Saturday, August 31, 2013

Love & Time

There was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all constructed boats and left. Except for Love.

Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment.

When the island had almost sunk, Love decided to ask for help.

Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said,
"Richness, can you take me with you?"
Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place here for you."

Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!"
"I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by so Love asked, "Sadness, let me go with you."
"Oh . . . Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"

Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her.

Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you." It was an elder. So blessed and overjoyed, Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Realizing how much was owed the elder,

Love asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who Helped me?"
"It was Time," Knowledge answered.
"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?"
Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is."

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk

A Mouse who lived on the land, by an unlucky chance, formed an intimate acquaintance with a Frog, who lived, for the most part, in the water. One day, the Frog was intent on mischief. He tied the foot of the Mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together, the Frog led his friend the Mouse to the meadow where they usually searched for food.

 After this, he gradually led him towards the pond in which he lived, until reaching the banks of the water, he suddenly jumped in, dragging the Mouse with him. The Frog enjoyed the water amazingly, and swam croaking about, as if he had done a good deed.

 The unhappy Mouse was soon sputtered and drowned in the water, and his poor dead body floating about on the surface. A Hawk observed the foating Mouse from the sky, and dove down and grabbed it with his talons, carrying it back to his nest.

 The Frog, being still fastened to the leg of the Mouse, was also carried off a prisoner, and was eaten by the Hawk.

Moral: "Choose your allies carefully"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Touchstone

When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.

 The book wasn't very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the "Touchstone"!

 The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

 So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles. He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold - throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

 The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about mid afternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

 So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it's easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it's just as easy to throw it away.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Potter at Work

A potter was at making pots, he stepped on his pedal rhythmically, turning his "table" slowly. He took a lump of clay and in minutes, the lump of "clay" began to change form. His seasoned fingers shaped the clay into a "beautiful" vase (minus the colours )

On both sides of the potter were two shelves of "Finished" vases, some were long and slender, while some were short and stout, with most of them somewhere in between.

A young kid stepped out, and reached for one of the vases on left shelf. "Don't touch" shouted the potter, send the kid rearing backwards to the comforting arms of his mother.

"You can touch those on that shelf, as long you don't break it", as he pointed to the right shelf of vases.

At this point most of the "spectators" were getting their brains "fried", thinking what's the difference between the vases on the left and right shelf.

"Those have not gone through the "fire" yet" as he pointed to the vases on his left shelf. The potter explained to his audience the art of pottery. "There is more to making vases than "shaping" clay into beautiful shapes"

"If I don't use my fingers to "force" the lump of clay to "shape-up" and continued to "stretch" it and "pull" it up, this lump of "mud' will never see the daylight as a beautiful vase. "If they don't go through the "fire", they will be unable to "last".
"Those on the right shelf can be handled, because they had been "baked" in my oven at high temperatures." "The fire adds the final touch to their lasting beauty" concluded the potter.

Our life can be liken to a lump of "clay", just as it is, a lump. But no matter what, Life will definitely put her "skillful" "fingers" into work on this lump of "clay". The "Shape-up", "Stretching" and "Pull" process are kind of painful, but it is something you must go through in order to grow.

In life, I believe that we will have to go through the "Fire" (rejection, failure ). Yes, it is not going to be comfortable, it is not going to be easy, and sometimes how we wish that we could get out of that "oven" to avoid the "heat", but if we could just hold on to the view of the "Finished Vase", we will arrive there.

When Life is "Stretching", "Pulling", & "Burning" you, just bare in mind that it is transforming you, from a lump of "clay" to a beautiful "vase".

Monday, August 26, 2013

Heaven and Hell

One day while walking down the street a highly successful Human Resources Person was tragically hit by a bus and she died. Her soul arrived up in heaven where she was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter himself.

 "Welcome to Heaven," said St. Peter. "Before you get settled in though, it seems we have a problem. You see, strangely enough, we've never once had a Human Resources Person make it this far and we're not really sure what to do with you."

