JUXTAPOSITION Fancy that 1 Whereas riches may become…

JUXTAPOSITION

Fancy that!

1) Whereas riches may become a mighty barrier between man and God, and rich people are often in great danger of attachment, yet people with small worldly possessions can also become attached to material things. The following Persian story of a king and a dervish illustrates this. Once there was a king who had many spiritual qualities and whose deeds were based on justice and loving-kindness. He often envied the dervish who had renounced the world and appeared to be free from the cares of this material life, for he roamed the country, slept in any place when night fell and chanted the praises of his Lord during the day. He lived in poverty, yet thought he owned the whole world. His only possessions were his clothes and a basket in which he carried the food donated by his well-wishers. The king was attracted to this way of life. Once he invited a well-known dervish to his palace, sat at his feet and begged him for some lessons about detachment.

The dervish was delighted with the invitation. He stayed a few days in the palace and whenever the king was free preached the virtues of a mendicant’s life to him. At last the king was converted. One day, dressed in the garb of a poor man, he left his palace in the company of the dervish. They had walked together some distance when the dervish realized that he had left his basket behind in the palace. This disturbed him greatly and, informing the king that he could not go without his basket, he begged permission to return for it. But the king admonished him, saying that he himself had left behind his palaces, his wealth and power, whereas the dervish, who had preached for a lifetime the virtues of detachment, had at last been tested and was found to be attached to this world—his small basket.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 76-77)

2) Zen Buddhist story

http://users.skynet.be/lotus/story/story-en.htm

Two monks, going to a neighbouring monastery, walked side by side in silence. They arrived at a river they had to cross. That season, waters were higher than usual. On the bank, a young woman was hesitating and asked the younger of the two monks for help. He exclaimed, ‘Don’t you see that I am a monk, that I took a vow of chastity?’

‘I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply to help me to cross the river,’ replied the young woman with a little smile.

‘I…not…I can…do nothing for you,’ said the embarrassed young monk.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ said the elderly monk. ‘Climb on my back and we will cross together.’

Having reached the other bank, the old monk put down the young woman who, in return, thanked him with a broad smile. She left her side and both monks continued their route in silence. Close to the monastery, the young monk could not stand it anymore and said, ‘You shouldn’t have carried that person on your back. It’s against our rules.’

‘This young woman needed help and I put her down on the other bank. You didn’t carry her at all, but she is still on your back,’ replied the older monk.

3) A rich man and a poor man lived in the same town. One day the poor man said to the rich man, “I want to go to the Holy Land.” The rich man replied, “Very good, I will go also,” and they started from the town and began their pilgrimage. But night fell and the poor man said, “Let us return to our houses to pass the night.” The rich man replied, “We have started for the Holy Land and must not now return.” The poor man said, “The Holy Land is a long distance to travel on foot. I have a donkey, I will go and fetch it.” “What?” replied the rich man, “are you not ashamed? I leave all my possessions to go on this pilgrimage and you wish to return to get your donkey! I have abandoned with joy my whole fortune. Your whole wealth consists of a donkey and you cannot leave it!” You see that fortune is not necessarily an impediment. The rich man who is thus detached is near to reality. There are many rich people who are severed and many poor who are not.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 134)

More versions of the Zen story are here – http://spiritsinharmony.blogspot.co.uk/2008/02/two-monks-carry-woman.html

A Sufi teaching tells of the man who…

A Sufi teaching tells of the man who visited a great mystic to find out how to
let go of his chains of attachment and his prejudices. Instead of answering him
directly, the mystic jumped to his feet and bolted to a nearby pillar, flung
his arms around it, grasping the marble surface as he screamed, “Save me from
this pillar! Save me from this pillar!”

The man who had asked the question could not believe what he saw. He
thought the mystic was mad. The shouting soon brought a crowd of people. “Why
are you doing that?” the man asked. “I came to you to ask a spiritual question
because I thought you were wise, but obviously you’re crazy. *You* are holding
the pillar, the pillar is not holding you. You can simply let go.”

The mystic let go of the pillar and said to the man, “If you can
understand that, you have your answer. Your chains of attachment are not
holding you, you are holding them. You can simply let go.”

If you don’t know the trees you may…

If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life. —Siberian Elder
God made man because he loves stories. —Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlev
There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. —Ursula K. LeGuin