The Root Cause

In old times, there was a village having only one well for drinking water. One day a dog fell down in the well and died.

The water became filthy and undrinkable.  The worried villagers went to the old wise man for advice.

They were told to take 100 buckets of water from the well so that clean water come to the surface of the well. The villagers took 100 buckets but water status was same. They went to the wise man again. He suggested to take another 100 buckets. The villagers did the same but to no avail. They villagers tried third time to take another 100 buckets as per the advice from the wise man but water was still impure.

The wise said, How come the whole well is polluted even removing this much considerable amount of water. Did you remove the dog body prior to taking 300 buckets of water? The villagers said, "no sir, you only advised us to take water out, not the dog body !!!"

Several times in life we try to resolve our problems without considering the root cause of the problems. We believe that we are resolving the problem whereas actually we are working on the side effects of problem and not the problem itself. The same is also true in coaching and therapy, where sometimes the superficial problems are resolved whereas the root cause remains undetected only to crop up again

An Empty Gift

Some time ago, a friend of mine punished his 3-year old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty.

He yelled at her, "Don't you know when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside of it?"

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it;s not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy."

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and begged for forgiveness. My friend told me that he kept that old box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us as parents has been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Its all GOOD

I heard the story told recently about a king in Africa who had a close friend that he grew up with. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!". To which the king replied, "No, this is NOT good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took them to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.

As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right" he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."

"No," his friend replied, "this is good!"

"What do you mean, 'this is good'! How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year."

"If I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you."


A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared.

The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.

The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might...

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might!

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind. (He will do it every time!)

"You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't moved." Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.

Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort, and that will be good enough."

That's what the weary man planned to do but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

"Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in Your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter.  What is wrong?  Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done.

Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it.
Your task was to push.

And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself.

Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown; Your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven'tmoved the rock.

But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom.

That you have done.  Now I, my friend, will move the rock.."

The Turtle Picnic

A turtle family decided to go on a picnic. Turtles, being naturally slow about things, took seven years to prepare for their outing. Finally the turtle family left home looking for a suitable place. During the second year of their journey they found a place ideal for them at last!

For about six months they cleaned the area, unpacked the picnic basket, and completed the arrangements. Then they discovered they had forgotten the salt. A picnic without salt would be a disaster, they all agreed. After a lengthy discussion, the youngest turtle was chosen to retrieve the salt from home. Although he was the fastest of the slow moving turtles, the little turtle whined, cried, and wobbled in his shell. He agreed to go on one condition: that no one would eat until he returned. The family consented and the little turtle left.

Three years passed and the little turtle had not returned. Five years...six years... then on the seventh year of his absence, the oldest turtle could no longer contain his hunger. He announced that he was going to eat and begun to unwrap a sandwich. At that point the little turtle suddenly popped out from behind a tree shouting, "See! I knew you wouldn't wait. Now I am not going to go get the salt."

Some of us waste our time waiting for people to live up to our expectations of them. We are so concerned about what others are doing that we don't do anything ourselves. Often we wait for people to make , what we think are, mistakes so that we can 'get back' at them. Its a mindless and fruitless exercise doing so. You do the right thing without waiting for people to do what you think is their bit...

One Year to Live

Anthony Burgess was 40 when he learned that he had only one year to live. He had a brain tumor that would kill him within a year. He knew he had a battle on his hands. He was completely broke at the time, and he didn't have anything to leave behind for his wife, Lynne, soon to be a widow.

Burgess had never been a professional novelist in the past, but he always knew the potential was inside him to be a writer. So, for the sole purpose of leaving royalties behind for his wife, he put a piece of paper into a typewriter and began writing. He had no certainty that he would even be published, but he couldn't think of anything else to do.

"It was January of 1960," he said, "and according to the prognosis, I had a winter and spring and summer to live through, and would die with the fall of the leaf."

In that time Burgess wrote energetically, finishing five and a half novels before the year was through (very nearly the entire lifetime output of E.M. Forster, and almost twice that of J. D. Salinger.)

One year to live But Burgess did not die. His cancer had gone into remission and then disappeared altogether. In his long and full life as a novelist ( he is best known for A Clock-work Orange), he wrote more than 70 books, but without the death sentence from cancer, he may not have written at all.

Many of us are like Anthony Burgess, hiding greatness inside, waiting for some external emergency to bring it out. Ask yourself what you'd do if you had Anthony Burgess's original predicament.

Ask Yourself: "If I had just a year to live, how would I live differently? What exactly would I do?"

Face to Face - Anthony Burgess (21st March 1989)

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