 "No problem, just let me in," said the woman.

 "Well, I'd like to, but I have higher orders. What we're going to do is let you have a day in Hell and a day in Heaven and then you can choose whichever one you want to spend an eternity in."

 "Actually, I think I've made up my mind, I prefer to stay in Heaven", said the woman

 "Sorry, we have rules..."

 And with that St. Peter put the executive in an elevator and it went down down down to hell.

 The doors opened and she found herself stepping out onto the putting green of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club and standing in front of her were all her friends - fellow

 Executives that she had worked with and they were well dressed in evening gowns and cheering for her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times. They played an excellent round of golf and at night went to the country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and lobster dinner.

 She met the Devil who was actually a really nice guy (kind of cute) and she had a great time telling jokes and dancing. She was having such a good time that before she knew it, it was time to leave.

 Everybody shook her hand and waved goodbye as she got on the elevator.

 The elevator went up-up-up and opened back up at the Pearly Gates and found St. Peter waiting for her.

 "Now it's time to spend a day in heaven," he said. So she spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing. She had great time and before she knew it her 24 hours were up and St. Peter came and got her.

 "So, you've spent a day in hell and you've spent a day in heaven. Now you must choose your eternity,"

The woman paused for a second and then replied, "Well, I never thought I'd say this, I mean, Heaven has been really great and all, but I think I had a better time in Hell."

 So St. Peter escorted her to the elevator and again she went down-down-down back to Hell.

 When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends were dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage and putting it in sacks.

 The Devil came up to her and put his arm around her.

 "I don't understand," stammered the woman, "yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and we danced and had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable."

 The Devil looked at her smiled and told...

*"Yesterday we were recruiting you, Today you are an employee.*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Character Is Not A Richman's Property

Sometimes, a series of occurrences brings out a fact or a hidden lesson. Strangely, some days are such.

 One day, a lady heard a fruit seller calling from the road “Golden Mangoes, fresh and ripe.” She went outside, leaving her house work, to see an old man pushing a cart laden with mangoes of an excellent variety. In India, the mango is considered to be the king of fruits and in the beginning of the season it is quite expensive too. She asked him, “What rate, would you charge?” He said, “Rs.40/- per kg”, She asked him to give her 10 kg.

 He took out a small rusted weighing scale and put a 1 kg measuring stone on one side, “She said, don’t you have a 5 kg stone? It will take so long, to weigh 10 kg with this!” He said, “No ma’am, but I’ll do it quickly.” She said, “I have an electronic weighing machine inside, why don’t you give me 10 kg approximately and I’ll weigh them inside.” He put the mangoes into two polythene bags and handed them over to her. She turned to go in and said, “Won’t you come in and see the weight for yourself, lest I cheat you!”

 He said, “What if you do, I would be poorer by a couple of Rupees, but you would become a cheat! You go ahead, I’ll wait here.”

 When the lady narrated the incident to her husband he remarked, “Usually, this clan of road side vendors are cheats! They charge you for 10 kg and give you nine and a half or even less. But surely this man had character.”

 That afternoon, the woman took her daughter to the stationer, to buy her a pencil box. The shopkeeper showed her an array of pencil boxes, simple ones and magnetic ones, cloth pouches and magic boxes! They selected a simple box, because mother explained to her daughter that the fancy ones would get spoilt sooner or later. As she was about to make the payment, she noticed a small bulge in the pocket of her daughter’s skirt. She asked her, “What’s there in your pocket, Nandini?” “Oh! Nothing Mom, just some candies,” The look on the child’s face told her mother something else. She put her hand into her daughter’s pocket and drew out a fancy-looking pencil sharpener. She went red with embarrassment. She noticed that the side shelf over the counter was full of fancy erasers and sharpeners. She asked, “Why did you, steal, Nandini?” “Because, you never buy me fancy stuff!” sobbed the little girl. The mother put the sharpener back on the shelf and said, “I’m sorry, for my daughter’s conduct, I’m glad I noticed it before I left the shop”. The shopkeeper said, “Its okay lady, I noticed what your daughter did, but I chose to keep quiet. You look like a respectable lady and I thought that I should not put you to embarrassment.” That hit her even harder. By now the little girl was a wreck. The kind shopkeeper handed out a candy to her and said, “Don’t cry child, here take this. Next time you want something, you must tell Mama.”

