Two Teaching Stories

    TWO TEACHING STORIES By VIKRAM KARVE    First Story:  First, let’s read Liehtse’s famous parable of the Old Man at the Fort: An Old Man was living with his Son at an abandoned fort on the top of a hill, and one day he lost a horse that ran away.  The neighbors came to express their sympathy for this misfortune, but the Old Man asked, “How do you know this is bad luck? The fact is that one horse is missing and there is one horse less in the stables. That is the fact. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – that is a matter of judgment.”  A few days afterwards, his horse returned with a number of wild horses, and his neighbors came again to congratulate him on this stroke of fortune, and the Old Man replied, “How do you know this is good luck?  The fact is that there are more horses in my stable than before. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – well that is a matter of opinion.”  With so many horses around, his son began to take to riding, and one day while riding a wild horse he was thrown off and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came around to express their sympathy, and the Old Man replied, “How do you know this is bad luck? The fact is that my son has broken a leg. That is the fact. Whether it is misfortune – well that depends on how you look at it!”  A few days later a big war broke out and all the able bodied men were forcibly conscripted into the army, sent to the warfront to fight the bloody war and most of them were killed or severely wounded. Because the Old Man’s son had a broken leg he did not have to go to the front and his life was saved. Soon his leg healed, he recovered, and everyone envied the Old Man at the Fort who had the only hale and hearty son in the village. This parable drives home the lesson that there are no such things like good luck and bad luck. What disturbs you are not events but your attitude towards them. You must learn to distinguish between facts and your attitude or judgment towards those facts.   Second Teaching Story:  Here’s the second teaching story: A guy was desperately trying to coerce me into buying a life insurance policy the other day, and to fob him off, I told him this Mulla Nasrudin story: A group of philosophers and scientists traveled far and wide and contemplated and calculated for many years to ascertain the date when the end of the world would occur but could not find any answer. Finally they turned to Mulla Nasrudin and asked him, “Do you know when the end of the world will be?” “Of course,” said Mulla Nasrudin. “Tell us the date the world will come to an end,” the philosophers and scientists urged eagerly.  “The day I die,” Mulla Nasrudin said matter-of-factly. “What?” everyone asked unbelievingly. “When I die, that will be last day this world will exist,” proclaimed Nasrudin. “When you die? Are you sure it will be the end of the world?”  “Of course I’m sure. As far as I am concerned, the moment I die, this world will cease to exist, for me, at least, isn’t it?” said Mulla Nasrudin closing the discussion.  Isn’t it true? What matters is the present moment and immediate environment. Why do we worry about things in the distant future when we may not be around? The same is with temporary and transient things like a job, a place, a house, a possession, a relationship – all the ephemeral “worlds” we live in. The moment it is over, it’s over; that “world” ceases to exist for us and we have to move on to another.    VIKRAM KARVE  


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