Category Archives: Stories

Sankuji and the Two Villages

The story of Sankuji was told by my 8 year old daughter Aanya

An old man by the name Sankuji lived in a villiage. He was a skillful artist. He used to create beautiful drawings, paintings and artwork. He was a very creative person and that made him very famous not only in his own village but also in nearby villages.

It so happened that the heads of two nearby villages developed jealousy for Sankuji. People from other villages used to go to Sankuji’s village to see his paintings and they felt that their own villages were not famous because of Sankuji. So they hatched a plan to end the popularity of Sankuji.

The heads of the two villages went to Sankuji’s house in the night with several of their strongmen and knocked on the door. Sankuji was asleep but the repeated knocking woke him up. As he opened the door, the men pounced on him and tied him up. Then they took him to a barn and locked him there and went away. They also put some soldiers to guard the barn to prevent Sankuji from escaping.

In the morning, Sankuji found that he had 4 chocolates with him in his pocket and as he took 2 chocolates out, the guards saw them and quickly snatched it away from him. Sankuji saw that the soldiers liked the chocolates so after some time, he spoke to them asking if they wanted more.

The soldiers said yes but Sankuji put the condition that if they will let me go, then he will give them the chocolates. The soldiers were greedy and really liked the chocolates so they allowed Sankuji to come out of the barn. Sankuji gave them the two remaining chocolates and went home.

The next day, he called the head of his village and the heads of the two villages and said, “If you want to be famous, then show your skills, show your art and show your creation but do not end the work of others.” After hearing this, the heads of the two villages said sorry and apologized to Sankuji and went back.

Moral of the story – Never be jealous.

Who Is Responsible For This?

There is an ancient story about a king who once ordered his minister in the middle of the night to fill up the royal swimming pool with milk so that he could swim in it in the morning. The minister was in a quandary on how to fulfill the king’s desire. It would take a long time to milk the cows to get such a large quantity. One of his courtiers suggested that if each person in the city could bring one cup of milk, then it is possible to fill the swimming pool. The minister liked the idea and immediately sent out messengers to all parts of the city with the order that everyone has to bring a cup of milk right away and pour it into the royal swimming pool. 

milk4

Now there was this one person who heard the king’s order and thought to himself, “Everyone is going to bring milk. What if I take a cup of water? One cup of water will not make any difference in the large tank full of milk. And in the night, no one will notice what I am pouring in the tank”. So that’s what he did. He joined the queue of people who had come with their cups of milk and when his turn came, quickly emptied his cup of water into the tank. The next morning, as the sun rose, the minister was terribly shocked to see that there was only water in the swimming pool and no milk.


There are many things that can be learned from this story.

It is apparent that everyone put in a cup of water in to the pool instead of a cup of milk. The reason why everyone did it is not clear because only one person’s thought is expressed. And it is not sure that everyone thought the same. It is possible that some did not have a cup of milk at home and therefore had to bring water because it was compulsory.

However, the crux of the story revolves around the thought that “No one will notice my lack of contribution because everyone is going to contribute”. And it is true that when all contribute to a task, then one person’s lack of contribution usually goes unnoticed. Take for example, in the game of Tug of War, if one person does not pull to his maximum strength or simply pretends to pull, then whether the team wins or loses, this act will go unnoticed. No one will be able to figure out who did not put his full effort into it.

Similarly in a team project, one person can become a “free rider” – someone who rides on the success brought about by others. A free rider is a person who enjoys a benefit accruing from a collective effort, but contributes little or nothing to the effort. It is sometimes difficult to identify such free riders in a large team because they pretend to contribute yet do nothing in reality.

The real problem happens when many people start becoming free riders because then it starts to affect the results, as in the case of the people who brought water instead of the milk. In the story, even if one or ten people had genuinely brought milk, that would go unnoticed in the whole pool of water. And it would seem that no one brought any milk.

Think from the perspective of the minister. When he sees the pool full of water, he would blow his top and would want to punish all those culprits who put water but that would mean punishing the whole city, which is practically impossible. Let’s assume he was a really evil minister. He would order the flogging of every individual in the city. This would mean even those who brought milk would face the punishment because they would have no way to prove their honesty.