 The lady put the candy pack on the counter and said softly, “Please do not give this to her. Let not my child feel, that there can be a reward for stealing. I’m really very sorry about this.” They drove home in silence. The mother was very upset.

 After dinner, they decided to go out for ice cream. Father stopped the car near a road side vendor. All of them took ice-creams of their choice. The bill was Rs.115/-. Father handed over his wallet to his wife and she drew a Rs.500/- note to hand over to the young ice-cream seller. He said, “Madam, I do not have change, please give me the right amount.” She rummaged through the wallet and was able to find only Rs.55/-. What should be done? Finally she said, “Our home is in next lane, we’ll just go home and get you the money. How long are you here?” The man said, “Madam I am here till midnight. You can come before that.” “By the way what’s your name?” “My name is Hrudaya!” replied the ice-cream seller. So they sped off towards home to get the money. In a couple of minutes they were back. Mother handed over the balance amount of Rs.60/- to him. He said, “Madam you paid me Rs.50/- earlier, you owe me Rs.65/-” She said, “No, I paid you Rs.55/- earlier.” He kept quiet. She was very sure that she had paid him right, but she did not want that there should be any doubt in the young man’s mind.

 She gave him another fiver, “Here,” she said, “take this, may be I was wrong.”

 He hesitated and said, “Suppose you have already given it to me. I don’t want to take any extra payment. I just want what is due to me.” She pressed the money into his hand and said, “Its okay brother, don’t think about it.”

 They moved away from the spot. But she knew that “Hrudaya” had a heart of gold and so did the man who sold the golden mangoes.

 Character comes not by being born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Character is attained by self control, honesty and most of all by loving God and living in the constant awareness of Him.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

God doesn't exist.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed.

As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation.

They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists."

" Why do you say that?"asked the customer.

"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. 

Tell me, if God exists,would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine loving a God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument.

The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and un-kept.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

" How can you say that?"asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber.And I just worked on you!"

"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside."

"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me."

"Exactly !"- affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stone Soup

Many years ago three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meager harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat.

The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. "Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have: the secret of how to make soup from stones."

Naturally the villagers were intrigued and soon a fire was put to the town's greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. "Now this will be a fine soup", said the second soldier; "but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!" Up jumped a villager, crying "What luck! I've just remembered where some's been left!" And off she ran, returning with an apron full of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved: soon barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast.

They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their new-found friends. In the morning the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village's best breads and cheese. "You have given us the greatest of gifts: the secret of how to make soup from stones", said an elder, "and we shall never forget." The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said: "There is no secret, but this is certain: it is only by sharing that we may make a feast". And off the soldiers wandered, down the road.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Best Time of My Life...

It was June 15, and in two days I would be turning thirty. I was insecure about entering a new decade of my life and feared that my best years were now behind me.

My daily routine included going to the gym for a workout before going to work. Every morning I would see my friend Nicholas at the gym. He was seventy-nine years old and in terrific shape. As I greeted Nicholas on this particular day, he noticed I wasn't full of my usual vitality and asked if there was anything wrong. I told him I was feeling anxious about turning thirty. I wondered how I would look back on my life once I reached Nicholas's age, so I asked him, "What was the best time of your life?"

Without hesitation, Nicholas replied, "Well, Joe, this is my philosophical answer to your philosophical question:

"When I was a child in Austria and everything was taken care of for me and I was nurtured by my parents, that was the best time of my life.

"When I was going to school and learning the things I know today, that was the best time of my life.

