed him,
      “Let me read.”
      “Child -- ” he began.
      “Sir,” I said,
      “Think not that I am a child,
      For already I know much
      Of that which you hold.
      Aye, much.”

      He smiled.
      Then he opened the book
      And held it before me. --
      Strange that I should have grown so suddenly blind.


      XXXVII

      On the horizon the peaks assembled;
      And as I looked,
      The march of the mountains began.
      As they marched, they sang,
      “Aye! We come! We come!”


      XXXVIII

      The ocean said to me once,
      “Look!
      Yonder on the shore
      Is a woman, weeping.
      I have watched her.
      Go you and tell her this --
      Her lover I have laid
      In cool green hall.
      There is wealth of golden sand
      And pillars, coral-red;
      Two white fish stand guard at his bier.

      “Tell her this
      And more --
      That the king of the seas
      Weeps too, old, helpless man.
      The bustling fates
      Heap his hands with corpses
      Until he stands like a child
      With a surplus of toys.”


      XXXIX

      The livid lightnings flashed in the clouds;
      The leaden thunders crashed.
      A worshipper raised his arm.
      “Hearken! Hearken! The voice of God!”

      “Not so,” said a man.
      “The voice of God whispers in the heart
      So softly
      That the soul pauses,
      Making no noise,
      And strives for these melodies,
      Distant, sighing, like faintest breath,
      And all the being is still to hear.”


      XL

      And you love me

      I love you.

      You are, then, cold coward.

      Aye; but, beloved,
      When I strive to come to you,
      Man's opinions, a thousand thickets,
      My interwoven existence,
      My life,
      Caught in the stubble of the world
      Like a tender veil --
      This stays me.
      No strange move can I make
      Without noise of tearing
      I dare not.

      If love loves,
      There is no world
      Nor word.
      All is lost
      Save thought of love
      And place to dream.
      You love me?

      I love you.

      You are, then, cold coward.

      Aye; but, beloved --


      XLI

      Love walked alone.
      The rocks cut her tender feet,
      And the brambles tore her fair limbs.
      There came a companion to her,
      But, alas, he was no help,
      For his name was heart's pain.


      XLII

      I walked in a desert.
      And I cried,
      “Ah, God, take me from this place!”
      A voice said, “It is no desert.”
      I cried, “Well, But --
      The sand, the heat, the vacant horizon.”
      A voice said, “It is no desert.”


      XLIII

      There came whisperings in the winds:
      “Good-bye! Good-bye!”
      Little voices called in the darkness:
      “Good-bye! Good-bye!”
      Then I stretched forth my arms.
      “No -- no -- ”
      There came whisperings in the wind
      “Good-bye! Good-bye!”
      Little voices called in the darkness:
      “Good-bye! Good-bye!”


      XLIV

      I was in the darkness;
      I could not see my words
      Nor the wishes of my heart.
      Then suddenly there was a great light --

      “Let me into the darkness again.”


      XLV

      Tradition, thou art for suckling children,
      Thou art the enlivening milk for babes;
      But no meat for men is in thee.
      Then --
      But, alas, we all are babes.


      XLVI

      Many red devils ran from my heart
      And out upon the page,
      They were so tiny
      The pen could mash them.
      And many struggled in the ink.
      It was strange
      To write in this red muck
      Of things from my heart.


      XLVII

      “Think as I think,” said a man,
      “Or you are abominably wicked;
      You are a toad.”

      And after I had thought of it,
      I said, “I will, then, be a toad.”


      XLVIII

      Once there was a man --
      Oh, so wise!
      In all drink
      He detected the bitter,
      And in all touch
      He found the sting.
      At last he cried thus:
      “There is nothing --
      No life,
      No joy,
      No pain --
      There is nothing save opinion,
      And opinion be damned.”


      XLIX

      I stood musing in a black world,
      Not knowing where to direct my feet.
      And I saw the quick stream of men
      Pouring ceaselessly,
      Filled with eager faces,
      A torrent of desire.
      I called to them,
      “Where do you go? What do you see?”
      A thousand voices called to me.
      A thousand fingers pointed.
      “Look! look! There!”

      I know not of it.
      But, lo! In the far sky shone a radiance
      Ineffable, divine --
      A vision painted upon a pall;
      And sometimes it was,
      And sometimes it was not.
      I hesitated.
      Then from the stream
      Came roaring voices,
      Impatient:
      “Look! look! There!”

      So again I saw,
      And leaped, unhesitant,
      And struggled and fumed
      With outspread clutching fingers.
      The hard hills tore my flesh;
      The ways bit my feet.
      At last I looked again.
      No radiance in the far sky,
      Ineffable, divine;
      No vision painted upon a pall;
      And always my eyes ached for the light.
      Then I cried in despair,
      “I see nothing! Oh, where do I go?”
      The torrent turned again its faces:
      “Look! look! There!”

      And at the blindness of my spirit
      They screamed,
      “Fool! fool! fool!”


      L

      You say you are holy,
      And that
      Because I have not seen you sin.
      Aye, but there are those
      Who see you sin, my friend.


      LI

      A man went before a strange God --
      The God of many men, sadly wise.
      And the deity thundered loudly,
      Fat with rage, and puffing.
      “Kneel, mortal, and cringe
      And grovel and do homage
      To My Particularly Sublime Majesty.”

      The man fled.

      Then the man went to another God --
      The God of his inner thoughts.
      And this one looked at him
      With soft eyes
      Lit with infinite comprehension,
      And said, “My poor child!”


      LII

      Why do you strive for greatness, fool?
      Go pluck a bough and wear it.
      It is as sufficing.

      My Lord, there are certain barbarians
      Who tilt their noses
      As if the stars were flowers,
      And Thy servant is lost among their shoe-buckles.
      Fain would I have mine eyes even with their eyes.

      Fool, go pluck a bough and wear it.


      LIII

      Blustering God,
      Stamping across the sky
      With loud swagger,
      I fear You not.
      No, though from Your highest heaven
      You plunge Your spear at my heart,
      I fear You not.
      No, not if the blow
      Is as the lightning blasting a tree,
      I fear You not, puffing braggart.

      If Thou canst see into my heart
      That I fear Thee not,
      Thou wilt see why I fear Thee not,
      And why it is right.
      So threaten not, Thou, with Thy bloody spears,
      Else Thy sublime ears shall hear curses.

      Withal, there is One whom I fear:
      I fear to see grief upon that face.
      Perchance, friend, He is not your God;
      If so, spit upon Him.
      By it you will do no profanity.
      But I --
      Ah, sooner would I die
      Than see tears in those eyes of my soul.


      LIV

      “It was wrong to do this,” said the angel.
      “You should live like a flower,
      Holding malice like a puppy,
      Waging war like a lambkin.”

      “Not so,” quoth the man
      Who had no fear of spirits;
      “It is only wrong for angels
      Who can live like the flowers,
      Holding malice like the puppies,
      Waging war like the lambkins.”


      LV

      A man toiled on a burning road,
      Never resting.
      Once he saw a fat, stupid ass
      Grinning at him from a green place.
      The man cried out in rage,
      “Ah! Do not deride me, fool!
      I know you --
      All day stuffing your belly,
      Burying your heart
      In grass and tender sprouts:
      It will not suffice you.”
      But the ass only grinned at him from the green place.


      LVI

      A man feared that he might find an assassin;
      Another that he might find a victim.
      One was more wise than the other.


      LVII

      With eye and with gesture
      You say you are holy.
      I say you lie;
      For I did see you
      Draw away your coats
      From the sin upon the hands
      Of a little child.
      Liar!


