Life Lesson: On Accepting Things “For The Sake Of”

image from http://www.google.com

an excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s story on THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CAT IN MEDITATION in the book Like A Flowing River

Having written a book about madness (Veronika decides to die) , I was forced to wonder how many things we do are imposed on us by necessity, or by the absurd. Why wear a tie? Why do clocks run “clockwise”? If we live in a decimal system, why does the day have 24 hours of 60 minutes?

The fact is, many of the rules we obey nowadays have no real foundation. Nevertheless, if we wish to act differently, we are considered “crazy” or “immature”. Meanwhile, society continues to create some systems which, in the fullness of time, lose their reason for existence, but continue to impose their rules. An interesting Japanese story illustrates what I mean by this:

A great Zen Buddhist master, who was in charge of the Mayu Kagi monastery, had a cat which was his true passion in life. So, during meditation classes, he kept the cat by his side – in order to make the most of his company.

One morning, the master – who was already quite old – passed away. His best disciple took his place.
– What shall we do with the cat? – asked the other monks.
As a tribute to the memory of their old instructor, the new master decided to allow the cat to continue attending the Zen Buddhist classes.

Some disciples from the neighboring monasteries, traveling through those parts, discovered that, in one of the region’s most renowned temples, a cat took part in the meditation sessions. The story began to spread.
Many years passed. The cat died, but as the students at the monastery were so used to its presence, they soon found another cat. Meanwhile, the other temples began introducing cats in their meditation sessions: they believed the cat was truly responsible for the fame and excellence of Mayu Kagi’s teaching.

A generation passed, and technical treatises began to appear about the importance of the cat in Zen meditation. A university professor developed a thesis – which was accepted by the academic community – that felines have the ability to increase human concentration, and eliminate negative energy.
And so, for a whole century, the cat was considered an essential part of Zen Buddhist studies in that region.

Until a master appeared who was allergic to animal hair, and decided to remove the cat from his daily exercises with the students.

There was a fierce negative reaction – but the master insisted. Since he was an excellent instructor, the students continued to make the same progress, in spite of the absence of the cat.
Little by little, the monasteries – always in search of new ideas, and already tired of having to feed so many cats – began eliminating the animals from the classes. In twenty years new revolutionary theories began to appear – with very convincing titles such as “The Importance of Meditating Without a Cat”, or “Balancing the Zen Universe by Will Power Alone, Without the Help of Animals”.

Another century passed, and the cat withdrew completely from the meditation rituals in that region. But two hundred years were necessary for everything to return to normal – because during all this time, no one asked why the cat was there.

Advertisements

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

image from http://www.scottscoffeehouse.com

A parable read from http://www.spiritual-short-stories.com. Original source unknown.

Life is indeed A LOT like COFFEE…You can watch the video HERE or READ ON 🙂

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 the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.”

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

What’s So Strange About Being Strange?

Some stories from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

photo from http://www.sodahead.com

I DO IT THIS WAY

Millie and Susie were playing dress-up together all morning.  Then they started fighting over who would wear the orange hat.

“Time for a nap before lunch I think,” called out Millie’s mom from the kitchen.

“No,” said Susie to Millie, “I have lunch, then I have a sleep.”

“But I sleep and have lunch after,” replied Millie.

“That’s a funny way to do things,” said Susie, “ It’s like putting your shirt and pants on before putting your undershirt and underpants on.”

“What’s wrong with that?” questioned Millie.

A RED SANDAL AND A PINK SNEAKER

One day, Sara put a red sandal on her right foot and a pink sneaker on her left foot.

Sara said to Robin, “I think I look beautiful.  A red sandal really matches a pink sneaker.”

Robin said, “To wear a red sandal with a pink sneaker is not beautiful.  It’s just strange.”

“Why is it strange?” Sara asked.

“Everyone puts the same shoe on the right and left feet.  So, to put a different shoe on each foot is strange.  And a strange thing cannot be beautiful.”  Robin said.

“Then why do you wear a shirt with yellow on the right sleeve and green on the left sleeve?” Sara asked.

 Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)

I Think Therefore I Am…Modern Version

A story from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

image from http://www.redmotolov.com

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU EXIST?

 David said, “I’m scared of monsters.”

Ann said: “Some people like monsters: they aren’t afraid of them.”

“I’m scared of big, ugly monsters.  They make my teeth chatter,” said David.

Emma said, “It’s okay to be scared but I’m not scared of monsters, they’re my favorites.”