"When I got my first job and had responsibilities and got paid for my efforts, that was the best time of my life.

"When I met my wife and fell in love, that was the best time of my life.

"The Second World War came, and my wife and I had to flee Austria to save our lives. When we were together and safe on a ship bound for North America, that was the best time of my life.

"When we came to Canada and started a family, that was the best time of my life.

"When I was a young father, watching my children grow up, that was the best time of my life.

"And now, Joe, I am seventy-nine years old. I have my health, I feel good and I am in love with my wife just as I was when we first met. This is the best time of my life."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Impossible is nothing

There is always an idiom befitting the shades of life- 'Where there is a will, there is a way,' and this finds its personification in Malini Chib. Her boundaries of self extend beyond the fact that she has Cerebral Palsy, and  lie in the attributes that she is a survivor who fought her way through 41 years of arduous struggle of building a successful life; successful by the 'mainstream' standards.

Growing up in Mumbai came with its share of difficulties and it compounded with college life. "I'd my schooling done in a special school so it took a long while for me to adjust to college. People had difficulty interacting with me and the tribulation was mutual." Chib adds, "I went to Oxford, England for further studies and felt an instant sense of inclusion in the society. They are more sensitive toward disability as compared to us and more receptive than discriminatory."

Malini's actual tryst with life began after she stepped out of the comfortable confines of academic life and took to the mandatory job hunt rigour that every youngster has to succumb to. "It was a rude shock to realise that people failed to see beyond my disability and declined me jobs, or offered me backend chores, but without a salary," she recalls. This rejection motivated her to fight stronger and make her way through the rigid society. "There were times when I grew tired of the struggle. Since I lacked both speed and speech, which are essential for a job, my chances at employment only got bleak, while I persisted relentlessly," she expresses.

Malini's personality goes beyond endurance with all its nuances; there is less seen-spoken side to it, she is a peoples' person and as ironic as it may sound, though people aren't forthcoming, she has no reservations against them. Ask Malini what's her favourite sport and she will blurt a prompt reply- 'Talking endlessly about life.' A flash of excitement crosses her face when she is asked to make candid confessions about men and love. Mischievously she answers, "I frighten men off. It's not unusual for people with disability to have sexual desires and think of a stable life with a man. But, a man leading a 'normal' life finds this idea rather unusual and hence unacceptable. Nonetheless I've had my share of crushes."

She chuckles that she has a taste for finer things in life like a round of red wine with family and friends. Being an eternal romantic that she is, she enjoys listening to old love songs, operas, watching theatre plays and movies - 'Ammu' and 'The beautiful mind' are her favourite flicks. Another thing she loves to do is shop at Colaba causeway and Westside.

While the cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai appeals to her, London is where her heart is, as its gives her the sense of freedom. She points out, "I can move around without anyone's help, the infrastructure is constructed keeping in mind the needs of people with disability."

What keeps her in Mumbai besides her family is her job at Oxford bookstore where she is a senior executive, event management. "People do not really care about those who're on a wheelchair. But at my workplace people are approachable; they want to know more about me and am accepted as a whole person," states Malini. If there is anything that irks her is the attitude of educated people, who underestimate her capabilities.

Malini's achievements are a testimony to the fact that there is no limit to what one can achieve and extract from life. And yes there is no dearth of aspirations either. She aspires to write a book someday and make her million.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Be selfish

Gautam Buddha was passing near a village which consists of high caste brahmins only. They were very much against Gautam Buddha, they have all gathered outside the village to condemn him, to abuse him. He stands there listening to their abuse, their allegations, their lies. Even Ananda -- who has been with him all these years -- feels angry. Because they were born into a royal family; they were warriors, their whole training was to fight. But because Gautam Buddha is present, he controls himself; otherwise he would have killed one or two people then and there.

