Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gratitude


AC - Story Telling (Project I)
The Folk Tale
May 9, 2008

Introduction

How many people do you "Thank" every day? How often do you say the words "Thank you"? When was the last time you told your spouse - "Honey ... I thank you for being with me during my good and bad times" When was the last time you told your sub-ordinate "I am so thankful to you for all the good work you've been doing"?

Fellow toastmasters and dear guests, today, I'm going to share with you, a Buddhist Tale that illustrates the importance of "showing gratitude".

The Elephant

Once upon a time there lived an elephant in the Himalayan jungles. He was the king of all the elephants in the forest. The elephant was beautiful white in color, glowing like polished silver. He had two glossy tusks that looked like giant hockey sticks. His mouth was as red as the most elegant red carpet. His eyes were like precious jewels, sparkling in four different colors - blue, yellow, red, and white.

The Forester

One day a forester from Benares city traveled into the Himalayan foothills. He was in his mid thirties with a long moustache and was wearing a brown hat. He was wearing a pair of old torn soiled shoes. He was searching for things of value that he could sell back in Benares. He lost his route and ran back and forth trying to find his way out of the forest. He soon became exhausted and was scared to death! He began trembling and crying out loud from fear.

Elephant comes for the rescue

The Elephant heard the sound of the poor forester and walked through the forest towards him. The Elephant saw the man, approached him, and asked, "My human friend, why are you crying?"

"Oh lord" said the man, "I lost all sense of direction, became hopelessly lost, and was afraid I would die!"

The Elephant said "My friend, don't be afraid. I will take you to the land where people live. Sit on my back". While riding comfortably on this glorious being, the man took notes of all the landmarks. The Elephant took the forester out of the jungle and left him on the road to Benares.

Forester becomes greedy

The forester safely reached his hometown. But, thoughts of the beautiful Elephant tusks made the forester very greedy. He wanted to make money by selling the Elephant's tusks. He decided to go to the forest again. Caring only for money, and without any gratitude towards the one who had saved his life - the man took a sharp saw with him, and set out towards the home of Elephant.

Generous Elephant

The man reached the place in the forest where the Elephant lived. On seeing the man, the Elephant asked, "Oh my dear human friend, what brings you back again?" Ma up a story, the greedy man said, "My lord elephant, I am a poor man. Times are very difficult for me. I have come to beg from you just a little piece of the tusk. If you can give it to me, I will take it home and sell it. I'll then be able to use that money to lead a happy life"

Pitying the man, the Elephant said, "Of course my friend, I will give you a big piece of tusk! Did you happen to bring a saw with you?" "Yes lord," said the forester, "I did bring a saw." "All right then," said the generous Elephant, "cut from both my tusks!"

As he said this, the elephant bent down on his knees and offered up his spectacular silvery-white tusks. Without the slightest regret, the man sawed off big pieces of ivory from both tusks and took them home. He didn't even bother to thank the Elephant.

Forester becomes greedier

The man went home and sold both pieces of ivory. But it didn’t take long for him to spend all the money. So again he returned to the Elephant. He begged him, "My lord, the money I got by selling your ivory was only enough to pay off my debts. I am still a poor man. Times are still hard in Benares, so please give me the rest of your tusks!"

Perfect generosity holds nothing back. So once again the elephant bent down on his knees and offered what was left of his tusks. The ungrateful betrayer did not care at all for the elephant. He stepped over the magnificent trunk and started to cut the roots of the trunk - tearing away the tender flesh from the stumps of the once-beautiful tusks. The man cut off all that he could see of them, right down to the sockets in the elephant’s skull! The elephant felt tremendous amount of pain, but it didn't cry because it wants to help the forester.

The forester saw the Elephant suffering in pain, but didn't even care to say "Sorry". The wonderful kind elephant meant no more to him than a bank account! He didn’t bother to show any sign of gratitude or respect.

End of the Forester

The man started to trace his way back home. When he crossed a few miles, a huge lion showed up smelling the blood dropping from the ivory stumps. The majestic old lion was fierce with sharp teeth and a long mane. Hunger was seen on its eyes. The lion showed no mercy ... tore the forester into pieces and started to eat him alive. The forester cried in pain. He realized how painful it would have been to the Elephant when he cut the tusks. He felt bad about not being grateful to the Elephant. But it was too late for him to undo his mistake. The greedy forester who didn't even have the smallest gratitude in the world had to meet his end this way.

Conclusion

This Buddhist tale provides a valuable lesson to every one of us - "Don't forget to show your gratitude". It may be too late by the time you realize it.

Let us not waste one more minute. Let us start showing your gratitude, right away... right in this meeting... to all the fellow toastmasters who helped us to become what we are today... Now, look at the toastmaster sitting in front of you, extend your hand, shake their hand firmly and say "Thank You" with a smile.
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