      LVIII

      The sage lectured brilliantly.
      Before him, two images:
      “Now this one is a devil,
      And this one is me.”
      He turned away.
      Then a cunning pupil
      Changed the positions.

      Turned the sage again:
      “Now this one is a devil,
      And this one is me.”
      The pupils sat, all grinning,
      And rejoiced in the game.
      But the sage was a sage.


      LIX

      Walking in the sky,
      A man in strange black garb
      Encountered a radiant form.
      Then his steps were eager;
      Bowed he devoutly.
      “My Lord,” said he.
      But the spirit knew him not.


      LX

      Upon the road of my life,
      Passed me many fair creatures,
      Clothed all in white, and radiant.
      To one, finally, I made speech:
      “Who art thou?”
      But she, like the others,
      Kept cowled her face,
      And answered in haste, anxiously,
      “I am good deed, forsooth;
      You have often seen me.”
      “Not uncowled,” I made reply.
      And with rash and strong hand,
      Though she resisted,
      I drew away the veil
      And gazed at the features of vanity.
      She, shamefaced, went on;
      And after I had mused a time,
      I said of myself,
      “Fool!”


      LXI

      There was a man and a woman
      Who sinned.
      Then did the man heap the punishment
      All upon the head of her,
      And went away gaily.

      There was a man and a woman
      Who sinned.
      And the man stood with her.
      As upon her head, so upon his,
      Fell blow and blow,
      And all people screaming, “Fool!”
      He was a brave heart.

      He was a brave heart.
      Would you speak with him, friend?
      Well, he is dead,
      And there went your opportunity.
      Let it be your grief
      That he is dead
      And your opportunity gone;
      For, in that, you were a coward.


      LXII

      There was a man who lived a life of fire.
      Even upon the fabric of time,
      Where purple becomes orange
      And orange purple,
      This life glowed,
      A dire red stain, indelible;
      Yet when he was dead,
      He saw that he had not lived.


      LXIII

      There was a great cathedral.
      To solemn songs,
      A white procession
      Moved toward the altar.
      The chief man there
      Was erect, and bore himself proudly.
      Yet some could see him cringe,
      As in a place of danger,
      Throwing frightened glances into the air,
      A-start at threatening faces of the past.


      LXIV

      Friend, your white beard sweeps the ground.
      Why do you stand, expectant?
      Do you hope to see it
      In one of your withered days?
      With your old eyes
      Do you hope to see
      The triumphal march of justice?
      Do not wait, friend!
      Take your white beard
      And your old eyes
      To more tender lands.


      LXV

      Once, I knew a fine song,
      -- It is true, believe me --
      It was all of birds,
      And I held them in a basket;
      When I opened the wicket,
      Heavens! They all flew away.
      I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
      But they only laughed.
      They flew on
      Until they were as sand
      Thrown between me and the sky.


      LXVI

      If I should cast off this tattered coat,
      And go free into the mighty sky;
      If I should find nothing there
      But a vast blue,
      Echoless, ignorant --
      What then?


      LXVII

      God lay dead in heaven;
      Angels sang the hymn of the end;
      Purple winds went moaning,
      Their wings drip-dripping
      With blood
      That fell upon the earth.
      It, groaning thing,
      Turned black and sank.
      Then from the far caverns
      Of dead sins
      Came monsters, livid with desire.
      They fought,
      Wrangled over the world,
      A morsel.
      But of all sadness this was sad --
      A woman's arms tried to shield
      The head of a sleeping man
      From the jaws of the final beast.


      LXVIII

      A spirit sped
      Through spaces of night;
      And as he sped, he called,
      “God! God!”
      He went through valleys
      Of black death-slime,
      Ever calling,
      “God! God!”
      Their echoes
      From crevice and cavern
      Mocked him:
      “God! God! God!”
      Fleetly into the plains of space
      He went, ever calling,
      “God! God!”
      Eventually, then, he screamed,
      Mad in denial,
      “Ah, there is no God!”
      A swift hand,
      A sword from the sky,
      Smote him,
      And he was dead.



      Ah-So

      A Zen master had a beautiful young lady as his pupil. She became pregnant, and she falsely named her teacher as the father of her child. When the child was born, her family indignantly brought the child to the Zen master and accused him of taking advantage of his beautiful young pupil. His only reply was, “Ah-so.” They left the child with the Zen master, who enjoyed caring for it and had many beautiful hours playing with the child. After about a year the young lady was very ill, and not wanting to die with this false accusation on her conscience, she told her family that the real father was a young man who lived in a nearby town. Her mother and father immediately went to the teacher and profoundly bowed and apologized and asked for the baby back. The Zen master gave them the baby and said, “Ah-so.”
      - Ken Keyes in "Handbook to Higher Consciousness"



      Flag, Wind, Mind

      A Zen story describes three men observing a flag fluttering in the breeze: One man says, “The wind is moving the flag.” The second man says, “No, the flag is moving the wind.” The third man says, “You are both wrong; it is your mind that is moving.”
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Contentment

      The story is told about a Zen master woman named Sono who taught one very simple method of enlightenment. She advised everyone who came to her to adopt an affirmation to be said many times a day, under all conditions. The affirmation was:

      “Thank You for Everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”

      Many people from all areas of life came to Sono for healing. Some were in physical pain; others were emotionally distraught; others had financial troubles; some were seeking soul liberation. No matter what their distress or what question they asked her, her response was the same:

      “Thank You for Everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”

      Some people went away disappointed; others grew angry; others tried to argue with her. Yet some people took her suggestion to heart and began to practice it. Tradition tells that everyone who practiced Sono's mantra found peace and healing.

      Can you imagine what your life would be like if you simply dropped your complaints? It's a radical proposal, since most of us have been trained to question, analyze, and criticize everything we see. But then we end up questioning, analyzing and criticizing ourselves. Then we miss out on joy, the only true measure of success.

      Got it. Now if you went to Sono, her response would be:

      “Thank You for Everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”



      Oh-oh-oh!

      A Zen story concerns an elder monk in a Japanese monastery. The young novices were in awe of this man, not because he was severe with them, but because nothing ever seemed to upset him. A few of the young men decided to test the monk by devising a plan to scare him. Early one dark winter morning, it was the monk's duty to carry tea to the Founders Hall. The young men hid in the alcove of a long and winding corridor near the entrance to the hall. Just as the monk passed, they rushed out screaming like crazy men. Without faltering a step, the monk continued walking on quietly, carefully carrying the tea. When he arrived at his destination he set down the tray, covered the tea bowl so no dust could fall into it and then fell back against the wall and cried out in shock “Oh-oh-oh!” A Zen Master relating this story said, “There is nothing wrong with emotions. Only one must not let them carry one away, or interfere with what one is doing.”
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Sufi Baggage

      A Sufi teaching tells of the man who visited a great mystic to find out how to let go of his chains of attachment and his prejudices. Instead of answering him directly, the mystic jumped to his feet and bolted to a nearby pillar, flung his arms around it, grasping the marble surface as he screamed, “Save me from this pillar! Save me from this pillar!” The man who had asked the question could not believe what he saw. He thought the mystic was mad. The shouting soon brought a crowd of people. “Why are you doing that?” the man asked. “I came to you to ask a spiritual question because I thought you were wise, but obviously you're crazy. "You" are holding the pillar, the pillar is not holding you. You can simply let go.” The mystic let go of the pillar and said to the man, “If you can understand that, you have your answer. Your chains of attachment are not holding you, you are holding them. You can simply let go.”
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Catching Air

      A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him.
      “Master, I wish to become your disciple,” said the man.
      “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment.
      “Because I want to find God.”

