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Inspirational Quotes | Wisdom | Stories

The Lantern Has Gone Out

The Lantern Has Gone Out

A blind man was leaving a friend's house at night when he was suggested to carry a lantern. Laughing aloud, the blind man snapped, "What do I need light for? It makes no difference to me. I know my way home !"

His friend patiently replied, "Yes, I knew. But it's for others to see, so that they won't bump into you."

Sneering, the blind man agreed to use it. A little down the road, someone accidentally bumped into the blind man, startling him.

Fuming, he yelled, "Hey! You're not blind! So make way for the blind man!"

Further down the road, another person bumped into him. This time, he got angrier, shouting, "Are you blind? Can't you see the lantern? I'm carrying it for you!”

The stranger replied, "You are the blind one! Can't you see your lantern has gone out?" The blind man was stunned.

Moral and inspiration of this story: those who use the others' words to teach people can be likened to the blind one. The light of the lantern was long gone out but he himself did not realize it
The Value of a Rock

The Value of a Rock

One day, a young novice monk constantly contemplated about what the value of life is. He often asked his master questions about life, "My dear master, may I know what the maximum value of my life is?" His master replied, "You just carry the rock from our back-yard and try to sell it at the market. If someone asks you about the price of the rock, don't answer them, but show them by stretching out two fingers. If they want to bargain with you, you also don't answer them, just carry the rock back home and I'll tell you the maximum value of your life."

So the novice carried a big rock to the market and sat beside it. A housewife walked up to the novice and asked, "How much is this rock?" Without answering, the lnovice stretched out two fingers. The housewife asked, "Two dollars ?" The little monk shook his head, so the housewife went on asking, "Then how about 20 dollars, give it to me, so I can use it to preserve my Chinese cabbage." The novice was surprised to hear it, he thought to himself: "Oh, my God, it is just such a normal rock of which there are millions in the mountain at the back of our temple and she wants to spend $20 to buy it."

So he brought that rock back to his master and joyfully said, "Master, do you know that there was a housewife who wanted to spend $20 to buy this rock. Now you can tell me, my honoured master, how much is the maximum value of my life?"

His master answered, "Calm down, calm down; tomorrow, remember to bring the rock to the museum and try to sell it there. If there is someone asking you about the price, still stretch two fingers out but don't answer. If the person wants to bargain with you, bring your rock back again, and we can talk about it later."

So the second day, the novice took the rock to the museum, and people there were amazed to see a novice selling a rock in the museum. Some of the visitors whispered to each other: "Why would an ordinary rock be sold in the museum? A man uttered, "This rock must be very special that it can be sold in the museum; it must be that we don't know its value." Just at that time, a man jumped from the crowd and shouted to the novice, "Little monk, how much for your rock?" The novice didn't reply but stretched out two of his fingers. The man asked surprisingly, "$200?" The little monk shook his head. The man then said, "$2,000? Okay, I accept $2,000, as I can carve it into a statue." Upon hearing this, the little monk couldn't believe his ears.

He still followed his master's instruction and ran back to his temple with the rock. Happily, he told his master, "My honoured master, today someone wanted to spend $2000 for this rock, please tell me the maximum value of my life now." The master laughed and said, "Tomorrow, remember to bring the rock to the antique store and sell it there ! If there is someone who wants to bargain, then please bring it back again. After that, I'll tell you the maximum value of your life."

So in the morning of the third day, the novice monk brought his rock to the antique store, and immediately he was surrounded by a group of people. Some of them were asking each other, "What kind of rock is this one? Do you know its geological origin, and from which dynasty it is, and what was the use of it before?"

Then one asked: "Little monk, how much for your rock?" The novice monk stretched out two of his fingers without replying. "$20,000?" The man asked. "What?" the little monk uttered, he could hardly believe his ears.

The man thought that the price he offered was too low and that the novice monk was offended by it, so he added, "No, no, I mean I'd like to pay you $20,0000."

