Friday, October 31, 2014

Need Identification

There lived an old farmer on a Hill.

One cold winter day, he slowly walked several miles through the freezing snow to his local and very remote chapel for Sunday service. 

No-one else was there except the clergyman.

"I'm not sure it's worth proceeding with the service - I think it would be better to go back to our warm homes and have a hot drink?.." said the clergyman inviting a mutually helpful reaction from his audience of one.

"Well, I'm just a simple farmer," says the old crofter, "But when I go to feed my herd, and if only one beast turns up, I sure don't leave it hungry."

Hearing this the clergyman, felt ashamed about himself and his behavior. 

He delivers his service - all the bells and whistles, hymns and readings, lasting a good couple of hours - finishing proudly with his fresh learning that no matter how small the need, our duty remains. 

"Was that okay?" asks the clergyman, as the two set off home.

"Well I'm just a simple farmer," says the old crofter, "But when I go to feed my herd, and if only one beast turns up, I sure don't force it to eat what I brought for the whole herd..."

From which we see the extra lesson, that while our duty remains regardless of the level of need, we have the additional responsibility to ensure that we adapt our delivery (of whatever is our stock in trade) according to the requirements of our audience.


Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same room in a hospital.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The two men developed a friendship and spent their time talking for hours together. They spoke of their family, their home, job, involvement in the military service, favorite holiday spot and so on.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window would sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate about all the things that he could see outside the window.

The man on the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm a midst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days passed by….

One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window. He had passed away peacefully in his sleep. She called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse had no objections to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.

He strained to slowly turn and look out of the window beside the bed.

To his amusement it faced a blank wall. The Man talked to the nurse and found that the wall had always been there. He asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such a wonderful world outside the window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

The man closed his eyes. Tears rolled of his eyes. He thanked his friend for all those happy moments…. those happy afternoon hours….

Emotions are the outcome of our response to the stimuli from the environment. He realized that if we are responsible for the creation of the world around us, then we are in command of our response to the stimuli affecting us. Emotions are just a state of mind. That includes Happiness too. If the mind resides within us….why run in all directions chasing this Happiness.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Value of Life

There was a farmer who grew superior quality and award-winning corn.

Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won honor and prizes. After the fair, the farmer used to come back to his village and share his seed corn with his neighbors.
One such year, a newspaper reporter came to interview the farmer after his win. During the interaction he learnt about the farmer’s habit of sharing his seed corn with his neighbors. He was perplexed. He felt very sorry about this innocent behavior of the poor farmer. So he decided to enrich the farmer with his knowledge of the so called definition of competitiveness in today’s Corporate World.
He began with asking the farmer; "How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors. Aren’t you aware that by giving them your seed corn you are jeopardizing your chances of winning next year?"
"Not at all Sir”, replied the farmer. Since I give them the seeds, we are at a level play on the quality of the Seed. So I am challenged by my fellow farmers on ideas and other efforts required in growing good quality corn. This challenge keeps me afresh and alive in my work and imparts a lot of learning. In fact this made me understand the interconnectedness that exists in the Universe.
He continued saying, “Further the wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior, sub-standard and poor quality corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."
The farmer had given a definite insight into the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor’s corn also improves. So it is in other dimensions! Those who choose to be at harmony must help their neighbors to be at peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well. Those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all. If we are to grow good quality corn, we must help our neighbors grow good quality corn too.

Moral: Value of a life is measured by the lives it has added value to….

Decisions - The right one

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other unused. Only one child played on the unused track, the rest on the operational track. The train came, and you were just beside the track interchange. You could make the train change its course to the unused track and save most of the kids.

However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the unused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make................

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. You might think the same way, I guess. Initially, I too thought exactly in the same way. To save most of the children at the expense of only one child was a rational decision that most people would make, morally and emotionally. 

But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the unused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place? Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.

This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and in a democratic society, especially the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one! would shed a tear for him.

One of my friends said that he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens. He also added that if the train was diverted, the lone child would definitely die because he never would have thought that a train could come over to that track!

Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

"Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Out of the Box

Many hundreds of years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant's beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant's debt if he could marry the daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender's wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant's garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1.The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2.The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.
3.The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking.
The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked." Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an advantageous one.

MORAL: Most complex problems do have a solution, sometimes we have to think about them in a different way.