Five minute too Wisdom II
Tantalus was the son of Zeus. He invited the gods to a banquet and served them the dismembered body of his own son, Pelops; when the gods discovered the trick, they punished Tantalus and restored Pelops to life.
He was punished by being “tantalised” with hunger and thirst in Tartarus: he was immersed up to his neck in water, but when he bent to drink it all drained away; luscious fruit hung on trees above him, but when he reached for it the winds blew the branches beyond his reach.
Our sojourn in the material realm echoes the plight of Tantalus. Happiness in the earthly realm is simple that space between two pains. In truth we enjoy mostly in our mind. Enjoyment is just a though. The reality is that we experience fleeting shadow happiness. Its temporal, a propaganda of hope spun by media hype and a culture tranquillised by materialism — spurned on by a capitalist crazy. But the material energy via media, consumer culture, etc tantalise us into thinking if we have this product or that holiday then we will be happy. True elation exists in communion with the Devine. Allow your self to look into yourself, your inner being, who you truly are, then the material hankering and hoarding won’t matter anymore. Real wealth are those things in your life that money can’t buy. So from Tantalus we learn that in the material realm all that glitters is not gold. Its camouflage is painted on expertly but as we grope for pleasure in a world of pain only suffering ensues. Always tantalisingly out of reach.
2. The scorpion & the sage
There was once a sage meditating in the foothills of the Himalayas along side a gentle stream. He noticed a scorpion approaching. The creature fell into a small pool of water. Immediately the sage went to rescue the drowning scorpion. He pick it up ever so gently and as he was about to place it on terra firma, it stung his hand. He painfully was forced to let it go and it fell once more into the pool of water. Oblivious to his suffering he once more attempted to rescue the creature, again the scorpion stung his hand. A passer by noticed the ordeal and inquired from the sage, “ Why do you keep attempting to save this vile creatures life, upon every attempt it strikes the hand of compassion?” The sage replied, “ This is the conditioned nature of this creature, it cannot help it self.”
We become conditioned by our conditionings. As a result this creature helplessly acts in such a manner. Because the scorpion is antagonistic and aggressive to me does not mean i should act in a similar way to it. In this life we always have choice. Do we choose to behave like an envious scorpion or a saintly sage? This will be determined by the life we lead, thoughts we harbour, foods we eat, movies we watch, music we listen to, guidance we receive and friends we keep.
3. Saladin at Jerusalem’s gates
In June of 1099 Jerusalem was under siege by Crusaders from the West. After forty days they breached the citadel’s defences and slaughtered most of Her Muslim citizens. The survivors where forced to carry the dead to unmarked graves and set the corpses ablaze. Thus began two centuries of conflict between the West and the Middle East. 1187 saw the unification of Muslim forces by the rise to power of Turkish Sultan Nur-al-Din, Saladin as he is know in the West. Saladin’s actions upon recapturing Jerusalem are intriguing. He issued stern orders to his soldiers not to harm unarmed Christians, women and children. He reinforced guards at Christian places of worship and proclaimed that the defeated people would be welcome to Jerusalem on pilgrimage whenever they liked.
Saladin was a remarkably fierce adversary yet what sets him apart from the men of his era is an extra something he possessed in his character. Saladin’s secret to success as a soldier and a saint is simplicity and stability of heart. He gazed through eyes of compassion upon friends and foes alike, stemming from the fact that he was a deeply spiritual man. Nelson Mandela said, “ Mans goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” In the light of non-material knowledge the spirit of humanity shines forth and we see one another for who we are in truth, children of God. When we live with empty and compassion my neighbour becomes my brother, my family is the world. This is real love. A vision void of man made barriers constructed in books and our mind.
