My collection of stories.
A Zen Buddhist monk is fleeing from a hungry tiger.
The monk comes to the edge of a cliff cutting off any hope of escape from the pursuing tiger. Fortunately for the monk, a vine happens to be growing over the edge. He grabs hold of it and begins to climb down the cliff, out of the tiger’s reach, who is by now glaring at him from above.
But alas, as the monk is climbing down, he spies another tiger waiting for him below; circling impatiently at the bottom of the cliff. To make matters worse, out of the corner of his eye he notices a mouse on a ledge above him already beginning to chew through the vine. Then out of the corner of his other eye the monk sees a strawberry growing from the rock.
So he picks the strawberry and eats it.
The power of habits.
One day, on a sheepfold, the wolf ate a sheep.
The shepherd was angry, took the gun, went into the forest and came back with the wolf dead.
In the second day, on the same sheepfold, the wolf ate a sheep.
The shepherd was angry, took the gun, went into the forest and came back with the wolf dead.
In the six day, on the same sheepfold, a sheep ate a sheep.
The shepherd was angry, took the gun, went into the forest and came back with the wolf dead.
The Horse and the Donkey.
Once upon a time . . . an old carter kept a horse and a donkey in the same stable. He was equally fond of both his animals, but as he used the horse to pull his trap, he gave it better food and more attention than he did the donkey. However, the donkey, knowing he was not so precious as his stablemate, ate straw instead of corn and hay, without complaining. Even when both animals carried sacks to market, the donkey’s was the heavier load, for the carter did not want to overwork his noble horse, though he had no such feelings about the donkey.
As time went by, the horse grew more handsome and robust, while the donkey became thin and weak. One day, on their way to market, the donkey was carrying his usual heavy load, while the horse had only two lightweight sacks tied to the saddle.
“I can’t go much further!” moaned the donkey. “I’m much weaker today! I can hardly stand and unless I can get rid of some of this weight, I won’t be able to go on. Couldn’t you take some of my load?”
When the horse heard this, he looked the donkey up and down in disdain, for he considered himself much superior, and said: “Our master gave you the heavy load, because he knows that donkeys are beasts of burden. Their loads ought to be heavier than those of noble horses!”
So the wretched donkey stumbled on. But after a short distance, he stopped again, bleary-eyed, his tongue hanging out.
“Please, please listen! If you don’t help me, I’ll never reach market alive.” But without even a glance, the horse haughtily replied: “Rubbish! Come on, you’ll manage this time too!” But this time, after a few tottering steps, the donkey dropped dead to the ground.
The donkey’s master, who had lingered to pick mushrooms, ran up when he saw the animal fall.
“Poor thing!” he said. “He served me well for so many years. His load must have been too heavy.” Then he turned to the horse: “Come here! You’ll have to carry your companion’s load too now!” And he hoisted the donkey’s sacks onto the horse’s back.
“I’d have done better to help the donkey when he was alive,” said the horse to himself. “A little more weight wouldn’t have done me any harm. Now, I’m frightened of collapsing myself under a double load!” But feeling sorry too late did nothing to lighten his load.
The Professor’s Jar.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him when the class began; he wordlessly 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, and 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 that 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, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions… and 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.
“Now, 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. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse 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 and said, “I’m glad you asked.” The coffee just shows 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 Water Pot.
A water bearer had two large pots; each hung on each end of a pole that he carried across his shoulders. One of the pots had a crack in it, and 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 master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full tow years they went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what is perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself and I want to apologize to you”. “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able these past two years to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot and asked it to notice the beautiful flowers along the path. Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot noticed the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it up some.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but none on the other pots side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw and took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day while we walked back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without being the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But if we allow it, our flaws can be used to grace other people’s lives.
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.”
”Relax; pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it!”
A recently married couple moved in a very quiet district. During the first morning in their new home, while having their coffee, the wife saw through the window a neighbour arranging her newly washed sheets/clothes on the balcony.
“How dirty sheets she has, our neighbour! I think she needs a new soap… Or maybe I should teach her how to wash her sheets”, the wife said.
The husband silently watched her. And so, day after day, the wife repeated her observation, while the neighbour was putting her sheets to dry in the sun.
After a month, the wife was very surprised to see that her neighbour had much cleaner sheets. She told to her husband: “Look! She learned how to wash the sheets! Maybe another neighbour taught her!”
The husband replayed: “No, today I woke up earlier in the morning and I washed the windows of our house”.
The story of the coffee cups.
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
“If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones, while it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves that is the source of your problems and stress.
What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and were eyeing each other’s cups.
Now if life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn’t change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it.”
So, don’t let the cups drive you… enjoy the coffee instead.
The Perfect Heart.
One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.
Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said “Your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.
The people stared – how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine; mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”
“Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges – giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”
The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.
How sad it must be to go through life with a whole untouched heart…
The chimpanzee story.