      The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke.

      “Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water.”
      “Air!” answered the man.
      “Very well,” said the master,
      “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.”



      Courage of Our Convictions

      A Zen story tells of two monks who met on the road. After their initial greetings, one monk asked the other, “What are you going to do tonight, my friend?” The second monk replied, “I will meditate and pray in the temple. What are you going to do?” “I'm going to spend a night of pleasure with the ladies,” he answered. The monks then went on their own ways, and that night in the house of pleasure, the monk was quite distracted. All he could think about was his friend meditating and praying. But was the other monk at Peace with himself? No, he continued to think about his friend enjoying an evening with women. When you make a choice, accept it completely and surrender to all the experiences that go along with your decision.
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Land of Fools

      A Sufi teaching tells of a traveler who was crossing a strange land known as the Land of Fools. While walking down a rural road he observed farmers fleeing in terror. "There's a monster in that field," said a man as he ran past. The traveler looked out into the field and saw a watermelon. So he called the farmers together and offered to kill the monster for them. He then walked into the field, took out a knife and cut the melon in half and started to eat it. The farmers were horrified and feared the traveler more than they had the watermelon. They drove him out of their world with pitchforks, screaming "He'll kill us next if we don't get rid of him." The following season another traveler found himself journeying thought the same world, and the same thing happened to him. But instead of offering to kill the monster, he agreed with them that it was dangerous, and by tiptoeing away from it with them he gained their confidence. He spent time in their homes until he could teach them, a little at a time, the facts that would allow them to rise above their fear of watermelons and cultivate the melons themselves. The truth alone does not make people free. Facts do not change attitudes.
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Same same

      A Jesuit priest went to Japan to study in a Zen monastery. He said that after sitting in meditation for long hours his legs would often begin to ache terribly. The master advised him on proper procedure and then asked what practice he was following in meditation. The Jesuit explained that he was sitting silently in the presence of God without words or thoughts or images or ideas. The master then asked if his God was everywhere. The Jesuit nodded his head, “yes.” He asked if he was wrapped around in God, and the answer again was yes. “Very good, very good,” said the master. “Continue this way. Just keep on. And eventually you will find that God will disappear an only you will remain.” The Jesuit was offended by this for it sounded like a denial of his sacred beliefs. He contradicted the master and said, “God will not disappear. But I might disappear and only God will be left.” “Yes, yes,” the master agreed, smiling. “It's the same thing. That is what I mean.”
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Express the Moment

      A Zen monk was with his roshi one day when the roshi was murdered by thieves. His roshi cried out in fear and pain as he was being murdered, and this disturbed the student greatly. He was about to leave the monastery when another roshi approached him and said, “Fool! The object of Zen is not to suppress all emotion, but to free us to fully express at the appropriate moment.”
      - Dick Sutphen in "Master of Life"



      Maybe

      An old man had a son and a horse. One day the horse strayed and got lost. When the old man's neighbours heard it, they went to tell the old man they were sorry about his bad luck.
      “How do you know it is bad luck?” he asked.

      Soon after that the horse returned, bringing with him many wild horses. Now the neighbours came to congratulate the man on his good luck.
      “How do you know it is good luck?” he asked.

      The son took up riding. One day he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours came to the old man and expressed sorrow at his bad luck.
      “How do you know it is bad luck?” he asked.

      Very soon afterwards a war broke out and the military came to the old man's village to draft all the young men there. The old man's son was not drafted, however, because of his broken leg.

      Now, do you know it was his good luck?



      What is Egotism?

      The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently had no effect on their relationship, which seemed to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.

      One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, “Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?”

      The master's face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, “What kind of stupid question is that?”"

      This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, “This, Your Excellency, is egotism.”



      Heaven and Hell

      The old monk sat by the side of the road. With his eyes closed, his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, he sat. In deep meditation, he sat.

      Suddenly his zazen was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior. “Old man! Teach me about Heaven and Hell!”

      At first, as though he had not heard, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But gradually he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing second.

      “You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?” replied the monk at last. “You who are so unkempt. You whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is all rusty and neglected. You who are ugly and whose mother dresses you funny. You would ask me of heaven and hell?”

      The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high above his head. His face turned to crimson and the veins on his neck stood out in bold relief as he prepared to sever the monk's head from its shoulders.

      “That is Hell,” said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent.

      In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared to risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-flight and his eyes filled with grateful tears.

      “And that,” said the monk, “is Heaven.”



      The Black Belt

      A parable tells about a martial artist who kneels before a master sensei in a ceremony to receive the hard-earned Black Belt. After years of relentless training, the student has finally reached a pinnacle of achievement in the discipline.

      "Before granting the belt, you must pass one more test," the sensei solemnly tells the young man.

      "I'm ready," responds the student, expecting perhaps one more round of sparring.

      "You must answer the essential question: What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?"

      "Why, the end of my journey," says the student. "A well-deserved reward for my hard work."

      The master waits for more. Clearly, he is not satisfied. The sensei finally speaks: "You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year."

      As the student kneels before his master a year later, he is again asked the question, "What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?"

      "It is a symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art," the young man responds.

      Again the master waits for more. Still unsatisfied, he says once more: "You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year."

      A year later the student kneels before his sensei and hears the question, "What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?"

      This time he answers, "The Black Belt represents not the end, but the beginning, the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever higher standard."

      "Yes," says the master. "You are now ready to receive the Black Belt and begin your work."


      Sustenance

      A man who was ragged and appeared to be without anything in a physical sense came upon a road boss and said, “Can you help me? I need work.” The road boss said, “Fine, take that large boulder over there and roll it up and down the hill. If you need work that will fulfill your need.” The man said, “You don't understand, what I really need is money.” The boss replied, “Oh, if it is only money you need, here is fifty dollars. But you cannot spend it.” Again the man was perplexed. “You don't understand, what I really need is food, fuel and clothing, not just money.” The boss again replied, “If you are sure this is what you need, then spend the money for food, fuel and clothing, but don't eat the food, or burn the fuel or wear the clothing.” The man was finally forced to look at what he really needed which was a sense of security, Peace and inner satisfaction. All totally invisible, all within the mind. All divine sustenance.
      - Dr. Wayne Dyer in "Real Magic"

      “What does a man need — really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in, and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all — in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, and preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.”
      - Sterling Hayden



      The Shirt of a Happy Man

      “Once there was a prince who was terribly unhappy. The king dispatched messengers to find the shirt of a happy man, as his advisers told him that was the only cure. They finally encountered a poor farmer who was supremely content. Alas, the happy man owned no shirt.”



      Tea Master

      A master of the tea ceremony in old Japan once accidentally slighted a soldier. He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel. The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a fellow Zen master who did possess such skill. As he was served by his friend, the Zen swordsman could not help but notice how the tea master performed his art with perfect concentration and tranquility.

      “Tomorrow,” the Zen swordsman said, “when you duel the soldier, hold your weapon above your head, as if ready to strike, and face him with the same concentration and tranquility with which you perform the tea ceremony.”

      The next day, at the appointed time and place for the duel, the tea master followed this advice. The soldier, readying himself to strike, stared for a long time into the fully attentive but calm face of the tea master. Finally, the soldier lowered his sword, apologized for his arrogance, and left without a blow being struck.