"What, $20,0000?" Grabbing his rock, the little monk rushed back to the mountain to his master, and panting he said, "Master, master, do you know that we are rich now, as one person offered $20,0000 for our rock. Now you can tell me, as you promised, what is the maximum value of my life?"

Patting the head of the little monk, the master said gently, "My son, do you know that your value is just like the value of the rock. If you were placed on the market, you would only be worth $20; however, if you were placed in a museum, then you would be worth $2,000, and if you were placed in an antique store, then your price would go up again to around $20,0000. So a person's value is very different in different settings."

Furthermore, his master further said, "See, what is the standard to evaluate the value of our life ? Everyone should set that standard for themselves. We should never ask others what the value of our life is. No one can determine that for us. Take that rock for example, the lowest offer is two dollars, and the highest offer is 20,000 dollars. So we are the ones who decide the value of our own life. We should bring value to our life and not let others decide that for us, just like how everyone offered a different price for that rock."
Kahlil Gibran's Inspiring Poem : On Children

Kahlil Gibran's Inspiring Poem : On Children

Your children are not "your" children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
A Beautiful Message by Arthur Ashe : Why Me ?

A Beautiful Message by Arthur Ashe : Why Me ?

The legendary Wimbledon player who was dying of AIDS, which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983. He received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed:

"Why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?"

To this Arthur Ashe replied:

50 Million children started playing Tennis,

5 Million learnt to play Tennis,

500 Thousand learnt Professional Tennis,

50 Thousand came to Circuit,

5 Thousand reached Grand Slam,

50 reached Wimbledon,

4 reached the Semifinals,

2 reached the Finals and

when I was holding the cup in my hand, I never asked God:

"Why Me?"

So now that I'm in pain how can I ask God:

"Why Me?"

Happiness keeps you Sweet!

Trials keep you Strong!

Sorrows keep you Human!

Failure keeps you Humble!

Success keeps you Glowing!

But only, Faith keeps you Going!

Sometimes you are not satisfied with your life, while many people in this world are dreaming of living your life.

A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead dreams of flying. but, a pilot on the plane sees the farmhouse & dreams of returning home.

That's life!

Enjoy yours...

If wealth is the secret to happiness, then the rich should be dancing on the streets.
But only poor kids do that.

If power ensures security, then VIPs should walk unguarded.
But those who live simply, sleep soundly.

If beauty and fame bring ideal relationships, then celebrities should have the best marriages.
Live simply, be happy! Walk humbly and love genuinely
Dr. Aloysius Loh: Life After 60

Dr. Aloysius Loh: Life After 60

Life can begin at 60, it is all in your hands! Many people feel unhappy, health-wise and security-wise, after 60 years of age, owing to the diminishing importance given to them and their opinions. But, it need not be so, if only we understand the basic principles of life and follow them scrupulously. Here are ten mantras to age gracefully and make life after retirement pleasant.

1. Never say "I am aged": There are three ages, chronological, biological, and psychological. The first is calculated based on our date of birth; the second is determined by the health conditions; the third is how old we feel we are. While we don't have control over the first, we can take care of our health with good diet, exercise and a cheerful attitude. A positive attitude and optimistic thinking can reverse the third age.

2. Health is wealth: If you really love your kith and kin, taking care of your health should be your priority. Thus, you will not be a burden to them. Have an annual health check-up and take the prescribed medicines regularly. Do take health insurance coverage.

3. Money is important: Money is essential for meeting the basic necessities of life, keeping good health and earning family respect and security. Don't spend beyond your means even for your children. You have lived for them all through and it is time you enjoyed a harmonious life with your spouse. If your children are grateful and they take care of you, you are blessed. But, never take it for granted.

4. Relaxation and recreation: The most relaxing and recreating forces are a healthy religious attitude, good sleep, music and laughter. Have faith in God, learn to sleep well, love good music and see the funny side of life.

5. Time is precious: It is almost like holding a horses' reins. When they are in your hands, you can control them. Imagine that everyday you are born again. Yesterday is a cancelled cheque. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is ready cash - use it profitably. Live this moment; live it fully, now, in the present time.