There’s an interesting experiment where they put about a dozen chimpanzees in a cage with a central area where a bunch of bananas can be lowered into the cage. Any time any of the chimps go towards the bananas, though, they are sprayed with ice water until they learn to stay away from the bananas.
Then the experiment takes an interesting turn. One of the chimps is taken out and a new one put in her place. Now when the bananas are lowered into the cage the other chimps immediately grab the new chimp and won’t let her go near the bananas. This is done repeatedly. New chimpanzees are put in place of the original chimps until there’s a whole new set of chimps in there, none of whom have ever been sprayed with the ice water. The whole new crew has learned from each other to stay away from those bananas.
The moral of the story? “Hey, this is the way we’ve always done things around here.”
Heaven and Hell.
A holy man was having a conversation with God one day and said:
“God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like”.
God led the holy man to two doors.
He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles, that were strapped to their arms and each found it impossible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.
God said: “You have seen Hell”.
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.
The holy man said: “I don’t understand”.
“It is simple”, said God. “It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves”.
The Man, the Boy and the Donkey.
A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by his side a countryman passed them and said, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?” So the man put the boy on the donkey, and they went on their way.
But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the man ordered his boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”
Well, the man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his boy up before him on the donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passersby began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.
The men said, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours – you and your hulking son?”
The man and boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, until at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them until they came to a bridge, when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the donkey fell over the bridge, and his forefeet being tied together, he was drowned.
Try to please everyone, and you will please no one.
The story of the deaf frog.
There once was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a climbing competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.
A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. The race began. No one in the crowd really believed the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower.
Heard throughout the race were statements such as, “Oh, way too difficult”, “They will never make it to the top”, “Not a chance they will succeed”, and “The tower is too high”.
The tiny frogs began collapsing, one by one – except for those who, in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher. The crowd continued to yell, “It is too difficult! No one will make it”!
More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But one continued to climb higher and higher. This one refused to give up!
At the end of the race, all had given up climbing the tower except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!
All of the other tiny frogs wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it. They asked him how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal.
It turned out that the winning frog was deaf!
If we really want to accomplish something, we can always choose to become deaf, especially when the people around us say negative or discouraging things.
Unlock Your Mind.
Houdini was a master magician as well as a fabulous locksmith. Houdini was probably the most famous escape artist in the world.
Houdini was very confident in his talents. He claimed that he could escape from any Jail cell in the World in less than an hour, provided he could go into the cell dressed in street clothes. And every time he was given this challenge, he accepted and did just as he promised. He was left alone in a locked cell and in a few short minutes he would miraculously escape.
But one time things didn’t go as Houdini planned…
A small town in the British Isles built a new jail cell and they were proud of it. “Come give us a try,” they said to Houdini, and he agreed.
He walked into the prison cell bristling with confidence. After all, he had done this hundreds of times before. Houdini hid inside his belt a special lock pick he had designed. Once the jail cell was closed, Houdini took off his coat, and set to work with his lock pick. But he discovered that something was unusual about this particular lock.
For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere. And his confident expression disappeared.
An hour passed, and still he had not been able to open the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. He tried all the tricks of his trade but nothing worked.
After two hours and totally exhausted, Houdini literally collapsed against the door. The door swung open and he discovered it had not been locked in the first place! It was locked only to him in his mind.
Similar to Houdini, we’re the prisoners of our own mind. In order to escape our “mental jail”, we first need to be aware of this and accept it, and then we can find ways to set us free.
Starfish ~ Making a Difference.
Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”
The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
“The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said – “It made a difference for that one.“
Bring Your Red Umbrella.
A rural church in the middle of farming country, had a special service to pray for rain. The drought had hit the area hard and the farmers and community were suffering financially and spiritually. Many people came to the service to pray and as the pastor looked out over the crowd he was encouraged. However, the thing that inspired him most was a little girl sitting in the front pew, holding a bright red umbrella. Everyone had come to pray for rain, but only the little girl believed enough to bring an umbrella.
I think we are often like that with prayer. We pray, we mean it, we get up off of our knees, but we seldom grab an umbrella.
The sculpture that sculpted the prince.
There once was a king who was happy with life in all respects except that his only son was a hunchback. He was quite worried about this and he declared a big reward for anyone who would cure his son. However, doctors coming from all corners of the world could not cure him.
Around this time, an old woman approached the king and offered to cure his son. She asked the king to lift up a statue of the prince right in the middle of the courtyard of the palace where the prince played every day. She also demanded that the statue should look exactly like the prince but without the hunch. The king gave the necessary instructions.
In a year or so, everyone started seeing improvement in the posture of the prince. The king was very happy. Another year followed and the prince had no trace of the hunch left.
There’s Got to be a Pony in Here Somewhere!
There was a rich man who had two twin sons. One son was always optimistic and the other was very pessimistic. So the man decided to try to change things with his sons.