      In the Moment

      The meaning of here and now is beautifully illustrated by a Zen story of a monk who was being chased by two tigers. He came to the edge of a cliff. He looked back - the tigers were almost upon him. Noticing a vine leading over the cliff, he quickly crawled over the edge and began to let himself down the vine. Then as he checked below, he saw two tigers waiting for him at the bottom of the cliff. He looked up and observed that two mice were knawing away at the vine. Just then, he saw a beautiful strawberry within arm's reach. He picked it and enjoyed the best tasting strawberry in his whole life!
      - Ken Keyes in "Handbook to Higher Consciousness"



      My Cup Runneth Over

      The most famous Zen story concerns Nanin, a Japanese master. A university professor once visited him to inquire about Zen. Nanin served the man tea, pouring his visitor's cup full and continued pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could not longer restrain himself. “It is full to overflowing. No more will go in!” he said. Nanin replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” Self-actualization is the process of deprogramming, not the acquiring of new knowledge.
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      It's All Good

      An African king had a close friend who had the habit of remarking "this is good" about every occurrence in life no matter what it was. One day the king and his friend were out hunting. The king's friend loaded a gun and handed it to the king, but alas he loaded it wrong and when the king fired it, his thumb was blown off.

      “This is good!” exclaimed his friend.

      The shocked and bleeding king was furious. “How can you say this is good? This is obviously horrible!” he shouted.

      The king put his friend in jail.

      About a year later the king went hunting by himself. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to it. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. They untied the king and sent him on his way.

      Full of remorse the king rushed to the prison to release his friend.

      “You were right, it was good,” the king said.

      The king told his friend how the missing thumb saved his life and added, “I feel so sad that I locked you in jail. That was such a bad thing to do.”

      No! this is good!” responded his delighted friend.

      “Oh, how could that be good my friend, I did a terrible thing to you while I owe you my life.”

      “It is good" said his friend, “because if I wasn't in jail I would have been hunting with you and they would have killed Me.”



      The Cracked Pot

      An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

      For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its wonderful accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

      After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?”

      “That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.” “For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

      Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. We've just got to take each person for what they are and look for their special talent.

      To all "crackpots" everywhere, just like Carl Jung's archetypal "wounded healer" your "wound" is where your "gift" is so please take comfort in this, remember to have a great day plus take time to stop and smell the flowers on your side of the path!

      SO, if you are feeling your own "cracks" you may also remember the grass is always greener on the side you water it!



      Prejudice Saves Time

      The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh tells a story that demonstrates how prejudices can function: A young boy and his father went to the zoo and stood in front of the lion cage fascinated with the animals inside. While the father was distracted for a moment, the boy inched between the bars of the outer crowd retainer and stood within inches of the cage. As a lion bounded toward the boy, the father leaped over the retainer and snatched his son to safety, just as the lion's claws shot out between the bars and swiped at the boy. A journalist was in the crowd and he decided to write a short feature about it. Among other questions, he asked the father, “What political party do you belong to?” “I'm a Nazi,” the father replied. The following morning's newspaper carried the headline, "A Dirty Nazi Steals the Lunch of a Hungry African Immigrant."
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      Create Reality

      There is a parable about a poor man walking through the woods reflecting upon his many troubles. He stopped to rest against a tree, a magical tree that would instantly grant the wishes of anyone who came in contact with it. He realized he was thirsty and wished for a drink. Instantly a cup of water was in his hand. Shocked, he looked at the water, decided it was safe and drank it. He then realized he was hungry and wished he had something to eat. A meal appeared before him. “My wishes are being granted,” he thought in disbelief. “Well, then I wish for a beautiful home of my own,” he said out loud. The home appeared in the meadow before him. A huge smile crossed his face as he wished for servants to take care of the house. When they appeared he realized he had somehow been blessed with an incredible power and he wished for a beautiful, loving, intelligent woman to share his good fortune. “Wait a minute, this is ridiculous,” said the man to the woman. “I'm not this lucky. This can't happen to me.” As he spoke everything disappeared. He shook his head and said, “I knew it,” then walked away thinking about his many troubles. Thoughts are things and they create your reality.
      - Dick Sutphen in "The Oracle Within"



      A Zen Fish Story

      This is a story about three Chinese Zen masters from the Heian period, T'ang Dynasty, considered the "Golden Age" of Zen. Tao-wu (768?-853), his Dharma brother, Ch'uan-tzu ("Dharma brother" indicates they were both heirs of the same teacher, Yueh-shan Wei-yen) and Chia-shan, the chief monk of an important monastery. This story was retold by Dogen Zenji (1200-1253), the founder of Soto Zen in Japan.

      About the year 845, Tao-wu visited the teacher of another monastery. While sitting in the great hall with other monks he observed the chief monk, Chia-shan, engaging in Dharma combat with the other monks. (Dharma combat is a verbal contest by which students try to "trip" each other or their teacher to reveal lapses in understanding of the Dharma. These bouts can be quite lively.) On hearing Chia-shan, Tao-wu burst out laughing. Chia-shan descended from the rostrum and asked Tao-wu why he had laughed. Tao-wu said, “I have a Dharma brother who teaches others in a boat on the Flowers-in-River. You should go see him if you want to realize it.” (The "it" Tao-wu refers to is the Great Realization, which of course can't be described. The less said, the better.)

      The Dharma brother Tao-wu spoke of was Ch'uan-tzu, who had left all monasteries behind, saying that he was good for nothing. Ch'uan-tzu had become a boatman, teaching in disguise.

      At Tao-wu's suggestion, Chia-shan took of his monk's robes and dressed as a layman to meet with Ch'uan-tzu. So when Chia-shan reached Flowers-in-River, he was startled to hear Ch'uan-tzu call to him, “Chief monk of an assembly, at what temple do you stay?”

      Chia-shan replied, “I stay at no temple. Can't you see my clothes? If I were a monk, would I look like this?”

      Ch'uan-tzu asked, “You say you do not, but then what do you look like?”

      “I am beyond sight, hearing, and consciousness,” replied Chia-shan.

      “Where did you learn that?” asked Ch'uan-tzu.

      “Beyond sight and hearing,” replied the monk-in-disguise to the teacher-in-disguise.

      “Even one phrase of ultimate reality would lose its freedom forever if we were to attach to it. To drop a thousand-foot fishing line means to seek a fish with golden scales. [The fish with golden scales is a metaphor for Enlightenment.] Why don't you say a word?”

      Chia-shan was about to speak when Ch'uan-tzu leapt upon him, wrestled him into the water, and held his head under. Then Ch'uan-tzu lifted the gulping and gasping Chia-shan and demanded, “Say a word! Say a word!” And again, when Chia-shan opened his mouth, Ch'uan-tzu pushed his head under the water.

      At about the third dunking, Chia-shan became enlightened.

      This time, when he came up, Chia-shan bowed to his teacher in gratitude. Ch'uan-tzu remarked, “You're welcome to the fishing line.” (Ch'uan-tzu was telling Chia-shan that he was now qualified to teach.) “If you have realized it, say it quickly, tell me quickly, words are wondrous and unspeakable. You can see such a fish only after you've fished out of the sea wave, only after you've gone beyond discrimination.”

      But all the while Ch'uan-tzu was speaking, Chia-shan covered his ears and began to walk away. At this, Ch'uan-tzu said, “Quite so. Quite so.”

      Thus was the Dharma transmitted from Ch'uan-tzu to Chia-shan.



