Father Tony<http://www.demellospirituality.com> believed that the shortest distance between two ideas or two people is a story. His tales were drawn from all sources and they spoke to all people. The following is an adaptation of a tale I heard from this recently-deceased teacher. It is beautiful.
A long time ago and far from here, the God Vishnu visited a man in a dream.
The deity foretold, “A wandering mendicant will give to you the greatest of all gifts, if you only you ask him for it.”
As predicted, the next morning, the wandering mendicant appeared.
The man excitedly exclaimed, “Excuse me, you won’t believe this…or maybe you will…but I was visited by Vishnu who said you would give me the greatest of all gifts, if only I asked you for it.”
The journeyman replied, “Anything I have, I would be so happy to give to you. And all the more so, if Lord Vishnu proclaimed it, of course it will be my will.”
The traveler opened his satchel, showing the man the assorted contents. Among the contents was a diamond the size of a child’s hand.
The man, mesmerized, staring at the jewel, pointed and asked, “May I have that?”
“Of course you can. It is yours. A gift. From me to you.”
The man took the great treasure; they made a simple bow to each other, and off the mendicant went. The man fantasized about riches, fame, and everything he could get in exchange for this diamond. He thought about his new life and how blessed he had become.
A moment later, in horror, he raced after the mendicant, diamond in hand.
“Wait! Wait!” He caught up and pled, “I’ve made the wrong decision. I don’t want this diamond. Please, please take it back.”
The mendicant placed it back in his bag and said, “If it is not the diamond you desire, is there anything I can give to you instead?”
The man answered, “What I want is your ability to not want the diamond.”
Honestly, I’m not certain I would have had the wherewithal to this right choice. (I think I would have held onto the jewel.)
How about you? Would you want the diamond or the ability to not want the diamond?
I recently asked my friend Lenny to explain to me how he could not be dazzled by celebrity. I asked him because I had seen him, free to just be himself, not caring about celebrity the way it moved and moves me.
Let me explain the context. Lenny’s home was the house at which I officiated James Franco’s bar mitzvah. The small, intimate ceremony was on the deck of Lenny and Suzi’s Hollywood Hills home. When an A-list celebrity (and entourage) traipsed past Lenny in the den, he was cordial. But he didn’t fawn or primp. He just went back to watching his television’s sports game. While Lenny didn’t care, my inner Disney princess played out numerous fantasies in which Prince Hollywood found me charming.
I realized that I was jealous of Lenny. Consequently, I asked him how he came to be free enough to just be himself and not star-struck. And he told me. (I’ve always liked Lenny.)
So, let me ask you, if you could ask anyone you know to teach you to become more like them in some way, why don’t you?
List the names of any five people in your life right now.
Name Characteristic they possess that you admire
Next to each name, write one human characteristic you admire in that person.
Circle the one characteristic that you would most like to have.
Ask that person this week to help you get that characteristic.
#wisdom_biscuit: Seek out that which you want. (And not just the shiny stuff.)