We discovered these little gems in a book entitled "The Five Stages of the Soul" by Harry R Moody and David Carroll. They are called 'Wisdom Stories' which were quoted by the authors to make a point, and we were quite taken by them, and felt we would like to share them with you.




REACHING THE OTHER SIDE



Once very long ago, the story goes, a hermit had a vision in his desert monastery.
He saw a vast ocean. On one of its shores a monk was standing.
The monk leapt high into the air, and with bright wings soared effortlessly
across the great body of water to a heavenly land on the other side.


As the hermit wondered over this strange revelation, he saw a second monk approach the shore.
This monk also spread his wings. But his flight did not go so smoothly.
Though the monk finally arrived on the other shore, it was all he could do to keep from falling into the lashing waves.


Finally, a third monk appeared.
This smallest and frailest of the three monks soared into the air like the others,
but his wings were weak, and he fell into the roaring waters over and over, practically drowning each time.
Only after the most heroic efforts and titanic struggles did he eventually arrive,
half dead and thoroughly drenched, on the other side.


After much pondering the hermit went to his spiritual guide and asked the meaning of this vision.
His guide interpreted it in this way:


"The first monk you saw was the believer who aspires to fly to heaven in our own time - now,
when all that is good is to be found everywhere, and when reaching heaven is a simple matter.


"The next monk stands for those who wish to reach heaven in the years to come.
Their journey will be more difficult.


"Finally, the third monk is the believer who makes spiritual efforts in the very distant future,
when all that is good has almost vanished from the earth.
During this dark time it will be difficult beyond imagining to find one's way to the other shore.


"So rejoice that you live in our blessed time," the spiritual director concluded.


"But remember this - remember this above all:
The third monk's efforts are worth far, far more than those of all the rest."





LETTING GO


A story is told of two Zen monks on a pilgrimage to a distant monastery.
Walking through the wilderness for many days, the monks arrive at a river.

Here they see a beautiful young maiden standing by the water's edge.
"Excuse me," the woman says to the monks.
"I don't know how to swim. Would one of your be kind enough to help me across?"

"Of course I will," says the first monk,
and without hesitation picks the maiden up, carries her to the other side, and puts her down.

The two monks walk the rest of the day in silence, finally reaching a way stop at sunset.
Here over their evening meal the second monk says to the first.

"You know, the rules of our order forbid us to have any contact with women.
It was wrong of you to talk to that young girl, let alone to pick her up, and carry her."

"Oh, her," says the first monk. " I put her down back by the river.
And you've been carrying her all day long."





MAKING THE GREAT RETURN


One day, a story from an ancient Hindu scripture tells,
God and a sage named Narada are walking across a vast desert.

Narada turns to God and asks,

"O Greatest Lord, what is the secret of this life and the appearances of this world?"

God smiles and makes no reply.
They continue on.

"Child," God finally says. "The sun is hot today, and I am thirsty.
Ahead you will find a village.
Go there and fetch me a cup of water."


Narada sets off.

Arriving at the village, he approaches the first house he sees and knocks at the door.
A beautiful young woman answers.
The moment Narada looks into her eyes he forgets God's command,
and the reason for his mission.

The woman ushers Narada into the house,
where he is warmly welcomed by her family.

It is as if everyone in this gentle household has been expecting him.
Narada is asked to eat with the family, and then to stay the night.
He gladly accepts, enjoying the family's warm hospitality,
and secretly marveling at the young woman's loveliness.

A week goes by, then two.
Narada decides to stay on, and he soon begins to share in the household chores.

After the appropriate amount of time passes he asks for the woman's hand in marriage.
The family has been expecting nothing less, it turns out.
Everyone is overjoyed.

Narada and his young wife settle down in her family's house,
where she soon bears him three children, two sons and a daughter.

Years pass.

When his wife's mother and father pass away, Narada takes over as head of the household.
He opens a small shop in the village and it prospers.

Before long he is an honoured citizen of the community
and a prominent member of the town council.

Giving himself up to the age-old joys and sorrows of village life,
Narada lives contentedly for many years.

Then one evening during the monsoon season
a violent storm breaks over head,
and the river rises so high from the sudden rains that the village begins to flood.

Narada gathers his family and leads them through the dark night toward higher ground.
But the winds blow so violently
and the rain pelts down with such force that one of Narada's sons is washed away.

Narada reaches for the boy, and in so doing lets go of his second son.
A moment later a gales wind tears his daughter from his arms.
Then his beloved wife is washed away into the roaring darkness.

Narada wails helplessly and claws at the sky.
But his cries are drowned by a towering wave
that rises from the depths of the terrible night
and washes him headlong into the river.

All goes black.

Many hours pass; perhaps days.
Slowly, painfully, Narada comes to his senses,
only to discover that he has been washed onto a sandbank far down the river.
It is daytime now, and the storm has passed.
But there is no sign of his family anywhere, nor, for that matter, of any living creature.

For a long time Narada remains lying on the sand
Almost mad with sorrow and abandonment.
Bits of wreckage float past him in the river.
The smell of death is on the wind.

Everything has been taken from him now;
All things life-giving and precious have disappeared into the swirling waters.
There is little to do, it seems, but weep.

Then, suddenly,
Narada hears a voice behind him that makes the blood stop in his veins.

"Child," the voice asks, "where is my cup of water?"

Narada turns and sees God standing at his side.
The river vanishes, and once again he and God are alone in the empty desert.

"Where is my water?" God asks again.
"I have been waiting for you to bring it now for several minutes."

Narada throws himself at his Lord's feet and begs for forgiveness.

"I forgot!" Narada cries again and again.
"I forgot what you asked of me, Great Lord! Forgive me!"

God smiles and says,

"Now do you understand the secret behind your life, and the appearances of this world?"





THE BUTTERFLY


There was a man who came upon a butterfly
emerging from its crysalis through a very small hole.
The little insect was struggling to emerge,
but the hole it had created was too small for it to simply slide out.
It had to really stuggle to release itself.

The man thought that he would help the butterfly,
by making the hole bigger
so that the butterfly could emerge without the struggle.
This he did, and the butterfly soon was able to emerge.
But, alas it just lay there beside the crysalis unable to move.

What the man did not realise
was that this struggle was important to the butterfly
because in the struggle it drew oxygen into itself,
and upon emerging from the crysalis
was then able to use this oxygen
to inflate its wings and tiny body.





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