With all this explanation, it is easy to draw parallels between the story and what we see in life around us. Just think of milk as taxes and you will be able to understand a lot. Think of people who evade taxes. Think of people who violate traffic rules. Think of why initiatives like Swacch Bharat do not become successful. If everyone contributed to making Bharat swacch, there would be no Swacch Bharat cess. Many other social evils like corruption can be understood from this angle.

Jesus spoke of being a good Samaritan 2000 years ago and yet we easily convince ourselves to let others be the good Samaritans while we go about our jobs. The story of somebody, anybody, everybody and nobody is important in this context.

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

Now there are two more important learnings in this story which are not so obvious. The first is that the whole activity happens anonymously. If the minister had checked each person’s cup before it was poured into the pool, he would have realized what is happening. There is a Hindi proverb – Doodh ka dooth aur pani ka pani ho jata – which is apt for this story.

Wherever there is anonymity, there is a scope for free riders.

Therefore, it is important to bring transparency in transactions. Not only in transactions but also in our own mind and thoughts. Awareness of one’s own thoughts can prevent us from doing wrong and acting in an inappropriate manner. Only when we believe no one is observing us, then we can think of doing wrong or not doing what is asked for.

The other important learning is from the perspective of the king. If the king makes unreasonable requests in the middle of the night, then he has no right to expect the results he wants. Supposing the request was genuine. For example, if the milk was needed for feeding poor children and there was visibility of that activity, many people in the city would have genuinely brought milk for them. However, I guess from this story that the king routinely announced such unreasonable orders to serve his personal luxury and therefore the people, having known this from past experience, acted in the fashion they did, thinking the king did not deserve their honesty. So as a leader, one must learn to make reasonable demands on one’s team in order to expect their full cooperation.

The most sticky situation is that of the minister (manager?). On the one hand, the king is going to be angry on him for not getting the job done and on the other hand, he cannot do anything to correct the situation.

So the question is – who is truly responsible?

 

Pinu and the Tiger Cub

Another short story by Aarika, my 6 year old

There was once a little boy named Pinu. He was very intelligent. He could answer any question put to him. One day he decided to go an explore the world because the world is a large place and he wanted to see all of it.

So he set off and eventually reached a forest. As he was resting under a tree in the forest, he saw many goats running in his direction. He asked the goats why they were running. One of the goats said that there is a tiger cub chasing them so they were running away from it.

Pinu got up and saw in the distance that there was indeed a young baby tiger cub running after the goats. The tiger cub managed to catch a young baby goat and was happy. It started going back to his home. The mother goat was terrified and asked Pinu for help.

Pinu then ran up to the tiger cub and asked him to leave the baby goat alone. The tiger cub said no. He said father tiger had asked him to go to the forest and bring home some animal to eat. So Pinu had an idea. He said to the tiger cub that all the goats are his and he will bring all the goats to the tiger’s home so they all could eat the goats. But now let the baby goat go.

The tiger cub thought it was a good idea and father tiger would be happy that he brought so many goats. So he left the baby goat and ran towards his home. Mother goat was happy to get the baby goat back.

Now Pinu had to think of something. He asked the goats to follow him. They went deep into the forest and discovered a castle. Pinu thought this was a good place to hide so he brought all the goats inside. Then he discovered that there was a video intercom system in the castle. Whenever someone rang the bell, they could see who it was outside. Actually the intercom was a magic intercom. When Pinu pressed the button on the intercom, all the members inside the castle would become invisible by magic. Pinu liked this very much.

At the other side of the forest, the tiger family was waiting for Pinu and the goats. Mother tiger kept asking the tiger cub when the goats were coming. Tiger cub said that Pinu promised to bring the goats. After waiting for a many days the tiger family got very hungry. They decided to go in search of the goats. They went through the whole forest but the goats and Pinu were nowhere to be found. Finally they reached the castle and rang the bell.

Pinu saw in the intercom that it was the tigers. So he pressed the button on the intercom. By magic all the goats and he became invisible. He opened the door to let the tigers in and silently took the goats out from the back door. Then he locked the front door also. Thus the tigers were all locked up in the castle and Pinu escaped with the goats.

Moral – Do not eat animals

 

 

The King and the Banyan Tree

The following is a story written by my 8 year old daughter Aanya

Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled over a large kingdom. There was a big forest on the outskirts of the kingdom. It was a very dense forest and everyone was afraid to go into it. Even the king was afraid to go in because he believed there were man eating wild animals in the forest.

