Traditionally, we have passed on teachings through storytelling. For me, this is one of the most powerful teaching and learning tools. I love the Worlds that my imagination conjures up when I hear a particularly resonant story, and the wisps that linger long after the storyteller has finished.
Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out.
"Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!"
"Brother," the second monk replied, "I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her."
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours 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 neighbours 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 neighbours 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 neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.
A Wishing Tree
There is a parable about a poor man walking through the woods reflecting upon his many troubles. He stopped to rest against a tree, a magical tree that would instantly grant the wishes of anyone who came in contact with it. He realized he was thirsty and wished for a drink. Instantly a cup of cool water was in his hand. Shocked, he looked at the water, he decided it was safe and drank it. He then realized he was hungry and wished he had something to eat.
A meal appeared before him. "My wishes are being granted," he thought in disbelief. "Well, then I wish for a beautiful home of my own," he said out loud. The home appeared in the meadow before him. A huge smile crossed his face as he wished for servants to take care of the house.
When they appeared he realized he had somehow been blessed with an incredible power and he wished for a beautiful, loving, intelligent woman to share his good fortune.
"Wait a minute, this is ridiculous," said the man to the woman. "I'm not this lucky. This can't happen to me."
As he spoke...everything disappeared. He shook his head and said, "I knew it," then walked away thinking about his many troubles.
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