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Jubilation: MATTAN TORAH — Counting Day 50 !

omer x

Counting of the Omer (Hebrew: ספירת העומר‎‎, Sefirat HaOmer, sometimes abbreviated as Sefira or the Omer) is an important verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot as stated in the Hebrew Bible: Leviticus 23:15–16.  The period of the counting of the Omer is considered to be a time of potential for inner growth – for a person to work on one’s good characteristics (middot) through
reflection and development of one aspect each day for the 49 days of the counting.  Upon concluding these 49 days, we arrive to the fiftieth day – Mattan Torah, when one has fully achieved inner renewal by merit of having assessed and developed each of the 49
attributes.    
adapted from Wikipedia and other

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
— 33 Gateway Lane posting of 4-11-17:  Counting to Fifty 2017
— 33 Gateway Lane posting of 5-13-17:  Happy Lag BaOmer!

Participation in Sefirat HaOmer is certainly not restricted to Jews!  And whether an individual has accomplished the great annual cycle of the Count once or many times, it can be a challenge or, perhaps, an ordeal!  But it is always, invariably, inevitably an opportunity.  For the enterprising spirit who is learning to live by living to learn, the Count is a voyage of revelation, rectification, revitalization, and recreation.

Depending upon the individual participating in the process or cycle in tandem with the chosen approach and guide, the Count can range in intensity from a superficially executed excursion in ritual to a forensic examination of one’s very being.  The most typical approach to the Count is a dynamic survey of one’s emotional nature in context of current day-to-day living, keyed to the framework of the number Seven.

As 33 Gateway Lane participants know, “Counting to 50” is keyed to FOUR performed in concert with the  Pirkei Avot.  This classic work is a guidebook on ethics; at least as far back as the 10th century, it has been customary to study Pirkei Avot during the Sefirat HaOmer.  Accordingly, “Counting to 50” at 33 Gateway Lane entails the enterprising spirit systematically exploring and assessing the 50 elements of the seder ha’hishtalshelut (“chain of being”) — the nature of soul and the fourfold nature of the human being — in conjunction with ethical behavior as examined in Pirkei Avot and the 50 middot (virtues or values) listed in the last chapter of Pirkei Avot.

“Counting to 50” entails a handful of overarching, interwoven propositions:

SOUL:  “The Untold Want / By Life and Land Ne’er Granted / Now, Voyager / Sail Thou Forth to Seek and Find.” — Walt Whitman

INTUITION:  “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” — Gospel of Thomas

INTELLECT:  “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue that never sallies out to see its adversary.” — Milton

EMOTION:  “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”  — Carl Jung

INSTINCT:  “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” — Spencer Johnson

The traditional Omer includes actually counting 49 days — the fiftieth day comprising the Mattan Torah is not traditionally included in the counting process; it is assumed, acknowledged.  As 33 Gateway Lane participants know and understand, the 33 Gateway Lane “Counting to 50” does specifically include counting 50.

The Mattan Torah — Day 50 — is a day of receiving, celebration, rejoicing — and a point of orientation for moving forward with an expanded conscious awareness entailing a greater degree of integration and mastery.

Let us count Day 50.

Blessed are you, ADONAI, our God, the sovereign of all worlds, who has made us holy with your mitzvot and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.  Today is the fiftieth day of the counting of 50 days from the day of the waving of the Omer on the morrow after the Sabbath.

SO BE IT !

33GL Counting to 50  Workgroup:
Don’t forget to stop by the 33 Gateway Lane Mattan Torah Party Room!

 

Happy Lag BaOmer !

Lag BaOmer is
Sunset, May 13 to
Sunset, May 14

 

 

 

Day 33:  Blessed are you, ADONAI, our God, the sovereign of all worlds, who has made us holy with your mitzvot and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.  Today is the thirty-third day of the counting of fifty days from the day of the waving of the Omer on the morrow after the Sabbath.

— traditional blessing and day count used in the counting of the Omer

Certainly the number 33 holds special significance here at 33 Gateway Lane!  The number 33 by all means has special traditional considerations and meanings in the ancient annual “Counting of the Omer” (referred to as “Counting to Fifty” at 33 Gateway Lane).

