Life’s Little Lessons…

I have realized that most of us like listening to stories and of course we love telling stories too…:).

We hear stories and we hear stories.  I always wondered whether I would be able to narrate as well as my Mother & Grandmother did. Then to my surprise I realized that my daughters inspired me to act out stories. So we would trade stories every night before going to bed :).  It automatically led me to look for more & more stories. The messaging was loud and clear when we traded stories…a tradition that continues even today as a family!

I am sharing some of the stories that have had a profound impact on my thinking over a period of time.

Empty Your Cup

A seeker of truth goes to a Zen Master. The seeker’s head was full with ideas about the truth, life, spirituality. It was read by the The Zen Master’s eyes.

The Zen master started pouring the tea in the cup, he continued to pour the tea even after the cup was full and the tea began to spill over from the cup. The seeker on seeing this pointed out to the Zen Master that cup was full and the pouring more tea was pointless.

To this the Master replied, “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

The Burden

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?”

The elder monk answered “yes, brother”.

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

The Other Side

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

The Lost Key

One day, people saw Mulla Nasruddin out in the street searching frantically for something. The inquisitive nature of man was at work. “What are you searching for, Mulla?”
“I’ve lost my key” replied Mulla.
The helping nature of mankind was at work.So everyone joined him, trying to help him
After some search someone had the urge to ask the place where exactly, the key was lost. So that more condensed search could be made. So, the enquiry was made to Nasruddin.
“I lost the key in the house,” replied Mulla matter-of-factly.
“Then why are you searching for it in the street?” was the obvious question asked to him.
“Because there is more light here.” replied the Mulla!
It is for us to draw the lessons from these little stories…and of course pass it on to the others…for man is a born story teller!
Here’s wishing you an eventful day…so you have your own story to tell! Do share your stories 🙂 🙂 🙂


My Favorites – Stories From My Grandmother :)

I was travelling by an overnight bus and had difficulty falling asleep…for the obvious reasons. So, out came the headphones and the music followed. It also led me down memory lane. In the good old days, when sleep eluded me as a child, the solace was my grandmother’s stories. Every story eneded with a teaching or moral which she insisted that we express in our own words. The lessons have stuck on for a lifetime.

Different from fables and parables, teaching stories have meaning at many levels, and have been used as a tool for spiritual instruction in many wisdom traditions. Now they are also finding use in psychotherapy and education. I am sharing a few of them here…

Story One

A prince goes to a Zen master and tells him that he wants to be enlightened—and now! Instead of sending him away, the master says it could be arranged. After finding out from the prince that he plays chess very well, the master sets up a game between the visitor and one of his monks who has just a passing knowledge of chess. The condition is: whoever loses will be beheaded. Predictably, the prince starts dominating the game. Soon, however, his conscience starts to prick: “I had come to this monastery for a selfish purpose, but now I may become the cause of this poor monk’s death.” So, feeling compassionate, he deliberately starts playing badly. But playing well was second nature to him, playing badly needs his entire attention. Neither does he want to play too bad a game to make his real move obvious. His nerves stretched, soon he starts sweating profusely. After some time, the master stops the game. “The first lesson is over,” he tells the prince. “You learnt two things today: compassion and concentration. Now go and hug your chess opponent who made it possible.”

Story Two

Two travelling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up on to his shoulders and carried her across the water to the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out: “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!” “Brother,” the second monk replied. “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.

Story Three

Once, during the course of his travels, Guru Nanak arrived at a village where the people were a quarrelsome lot. He blessed them and asked them to prosper and live in that village forever. In the next village, where the people were peace-loving, Guru Nanak blessed them too but asked them to abandon the village and disperse. Mardana, his close disciple, puzzled by the guru’s strange blessings, asked him why he blessed the first village with prosperity though its people were unworthy |of it and asked the good people of the second village to disperse. Guru Nanak smiled and answered: “The quarrelsome will only spread unrest and friction wherever they go. So I asked them to remain where they were. But it is better for the peace-loving to disperse and take their good qualities with them so that all those who know them can learn the art of peaceful coexistence.”

Story Four

An Indian Brahmin was interested in gaining supernatural powers. Learning that a monk in Tibet could grant him his wishes, he undertook an arduous journey through the Himalayas to meet him. The monk told the Brahmin: ‘‘The mantra to gain supernatural powers is simple. Just say Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami three times, but don’t think of monkeys.’’ Content, the Brahmin thought: ‘‘I am such a learned man. Why should I think of monkeys when I chant the mantra?’’ But when he sat down to chant the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was that of monkeys. Later, all he could think of was monkeys. The monkeys roamed all over his consciousness until he lost his peace of mind. Seeing his condition, the monk smiled: ‘‘If you force your mind to travel in a certain direction, it will go the other way.’’

Story Five

As the old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a youth ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the young boy, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and there are thousands of starfish,” countered the old man. “How can your effort make any difference.” The young boy looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to the safety of the waves. “It makes a difference to this one,” he said.

I hope the stories above find some place and meaning in your day today…here’s wishing you a fruitful day 🙂 🙂 🙂