For their birthdays, he bought the pessimistic son a room full of toys and games… everything he could possibly imagine or want. When he opened the door, the pessimistic son started crying upon seeing all of the treasures. When asked why he was crying instead of loving all of his new things, he said: “It’s just more things the other kids will steal from me or break”. He did not enjoy even a minute of playing with his gifts.
For the other son, the optimistic one, the father had his room filled with horse manure. When that son opened his door and saw all the piles of smelly poop, he got all excited and started running around searching through the poop and whooping it up with glee. The father was again mystified and asked his son about his behavior. The boy replied: “With all this poop around, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
The Castle of your Life
Once upon a time there was a gentleman that was thinking of making a trip around Europe. Arriving in England, he bought a guide from the airport that contained all the castles that can be visited by tourists in England along with schedules and visiting hours. On one of the pages of the guide, the gentleman saw a special offer for one of the castles, called “the castle of your life”. From the photos included in the guide, the castle was no more special or different that the others. The only thing different was that, because of reasons that will be cleared later, you were supposed to pay the ticket when you got out of the castle and not when you got in and also, the visiting hours should be fixed for each individual by calling at the telephone number showed.
Intrigued by the unusual offer, once arrived at the hotel, the gentleman calls the number found in the guide and fix immediately the date and hour to visit the castle.
“Everything in the world evolves by certain rules” – was the inscription at the entrance of the castle, and there, the gentleman was welcomed very warmly by a man dressed with the traditional Scottish kilt.
– Where are the other visitors? asked the gentleman. Am I late? Are they already inside?
– The other visitors? responded the man in the Scottish kilt. There are no other visitors. The visits to our castle are arranged individually for one person and we do not offer the services of a guide either.
Without saying anything more, the man started telling to the visitor the story of the castle and the interesting things that he might see inside: the paintings on the walls, the room with armors that was near the entrance, the weapon room that was under the stairs and so on. At the end, the man gave the visitor a spoon with sand and told him that he needs to keep it steady for all the journey in the castle.
– Why is this? asked the visitor.
– These are our rules, replied the man. We do not ask our visitors to pay at the entrance. Instead, we give to each visitor a spoon with 100 gr of sand that they must keep with them during the time that they visit the castle. At the end, we measure the weight of the sand left in the spoon and we ask for one dollar for every gram missing from the spoon.
– What if the sand will be all and I don’t spill out none of it?
– Well, then the visit to the castle is for free and you do not have to pay a dime.
The gentleman was surprised and amused by this fact. The spoon was filed with sand and he started the journey right away.
Very confident in his hands, he started going up the stairs keeping his eyes on the spoon constantly. He decided not to go and visit the room where the most paintings were hanged because there was a strong wind there and he was afraid that it might spill the sand from his spoon. He wanted to go visit the room with the armors but, when he looked again he saw that he needs to jump up on a small bridge to get there and gave up because it was too risky and he could spill the sand out. For the same reason he didn’t go down the stairs also and he observed the weapon room from far away. Very pleased that the sand in the spoon was intact, he started walking towards the entrance where the Scottish guy was waiting for him.
– Marvelous, you only lost half a gram from the sand. This means that you will not have to pay for the tour, said the man.
– Thank you, said the gentleman.
– So, how was it? Did you enjoy the tour? asked the Scottish.
After a few moments of hesitation, the tourist decides to be sincere and says:
– Actually, not so much. I was having my eyes on the spoon and I could not see much of the castle or the things in it.
– Regrettable, said the Scottish. I will make an exception for you, he says. I will fill up the spoon again, because these are the rules, but only this time you do not have to worry about it because you will not have to pay even if you spill all the sand. The only thing is that you have 12 minutes to make the tour again, until the next visitor arrives.
Without losing any more time, the gentleman starts running. He enters quickly in the paintings room, take a quick look around and than leaves in a hurry to the armors room where he does the same. When he starts running down the stairs to see the weapon room, he realizes that 11 minutes have already passed and he has no time to see it. So he starts running to the entrance where the Scottish was expecting him.
– I see that there is no sand in your spoon, says the Scottish. This makes me believe that this time you enjoyed the tour since you did not had in mind the sand, right?
After a few moments of thinking, the gentleman replies:
– Actually no, I did not enjoyed it this time either. The time was so short that I had to run from one room to the other and I did not have the chance to see anything.
The man in the kilt, lights up a cigarette and says:
– There are people who pass through the Castle of Life trying not to pay for anything and they cannot enjoy this journey. There are others who are in a hurry all the time and pass through it in high speed not enjoying anything. There are very few that can understand the wisdom of life. They discover every corner of it and take the time to enjoy it. They know that they have to pay for everything but, they understand that there are things that are worth paying for.
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today?”
So she did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
“H-M-M,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today?”
So she did and she had a grand day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.
“Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.”
So she did and she had a fun, fun day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head.
“YEA!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”
Attitude is everything.