      I can Walk on Water (I stagger on alcohol)

      There is a famous story in India about two brothers. The elder brother left home and prayed in the forest most intensely. At the end of twelve years he returned home. The younger brother was delighted to see him and he requested, “Please, please show me some occult power. You have practiced for twelve long years while I have been leading an ordinary life. Please show me what you have accomplished.” The elder brother said, “Come with me.” The two brothers entered the village and walked to the river. At the river bank the elder brother sat down and entered into deep meditation. After a while he stood up and walked across the river on the surface of the water. Immediately the younger brother hailed the ferryman, gave him an anna and was quickly rowed across the river to join his brother. When the two brothers were joined together, the younger brother said, “You had to slave for twelve years to be able to do something that I can do in five minutes? Is this the result of your years of spiritual discipline and austere life? Shame, shame!” The elder brother realized that he had foolishly wasted his twelve years. He left home once more, this time to aspire only for Truth, only for Light, only for God.
      - Sri Chinmoy in "Kundalini – the Mother Power"



      Call Me By My True Names by Thich Nhat Hanh

      Please Call Me by My True Names

      Don't say that I will depart tomorrow--even today I am still arriving.

      Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

      I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

      I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

      I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

      I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

      I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

      I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hinds. And I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

      My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

      Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

      Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.


      I wrote your name on a piece of paper, but I threw it away. I wrote your name on my hand, but it washed away. I wrote your name in the sand, but the waves whispered it away. I wrote your name in my heart, and forever it will stay. Your name will always be safe in my mouth.



      The Stealing of the Drums by William H. Peck

      Many years ago, there lived a strong and noble warrior. One day, as the warrior was racing through the jungle, following the tracks of a sleek and golden cougar, he heard strange sounds. Forgetting the cougar, he stopped. Never had he heard such beautiful rhythms. Entranced by the music, he turned and moved towards the direction of the sound.

      Led by the music, the warrior crossed creeks, climbed over rocks and swung through vines. With each step, the sound became louder and more frenetic. Finally, he spotted a clearing. The music, he knew, was coming from there. Hiding behind a nearby tree, the hunter stood in amazement and watched.

      There before him, a lion was swinging his wild red mane and beating what seemed to be a magical gourd. With every tap on the gourd, the lion created a rhythm that exploded in the night air like the heartbeats of heaven.

      And animals were dancing in a frenzy!

      An elephant was dancing with a hippo. A crocodile was swinging a python around his tail. A warthog was hopping beside a jigging baboon. An eland and a bush cow were nuzzling cheek-to-cheek. A grouse was strutting around a jumping guinea fowl.

      From behind the tree, the warrior tapped his toes. He wanted desperately to join in the dance, but he dared not disturb such mighty beasts. As darkness fell, the warrior left the dancing animals and returned to his village. When he arrived home, he found the villagers gathered around a bonfire. The women were crying: It was very late-the warrior was not expected to be out in the jungle for so long-and they believed he had been killed.

      “There he is!” cried a young boy, as he saw the warrior approaching through the smoky haze. The villagers rushed upon him, hugging him.

      “We feared we had lost you,” said the village chief. “What kept you for so long?” The warrior told them of the dancing animals, the magical gourd, and the rhythm that captured the heartbeats of heaven.

      Hearing this, the people drew back.

      “You lie!” said the chief angrily. “Do you expect us to believe your story? What have you been up to?” But the warrior repeated his story, saying, “It is true. What I tell you is true.”

      “Go. Leave this village!” ordered the chief. “You are not worthy to live among us. We are an honest tribe. Go into the jungle with your dancing animals!”

      “Go!” shouted the villagers in chorus. Then they drew their clubs and chased the warrior back into the jungle.

      Alone in the jungle, the warrior sat down beside a banana tree and tried to ignore the laugh of the hyenas and the squeals of the baboons. Although he was a fearless warrior in the light of day, he was not so fearless at night. “Was this day just a dream?” the warrior wondered to himself as he drifted off to sleep. “How could so much change in just one day?”

      When the sun rose the next morning, the warrior traveled back to the clearing where he had seen the animals. They had been dancing all night. The warrior peeked once again from behind the tree.

      “If only I had those magical gourds, the villagers would believe me,” he thought. Then he had an idea. He burst from behind the tree screaming a war song and charged straight for the mighty lion. He tore the magic gourd from the lion's grip and raced back down the trail.

      He ran all the way back to village. He was so exhausted that he fell down to the ground. The people of the village gathered around the warrior, staring at the strange-looking gourd. Gradually, the warrior regained his breath and stood up.

      “This, friends,” he announced, holding the gourd in his hands, “is what I shall call a drum.”

      Turning to a young boy, he ordered. “Bring me some palm wine!”

      Within moments, the young boy came back with a bowl of palm wine. The warrior then poured some wine on the ground-spilling much more than tradition called for-as an offering to the ancestors.

      The warrior tapped the drums lightly and liked what he heard. He tapped harder, and the people liked what they heard. The hunter then beat the drums with the frenzy of the lion.

      And the people went wild!

      Day and night they danced, barely stopping to eat or sleep. They danced when they were happy, and they danced when they were sad. They danced when they were at war, and they danced when they were at Peace. They danced when they were angry, and they danced when they were in love....

      In fact, they are dancing even now.


      End Notes for "The Stealing of The Drums"

      “After installing a new water pump in a neighboring village, my wife and I visited the village of Nsawkaw,” says William H. Peck (Ghana, 1984-86). “There, the chief of the village, Nana Twum Barima, invited us to attend a festival commemorating the "stealing of the drums from the animals." He then told us the story upon which "Stealing of the Drums" is based.” “"Stealing of the Drums" illustrates the reverence that Ghanians have for drums,” Peck adds. “They believe that drums are magical.”



      Dirt Roads by Lee Pitts broadcast by Paul Harvey

      What's mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved. There's not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, delinquency that wouldn't be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.

      People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride.   That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it's worth it, if at the end is home...a loving, happy family and a dog.
                     
      We wouldn't have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.
                      
      There was less crime in our streets before they were paved. Criminals didn't walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they'd be welcomed by five barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun. And there were no drive-by shootings. Our values were better when our roads were worse!
                       
      People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn't tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks. 
                 
      Dirt Roads taught patience.
                        
      Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly. You didn't hop in your car for a quart of milk; you walked to the barn for your milk.  For your mail, you walked to the mailbox.
                       
      What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out?  That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony road on Daddy's shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.
                        
      At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.   Most paved roads lead to trouble.  Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.
                        
      At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn't, some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.
                        
      At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you'd have to hitch up a team and pull them out. Usually you got a dollar... always you got a new friend... at the end of a Dirt Road.


    King James Version of the Holy Bible: Book of 1st Corinthians: Chapter 13

    13:1
    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
    and have not charity,
    I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    13:2
    And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge;
    and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity,
    I am nothing.
    13:3
    And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
    and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity,
    it profiteth me nothing.
    13:4
    Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
    charity envieth not;
    charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
    13:5
    Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,
    is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
    13:6
    Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
    13:7
    Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
    13:8
    Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
    whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
    whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
    13:9
    For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
    13:10
    But when that which is perfect is come,
    then that which is in part shall be done away.
    13:11
    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
    but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    13:12
    For now we see through a glass, darkly;
    but then face to face: now I know in part;
    but then shall I know even as also I am known.
    13:13
    And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
    but the greatest of these is charity.



    Wireless Waves by Kavichandran Alexander

    I journeyed here a pilgrim
    With you as my vow
    I reached Saintes Maries de la Mer
    And knelt by the sea with my rosary

    From the heart of Harlem
    The wireless brings across the Atlantic
    A gospel quartet, a soulful song
    "Stand By Me"...

    My reception is clear and uninterrupted
    Into the night I listen...
    Here in this house where I am a guest
    Where I am healed

    In the shrine of Sara la Kali
    Our Lady, Virgin Mother
    Where the gypsies sing
    I lit a candle for you

    I journeyed here a pilgrim
    With you as my solace
    I reached Saintes Maries de la Mer
    And knelt by the sea with my rosary

    From the heart of Harlem
    The wireless brings across the Atlantic
    A gospel quartet, a soulful song
    "Stand By Me"...