The Queen used to make fun of the King saying he was such a powerful king yet was afraid to go in the forest. One day she said to the King, “Why don’t you go? At least check what is there.”

So the king finally decided to go. He took 20 of his courtiers with him and entered the forest. He saw a lot of deers eating grass and running around. For a moment he thought the forest is not scary after all because he did not see any wild animals.

Soon it became dark. The King and his courtiers reach a big banyan tree. They had never seen such a huge banyan tree earlier. But because they were tired and night was approaching, they decided to return back and come again the next day to explore the rest of the forest.

That night, the king saw a dream during his sleep. A beautiful fairy appeared in his dream and said – I am a real fairy and I can fulfill any wish you have. But remember, you went to the forest near the banyan tree. It is a dangerous tree. Do not go near it. If you do not listen to me then you will be in a big problem.

The king became worried about the warning from the fairy. Next morning, his courtiers asked him why he looked worried and was in a bad mood. The king told them about his dream. He said the fairy asked him not to go near the banyan tree.

On hearing this, the courtiers convinced him that it was just a dream and that they are not real and they should not change their plan of exploring the forest. The King agreed reluctantly. They all went in the forest and reached the banyan tree. This time the king went with one courtier near the tree and absentmindedly plucked one leaf from the tree.

As soon as he did that, the king turned into a leaf and got stuck in the banyan tree. The courtier seeing this got scared and ran away to call the others. Just then the fairy appeared. She said to the king – See I told you to not come near the Banyan tree. You did not listen to me.

The king said he was very sorry and pleaded with the fairy to help him. The fairy then converted him back to the king. Everyone was happy and thanked the fairy.

Moral – Listen to everyone and help everybody

The Girl with a Magic Wish

This is a short story composed by my 6 year old daughter Aarika

Once upon a time, there lived a sweet little girl. She used to do everything by magic. She used to get everything by magic. All she had to do was to write her wish on a paper in the night and it used to get fulfilled in the morning when she woke up.

So one night, she wrote on a page – “I want a small baby pillow” and stuck the paper on a wall. When she woke up in the morning, she did not find the pillow. Actually the pillow was there in the corner but she did not see it. She did not remember where she had stuck the paper also. She searched the whole house but could not find the pillow. It was time for her college so she had to go.

After coming back from college, she remember where she had stuck the paper. There was a bag near the corner of the room and she found the pillow inside the bag. But the pillow was very small, like a small toy. She remembered she had asked for a baby pillow but this was too small. So she removed the cover of the pillow and threw it away.

At night, before sleeping she wrote on a paper – “I want a medium sized pillow”. The pillow appeared in the night but because no one took it, the paper by magic took it back.

Next day, she wanted to go to Pune from Nagpur. So she boarded a train. When the train stopped at a station in the morning, she woke up and got down on the platform. She saw a lot of shops in front of the station. There were all kinds of shops with everything. Then she remembered that in the night she had written on the page – “I want everything”. She was very happy.

She went into the shops and took everything she wanted. But in the meanwhile, she forgot about the train and when she returned to the platform, the train had left. She saw here and there but the train was not there. She was sad because all her bags were in the train. She was hoping someone would pull the chain and stop the train.

She had no money. She started thinking what to do. Then she got an idea. She started begging and earned some money. With that money she bought some new clothes. Then she saw a flat and started living there. There was a computer in the house and using that she booked a train ticket to Nagpur.

She boarded the train and realized it was the same train which she had taken earlier from Nagpur to Pune. At night, she woke up because she wanted to go to the toilet. On the way, she saw her bags which she had lost in the earlier trip. She was so happy. But she kept the bags there only and wrote a note with a number on it and kept it in her pocket. Next morning, the train reached Nagpur. She removed the note with the number from her pocket, reached the compartment where her bag was and took the bag with her and went home.

Moral of the Story – Do not act on any idea that comes to your mind.

The Story of a Lazy Boy

This is a short story composed by my 6 year old daughter Aarika

Once upon a time, there was a lazy boy. He was very lazy. His name was Soma and he lived in Pune. He went to school daily but because he was very lazy he did not study. As a result he got a wrong in everything at school.