6. Change is the only permanent thing: We should accept change - it is inevitable. The only way to make sense out of change is to join in the dance. Change has brought about many pleasant things. We should be happy that our children are blessed.

7. Enlightened selfishness: All of us are basically selfish. Whatever we do, we expect something in return. We should definitely be grateful to those who stood by us. But, our focus should be on the internal satisfaction and the happiness we derive by doing good for others, without expecting anything in return. Perform a random act of kindness daily.

8. Forget and forgive: Don't be bothered too much about others' mistakes. We are not spiritual enough to show our other cheek when we are slapped in one. But for the sake of our own health and happiness, let us forgive and forget them. Otherwise, we will be only increasing our blood pressure.

9. Everything has a purpose: Take life as it comes. Accept yourself as you are and also accept others for what they are. Everybody is unique and is right in his own way.

10. Overcome the fear of death: We all know that one day we have to leave this world. Still we are afraid of death. We think that our spouse and children will be unable to withstand our loss. But the truth is no one is going to die for you; they may be depressed for some time. Time heals everything and they will go on.
10 Teachings From The Kalama Sutta To Defend Against Intellectual Dependence

10 Teachings From The Kalama Sutta To Defend Against Intellectual Dependence

All people in the world, including the Thai people, are now in the same situation as were the Kalama people of Kesaputtanigama, India, during the time of the Buddha. Their village was in a place through which many religious teachers passed. Each of these teachers taught that his personal doctrine was the only truth, and that all others before and after him were wrong. The Kalama's could not decide which doctrine they should accept and follow. The Buddha once came to their village and the Kalama's brought up this problem with him: that they did not know which teacher to believe. So the Buddha taught them what is now known as the Kalama Sutta, examined here.

Nowadays, worldly people can study many different approaches to economic, social and technological development. The universities teach just about everything. Then, regarding spiritual matters, here in Thailand alone we have so many teachers, so many interpretations of the Buddha's teachings and so many meditation centres that nobody knows which teaching to accept or which practice to follow. Thus it can be said that we have fallen into the same position as the Kalama's were in.

The Buddha taught them, and us, not to accept or believe anything immediately. He gave ten basic conditions to beware of in order to avoid becoming the intellectual slave of anyone, even of the Buddha himself. This principle enables us to know how to choose the teachings, which are truly capable of quenching suffering (dukkha). The ten examples, which the Buddha gave in the Kalama Sutta follow:

Do not accept and believe just because something has been passed along and retold through the years– Such credulity is a characteristic of brainless people, or "sawdust brains", such as those in Bangkok who once believed that there would be disasters for the people born in the "ma years" (those years of the traditional twelve-year Thai calendar whose names begin with "ma", namely, years five through eight: small snake, big snake, horse and goat).

Do not believe just because some practice has become traditional – People tend to imitate what others do and then pass the habit along, as in the story of the rabbit frightened by the fallen bael fruit. The other animals saw it running at full strength, and then so frightened and excited each other that they ran after it. Most of them tripped and fell, broke their necks, or tumbled to death off cliffs. Any Vipassana practice that’s done in limitation of others, as a mere tradition, leads to similar results.

Do not accept and believe merely because of the reports and news spreading far and wide through one's village, or even throughout the world. Only fools are susceptible to such "rumours", for they refuse to exercise their own intelligence.

Do not accept and believe just because something is cited in a Pitaka – The word "Pitaka", which is used for the Buddhist scriptures, means anything written or inscribed upon any suitable writing material. Memorized teachings, which are passed on orally should not be confused with Pitaka. Pitakas are a certain kind of conditioned thing, which are under humanity's control. They can be created, improved and changed by human hands. So we cannot trust every letter and word in them. We need to use our powers of discrimination to see how those words can be applied to the quenching of suffering. The various schools of Buddhism all have their own cannons, among which there are discrepancies.

Do not believe just because something fits with the reasoning of logic (takka). This is merely one branch of study used to try to figure out the truth. Takka, what we call "logics", can go wrong if its data or its methods are incorrect.