Gautam Buddha said to them, "You see that the sun is going to set soon, and we have to reach the other village before the sun sets. If you have not finished all that you wanted to say to me, I will make a point that when I return I set aside enough time to listen to you again. And in two days, I will be returning along the same route -- so it will be very kind of you if you can wait just two days."

One man from the crowd said, "You don't seem to be disturbed at all. And we are not just saying things to you -- we are abusing you, insulting you."

Gautam Buddha said, "You have come a little late. If you had come ten years before, you would not have gone back alive. I am also a warrior. There would have been bloodshed here; not a single man in this crowd would have gone back alive. But you have come a little late.

"In the village just before this village, people came with sweets and fruits. And we said, `We eat only once a day, and we have taken our food, so it would be very kind if you would take these things back with you. We are grateful.' What do you think they did with those sweets and those fruits?"

Somebody said, "They must have distributed them amongst themselves; they must have eaten them."

Buddha said, "You are intelligent. Do the same: whatever you have brought, I don't accept; take it back. Because unless I accept your insult, you cannot insult me; it is a two-way affair. It is your mouth, you can say anything -- but unless I accept it, you are just talking into the air. Just go home and say all these things to each other; enjoy. And I will be coming again after two days, so be ready."

They were shocked, and they could not believe -- what kind of man is this? When they moved on, Ananda said to Buddha, "This is too much. There were moments when I was going to jump and hit the man! Just because of you, I tried to control my temptation."

Buddha said -- and remember it -- he said: "What those people were saying has not hurt me.

What you are saying hurts me. You have been with me for so many years, and yet you are not aware enough to know what to take and what not to take? Can't you discriminate?"

I want you not to become missionaries; I want you to become messages.

And that is possible only if you are utterly selfish, so that before you start helping others, you have helped yourself; before you start enlightening other people, you are enlightened yourself.

That's what I mean by being selfish.

Whatever you want to spread must be your living experience.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Let Go...

This is a very meaningful story which is called "Let Go", and written by Dr. Billy Graham.

A little child was playing one day with a very valuable vase. He put his hand into it and could not withdraw it. His father too, tried his best, but all in vain. They were thinking of breaking the vase when the father said, "Now, my son, make one more try. Open your hand and hold your fingers out straight as you see me doing, and then pull."

To their astonishment the little fellow said, "O no, father. I couldn't put my fingers out like that, because if I did I would drop my penny."

Smile, if you will--but thousands of us are like that little boy, so busy holding on to the world's worthless penny that we cannot accept liberation. I beg you to drop the trifle in your heart. Surrender! Let go, and let God have His way in your life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

God Says

An atheist was walking through the woods  "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals," he said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7 foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him.
He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him. At that instant the Atheist cried out, "Oh my God!"
Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"
The atheist looked directly into the light, "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?"
"Very Well," said the voice.
The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke:
"Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Simple Gesture of Kindness

A little boy selling magazines for school walked up to a house that people rarely visited. The house was very old and run down and the owner hardly ever came out. When he did come out he would not say hello to neighbors or passers by but simply just glare at them.

The boy knocked on the door and waited, sweating from fear of the old man. The boy"s parents told him to stay away from the house, a lot of the other neighborhood children were told the same from their parents.

As he was ready to walk away, the door slowly opened. “What do you want?" the old man said. The little boy was very afraid but he had a quota to meet for school with selling the magazines.

"Uh, sir, I uh am selling these magazines and uh I was wondering if you would like to buy one." The old man just stared at the boy. The boy could see inside the old man"s house and saw that he had dog figurines on the fireplace mantle. "Do you collect dogs?" the little boy asked. "Yes, I have many collectibles in my house, they are my family here, and they are all I have." The boy then felt sorry for the man, as it seemed that he was a very lonely soul. "Well, I do have a magazine here for collectors, it is perfect for you, I also have one about dogs since you like dogs so much." The old man was ready to close the door on the boy and said, "No boy, I don"t need any magazines of any kind, now goodbye."