He became very upset. So he said to his mother one day that he wanted to get out of this school. Then his mother admitted him to another school. In that new school, everything was Ulta-Pulta. They gave right for wrong answers and wrong for right answers. This worked well for Soma because now  in the final exam when he gave wrong answers, he got everything right and full marks. He was very happy now. He decided to stay in this school till college.

As the years went by, he reached the last standard in the school. He remembered his decision to stay back in this school till college. So he told the principal about it. But the Principal said no. Soma asked the Principal to allow him to continue college in the same school because it was a good school. But the Principal refused.

So Soma went back to his mother and told her about it. His mother also said it was not possible. Soma was unhappy.

One night, he tore a page from an old notebook and wrote on it – “I am leaving home and going to see the world”. He stuck the note on the door and left.

He boarded a train. He looked around and saw that all the people in the train looked like Chinese people. So he thought that the train was going to China. He wanted to go to Mumbai but since the train was going to China, he thought he will get down in Mumbai. But in reality, the train was going to Ahmedabad. So he reached Ahmedabad in the morning.

He thought what to do now because he wanted to go to Mumbai. So he bought a house which had a computer. Using the computer he booked a flight ticket for Mumbai. It was a late night flight. After reaching Mumbai, he found another house and a college. He studied in the college and grew up.

Meanwhile, his father and mother did not find him at home in the morning and saw the note on the door, which said that – I am leaving home and going to see the world. They tore the note and threw it away in the dustbin.

Soma’s parents had a magic computer which they never showed to him. They opened the computer and saw everything on it – how Soma boarded the train, reached Ahmedabad and then to Mumbai and also which college he joined. They also typed into the computer – How many years old is Soma now?

Soma wanted to get married but he did not find any girl. He became old and still could not marry because he did not get any girl.

Moral of the Story – Remember that kids must stay at home with parents in order to find a girl to marry.

 

 

Death on a Mountain – A Parable

As I was taking a stroll down a winding mountain path in the late hours of a pleasant evening in the hope of catching a glimpse of a beautiful sunset, I saw a figure in the distance standing perilously close to the edge of what seemed like a cliff. He was standing with arms outstretched overlooking the valley. A thought flashed across my mind that this person was about to jump. I ran towards him as quickly as I could.

I shouted. “Hey. Stop”

“Hey. You there. Wait.”

He heard my voice and turned around. I reached there almost panting. I noticed his face was calm with just a hint of a smile. I almost bumped into him as there was a slope near the edge of the cliff and if he would not have held me, I would have gone down the edge myself.

Catching my breath, I said, “What.. What were you going to do? I thought you were going to jump.”

He said, “Yes, I was going to when I heard you.” He answered as a matter of fact as if it was the most natural thing to do at the edge of a cliff.

I blurted, “WHAT!. You were going to jump.. You mean you were going to… commit suicide. No. No. You can’t. You cannot do that!”

“Why not?”, he asked in the same calm tone. Something about his calmness had an effect on me and I gained my composure.

“Uh. I mean, you cannot just jump like that and kill yourself. It’s illegal to commit suicide.”

“You mean to say I will be punished if I commit suicide and die?” he looked at me with amusement.

I suddenly realized the stupidity of my question. I tried to gather my wits. He did not seem to be in a hurry to do anything and in a way was even enjoying the moment. What kind of man was he who was going to commit suicide and did not even show any sign of being troubled.

“Why? Why do you want to kill yourself? Any financial troubles?”

“No.”

“Any trouble in your relationships”

“No.”

I did not know what to ask next. Most people who commit suicide do so under great emotional duress caused by financial or emotional problems and here was a man who claimed to have no such problems and yet wanted to die. I was confused and curious at the same time.

The sky was beginning to get dark and the moon was a shining crescent. But I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I knew if I left him now, he would certainly jump. So I decided to engage him in a conversation.

“So why do you want to end your life? Are you not happy?”

“Are you happy?”

The question took me by surprise. I did not expect that.

“No I meant aren’t you happy in life? Why are you committing suicide?”

“I can never be happy. That is why I am killing it.”

“Yes, that’s why I am asking. What is the reason for you being unhappy? Look. It is a beautiful life. One must live and not end one’s life just like that.”

With a deep sigh, he looked at me and then looked at the horizon which was now turning pink and orange just after the sunset. He sat down stretching his legs in front of him. I also sat down beside him.