    My reception is clear and uninterrupted
    Into the night I listen...
    Here in this house where I am a guest
    Where I am healed

    In the shrine of the Black Madonna
    Our Lady, Mother of JAH
    Where the gypsies pray
    I lit a candle for you

    I journeyed here a pilgrim
    With you as my refuge
    I reached Saintes Maries de la Mer
    And knelt by the sea with my rosary

    From the heart of Harlem
    The wireless brings across the Atlantic
    A gospel quartet, a soulful song
    "Stand By Me"...

    My reception is clear and uninterrupted
    Into the night I listen...
    Here in this house where I am a guest
    Where I am healed

    In the shrine of Sara la Kali
    Our Lady, Virgin Mother
    Where the gypsies sing
    I lit a candle for you.



    Hymns Of The Atharva-Veda Translated by Maurice Bloomfield in Sacred Books of the East, Volume 42

    Book V, 20. Hymn to the battle-drum.

    1. High sounds the voice of the drum, that acts the warrior, the wooden (drum), equipped with the skin of the cow. Whetting thy voice, subduing the enemy, like a lion sure of victory, do thou loudly thunder against them!

    2. The wooden (instrument) with fastened (covering) has thundered as a lion, as a bull roars to the cow that longs to mate. Thou art a bull, thy enemies are eunuchs; thou ownest Indra's foe subduing fire!

    3. Like a bull in the herd, full of might, lusty, do thou, O snatcher of booty, roar against them! Pierce with fire the heart of the enemy; with -broken ranks the foe shall run and scatter!

    4. In victorious battles raise thy roar! What may be captured, capture; sound in many places! Favor, O drum, (our deeds) with thy divine voice; bring to (us) with strength the property of the enemy!

    5. When the wife of the enemy hears the voice of the drum that speaks to a far distance, may she, aroused by the sound, distressed, snatch her son to her arms, and run, frightened at the clash of arms!

    6. Do thou, O drum, sound the first sound, ring brilliantly over the back of the earth! Open wide thy maw at the enemies host; resound brightly, joyously, O drum!

    7. Between this heaven and earth thy noise shall spread, thy sounds shall quickly part to every side! Shout thou and thunder with swelling sound; make music at thy friend's victory, having, (chosen) the good side!

    8. Manipulated with care, its voice shall resound! Make bristle forth the weapons of the warriors! Allied to Indra do thou call hither the warriors; with thy friends beat vigorously down the enemies!

    9. A shouting herald, followed by a bold army, spreading news in many places, sounding through the village, eager for success, knowing the way, do thou distribute glory to many in the battle!

    10. Desiring advantage, gaining booty, full mighty, thou hast been made keen by (my) song, and winnest battles. As the press-stone on the gathering skin dances upon the soma-shoots, thus do thou, O drum, lustily dance upon the booty!

    11. A conqueror of enemies, overwhelming, foe-subduing, eager for the fray, victoriously crushing, as a speaker his speech do thou carry forth thy sound; sound forth here strength for victory in battle!

    12. Shaking those that are unshaken, hurrying to the strife, a conqueror of enemies, an unconquerable leader, protected by Indra, attending to the hosts, do thou that crusheth the hearts of the enemies, quickly go!

    Book V, 21 Hymn to the battle-drum, the terror of the enemy.

    1. Carry with thy voice, O drum, lack of heart, and failure of courage among the enemies! Disagreement, dismay, and fright, do we place into the enemies: beat them down, O drum!

    2. Agitated in their minds, their sight, their hearts, the enemies shall run, frightened with terror, when our oblation has been offered!

    3. Made of wood, equipped with the skin of the cow, at home with every clan, put thou with thy voice terror into the enemies, when thou hast been anointed with ghee!

    4. As the wild animals of the forest start in fear from man, thus do thou, O drum, shout against the enemies, frighten them away, and bewilder their minds!

    5. As goats and sheep run from the wolf, badly frightened, thus do thou, O drum, shout against the enemies, frighten them away, and bewilder their minds!

    6. As birds start in fear from the eagle, as by day and by night (they start) at the roar of the lion, thus do thou, O drum, shout against the enemies, frighten them away, and bewilder their minds!

    7. With the drum and the skin of the antelope all the gods, that sway the battle, have scared away the enemies.

    8. At the noise of the beat of the feet when Indra disports himself, and at his shadow, our enemies yonder that come in successive ranks shall tremble!

    9. The whirring of the bowstring and the drums shall shout at the directions where the conquered armies of the enemies go in successive ranks!

    10. O sun, take away their sight; O rays, run after them; clinging to their feet, fasten yourselves upon them, when the strength of their arms is gone!

    11. Ye strong Maruts, Prisni's children, with Indra as an ally, crush ye the enemies; Soma the king (shall crush them), Varuna the king, Mahâdeva, and also Mrityu (death), and Indra!

    12. These wise armies of the gods, having the sun as their ensign, shall conquer our enemies! Hail!


    Cross-eyed Bear

    A young man was at the end of his rope; seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can't go on,” he said. “I have too heavy a cross to bear.” The Lord replied, “My son, if you can't bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room. Then, open that other door and pick out any cross you wish.” The man was filled with relief and said, “Thank you Lord,” and he did as he was told. Upon entering the other room, he saw many crosses, some so large the tops were not visible. Then, he spotted a tiny cross leaning against a far wall. “I'd like that one, Lord,” he whispered. The Lord replied, “My son, that is the cross you just brought in.” When life's problems seem overwhelming, it helps to look around and see what other people are coping with. You may consider yourself far more fortunate than you imagined.
    - ?



    Pooh's Little Instruction Book

    Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

    A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.

    Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.

    To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.

    When having a smackerel of something with a friend, don't eat so much that you get stuck in the doorway trying to get out.

    When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.

    People who don't Think probably don't have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake.

    If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

    If you want to make a song more hummy, add a few tiddely poms.

    You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

    Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.

    It gets you nowhere if the other person's tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.

    Those who are clever, who have a Brain, never understand anything.

    Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.

    A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.

    Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.

    Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

    “You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
    - Christopher Robin to Pooh (A.A. Milne)



    Tiddely Poms

    One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought we would do something, so he went round to Piglet's house to see what Piglet was doing. It was still snowing as he stumped over the white forest track, and he expected to find Piglet warming his toes in front of his fire, but to his surprise he saw that the door was open, and the more he looked inside the more Piglet wasn't there.

    "He's out," said Pooh sadly. "That's what it is. He's not in. I shall have to go a fast Thinking Walk by myself. Bother!"

    But first he thought that he would knock very loudly just to make quite sure...and while he waited for Piglet to answer, he jumped up and down to keep warm, and a hum came suddenly into his head, which seemed to him a Good Hum, such as is Hummed Hopefully to Others.

    The more it snows (Tiddely pom),

    The more it goes (Tiddely pom),

    On snowing.

    And nobody knows (Tiddely pom),

    How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),

    How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),

    Are growing.

    "So what I'll do," said Pooh, "is I'll do this. I'll just go home first and see what the time is, and perhaps I'll put a muffler round my neck, and then I"ll go and see Eeyore and sing it to him."

    He hurried back to his own house; and his mind was so busy on the way with the hum that he was getting ready for Eeyore that, when he suddenly saw Piglet sitting hin his best arm-chair, he could only stand there rubbing his head and wondering whose house he was in.

    "Hallo, Piglet," he said. "I thought you were out."

    "No," said Piglet, "it's you who were out, Pooh."

    "So it was," said Pooh. "I knew one of us was."