Imagine — The 50-day revolution of spirit is currently being simultaneously experienced by countless individuals around the world.  Everyone around the world unified by participating in the Count are comrades.  Now that is one big fellowship!

Participating in the Count is a challenging endeavor under the best of circumstances, and by Day 33 can seem mighty tedious.  Continued congratulations to all participants worldwide.  We must be bold and  hang in there!

TODAY:  CELEBRATE !

Lag BaOmer (Hebrew: ל״ג בעומר‎), also Lag B’Omer, is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.

This day marks the hillula (celebration, interpreted by some as anniversary of death) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a Mishnaic sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd century, and the day on which he revealed the deepest secrets of kabbalah in the form of the Zohar (Book of Splendor), a landmark text of Jewish mysticism. This association has spawned several well-known customs and practices on Lag BaOmer, including the lighting of bonfires, pilgrimages to the tomb of Bar Yochai in the northern Israeli town of Meron, and various customs at the tomb itself.

While the Counting of the Omer is a semi-mourning period, all restrictions of mourning are lifted on this 33rd day of the Omer. As a result, weddings, parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly scheduled to coincide with this day among Ashkenazi Jews. Families go on picnics and outings. Children go out to the fields with their teachers with bows and rubber-tipped arrows. Tachanun, the prayer for special Divine mercy on one’s behalf is not said, because when God is showing one a “smiling face,” so to speak, as He does especially on the holidays, there is no need to ask for special mercy.

The most well-known custom of Lag BaOmer is the lighting of bonfires throughout Israel and worldwide wherever religious Jews can be found. In Meron, the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Eleazar, hundreds of thousands of Jews gather throughout the night and day to celebrate with bonfires, torches, song and feasting. This was a specific request by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of his students. Some say that as bar Yochai gave spiritual light to the world with the revelation of the Zohar, bonfires are lit to symbolize the impact of his teachings. As his passing left such a “light” behind, many candles and/or bonfires are lit.

Lag BaOmer has another significance based on the Kabbalistic custom of assigning a Sefirah to each day and week of the Omer count. The first week corresponds to Chesed, the second week to Gevurah, etc., and similarly, the first day of each week corresponds to Chesed, the second day to Gevurah, etc. Thus, the 33rd day, which is the fifth day of the fifth week, corresponds to Hod she-be-Hod (Splendor within [the week of] Splendor). As such, Lag BaOmer represents the level of spiritual manifestation or Hod that would precede the more physical manifestation of the 49th day (Malkhut she-be-Malkhut, Kingship within [the week of] Kingship), which immediately precedes the holiday of Shavuot.

— adapted from WIKIPEDIA

 

REMINDER TO 33GL Counting to 50  Workgroup:
Don’t forget to stop by the 33 Gateway Lane Lag BaOmer Party Room!

33 GATEWAY LANE

LEARNING TO LIVE BY LIVING TO LEARN

 

CELEBRATING TWO YEARS !

01GRAND OPENING — MAY 6, 2015

 

The Untold Want
By Life and Land Ne’er Granted
Now, Voyager
Sail Thou Forth to Seek and Find
— Walt Whitman

 

 

33 GATEWAY LANE Grand Opening Celebration

 

The more I live,
the more I learn;
the more I learn,
the more I realize
the less I know.
— from “A Piece of Sky”, YENTL

With all there is,
why settle for
just a piece of sky!
— from “A Piece of Sky”, YENTL

 

THANK YOU,

AND ALL BEST REGARDS TO YOU !

 

 

EARTH DAY 2017

Hello!  Just a friendly reminder that Earth Day 2017 is on Saturday, April 22.
People unite worldwide on Earth Day to appreciate and honor earth; raise conscious awareness about the planet; and acknowledge and validate science.  Maybe you want to do some personal study to understand global warming.  Or do a field trip to a recycling plant to understand how that all works?  Or work in the garden.  How about sitting in the shade of a big old oak tree?  Every year, a number of companies offer freebies, discounts, and activities to help bring awareness to Earth Day.  Be all that as it may, the possibilities are endless.
Check out http://www.earthday.org/about/ for LOTS of worthy information and perspective.
All best regards to you !