The little boy was sad that he was not going to make his quota with the sale. He was also sad for the old man being so alone in the big house that he owned. The boy went home and then had an idea. He had a little dog figure that he got some years ago from an aunt. The figurine did not mean nearly as much to him since he had a real live dog and a large family. The boy headed back down to the old man"s house with the figurine. He knocked on the door again and this time the old man came right to the door. "Boy, I thought I told you no magazines."

"No, sir I know that, I wanted to bring you a gift." The boy handed him the figurine and the old man"s face lit up. "It is a Golden Retriever, I have one at home, and this one is for you." The old man was simply stunned; no one had ever given him such a gift and shown him so much kindness. "Boy, you have a big heart, why are you doing this?" The boy smiled at the man and said, "Because you like dogs."

From that day on the old man started coming out of the house and acknowledging people. He and the boy became friends; the boy even brought his dog to see the man weekly.

This simple gesture changed both of their lives forever.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Begin With the End in Mind

It was Steven Covey, author of the popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, who coined the phrase, "Begin with the end in mind."

Most of us know that New Year Resolutions we make at the beginning of each New Year usually last until the next setback or challenge we face.

However, if we print a copy of "Steven Covey's Seven Habits" and tape them to the fridge or other prominent place and read them often, we have a much greater chance of finishing this New Year with a sense of achievement:

Steven Covey's Seven Habits:

Be proactive. Don't stand still. Take the initiative and be responsible.

Begin with the end in mind. Start any activity, a meeting, run, day, or life, with an end in mind. Work to that end and make sure your values are aligned with your goals.

Put first things first. Prioritize your life so you're working on the important stuff.

Think win/ win. This is pretty obvious. You get what you put in.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen to emphasize, obtain information, and understand the other person's point of view.

Synergize. Work to create outcomes that are greater than the individual parts.

Sharpen the saw. Cultivate the essential elements of your character: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Stress is Stressful

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on.

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.

"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can."

It is well know that too much stress is a "killer." Writing in Eternity magazine some time ago Fred Stansberry talks about "stress-related diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, migraines, allergies and a host of other psychological and physiological dysfunctions which are increasing at an alarming rate in our Western culture."

Stress is pretty much common to us all in today's pressure-cooker world. It is our responsibility, however, to do what we can to lessen the stress factors in our life wherever possible. To do this the following tips can help.

Write down all your cares and worries. Put them in order of priority and eliminate those that aren't important.

1. Know what your limit is and limit yourself to what you can handle.

2. With stress comes pent-up feelings. Learn how to express these creatively and get them off your chest.

3. Accept the fact that some things can't be changed.

4. Limit major life changes to as few as possible in any one year.

5. Resolve all resentments immediately.

6. Make time for rest and relaxation ... get sufficient sleep.

7. Watch your diet and eating habits.

8. Maintain a regular physical exercise program.

9. Ultimately, however, we need to learn to trust our life to God in all circumstances.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Learning From the Pigeons

During an experiment, pigeons were put in cages with one green and one red button. In one cage, the birds that pecked the green button got food every time. In the other, the green button yielded food erratically and the pigeons had to persist to get enough food. In both cases, pecking the red button did nothing. Both sets of birds thrived, learning what they had to do to survive and to ignore the red button that yielded no food.

But when the birds that were used to getting a reward every time were put in the cage that fed them only occasionally, they failed to adapt. They hit their heads against the cage and pecked wildly at everything in sight.

There are two worthwhile lessons from this study:

First, the pigeons quickly learned from experience to avoid the red button because it was unproductive. There are lots of people who would lead smoother and happier lives if they just stopped pushing red buttons that never give them what they want.

Second, even birds that have it too easy get spoiled and develop an entitlement mentality that prevents them from adapting to situations where they can solve their problems if they just work harder. Some people are like that, too. They don’t deal well with new circumstances, especially those that require persistence.