    He looked up at his clock, which had stopped at five minutes to eleven some weeks ago.

    "Nearly eleven o'clock," said Pooh happily. "You're just in time for a little smackeral of something," and he put his head into the cupboard. "And then we'll go out, Piglet, and sing my song to Eeyore."

    "Which song, Pooh?"

    "The one we're going to sing to Eeyore," explained Pooh.

    The clock was still saying five minutes to eleven when Pooh and Piglet set out on their way half an hour later. The wind had dropped, and the snow, tired of rushing round in circles trying to catch itself up, now fluttered gently down until it found a place on which to rest, sometimes the place was Pooh's nose and it wasn't, and in a little while Piglet was wearing a white muffler round his neck and feeling more snowy behind the ears than he had ever felt before.

    "Pooh," he said at last, and a little timidly, because he didn't want Pooh to think he was Giving In, "I was just wondering. How would it be if we went home now and practiced your song, and then sang it to Eeyore to-morrow-or-or the next day, when we happen to see him."

    "That's a very good idea, Piglet," said Pooh. "We'll practice it now as we go along. But it's no good going home to practice it, because it's a Special Outdoor Song Which Has To Be Sung In The Snow."

    "Are you sure?" asked Piglet anxiously.

    "Well, you'll see, Piglet, when you listen. Because this is how it begins. The more it snows, Tiddely pom---"

    "Tiddely what?" said Piglet.

    "Pom," said Pooh. "I put that in to make it more hummy. The more it goes, Tiddely pom, the more---"

    "Didn't you say snows?"

    "Yes, but that was before."

    "Before the Tiddely pom?"

    "It was a different Tiddely pom," said Pooh, feeling rather muddled now. "I'll sing it to you properly and then you'll see."

    So he sang it again.



    Working for God by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi)

    I will acquire divinely deep, God-given
    concentration, and use its unlimited
    power to meet all demands of my life.

    I will do everything with deep attention
    My work at home, in the office, in the
    world - all duties great and small will be
    performed well.

    On the throne of silent thoughts, the God
    of Peace is directing my actions today.

    After contacting God in meditation I will
    go about my work, whatever it may be,
    knowing God is with me, directing me
    and giving me power to bring forth that for
    which I am striving.

    I will use my money to make the world
    family better and happier, according to the
    measure of my ability.



    Definition Of A Nice Person from "The Selected Writings of Sydney Smith," ed. Sydney Smith with an introduction by W.H. Auden. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1956. p. 201-202

    A nice person is neither too tall nor too short, looks clean and cheerful, has no prominent feature, makes no difficulties, is never misplaced, sits bodkin, is never foolishly affronted, and is void of affectations.

    A nice person helps you well at dinner, understands you, is always gratefully received by young and old, Whig and Tory, grave and gay.

    There is something in the very air of a nice person which inspires you with confidence, makes you talk, and talk without fear of malicious misrepresentation; you feel that you are reposing upon a nature which God has made kind, and created for the benefit and happiness of society. It has the effect upon the mind which soft air and a fine climate has upon the body.

    A nice person is clear of little, trumpery passions, acknowledges superiority, delights in talent, shelters humility, pardons adversity, forgives deficiency, respects all men's rights, never stops the bottle, is never long and never wrong, always knows the day of the month, the name of every body at table, and never gives pain to any human being.

    If any body is wanted for a party, a nice person is the first thought of; when the child is christened, when the daughter is married--all the joys of life are communicated to nice people; the hand of the dying man is always held out to a nice person.

    A nice person never knocks over wine or melted butter, does not tread upon the dog's foot, or molest the family cat, eats soup without noise, laughs in the right place, and has a watchful and attentive eye.

    “My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.”
    - Benjamin Disreali



    Famous Last Words Department

    “This wallpaper is killing me; one of us has got to go.”
    - Oscar Wilde, Irish author and dramatist

    “I wish I'd drunk more champagne.”
    - John Maynard Keynes

    “Make my skin into drumheads for the Bohemian cause.”
    - Jan Zizka, (1358 – 1424) Czech general who, after the execution of Jan Huss, became the leader of the Bohemian Protestants.

    “Tell the men to fire faster and not to give up the ship; fight her till she sinks.”
    - James Lawrence, (1781-1813) Captain of the frigate Chesapeake in a naval battle during the War of 1812

    “Hey, Everybody! Watch This!”
    Deep South version: “Ah wanna tra sumpin', heah... hol' mah beahr.”

    “Strange, I've never felt like this before!”

    “That was an interesting orgasm, it felt like I was exploding into the Universe,” whereupon he passed out due to the cerebral hemorrhage he was experiencing. A moment later he revived briefly to exclaim his Last Words, “Flights of Angels sing me to my rest!” At which point his understandably distraught lover retorted, “Tell them to go fvck themselves!”
    - Irving Fiske, (March 5, 1908 – April 25, 1990) playwright, translated Shakespeare's "Hamlet" into modern English, co-founder with wife Barbara Hall Fiske, in April, 1946, of the unintentional community called "Quarry Hill Creative Center" near Rochester, VT, USA.
    N.B. I heard this story of a "Hero's Death" from, Phyllis Sherman, the only surviving witness to his brain aneurysm. Irving's daughter, Isabella (Ladybelle) Fiske McFarlin, has his last words differently. She writes: “Although certain aspects of this anecdote are true, to the best of my knowledge Irving did not say “Flights of angels sing me to my rest” (a la Hamlet,) --that would have been sappy even for him-- “I hear the angels calling me.” I think he was joking. His girlfriend did say “Tell them to go fvck themselves.” These were not his last words, however. My understanding is that he said, “I have created this myself. I have created this myself. I have created this myself.” That is very much the way Irving was.”

    “Waiting, are they? Waiting, are they? Well--let'm wait.”
    - Ethan Allen, farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, one of the founders of the U. S. state of Vermont and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician (21JAN1738 – 12FEB1789) [to an attending physician who attempted to comfort him by reportedly saying, "General, I fear the angels are waiting for you."]

    “This is it! I'm going. I'm going.”
    - Al Jolson AKA Asa Yoelson (1886-1950)

    “It is finished.” as quoted by John 19:30
    “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” as quoted by Mark 15:34-5 and Matthew 27:46
    “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” as quoted by Luke 23:46
    - Jesus of Nazareth (4 B.C.?-30 A.D.?)

    “Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames!”
    - Joan of Arc, Saint (1412-1431)

    “Turn me. I am roasted on one side.”
    - Lawrence, Saint (?-258)

    “Sweep me up.”
    - Sřren Aabye Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher who founded Existentialism (5MAY1813 – 11NOV1855)

    “A dying man can do nothing easy”
    - Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, polymath, author and publisher, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, diplomat and the only president that was never president. (17JAN1706 – 17APR1790)

    “My work is done, why wait?”
    - George Eastman, (1854-1932) photographer, inventor, philanthropist

    “Now I shall go to sleep. Good night.”
    - Lord Byron AKA Lord George Byron AKA George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron AKA George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, English "Romantic" poet (22JAN1788 – 19APR1824)

    “Why not?” “Why not?” “Why not?” “Why not?” “Yeah.”
    - Timothy Leary, (1920-1996)

    “Moose... Indian...”
    - Henry David Thoreau, born David Henry Thoreau, American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, transcendentalist. (12JUL1817 – May 6MAY1862)

    “Is it not meningitis?”
    - Louisa May Alcott, American novelist (November 29NOV1832 – 6MAR1888)

    “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
    - P.T. Barnum AKA Phineas Taylor Barnum, American showman, businessman, entertainer, author, publisher, philanthropist, politician (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891)