4. Three warriors and a bird
Three warriors — who were also brothers — attended military training together. Their teacher in the art of war was teaching them archery. The teacher placed a wooden bird on an apple tree as their target. The first warrior with bow and arrow in hand took aim. Just before he could let his arrow take flight the teacher asked, “ What do you see?”. “I see the bird”,the archer replied. When asked if he saw anything else the warrior told the teacher that he also saw the branches and leaves. “Go sit down! ” the teacher retorted. Next up was the turn of the middle brother. The teacher asked the same question and the young warrior replied that he saw the bird, the branch, the sky, the apple and after seeing the apple he feels a tad hungry. “Go sit down!” the teacher yelled. Finally it was the turn of the youngest of the brothers. He took aim of the wooden bird and just before he could fire the teacher once again asked what do you see. “I see the bird.”, he said. “What else do you see.” Master all I see is the bird. The teacher was pleased and instructed him to shoot. The arrow found its make with surgical accuracy.
In life to be successful we need to develop tunnel vision. Too not be phased by the untold distractions on our path. Like the young warrior, with firm determination, pursue your goal(s) being obvious to the distractions, obstacles and pullings of the mind and others. Without focused determination dreams remain visible only in ones imagination.
5. Yogi and chocolate
A family of four went on holiday to a resort high in the foothills of the Himalayas. They took a walk through the scenic detrain one morning and stumbled upon a yogi in meditation. The mother, who could not stop her teenage children from devouring chocolate daily humbly approached the yogi for his blessings that her children would be able to conquer their addition. The yogi smiled and politely asked her to please come back too him in a weeks time. After a week the woman return and without hesitation the yogi offered his blessings and prayers that her children may be liberated from their addition. The mother was ever so grateful whilst simultaneously fascinated as to the seven day delay before he would give his blessing. The yogi explained that he himself was a fan of chocolate. As such it would have been hypocritical of himself to offer a benediction to another for something he was not adhering to.
Its quite easy for us to instruct others, but are we ourselves taking the advice that we bestow onto others. Be the changes that you wish to see in others, by your actions others will naturally be inspired to emulate your footsteps. Well done is better than well said, as such let our actions speak louder than our words. Be bold, walk your talk.
6. Two monks and a girl
Once their were two monks traveling from village to village. They came across a river crossing. At said crossing the bridge had been washed away due to a storm. The river being not to deep nor the current too strong they decided to walk across. At that time a young lady approached them and enquired if she could be assisted across the river as she had a phobia for water. One of the monks readily offered to carry her across the river. After she was safely across the travelling monks resumed their journey. After a few hours the monk who was witness to his associate help the girl across loudly shout, “ I CAN’T CONCEAL THIS ANY LONGER !”. How could you carry the young woman across the river? His brother responded, my dear brother, out of duty and kindness I escorted her on the other side of the river. Hours ago I left her behind yet you still hold on to her in your mind.
Before we judge others we should look deep down into our hearts and see with whom do we have issues with, with the behaviours of another or ourselves. Sometimes our own actions are so unpalatable to bear that we project our insecurities on to others. Thus the behaviours of others serve as a scapegoats for our own insecurities and frailties. This is due to our own weakness of heart. That which we attack and judge in others is really what we condemn in ourselves. It may feel like others are doing something to us to make us angry, but the feelings begin with us, not with them. Own your feelings. Once you do you, you are ready to take responsibility for how you feel rather than blame another for making you angry.
7. The daily activity of God
A king enquired from his minister as to the daily activity of God. The minister unsettled by the enquiry requested three days so as to research throughly. The minister, consumed by anxiety was not able to find a response to the kings question. A boy of eight saw the minister’s with his bags packed hastily retreating from the city. The boy asked where he was going. The ministered explained the situation and that the king would punish him severely for his ignorance. The little boy told him but that so easy, I know the daily activity of God but I will reveal it only to the king personally. So the minister thinking he had nothing to loose took the child to the palace. When he met the king he explained that the answer to his question was so simple that even this little boy knows it. Very well said the king to the little boy, lets have. The boy said before I tell you I first want to sit on your throne. The king had an elevated jewel encrusted seat. He was shocked by the request but reluctantly, due to his curiosity, relinquished his seat. Angrily the king told the boy now that you are on my throne don’t keep us waiting, whats the daily activity of God. Thats easy the boy replied. This is the daily activity of God. He lifts up the meek and humble and pulls down the proud and arrogant.
