Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Once there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
or maybe the beginning..
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year or at the very least, equanimity in the face of whatever changes may come.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Crow here. It's been nearly a year since the night I agreed to help the old fellow from the north with some deliveries on Christmas Eve. Quite frankly the dear gentleman was at his wits end, knowing as he did that so many poor children needed gifts and food that night and much more besides. He did what he could as he always does. My task was the much less arduous one (or so I thought) of taking presents to the children of the rich. As you well know there are far fewer of them, such a tiny number of good rich children, in fact, that I was quite confident of being home well before midnight.
At twilight several of his more experienced reindeer arrived pulling a spare Santa sled and off we tootled into winter's darkening sky. Our first stop at a gated community provided my first inkling that this job might not be quite the doddle I'd imagined it would be. As I slipped down the chimney I'd been happy to see the glint of festive lights in the the hall and the living room, but when I stepped across the grate I discovered they weren't holiday decorations at all but motion detectors. Suddenly sirens sounded, steel barriers dropped down to cover the windows and three snarling dogs rushed into the room where I'd just begun to open my sack. I barely made it back up the chimney with my trousers intact.
Having never been one to renege on an obligation I set off with a will to the next mansion on my list. The living room there was a grand space filled with art and fine furniture but once again, just as I set foot on the floor, before I could begin opening my bag, alarms sounded, a spotlight lit my person and a nasty smelling fog filled the room with blue smoke. Coughing and choking I scrambled back up that chimney too.
As I'd had no success at the gated community I decided instead that we'd try for a country house on the list. Knowing nothing about private security systems that employ infrared cameras that read thermal heat signatures, nor about radar detectors - both of which can detect anything larger than a mouse up to five miles away - the reindeer and I were surprised when portals in the roof opened and out popped a brace of cannons. Although we attempted to signal our good intentions by ringing sleigh bells and singing carols, we were forced to turn away when the heavy artillery opened fire.
We made our sad way back to Santa's workshop in dread of his disappointment. How surprised we were by his merry laughter as he commended us for our attempts and said, 'Don't worry boys, next year I'll let them fight it out with the Amazon drones'.
Happy Christmas everyone!
(If you're interested in reading further about security arrangements of the rich - as opposed to The Rich - you can find more here and here. They're actually far stranger and more paranoid than Crow described. Sad but true.)
Monday, December 16, 2013
A weeks long meditation retreat that was being held in the mountains of Japan was attended by many students of the great master. During the gathering one student was caught stealing. The matter was reported to the master with the request that the culprit be dismissed. The master ignored the case.
Later the student was caught in a similar act, and again the master disregarded the matter. This angered the other students, who busied themselves drawing up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.
When the master had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.
I never know which of these stories will get me to draw a picture next - they must be lessons I need to hear myself. Anger may be a righteous reaction, but it never seems to solve anything.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Once there was a princess who awoke one day to find a small spot under her eye. It was a little nothing to begin with but, as a king's daughter, she was a bit spoiled and refused to leave her bed. When royal doctors came to treat the problem she sent them away and instead kept touching the sore spot until it got worse and worse. Finally the king proclaimed a large reward for whoever could cure his daughter. After some time, Crow arrived claiming to be a famous physician.
Saying that he could definitely cure the princess he was admitted to her chamber. After he had examined her, he exclaimed, "Oh, I'm so sorry!"
"What is it?" the princess inquired.
Crow said, "There is nothing much wrong with your eye, dear child, but there is something else that is really serious."
The princess was alarmed and asked, "What could be so serious?"
He hesitated and said, "It is most unfortunate. I simply can't tell you about it." No matter how much she insisted, Crow refused to tell her, saying that he could not speak without the king's permission.
When the king arrived, Crow was still reluctant to reveal his findings. Finally the king commanded, "Tell us what is wrong. Whatever it is, you must tell us!"
At last Crow said, "Well, the princess's eye will get better within a few days - that is no problem. What is a problem is that the princess will develop a tail, a very long tail, that may start growing very soon. If only she can detect the first moment it appears, I might be able to prevent it from growing." At this news everyone was deeply concerned.
And the princess, what did she do? She stayed in bed, day and night, directing all her attention to detecting when the tail might appear. After a few days, her eye got well.
..and she never saw even a hint of a tail.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
An elder monk who finds a young monk sitting in a meditation pose inquires, 'Why are you sitting in meditation?'
The younger replies, 'By sitting in meditation I hope eventually to become a buddha'.
The elder monk picks up a brick, walks across the carefully tended Zen rock garden and begins rubbing the brick against one of the ancient stones.
The younger one laughs and asks, 'What are you doing?'
To which the elder says, 'I am polishing this brick in hopes that eventually it will become a mirror'.