    “Turn up the lights, I don't want to go home in the dark.”
    - O. Henry AKA William Sydney Porter, American writer (11SEP1862 – 5JUN1910)

    “Get my swan costume ready.”
    - Anna Pavlovna (Matveďevna) Pavlova, Russian ballerina (12FEB1881 – 23JAN1931)

    “Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I'm happy.”
    - Ethel Barrymore AKA Ethel Mae Blythe, American actress (15AUG1879 – 18JUN1959)

    “I'm bored with it all.”
    - Winston Churchill AKA Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, British politician, statesman, orator, officer in the British Army, a historian, writer, artist, UK prime minister from (1940 - 1945) and (1951 - 1955). (30NOV1874 – 24JAN1965)

    “You be good. You'll be in tomorrow. I love you.”
    - Alex, highly intelligent African Grey parrot (1976 – 6SEP2K7)

    “Is it the Fourth?”
    - Thomas Jefferson, founding father and principal author of the Declaration of Independence of the United States was its third President (1801–1809). (13APR1743 – 4JUL1826)

    “Thomas Jefferson--still survives...”
    - John Adams, politician, political philosopher, founding father and first Vice President of the United States (1789–1797) for two terms and the second President of the United States (1797–1801). (30OCT1735 – JulyJUL1826) [actually Jefferson had died earlier that day]

    “Many an ancient lord's Last Words have been, "You can't kill me because I've got magic -- AAARGH."”
    - Terry Pratchett

    “Go on, get out! Last Words are for fools who haven't said enough!”
    - Karl Marx, German political philosopher (1818-1883) [reportedly to his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so that she might preserve them for posterity.]

    “Friends, applaud. The comedy is finished.”
    - Ludwig van Beetoven, German composer and pianist (17DEC1770 – 26MAR1827)



    Dear Deer

    With a large fruit orchard and twenty-five fertile acres at our disposal, the students, teachers, and myself enjoyed many happy hours of outdoor labor in these ideal surroundings. We had many pets, including a young deer who was fairly idolized by the children.
    I too loved the fawn so much that I allowed it to sleep in my room. At the light of dawn, the little creature would toddle over to my bed for a morning caress.

    One day I fed the pet earlier than usual, as I had to attend to some business in the town of Ranchi.
    Although I cautioned the boys not to feed the fawn until my return, one of them was disobedient, and gave the baby deer a large quantity of milk. When I came back in the evening, sad news greeted me: “The little fawn is nearly dead, through over feeding.”
    In tears, I placed the apparently lifeless pet on my lap. I prayed piteously to God to spare its life.
    Hours later, the small creature opened its eyes, stood up, and walked feebly. The whole school shouted for joy.

    But a deep lesson came to me that night, one I can never forget. I stayed up with the fawn until two o'clock, when I fell asleep. The deer appeared in a dream, and spoke to me:

    “You are holding me back. Please let me go; let me go!”

    “All right,” I answered in the dream.

    I awoke immediately, and cried out, “Boys, the deer is dying!” The children rushed to my side.

    I ran to the corner of the room where I had placed the pet. It made a last effort to rise, stumbled toward me, then dropped at my feet, dead.

    According to the mass karma which guides and regulates the destinies of animals, the deer's life was over, and it was ready to progress to a higher form. But by my deep attachment, which I later realized was selfish, and by my fervent prayers, I had been able to hold it in the limitations of the animal form from which the soul was struggling for release. The soul of the deer made its plea in a dream because, without my loving permission, it either would not or could not go. As soon as I agreed, it departed.

    All sorrow left me; I realized anew that God wants His children to love everything as a part of Him, and not to feel delusively that death ends all. The ignorant man sees only the unsurmountable wall of death, hiding, seemingly forever, his cherished friends. But the man of unattachment, he who loves others as expressions of the Lord, understands that at death the dear ones have only returned for a breathing-space of joy in Him.
    - Paramahansa Yogananda in "Autobiography of a Yogi"



    “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.”
    - Audre Lorde, "Truth or Dare" by Starhawk; p 20

    “Fosdick suggested that, if there's no eternal life and no way to improve the present life, then suicide is a necessity. But I think that the present life can be improved. It just doesn't always feel that way, because some angles are more frustrating, painful, and unfair than others. To get out of an old rut where there's no pathway for improvement, you symbolically commit suicide, and start off on a fresh path with real potential. When you die in this way -- in Jon Kabat-Zinn's words, "die on purpose" -- you release yourself from obligations.”



    If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck (written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

    I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

    I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

    I would have talked less and listened more.

    I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

    I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

    I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

    I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

    I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

    I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

    I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

    I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

    Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

    When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more "I love you's." More "I'm sorry's."

    But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it .. live it .and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff.

    Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what.

    Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

    Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with. And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally. I hope you all have a blessed day.



    Two Stories

    Story NUMBER ONE

    Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

    Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well Not only was the money big, but also Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

    Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name and a good example.

    One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

    Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay.

    Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion and a poem clipped from a magazine.

    The poem, inscribed on a clock in the Botanic Gardens in Durban, South Africa read:

    The clock of life is wound but once
    And no man has the power
    To tell just when the hands will stop
    At late or early hour.
    Now is the only time you own.
    Live, love, toil with a will.
    Place no faith in time.
    For the clock may soon be still.


    Story NUMBER TWO

    World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.

    One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.

    Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold, a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet.

    The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

    Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault.

    He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.

    Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft...

    This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

    So the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.

    So what do these two stories have to do with each other?

    Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.



    Four Wives

    Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the fourth wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

    He also loved the third wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

    He also loved his second wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem,he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

    The King's first wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

    One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone.”

    Thus, he asked the fourth wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!” replied the fourth wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

    The sad King then asked the third wife, “I have loved you all my life.Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!” replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I'm going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.

    He then asked the second wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!” replied the second wife. “At the very most, I can only walk with you to your grave.” Her answer struck him like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

    Then a voice called out: “I'll go with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go.”" The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was very skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”


    This story is an allegory so we all have analogs of the "four wives" in our lives:

    Our "fourth wife" is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

    Our "third wife" is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

    Our "second wife" is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

    And our "first wife" is our Soul. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go.

    The "first wife" needs to be cultivated, strengthened and cherished Now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of JAH (God) and continue with us throughout Eternity.



    Kingdom Come

    There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months live. So as she was getting her "things in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible.

    Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. “There's one more thing,” she said excitedly.

    “What's that?” came the pastor's reply.

    “This is very important,” the woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.

    “That surprises you, doesn't it?” the woman asked.

    “Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,” said the pastor.

    The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, "Keep your fork." It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming ...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, "What's with the fork?." Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork....the best is yet to come." ”

    The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of Heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.

    At the funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question “What's with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.

    During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

    So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come.

    (“Use the Fork Luke... it's right beside your plate.” – I. B. OneCanUB?)


    Friends are a many faceted splendid jewel of a treasure, indeed.
    A friend is someone who thinks we're a good egg
    even though we may be slightly cracked
    Because they Love us warts and ALL
    They make us smile and encourage to succeed
    lending an ear, sharing words of praise,
    and most important want to open their hearts to us
    and teach us how to care.

    “Do not keep the alabaster box of your love and friendship sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier. The kind things you mean to say when they are gone, say before they go.”
    - George William Childs

    “Be who you are and say what you feel,
    because those who mind don't matter
    and those who matter don't mind.”
    - Dr. Seuss, humorist, illustrator, and author (1904-1991)




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    Copyright (c) 1998-2011  R. Clark - clark@acceleration.net .
    Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this publication (www.acceleration.net/clark and all children) provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

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