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Showing posts from November, 2009


Here is a story by an unknown author that I have loved dearly ever since I first read it some years ago.


As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline--1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago. It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him anymore because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him. It was signed, Hannah. It…

The Power of Belief: 2

In his book Timeless Healing: the Power and Biology of Belief, Dr Herbert Benson, M.D., talks about a study made by Dr Stewart Wolf in 1950. The subjects of Dr Wolf’s study were women who experienced persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. These women were administered a medicine and were told that the medicine would stop their vomiting. The medicine given to them was the syrup of ipecac, a substance that actually causes vomiting. It is a drug that is commonly used for inducing vomiting in case of food poisoning and so on. As a result of the medication, however, the women’s nausea and vomiting ceased. Because the women believed they were getting anti-nausea medicines, they reversed the powerful medicine. “Even though many of us stock our medicine cabinets and first aid kits with ipecac to bring about vomiting in case of poisoning,” says Dr Benson, “these pregnant women with documented stomach distress thwarted the action of a drug that should have made them even sicker. With …

A Simple Touch

She was a young mother of three children, aged fourteen, twelve and three, and she was herself attending college. In her Sociology class, her professor gave the class an assignment – the last project of the term, a project called smile. The class was asked to go out and ‘smile’ at three people and document their reactions.

She herself was a very friendly person and always smiled at everyone and said hello. So she thought the project would be easy.

Soon after the project was assigned, she went to McDonald’s one crisp March morning along with her husband and her youngest son. That was an occasion for them to share special time with their son.

They were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away. Even her husband did. Overwhelmed by a feeling of panic, she turned to see why they had moved.

As she turned around, she smelled a horrible 'dirty body' smell. There, standing behind her, were two poor homeless men. As she looked do…

How to Stop the Mad Mind

Here is something beautiful from Osho.

Osho: There is a Sufi story...

Junaid was going through the market-place of the town with his disciples. And it was his way to take any situation and use it. A man was dragging his cow by a rope, and Junaid said ’Wait’ to the man, and told his disciples ’Surround this man and the cow. I am going to teach you something.’

The man stopped – Junaid was a famous mystic – and he was also interested in what he was going to teach these disciples and how he was going to use him and the cow. And Junaid asked his disciples ’I ask you one thing: who is bound to whom? Is the cow bound to this man or is this man bound to this cow?’ Of course, the disciples said ’The cow is bound to the man. The man is the master, he is holding the rope, the cow has to follow him wherever he goes. He is the master and the cow is the slave.’

And Junaid said ’Now, see.’ He took out his scissors and cut the rope – and the cow escaped.

The man ran after the cow, and Junaid said ’Now lo…

Maybe Yes, Maybe No

There is a story of a farmer whose only horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. "Your farm will suffer, and you cannot plow," they said. "Surely this is a terrible thing to have happened to you."

He said, "Maybe yes, maybe no."

The next day the horse returned but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came to congratulate him and exclaim at his good fortune. "You are richer than you were before!" they said. "Surely this has turned out to be a good thing for you, after all."

He said, "Maybe yes, maybe no."

And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses. He was thrown and broke his leg, and he couldn't work on the farm. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the incident. "There is more work than only you can handle, and you may be driven poor," they said. "Surely this is a terrible mi…

The Power of Belief

It was on 4th July, 1991, while the U.S. was celebrating Independence Day, that Chittiravel, a Tamil speaking Sri Lankan, was arrested as a suspected LTTE supporter in his hometown and taken away by the Sri Lankan police.

When he was first taken to the camp, he was forced to enter a large water tank, in which he was questioned and repeatedly dunked under water throughout the night. Finally he was stabbed in the thigh and removed from the tank. Then his torturers packed the large knife wound with salt and chilli powder and tied his thigh tightly. He was hung from a beam during continuing interrogation while his torturers burned the skin of his legs in many places with cigarettes. They had been drinking and repeatedly demanded, ‘You tell the names of the Tigers.’ Later, while his legs and arms were chained, one of the men knocked out four upper front teeth with a single blow of his fist. He also sustained a large wound on the left side of his skull.”

Chittiravel’s woes do not end here, b…

Attachment and The Tibetan Book of the Dead

One of the books I purchased while I was in Kerala recently was the just published Complete Short Stories of M Mukundan, a huge, nearly one-thousand-page volume of 157 short stories. I bought the book on a day I visited three book fairs in Thrissur: one inside the Sahitya Akademi premises, a second one in the Paramekkavu Devaswam hall, and a third one at the Thekkinkadu Grounds. Three book fairs, all within walking distance of one another! And all three fairs were crowded with visitors. It is not for nothing that beautiful Thrissur is called the cultural capital of the very educated Kerala!

This morning I read the first story in Mukundan’s collection, a story called Maunam. This is one of the nine stories in this volume that have not appeared in any previous collection. I am not a systematic reader, and love reading without much plan, but it so happened that this time I picked up the first story to begin with.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if my choice was unconsciously influenced…