He said looking at the clouds in the distant sky, “Sooner or later, everyone has to die”

I said, “Yes, that’s right. We will all die but let life take its natural course. Who are you to kill yourself?” I felt some inconsistency in my question the moment I asked it. Does one need anybody’s permission to die? Does my life belong to somebody else that I need to take approval for ending it?

Agreed that my parents gave birth to me and raised me and now the organization pays my salary. Still, I am an independent individual and I don’t think anyone else can have a say about my life, definitely not the government.

God maybe. After all, God or nature or whatever is that force that created me is the only one that can or has the right to take life away from me. I cannot complain to anyone when I die of old age.

Come to think of it, I have no clue when I will die and under what circumstances – old age, accident, cancer, who knows. But surely, I will not end my own life. I have many things to do in life. I want to travel and visit different countries, experience the pleasures of life and fulfill my responsibilities towards my family and society. I also have to complete that project on which I am working.

“Do you know the story of the businessman and the fisherman?” his words broke my thought process.

I remembered the story quite well. A businessman advises a fisherman, who was happily relaxing under a tree to work harder and harder until one day he could earn enough money to happily relax under a tree. The fisherman asked him – what do you think I am doing now?

I said, “Yes, I know that story. What about it?”

“You see, Alexander conquered the whole world and still died. Julius Caesar was king of the world and still died. Genghis Khan dominated the whole world and still died. Everyone who ever wanted to rule the world ended up dying. In the course of their conquests, they became the cause of the death of millions of people. What is the meaning of their life?”

I almost began to explain how their life is a great example and what a great achievement it is to conquer the world but I stopped. The way he framed that question against the outcome of their conquests made me hesitate and reflect.

History is usually presented to us as a one sided story. No doubt, Alexander conquered the world but it is also a fact that he killed millions of people in his way. To prove what? Were these people posing any problem to his kingdom? Definitely not. I instantly lost all regard for all the people engaged in war and battles through the ages. There was a contradiction created in my mind. I was arguing that it is not right to end one’s own life and here I was unconsciously appreciating all those who killed others. If I cannot end my own life, what right do I have to end someone else’s life?

He saw the puzzled look on my face and smiled. He got up and started to walk away from the cliff back towards the mountain path. I quickly got up and started following him. I was relieved that he might have changed his mind about jumping off the cliff. Some stars were visible in the sky now although it was not completely dark.

“Every person is born in a certain environment, a certain atmosphere imbued with certain potentials.” I heard him saying. Although he was a few feet ahead of me, I could hear him clearly.

He continued, “Alexander was born in an environment where he had swords and spears as his training tools and playing toys. Young men in his time aspired to be in the army as that was honorable and prestigious. Further, even if he had the idea in his imagination, he could not have come up with a usable rifle or a battle tank. He was limited to horses. Follow me?”

“Yes, I do.” I said. I could see some sense in what he was saying. My thoughts started associating. Alexander Graham Bell could not have invented the iPhone. The technology simply was not there in his time. All he could do in his time and age was to invent the telephone. The industrial revolution of the early 19th century would have inspired many desirous young men at the time to get into the rapidly growing manufacturing industry to seek out a fortune.

In our times, we see young men aspire for a life in computing or information technology. We have now a well-established school curriculum to inject students with all the knowledge needed to be able to make a career for themselves. Most end up doing jobs and some enterprising ones become successful in creating new companies and new products.

“In the end everyone is going to die.”

Did I say that or did he say that? I was not sure. Was he reading my thoughts?

I asked, “What did you say?”. He did not reply, just kept walking.

I tried to connect the ideas. We are born, we are influenced by our environment, we pursue those ideals which the atmosphere around us projects and ultimately we die. Like there is no fun in watching a suspense movie when right from the beginning you know who the culprit is, there is no fun in living a life when you know the end result.

If I am anyway going to die someday, why not today? Why not end this? What is the point of accomplishing a hundred things and then dying? Like the fisherman said to the businessman – what do you think I am doing now, I asked myself, what is the point of living if I am going to die?

Suddenly he turned around and coming closer said, “Exactly. That’s the question.”

We had reached another higher spot on the mountain. The wind was blowing fast and I had started to feel cold. I wish I had brought my windcheater. Obviously I had not planned on meeting this person and staying out so late. As I saw him moving closer to the edge of the precipice I felt another chill. Had he changed his mind again? He probably wanted to jump off from a higher spot after all. Maybe he was aspiring for a higher death. Shut up, I said to myself.