BLESSINGS BE !

EASTERTIDE

The Honeycomb:
Contemplating the Awe of Resurrection

I ha’ seen him eat o’ the honey-comb
Sin’ they nailed him to the tree.

from BALLAD OF THE GOODLY FERE | Ezra Pound

Were it not for the fact that the Good News was widely reported that Jesus was resurrected after being crucified in his thirty-third year, Jesus would be a footnote in history and there would be no Christianity.  The matter of the Resurrection was first established by numerous eyewitness testimonies.  And Jesus did not appear only to various individuals; he also appeared to groups of individuals.

Christianity developed by transforming Jesus’ seemingly radical message about God into a doctrine about Jesus himself.  For it is significant to recognize that the testimonies are about a Jesus who was resurrected — he was physically alive again after being physically dead.  Although Jesus could appear and disappear, Jesus was not merely a ghost appearing here and there.  Ghosts have always been, and still are, rather commonplace.  It is very specifically established that Jesus was resurrected — the resurrected Jesus could be touched and he could eat.  Only a Resurrection could manifest the sheer awe necessary to inspire the Jesus movement into becoming Christianity.

Shown above is Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas” (1601-1602), also known as “Saint Thomas Putting his Finger on Christ’s Wound”.  Inspired by Chapter 20 of The Gospel According to John, Caravaggio captures the moment when the doubting disciple Thomas is casting aside all his doubts that this man really is a resurrected Jesus.  This encounter is related in John 20:24-29:

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Because of the Resurrection, it can be said that Jesus completed in less than three years a ministry that was to affect the whole of civilization, and from its humble beginnings was to spread to every corner of the earth.  While Christianity hinges on the awe inspired by that Resurrection, the axis of Christianity is GOD IS LOVE.

“What then is Christian love?  It is the powerful, radiant and life-giving emotion charged with healing power both to the one who learns to love and to the one who is loved.  To some people, this great love comes as a free gift from God, but most of us have to learn it.  And how can one learn it?  By practice.”   — Agnes Sanford

Jesus offered a model, a platform, indeed an action plan of behavior for living and the manifestation of God — love — on earth.  Whether or not that manifestation will become “status quo”, we cannot tell.  But if it does not, it will not be Jesus or Christianity that failed. 

Meantime, Christians will keep on faithfully practicing.  The operative word here is “faithfully”.  For where awe ends, faith begins.

HE LIVES | “This sort of realistic painting, showing a triumphant Christ, is disparaged by the art cognoscenti, but it is very popular, and in fact Simon Dewey is one of the most visible religious artists of the late 20th century. Its message is strong and direct: Christ is risen, he is the Saviour. The stone is rolled away, and darkness and death are behind him.”   — from http://jesus-story.net/painting_resurrection.htm

In Christianity, the “Easter lily” is a symbol of the Resurrection of Jesus.  The lily remains highly regarded in the Church, particularly because Jesus references  the flower, saying “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27).

“Ballad of the Goodly Fere” is an Ezra Pound poem first published in 1909.  The narrator is Simon the Zealot speaking after the Resurrection about his memories of Jesus (the “goodly fere”— Old English for “companion”— of the title).

According to Wikipedia, Pound wrote the poem as a direct response to what he considered inappropriately effeminate portrayals of Jesus, comparing Jesus—a “man o’ men”—to “capon priest(s)”; he subsequently told T.P.’s Weekly that he had “been made very angry by a certain sort of cheap irreverence”.

It is curious and apparently unknown why Pound chose Simon the Zealot to witness about the Resurrection of Jesus.  Perhaps it is because Simon is the most obscure of the disciples?  Scripture tells us pretty much nothing about him.  In the Gospels, he is mentioned in three places where his name is listed with the 12 disciples.  Like most of the other disciples, Simon deserted Jesus during his trial and crucifixion.  In Acts 1:13 we are advised that he was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Jesus the Christ had ascended to heaven.  One Church tradition holds that Simon spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia.

