One of my early childhood memories is of sitting between both my elder brothers and listening with fascination and interest to the made-up stories they would tell me before going to bed.
I loved stories then and I love stories now. But then again who doesn’t love a great story?
In this blog post, I’d like to share with you three simple short stories that will make you reflect, so sit back and enjoy.
The story of the Chinese farmer and the horse
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away.
That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”
I’ve talked before in the blog about how all events, circumstances and even life itself, is neutral and has no in-built meaning. Events and circumstances in our life don’t come pre-packaged with any labels such as good or bad. Instead, we are the ones who attach a negative or positive meaning by the perspective with which we view them.
However, when we attach a negative label or meaning to a certain event, our own perceptions cause us pain and makes us suffer. As the farmer’s story illustrates, it is wise to refrain from attaching any negative meaning to the events that occur in our lives.
The story of the king and the ring
Once upon a time there was a king who said this to the members of his kingdom:
"I have bought one of the most beautiful diamonds in the world and I want to hide a message in the ring which I intend to pass on to my successors after my rule. The message should serve me and others in the times of desperation and struggle. It must be a short sentence that can be stashed under the ring's diamond.''
All those who listened were very clever and quick thinkers, they all could write passages and essays but not a short sentence that is not longer than 2-3 words that would assist someone in the times of despair.
They all thought but could not come up with what was needed. The king was a bit disappointed and he went into his chambers where his old servant met him. As the king's mother passed away at a very young age, he was raised majorly by this faithful servant. The king had tremendous respect for the servant and so he presented his current problem to him.
The old man said:
"I'm not wise nor scholarly nor well educated like the others sir, but I do know of a message. During my life, in the palace I've met all sorts of people, and once I met a wizard who was invited by your father. To thank me, he gave me this message".
The old servant wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to the king. "But don't read it" he said" keep it hidden in the ring and open it only when you have no other choice.”
Soon after, the kingdom was invaded and the king started to lose battles. He fled on his horse followed by his enemies. He was alone and his enemies were many. With no other choice, a cliff lay ahead of him and there was no way of return, he remembered the message inside the ring, he opened it took out the piece of paper and read the short message: "This too shall pass"
As soon as he read the message, he felt a great sense of silence and empowerment enveloping him. His enemies got lost in the woods and their horses were nowhere to be heard. The king was thankful to his old servant and the wizard. These words were incredible. He put the piece of paper back under the diamond in the ring and embarked on his journey back to his kingdom.
The day he got back to his kingdom, all were feeling victorious, he was greeted with a big feast and his happiness was spellbound.
The old servant stood next to him and said: "This moment too, is right for another look at the hidden message, Raja."
The king was amused and he replied "Now that I'm victorious people are celebrating, I'm not desperate or in a no option situation, why would I even look at the message?"
The servant said: “Listen to me sir, this message is relevant both in times of despair and in good times as well.”
The king opened the message again.
"This too shall pass"
The king again felt the great internal silence that he had felt before. Though he was celebrating, his pride and ego disappeared and diminished. The king understood the true meaning of the message and he was enlightened.
Just as everything in our external environment is constantly changing, the same is the case with everything in our internal environment. All our thoughts and feelings are like clouds in the sky, constantly arising and passing.
The Buddhists call this phenomenon “Annicha” which means that everything is temporary or impermanent. Keeping this wisdom in our mind can heal and bring us comfort in challenging times as well as cherish and savour the beautiful yet transitory gift that is life.
The elephant and the rope story
A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp, and he spotted that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains.
All that was holding them back from escaping the camp, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.
As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all.
Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape.
The trainer replied;
“When they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible.
The beliefs we hold in our lives is extremely important because they have the power to create our reality due to the operation of the Law of attraction.
If we don’t change our limiting beliefs, they become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we become unable to break free from chains of our self-imposed limitations
As the author Marianne Williamson so rightly said,
"Nothing binds you except your thoughts; nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs."
As the story of the elephant and the rope illustrates, it is important to realise that a belief and the actual truth can be two very different things. Therefore it is essential to examine and let go of the limiting beliefs that may be holding us back in our lives.
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