I decided to divert his attention by asking, “Hey tell me one thing. I do see the point that since I am going to die anyway, I see the futility of all the struggles and achievements in life even if all my craziest desires are fulfilled. But at the same time, something in me is definitely not convinced that the only option is to end my life right now. So if suicide is not an option and living is also not an option, what option do I have?”

“Did you have any choice in your birth – to what parents to be born to, in what year and age to be born in, in which country to be born in?”, he asked.

“No.”

“Do you have a choice in your death – with what illness to die, at what age to die, in which country to die, in which accident or disaster to die?”

“No.”

“Then what makes you certain you have a choice in anything that happens between the two points of birth and death?”

I frowned. I did not understand what he said but I knew he had said something of deep significance. I reflected on it. I am born in this year and age, to my parents in the social and economic environment of my times. All my aspirations and desires are molded by the atmosphere in which I live.

If today for instance, I decide to take a sword and spear and announce my mission of conquering the world, I would be caught and put in an asylum. I do not desire a telephone but an iPhone because that is what is available.

I may desire to travel to space one day because that is on the horizon of being a reality but I cannot desire something that I have no idea about. I have a desire to earn money but now the atmosphere is in the process of creating the desire to earn cryptocurrencies.

I started to feel a strange sensation. I realized that I am aware of the atmosphere and the environment more clearly than I am aware of who I am as a separate entity from the rest of everything. I knew a lot about the universe, the earth, countries, languages, economics, politics, history, science, mathematics, people in my life, my experiences and memories. But who am I? This I do not know.

“You want to know?” He again seemed to have mysteriously read my mind.

I did not have to answer. He knew I wanted to.

“Come up here.” He asked me to come close to the edge where he was standing. It was already night and the lights from the city down below was the only way to know how far up we were on the mountain. It was scary.

He stepped back and asked me stand on the edge. I hesitated. He asked me to close my eyes to keep the fear away. The cold wind was blowing hard on my face.

All of a sudden he pushed me from behind. Was it that he pushed me or was it that he entered my body. I could not make out. I was not falling. I opened my eyes instinctively.

The sky was full of stars like never before I had seen. Every inch of the sky was filled with stars. I could feel as if in slow motion I on this earth was moving in this celestial vast emptiness of space. I did not feel my body or hands or legs. Just plain awareness of being. Infinite. Timeless.

That moment I realized, there was no birth, no death, neither me, nor another.

“Stop reading those spooky stories”, my wife shouted from the bedroom. “Switch off the lights and sleep. Have to wake up the kids for school at six”. I quickly closed the book and jumped into the blanket with her.

Where There is a Will, There is a Way

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One day a thirsty crow was searching for water. It found a pitcher in which there was water but could not drink from it since the water level was very low. So he looked around, found some stones and pebbles and dropped it into the pitcher. This caused the water level to rise and the crow drank the water.

We all know the story of the thirsty crow – one of the most famous of Aesop’s fables. The moral of the story is said to be – Where there is a will, there is a way.

While this story has been in our collective consciousness for so many years, I doubt if many would have listened to it with a critical ear. I really wonder whether the story can really be true in a practical sense, even if the concept is palatable scientifically.

Imagine a round pitcher with a little water. I really doubt that by putting in pebbles and stones the water level will rise so much for the crow to be able to reach it. Beyond a point, the water will stay within the gaps between the stones. Adding more stones will not help at all.

This raises a number of questions which must be answered to justify the story

  • What was the shape of the pitcher?
  • What was the initial water level?
  • What size and weight of pebbles can a crow pick up in its beak?
  • How many pebbles are needed to be put in to raise the water level by one centimeter?

Even if we are able to get some answers to these questions, I am unable to come to terms with the moral of the story. Why is the moral always – where there is a will, there is a way?

I would say the following morals would make more sense

  • Necessity is the mother of invention
  • Think out of the box
  • Never leave a pitcher with water outside, a crow might put stones into it.
  • Jugaad your way to get what you want

I am shocked that we tell our children stories and don’t ask them to think critically on them. We even given them pre-cooked conclusions. Not only that, we also never pause to consider the truth of what we have been told as innocent stories.