So we don’t know where Simon came from and what became of him.  Thanks to Ezra Pound, perhaps we have as good a perspective as we’ll ever have of what Simon was about through his very telling and compelling testimony attesting that HE IS RISEN.

BALLAD OF THE GOODLY FERE | Ezra Pound

Simon Zelotes speaking after the Crucifixion; Fere = Mate, Companion

Ha’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.

When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see,
“First let these go!” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Or I’ll see ye damned,” says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,
“Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?” says he.

Oh we drank his “Hale” in the good red wine
When we last made company,
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere
But a man o’ men was he.

I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.

They’ll no’ get him a’ in a book I think
Though they write it cunningly;
No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere
But aye loved the open sea.

If they think they ha’ snared our Goodly Fere
They are fools to the last degree.
“I’ll go to the feast,” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Though I go to the gallows tree.”

“Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind,
And wake the dead,” says he,
“Ye shall see one thing to master all:
‘Tis how a brave man dies on the tree.”

A son of God was the Goodly Fere
That bade us his brothers be.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men.
I have seen him upon the tree.

He cried no cry when they drave the nails
And the blood gushed hot and free,
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue
But never a cry cried he.

I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o’ Galilee,
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi’ his eyes like the grey o’ the sea,

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi’ twey words spoke’ suddently.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea,
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.

I ha’ seen him eat o’ the honey-comb
Sin’ they nailed him to the tree.

THE RESURRECTION | Robert Clark                                                  Forest Lawn Memorial Park
70′ wide x 51′ high                                                                                                   Glendale, California

 

TELLING TALES 8

Bubba

 

There’s always a time and place for telling tales (pun intended).

 

 

 

 

 

Teamwork is such an important aptitude to cultivate.  Teamwork is commonly defined as a cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interest of a common cause.  Accordingly, there is representation of work done with a team.  The late and great Abraham Maslow popularized the term “synergy” to describe work teams in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Mighty true!

But we can forget with ease that teamwork also reasonably includes the individual working in teamwork-like synchronization with oneself; that is, the advantageous nature of functioning in an increasingly integrated way with an individual being synergistic intuitively, intellectually, emotionally, and instinctively in context of oneself.  Alternatives to that wholistic approach are the individual becoming further fragmented and isolated, being at odds with oneself, working at cross-purposes, or being “at sixes and sevens” with oneself.

Whether solo or as a group member, successful teamwork is often not assured, though circumstances can often be teamworked as such to further open the window of opportunity to enhance success in an endeavor.  Of course, “many hands can make light work.”  And then there are times when you simply just plain never know how teamwork effort is going to work out.

Thanks to longtime pal Bonnie for this telling tale!

 

An 85-year-old man had to do a sperm count for his physical exam. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this home and bring back a sample tomorrow.”

The next day, the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day.

The doctor asked what happened, and the man explained…

“Well, doc, it’s like this — first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help.

“She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing. We even called up Arleen, the lady next door, and she tried too, first with both hands, then an armpit, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.”

The doctor was shocked. “You asked your neighbor? Good heavens!”

The old man replied, “Yep, none of us could get the jar open.”

TELLING TALES 7

Communication can be challenging in the best circumstances.  Clarity and transparency always matter.  It is certainly easy to wander along being misunderstood or not understanding due to lack of attention.  Clear communication actually takes conscious, intentional clarity and transparency.  Loaded language and lack of authentic communication are fundamental features of co-dependency.  What a destructive mess that is.  Conscious and unconscious hidden agendas in any circumstances eschew the concept of authenticity let alone authentic communication.  And as Ann Landers observed decades ago:  “Samson slew the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.  Every day thousands of friendships are felled with the same weapon.”  Thanks to longtime pal Bonnie for this telling tale.