Part of being responsible is learning from experience to appreciate the benefits of tenacity and the wisdom of avoiding useless, harmful, and self-defeating patterns of behavior.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Can you sleep when the wind blows?

Long time ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast.

He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic . They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic , wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him.

"Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk,  and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up!  A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!"

The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No  Sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows." Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm.

To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured.  Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God. We don't need to understand, we just need to hold his hand to have peace in the middle of storms.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Meaning of True Success

"A hundred years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson noted three qualities he deemed marks of true success: the ability to discern and appreciate beauty, the ability to see the best in others, and a commitment to leaving the world a better place."

Emerson didn't say that success is in becoming a powerful politician, a wealthy business man or woman, a popular movie star, sportsman/ woman, an outstanding speaker. Nor did he say it had anything to do with physical beauty or material possessions. This is not to say that there is anything wrong, in and of themselves, with any or all of the above, but if this is our definition or measure of success, it has fallen far short of success in the eyes of God.

God's measure of success is, first of all, in studying and meditating on his Word, so we know what it teaches, and second, in obeying all of God's laws and living in harmony with his will.  Keep in mind, being a prosperous person has little if anything to do with material prosperity, but rather it has to do with knowing and obeying God's Word and living in harmony with his will. Also, having the qualities Emerson described above would also make one very prosperous.

And as another has said, "Judge your success not only by what you've become, but by what others have become because of you."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Don't we all need help

This is a true story of a man. I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car. I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get out of work. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no money. There are times when you feel generous but there are other times that you just don't want to be bothered. This was one of those "don't want to be bothered times." "I hope he doesn't ask me for any money," I thought. He didn't. He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop but he didn't look like he could have enough money to even ride the bus.

After a few minutes he spoke. "That's a very pretty car," he said. He was ragged but he had an air of dignity around him. His scraggly blond beard kept more than his face warm. I said, "thanks," and continued wiping off my car. He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened something inside said, "ask him if he needs any help." I was sure that he would say "yes" but I held true to the inner voice. "Do you need any help?" I asked. He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget. We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He spoke the three words that shook me.

"Don't we all?" he said.

I was feeling high and mighty, successful and important above a bum on the street; until those three words hit me like a twelve gauge shotgun. “Don't we all"?

I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day.

Those three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help. Even if it's just a compliment, you can give that. You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it all. They are waiting on you to give them what they don't have. A different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a respite from daily chaos, which only you through a torn world can see. Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a power that is great and wise, to minister to a soul too comfortable in himself. Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum, and said, "go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help."

Don't we all?

Therefore no matter how little you have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Millionaire and Three Beggars

There was a good-natured millionaire in India. Three beggars thought of approaching him for help. The first man went to the millionaire and said: "O Lord! I want five rupees. Please give me." The millionaire was taken aback at this man's impudence. "What! You demand five rupees from me as though I owe you the money! How dare you? How can I afford to give five rupees to a single beggar? Here, take these two rupees and get away," he said. The man went away with the two rupees.

 The next beggar went to the millionaire and said: "Oh Lord! I have not taken a square meal for the past ten days. Please help me."

"How much do you want?" asked the millionaire.

"Whatever you give me, Maharaj," replied the beggar.

"Here, take this ten rupee note. You can have nice food for at least three days." The beggar walked away with the ten rupee note.

The third beggar came. "Oh Lord, I have heard about your noble qualities. Therefore, I have come to see you. Men of such charitable disposition are verily the manifestations of God on earth," he said.

"Please sit down," said the millionaire. "You appear to be tired. Please take this food," he said, and offered food to the beggar.

"Now please tell me what I can do for you."

"Oh Lord," replied the beggar; "I merely came to meet such a noble personage that you are. You have given me this rich food already. What more need I get from you? You have already shown extraordinary kindness towards me. May God bless you!"

But the millionaire, struck by the beggar's spirit, begged of the beggar to remain with him, built a decent house for him in his own compound, and looked after him for the rest of his life.