Victor said,  “I can be scared, just like an animal.”

“Animals are alive, that’s why they can be scared,” remarked Emma.

“So stones can’t be scared, because stones aren’t alive?” asked David.

Victor said, “Yeah, like statues.  Statues are never scared!”

Ann replied, “I get it! Things that don’t exist can’t be scared.”

David said, “I can be scared, so I must exist.”

Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)

Why Do You Do What You Do?

A story from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

photo from http://www.holycow.typepad.net

 WHEN IS IT GOOD TO DO NOTHING AND WHEN IS IT ISN’T?

The teacher said, “Kathy, here are six questions for you to answer.”

Kathy said, “Do I have to answer all six of them?”

The teacher said, “Kathy, pick just one.”

Kathy said, “When you’re swimming it’s not good to do nothing.”

The teacher asked, “Why not?”

Kathy said, “Why do I have to say why?”

The teacher said, “You should always be ready to give a reason for what you do.”

photo from http://www.nerdbase.blogspot.com

 Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)

I Want To Say MY OWN Word

A story from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

photo from http://www.google.com


I WANT TO SAY MY OWN WORD

The teacher led her kindergartners to a field.  It was a quiet morning in early autumn. A flock of migrating birds were flying far away in the sky.  The birds were calling softly; that’s why it was a sad day in the field.

 The teacher told her children, “Let’s compose a story about autumn, the sky and the migrating birds we have seen today. Each of you describe the sky. Pay attention now, and think.”

The children became silent.  They looked at the sky and thought.  After a minute the first compositions came:

The sky is blue…

The sky is light blue…

The sky is clear…

The sky is pale blue…

And that was all.  Children were repeating the same words again and again: blue, light blue, clear, pale blue.  A little girl with blue eyes was silently standing aside.  “Why are you silent, Jennifer?” asked the teacher.

“I want to say my own word.”

“Well, what would you say about the sky?”

“The sky is tender,” Jennifer said and smiled softly.  The children became silent.  In this moment they could notice something they had not seen before.

The sky is sad…

The sky is disturbing…

The sky is sorrowful…

The sky is ice cold…

 The sky was playing, trembling, breathing, smiling, just like a live being, and the children were looking into the sad blue eyes of the autumn sky.

Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)

My Magic Green Glasses

A story from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

photo from http://www.news.thomasnet.com


MY MAGIC GREEN GLASSES

 At breakfast time, Melissa looked through her pockets.

“What are you doing?” Catherine asked Melissa.

Melissa said, “I’m looking for my green magic glasses.  Last night I put them in my pocket.”

“What are green magic glasses?” Catherine asked.

“They are glasses that are for mealtimes.  I don’t like to eat.  So, at mealtimes, instead of eating, if I wear those glasses and just look at foods, I become full.”  Melissa said.

“Wahoo!  Who gave you those glasses?” Catherine asked.

“An old man gave me them in a dream I had about not liking to eat.”  Melissa said.

“Did it happen in your dream?  That’s just a dream.  It’s not real.” Catherine said.

“Isn’t a dream real?  If a dream isn’t real, how can I not like to eat in a dream and really not like to eat at the same time?” Melissa asked.

Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)

What’s Better and Why?

A story from the book Thinking Trees and Laughing Cats (A Thinking Curriculum for Pre-School Education), a book published by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC). These stories are meant to be introduction stories for a philosophical discussion with children (and adults, too!). I spent two weeks in New Jersey, USA just inhaling and exhaling the philosophies of Philosophy for Children (how redundant). This is one of the books I really liked. Enjoy 🙂

photo from http://www.desktoppedia.com

WHICH IS BETTER?

There was once a little girl who loved asking questions.  She especially liked to ask “Which is better?” questions.

         She would say to her mother, “Which is better, apples or pears? Water or lemonade? A ball or a doll?”

         Her mother answered patiently, although she did have her doubts.  How can you say whether a ball is better than a doll, or a rose is better than a tulip?

         One day the little girl asked, “Mother, what’s better: fairy tales or songs?”

         Her mother replied, “If you tell me, which is better, the sun or the sky, I’ll tell you which is better, fairy tales or songs.”

         The little girl thought long and hard, but it was no use.  She looked up at the sky and at the bright round sun.  They were each so beautiful and you couldn’t see one without seeing the other.

        After that the little girl no longer asked what’s better.  She had other questions: What’s the best thing about fairy tales? And what’s the best thing about songs?

         And her mother was delighted to answer these new questions.

Click this to view the whole book (with exercises)