Do not believe just because something is correct on the grounds of naya (deductive and inductive reasoning) alone. These days, naya is called "philosophy". In Thailand, we translate the word "philosophy" as "prajña", which the Indian people cannot accept because "naya" is only one point of view. It's not the highest or absolute wisdom, which they call "paññá" or "prajña", "naya", or "nyaya", is merely a branch of thought which reasons on the basis of assumption or hypotheses. It can be incorrect if the reasoning or choice of assumptions is inappropriate.

Do not believe or accept just because something appeals to one's common sense, which is merely snap judgments based on one's tendencies of thought. We like using this approach so much that it becomes habitual. Boastful philosophers like to use this method a great deal and consider it to be clever.

Do not believe just because something stands up to or agrees with one's preconceived opinions and theories – Personal views can be wrong, or our methods of experiment and verification might be incorrect, and then will not lead to the truth. Accepting what fits our theories may seem to be a scientific approach, but actually can never be so, since its proofs and experiments are inadequate.

Do not believe just because the speaker appears believable – Outside appearances and the actual knowledge inside a person can never be identical. We often find that speakers who appear credible on the outside say incorrect and foolish things. Nowadays, we must be wary of computers because the programmers who feed them data and manipulate them may feed in the wrong information or use them incorrectly. Do not worship computers so much, for doing so goes against this principle of the Kalama Sutta.

Do not believe just because the Samana or preacher, the speaker, is "our teacher" – The Buddha's purpose regarding this important point is that no one should be the intellectual slave of someone else, not even of the Buddha himself. The Buddha emphasized this point often, and there were disciples, such as the venerable Shariputra, who confirmed this practice. They did not believe the Buddha’s words immediately upon hearing them, but believed only after adequately considering the advice and putting it to the test of practice. See for yourselves whether there's any other religious teacher in the world who has given this highest freedom to his disciples and audiences! Thus in Buddhism there's no dogmatic system, there's no pressure to believe without the right to examine and decide for oneself. This is the greatest special quality of Buddhism, which keeps its practitioners from being the intellectual slaves of anyone, as explained above. We thus should not volunteer to follow the West as slavishly as we are doing now. Intellectual and spiritual freedom is best.

The ten examples of the Kalama Sutta are a surefire defense against intellectual dependence or not being one's own person: that is, neglecting one's own intelligence and wisdom in dealing with what one hears and listens to, what is called in Dhamma language "paratoghosa" (sound of others). When listening to anything, one should give it careful attention and full scrutiny. If there's reason to believe what has been heard and it results in the genuine quenching of suffering, then one finally may believe it one hundred percent.

The principle of the Kalama Sutta is appropriate for everyone, everywhere, every era and every world— even for the world of devas (gods). Nowadays the world has been shrunk by superb communications. Information can be exchanged easily and rapidly. People can receive new knowledge from every direction and corner of the globe. In the process, they don’t know what to believe and, therefore, are in the same position as the Kalama's once were. Indeed, it’s the Kalama Sutta that will be their refuge. Please give it the good attention and study it deserves. Consider it the greatest good fortune that the Buddha taught the Kalama Sutta. It is a gift for everyone in the world.

The Kalama Sutta is to be used by people of all ages. None of the items in the Kalama Sutta state that children should never believe anyone or should never listen to anyone, they all state that children, and everyone else, should listen and believe only after having seen the real meaning of something and the advantages they will receive from such belief and its subsequent practice. When a teacher teaches something, having the children see the reason behind the teaching won't make the children obstinate. Children will understand the principle of the Kalama Sutta more and more as they grow up. They will complete all ten items themselves as they become fully mature adults—if we train children by this standard.

A scientific world such as today's will be able to accept gladly all ten tenets of the Kalama Sutta as being in line with the scientific method and approach. There’s not the least contradiction between the principles of science and those of the Kalama Sutta. Even the eighth item, which states that one should not accept something just because it agrees with one’s own preconceived theories, does not contradict scientific principles. True scientists emphasize experimental verification, not their own concepts, opinions and reasoning, as their main criterion for accepting something as true. Due to these standards of the Kalama Sutta, Buddhism will meet the expectations and needs of true scientists.