By the way, some scientists went ahead and did an experiment with crows and pitchers and found some interesting results.

Refer
Research Paper on the Experiment done on Crows
Video of the Study

The Emperor’s New Clothes

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The emperor’s birthday was nearing and many celebrations were planned in his honor. For this special occasion, the emperor wanted to look his best & wanted a new dress stitched for him. Tailors from across the kingdom were invited to present their designs. Although tailors came from far and wide, the Emperor did not like any of their designs. He announced a big reward for the person who could make the most unique dress for him.

Then one day a stranger appeared in the court & claimed to have the most unique fabric in the world with which he would make the emperor’s birthday suit. The specialty of the fabric was that it could be seen only by one who was wise and could not be seen by one who was foolish. He produced a sample of the fabric from his bag and displayed it to everyone in the court. Although no one could see or touch the fabric, they all exclaimed that they had never seen such a thing. Even the emperor could not say anything for fear of being discovered to be foolish. He had to agree that it was indeed a special fabric most suitable for his birthday. The stranger was then allowed to spend several weeks weaving the imaginary clothes.

On the day of the emperor’s birthday, he got ready to wear his unique clothes. He got down to his inner wear & the stranger put the new clothes on him. Although no one could see the clothes they all appreciated the dress because they did not want to appear foolish. Even the emperor could not say anything. He even rewarded the stranger for his superb work.

Dressed in this invisible suit, the emperor rode his royal horse through the city wearing acknowledging the birthday wishes of his people. All his citizens, seeing the emperor wearing his inner wear on his horse, were in a shock. But no one said anything for fear of attracting his wrath. Suddenly one child in the crowd started laughing & pointing to the emperor said – Look there. the king is not wearing any clothes. The king is not wearing any clothes. ha ha hah!

The emperor immediately realized the truth & rushed back to his palace in shame.

In the very effort to appear wise, shines our stupidity.

Life is such. When there is a great desire for something, it makes us blind. We ignore the truth staring in front of our eyes. We do not believe our own intuition but believe what someone else is saying.

Fear of being termed foolish makes us do things & say things which are contrary to what is. We accept other people’s interpretation of the situation even if we are able to see the same situation differently. The underlying assumption is that the crowd cannot be wrong, all at the same time.

The crowd on the other hand is afraid of itself. So only a small child, pure of heart, without any preconceptions, one who has not yet become a part of the crowd, is not afraid to speak the truth.

We are all like that Emperor who goes about the world displaying our good qualities, nobility, holiness, acumen and spirituality without realizing that others, even though they may see through our nakedness, pretend to see our clothes.

Nakedness is our truth. Even if we wear layers of clothes, fundamentally we are naked inside. How can we ignore that fact? When all the traditional dresses and functional uniforms are taken off, we are all the same.

Going further when we divest ourselves of our stories about who we are in terms of name, family, education, designation & achievements; fundamentally we are pure emptiness, the stuff of what existence is made of. From this place you will never see any clothes however hard someone like that stranger would make you believe that the clothes exist. Because now you can really see and the child in you starts laughing.

Jain Zen – Getting Down from the Elephant

The origin of the Jain religion is in a story that is so Zen-like.

The first Tirthankar of the Jains, Rishabdev, left a major part of his property to his two sons, Bharata and Bahubali, and renounced the world. Bharata had ambitions and he conquered the rest of India and also asked Bahubali to surrender his share. Bahubali had a great ego and he refused and it was decided to settle the matter in a one on one combat.

Bahubali turned out to have the upper hand and right at the moment when he was about to kill Bharata, he realized the futility of it all. He stood at the same place and entered meditation. It is said that he stood there for a year and still did not attain enlightenment. Tribute has been paid to his meditative position through the various Bahubali statues in India, the most famous being the one at Shravanbelagola.

So when one stands in the same position for a year, he will lose his clothes and creepers will grow on him. Bahubali’s sisters got worried and asked their father Rishabdev what to do. He said, nothing can be done unless Bahubali gets off the elephant first. So the sisters went to Bahubali and asked him when he will get off the elephant. Hearing this, Bahubali got instantly enlightened. He is said to be the first person to get enlightened in this cosmic era.

The analogy is apparent to those who understand but the point is that the story is so Zen-like. Zen, as we know it, came much later but the essense of what we call Zen is clearly seen in this story.