 God is like this good millionaire. Three classes of people approach Him, with three different desires and prayers. There is the greedy man full of vanity, full of arrogance, full of desires. He demands the objects of worldly enjoyment from God. Since this man, whatever be his vile desires, has had the good sense to approach God, He grants him some part of the desired objects (even these very soon pass away, just as the two rupees the first beggar got are spent before nightfall).

 The other type of devotee prays to the Lord for relief from the sufferings of the world, but is better than the first one, in as much as he is ready to abide by His Will. To him the Lord grants full relief from suffering, and bestows on him much wealth and property.

The third type he merely prays to the Lord: "O Lord, Thou art Existence-Absolute, Knowledge-Absolute, Bliss-Absolute, etc., etc." What does he want? Nothing. But the Lord is highly pleased with his spirit of renunciation, of desirelessness and of self-surrender. Therefore, He makes him eat His own food, I.e., He grants this man Supreme Devotion to Himself. Over and above this, He makes the devotee to live in His own House For ever afterwards this devotee dwells in the Lord's Abode as a Liberated Sage.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Alexander The Great

Alexander, after conquering many countries, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

  He now longed to reach home to see his mother's face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit Him to reach his distant homeland. So,
the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, "I will depart from this world soon,

  I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail." With tears flowing down .Their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king's last wishes.
"My first desire is that," said Alexander, "My physicians alone must carry my coffin." After a pause, he continued, "Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

" The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute's rest and continued. "My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin."The people who had gathered there wondered at the king's strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips. Alexander's favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. "O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?"

  At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: "I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

  The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tellPeople that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

  And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world."
With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last. . . . .

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Candle

This is a story about a small candle carried by a man who was climbing the stairs of a lighthouse.In their way up to the top, the candle asked the man, "Where are we going?"

"We're going to the top of this lighthouse and give signals to the big ships on the ocean," the man answered.

"What? How could it be possible for me with my small light to give signals to those big ships?"
"They will never be able to see my light", replied the candle weakly.

"That's your part. If your light is small, let it be. All you have to do is keep burning and leave the rest to me", said the man.

A little later, they arrived at the top of the lighthouse where there was a big lamp with a loop behind it. Then the man lit the lamp with the light of the candle and instantly, the place shone so brightly that the ships on the ocean could see its light.

 With our being and our limitations, we're hardly able to do any meaningful things. Yet, one thing we should bear in mind is that our life is like a small candle in God's powerful hand. All our abilities and expertise will remain as a small light if we don't put our life in God's hand. On the contrary, even if our light is so small or dim, if we entrust all our life to God, he is able to make our small light into a big one that brings blessings to many people.

 Do not look at your inability, limitations, and weaknesses. God entrust you with something. Have faith that you are in His mighty hand that He will use you according to His will. When we put all our trust in Him, we will see how He uses our lives, including our limitations, to be blessings to others.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Whatever happens it happens for good

This is a story about a king in an faraway land who had a close friend that he grew up with. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"

 One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb
was blown off.

 Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is NOT good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

 About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took them to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.

 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 that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right" he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off."

 And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."
"No," his friend replied, "this is good!"

"What do you mean, "this is good!" How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year." The king was truly surprised.

 His friend smiled,"If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you on that unlucky hunting trip."

Friday, August 2, 2013


This story is about a man and his thought-provoking experiences of life. He had been on a long flight. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: "Fasten your seat belts."Then, after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened."

As he looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice of the announcer said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us."

And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightening lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash. The man confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying.

The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm. And then, I suddenly saw a girl to whom the storm meant nothing. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat and was reading a book.

Everything within her small world was calm and orderly. Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm, when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid."

The man could hardly believe his eyes. It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, he lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.

The sweet child replied, "Sir, my Dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Little Dog

Long time ago in a small, village, there was place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the House, he thought to himself, "This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often."

In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, "That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again."

All the faces in the world are mirrors. What kind of reflections do you see in the faces of the people you meet?