There's a problem every time a new kind of medicine comes out and gets advertised up and down all over the place. Should we offer ourselves as guinea pigs to test it, out of belief in the advertisements? Or should we wait until we have sufficient reason to try just a little of it first, to see if it truly gives good results, before fully relying on it? We should respond to new statements and teachings as we respond to new medicines, by depending on the principles in the Kalama Sutta as a true refuge.

The Kalama Sutta requires us to have wisdom before having faith. If one wants to have faith come first, then let it be the faith which begins with wisdom, not faith which comes from ignorance. The same holds true in the principle of the Noble Eightfold Path: Take wisdom or right understanding as the starting point, then let faith grow out of that wisdom or right understanding. That is the only safe approach. We ought never to believe blindly immediately upon hearing something, nor should we be forced to believe out of fear, bribery and the like.

The world nowadays is so overwhelmed by the power of advertising that most people have become its slaves. It can make people pull out their wallets to buy things they don't need to eat, don't need to have and don’t need to use. It's so commonplace that we need to offer the principle of the Kalama Sutta to our human comrades of this era. Propaganda is much more harmful than ordinary advertising or what’s called paratoghosa in Pali. Even with ordinary advertising, we must depend on the principle of the Kalama Sutta, to say nothing of needing this principle to deal with outright propaganda, which is full of intentional deceptions. So we can say that the Kalama Sutta is beneficial even in solving economic problems.

Does this world, which is intoxicated with freedom really know or have freedom in line with the principle of the Kalama Sutta? Is the lack of such freedom caused by blind ignorance and indifference regarding the Kalama Sutta? Some people even claim that it teaches us not to believe or listen to anything. Moreover, some actually say that the Buddha preached this Sutta only for the Kalama's there at that time. Why don't we open our eyes and take notice that people nowadays have become intellectual slaves, that they’ve lost their freedom much more than those Kalamas in the time of the Buddha? Human friends, fellow worshippers of freedom, I ask you to consider carefully the essence and aim of the Kalama Sutta and the Buddha’s intention in teaching it. Then, your Buddhist quality of awakening will grow fat and robust, rather than skinny and weak.

To say that democracy is always and absolutely good is to speak with one’s head in the sand. Those who insist on it haven't considered that a democracy of selfish people is worse than a dictatorship under an unselfish person who rules for the sake of Dhamma and justice. A democracy of selfish people means freedom to use their selfishness in a most frightening and awful manner. Consequently, problems drag on endlessly among those people who have a democracy of selfishness. Stop saying that democracy is absolutely good or that dictatorship is absolutely good. Instead, stick to the principle that both will be good if they’re based in Dhamma. Each population should choose whichever system suits the particular circumstances that it faces.

More than ever before the modern world needs the Kalama Sutta as its basic operating principle. The world is spinning fast with the defilements of humanity. It's shrinking due to better transportation and communications. And it's about to self-destruct because proper awareness, intelligence and wisdom are lacking. Under the power of defilement, the world is worshipping materialism, sex and luxury, because it lacks standards like that of the Kalama Sutta. No one knows how to make choices in line with its principle. Consequently, the world is wholly unfit for peace, while increasing in crime and other harmful evils every moment. Let's eliminate all these problems and evils by relying on the Kalama Sutta as our standard. So let’s yell at the top of our lungs, "Help! Kalama Sutta, help us!"

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu was an influential ascetic-philosopher of the 20th century. Known as an innovative re-interpreter of Buddhist doctrine and Thai folk beliefs, Buddhadasa fostered a reformation in conventional religious perceptions in his home country, Thailand, as well as abroad. Although a formally ordained ascetic, Buddhadasa developed a personal view that rejected specific religious identification and considered all faiths as principally one.

From: Themindfulworld.org