Hi, Bob, this is Alan from next door.  I have a confession to make.  I’ve been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face, but I am at least now telling you in text as I can’t live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.  The truth is – I’ve been sharing your Wife, day and night when you’re not around.  In fact, probably more than you.  I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but that’s no excuse, I know.  The temptation was just too much.  I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me.  It won’t happen again. Please suggest a fee for usage and I’ll pay you.  Regards, Alan

Bob, feeling insulted and betrayed, grabbed his gun, and shot his neighbor dead.  He returned home where he poured himself a stiff drink and sat down on the sofa.  He took out his phone where he saw he had an earlier missed message from his neighbor:

Hi, Bob, this is Alan again from next door.  Sorry about that typo on my last text.  But I expect you figured it out anyway and that you noticed that the darned AutoCorrect changed “WiFi” to “Wife”.  Technology, hey??  Regards, Alan

TELLING TALES 6

dorothy parker stampDorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.

From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in publications such as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table.  Following the breakup of the
circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were
curtailed when her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood
blacklist
.

Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a “wisecracker.”
Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.

Parker died on June 7, 1967, of a heart attack at the age of 73.   In her will, she bequeathed her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Following King’s death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP.   Her executor, Lillian Hellman, bitterly but unsuccessfully contested this disposition.   Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O’Dwyer‘s filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years.

In 1988, the NAACP claimed Parker’s remains and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. The plaque reads,

Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic.  Defender of human and civil rights.  For her epitaph she suggested, ‘Excuse my dust’.  This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people.  Dedicated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  October 28, 1988.

The above information is excerpted from WIKIPEDIA.  Following is a brief sampling of the “wit and wisdom” of Dorothy Parker:

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Tell him I was too fucking busy– or vice versa.

Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.

Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.

I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.

There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.

Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.

That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.

I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.

I hate writing, I love having written.

Whenever she would hear a telephone ring, she would say:

What fresh hell is this!

Here is her poetic take on a broken love affair:

Oh, seek, my love, your newer way;
I’ll not be left in sorrow.
So long as I have yesterday,
Go take your damned tomorrow!

But here is perhaps her finest telling tale about herself, her intellect, and her jujitsu-style golden wit:

I named my pet parrot “Onan” because it would spill its seed on the floor.

TELLING TALES 5

The Alligator and the Scorpion

Alligator was swimming along checking out its territory in a wide, long river when it heard Scorpion calling it to stop and come over to the riverbank on one side of the river where Scorpion was hopping up and down in an effort to be seen by Alligator.
Alligator swam over to the riverbank, keeping a wary distance from Scorpion.

“What’s up?” queried Alligator.

“Can I trouble you to give me a ride on your back to the other side of the river? It is abundantly clear that I can’t swim across, and I really need to get to the other side.” Scorpion was really quite upset that it was halted in its journey by such an
obstruction, and though it hated to inconvenience Alligator it really had no
alternatives.

“No way!” shrewdly responded Alligator. “Do you think I’m that stupid? You would
automatically sting me and then I’d die from your poison!”

“That’s ridiculous,” responded Scorpion. If I stung you, I’d die too because, to state the obvious, I can’t swim. What I need is to get to the other side of the river!”

Alligator contemplated the logic, and realized what a compelling point Scorpion had made.

“Okay,” said Alligator. “Hop on my back and I’ll swim over so you can get to the other side and continue on your journey – no problem!”

Scorpion was overtly effusive in its gratitude. “Thank you so very, very much,
Alligator! I really appreciate it and this will get me out of a really bad situation!”

So Scorpion hopped on the back of Alligator, which started to swim across the river to reach the other side.  About half way across to the other side of the river, Alligator felt the lethal sting of Scorpion.

“Why did you do that!?” lamented Alligator as it began to sink in the water as the
poison proceeded to paralyze it. “Now we’ll both die!”

“How could you expect me to go against my nature,” whined Scorpion as it too sank below the water surface.

 

TELLING TALES 4

The following Sufi tale has been around for so long and variously told in so many locations.  A popular telling is W. Somerset Maugham’s, and considered at 33 Gateway Lane as one of the most effectively elegant and thought-provoking.