It is said that in spiritual life the way up is down, only with genuine humility can we advance. Real humility is to be free from the expectation of honour and prestige. When we have no expectation for self aggrandisement and eager to glorify others then the doors to the spiritual realm swing wide open.
8. Pavlov’s dogs
Pavlov ( a behavioural psychologist ) conducted an experiment on a group of dogs. First he would feed them dog food. After a week, before feeding them their chow he would loudly ring a bell. He noticed that after a few weeks, whenever he rang the bell the dogs would salivate. Then he rand the bell and would not introduce the food to the dogs, yet still their mouth salivated. The dogs associated the sound of the bell with food.
This experiments illustrates two important features.
8.1. The relationship between the senses, mind and sense object. The senses and the sense objects ( in this case food) fit perfectly. Thus we become bewildered and slaves to unbridled senses due to this perfect perverted fit. Its perverted in the sense that its not eternal happiness, it has a beginning and an end an in this regard its an illusion. Thinking that i will enjoy with the senses is limited and temporal. Through internalisation of the sense objects within the mind, we enjoy subtly even when the sense objects are not present — as we have see with the ringing of the bell and the salvation. The dogs have already begun enjoying in their mind. When we link the mind and senses to a spiritual source via the medium of a spiritual practice then the senses become purified, so too does the mind. This essentially is the yoga process. Yoga means to yoke, link or connect to a Supreme Source. That which previous shackled us to suffering is the means of our liberation. The mind, senses and sense of object are all instrumental instruments in the process of communion with the Supreme.
8.2. The aforementioned experiment also typifies conditioning. That which we do repeatedly we become. Repetitive actions create a neural pathway within the cytoplasm of the brain. If one is addicted to an unsavoury behaviour replace it with an uplifting activity. Go for a jog or yoga classes instead of drowning your sorrows, looking for happiness at the bottom a wine bottle. In this way our low natures give way to a higher taste. We are that which we associate with and that which we repeatedly do we become.
Humanity should be like salt. The quantity of salt in a dish needs to be just right, too little or to much results in culinary disaster. Like salt in a preparation one should be balanced. We should have a balanced approach to work, spiritual practice and recreation. Crucially, balance is required when dealing with challenges. When one is equipoised he is neither disturbed by elation or distress. This state of mind allows for decision grounded to a foundation of stability.
Another attribute of salt is that it remains hidden in a dish even thou it adds flavour. We should see ourselves as the servitors of others and like salt serve without the need for recognition or praise. Have you ever heard anyone say, “ The salt in this entree is scrumptious.” Yet so often we admire other spices and or vegetables.
If you have ever seen a chicken looking for food you will notice that it selects only the nourishing seeds from an amalgamation of wholesome eatables and worthless items such as stones and sand. We should try to see only the good in others and not focus on their faults. Remember people in glasses houses shouldn’t throw stones. Once there was a colander walking down the road and he saw his friend a needle on the other side. He shouted at the needle saying that he had a hole in his back, forgetting that he was covered with holes himself. If for some reasons it’s our duty to reveal the faults of others we should do it in a mood of love, wishing not to embarrass that person but to help. I’m pointing these defects out to you not to show my exalted position, rather i wish for you to grow as a person and it seems these personality frailties are inhibiting your growth. In the bible it is said before pointing out the spec of sand in another’s eye remove the boulder clouding your vision.
A crane stands on one leg and allows for small fish to pass it. When larger fish approach it strikes. Rome was not build in a day, from the crane we learn patience and perseveration. That worth while generally doesn’t happen over night. Also, don’t be phased by the small minded nature of contemporary society, a world gone mad on gossip and pettiness. For what does a lion care for the opinions of sheep. When you focus on the bigger picture, the tiny daily trifles and the small minded distractions are disregarded. When you live for yourself it’s a life in vain, live for a higher purpose then dear friend we live again.