 

“The Appointment in Samarra”
(as retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933])

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

 

TELLING TALES 3

Adaptability is the quality to change or be changed to fit changed circumstances.  This is not a popular quality to human beings and, in fact, is generally considered a nuisance.  To explain why this is so is to state the obvious – the typical Joe or Jane wants an established routine, a known set of patterns.  We do have a tendency to be creatures of habit, don’t we?  Sure, that can become rather dull and boring from time to time, but there’s always the annual vacation to look forward to, or a periodic opportunity to swing from the rafters a bit such as a wedding or birthday party or some sort of occasion for revelry like New Year’s Eve.  These periodic opportunities thus appease the sense of adventure, and then we can dash back to the loving embrace of our precious routine.  However, there is an implicit illusion in the concept of one being embedded in routine:  The condition of routine suggests security and stability.  And this illusion can numb our aptitude for adaptability.  Further, there is almost staggering explicit truth in the Spanish proverb “Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.”  Accordingly, the bigger the conscious or unconscious cable, the smaller our capacity for conscious or unconscious adaptability.

A pirate walked into a bar, and the bartender said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.”

“What do you mean?” said the pirate, “I feel fine.”

“What about the wooden leg? You didn’t have that before.”

“Well,” said the pirate, “We were in a battle, and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I’m fine now.”

The bartender replied, “Well, okay, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?”

The pirate explained, “We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off. I got fitted with a hook and I’m fine, really.”

“What about that eye patch?”

“Oh,” said the pirate, “One day we were at sea, and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up, and one of them shit in my eye.”

“You’re kidding,” said the bartender. “You couldn’t lose an eye just from bird shit.”

“It was my first day with the hook.”

TELLING TALES 2

This one has been around for so long, variously told in so many locations, that attribution would be totally skewed.  Accordingly, it resides here until the title “Old Sufi Tale”.

The Sufis are known as Seekers of the Truth, this truth being a knowledge of objective
reality.  An ignorant and covetous tyrannical king called Roderick once determined to
possess himself of this truth.  He decided that truth was something which Omar the Sufi of Tarragon could be forced to tell him.

Omar was arrested and brought to the court.  Roderick said:  “I have ordained that the truths which you know are to be told to me in words which I understand; otherwise, your life is forfeit.”

Omar answered:  “Do you observe in this chivalric court the universal custom whereby if an arrested person tells the truth in answer to a question and that truth does not inculpate him, he is released to freedom?”

“That is so,” said Roderick.

“I call upon all of you here present to witness this, by the honor of our king,” said Omar, “and I will now tell you not one truth, but three.”

“We must also be satisfied,” said Roderick, “that what you claim to be these truths are in fact truth.  The proof must accompany the telling.”

“For such a king as you,” said Omar, “to whom we can give not one truth but three, we can also give truths which will be self-evident.”

Roderick took these words as a great compliment and preened himself accordingly.

“The first truth,” said the Sufi, “is that I am he who is called Omar the Sufi of Tarragon.  The second is that you have agreed to release me if I tell the truth.  The third is that you wish to know the truth as you conceive it.”

Such was the impression caused by these words that the tyrannical king was compelled to give the Sufi his freedom.

TELLING TALES 1

Once upon a time, when God had finished making the world, He wanted to leave behind Him for man a piece of His own divinity, a spark of His essence, a promise to man of what he could become, with effort.  He looked for a place to hide this Godhead because, He explained, what man could find too easily would never be valued by him.

“Then you must hide the Godhead on the highest mountain peak on earth,” said one of His councilors.

God shook His head.  “No, for man is an adventuresome creature and he will soon enough learn to climb the highest mountain peaks.”

“Hide it then, O Great One, in the depths of the earth!”

“I think not,” said God, “for man will one day discover that he can dig into the deepest parts of the earth.”

“In the middle of the ocean then, Master?”

God shook His head.  “I’ve given man a brain, you see, and one day he’ll learn to build ships and cross the mightiest oceans.”

“Where then, Master?” cried His councilors.

God smiled.  “I’ll hide it in the most inaccessible place of all, and the one place that man will never think to look for it.  I’ll hide it deep inside of man himself.”