Have you ever struggled to make a decision? Perhaps, you sat sitting in front of your pros and cons list trying to reason out the correct response, only to have the perfect answer jump out while you were taking a shower? Sometimes we have to get out of our own way to learn what is the best answer for us. The older we get, the more likely we are to respond how we should instead of how we want to. The more we ignore that amazing inner wisdom that wants to help guide us, the quieter that inner voice tends to become. This is true to kids as well as adults. We can’t expect to understand our inner guidance in times of crisis if we haven’t listened for this wisdom during other times as well. The only way to truly be able to tune into our inner voice and amazing inner wisdom is to practice. As Knox, Malnor, Dermond & Ubeda in A Joyful Path declare, “Your true self is a spiritual being housed in a human being. If we can access the voice of our true selves, the guidance we are looking for will always be available.” Choosing the correct path in life can be challenging. Add to that the pressures of fitting in and being liked by our friends and associates, and it can be really hard to know what action is best.
This week we will be discussing how to stop and listen to our inner wisdom. We will start with an optical illusion to demonstrate that while our minds are very helpful, they are not always correct and can lead us to making incorrect assumptions. We will discuss the importance of stopping to both think and listen to our inner voice instead of jumping to sometime incorrect conclusions as the rabbit in our story does. We will also practice sitting quietly and just breathing to allow space for our inner voice to speak to us.
Story: THE GOLDEN RABBIT AND WISE LION - A Jataka tale from India
Savita was a golden rabbit with soft fur, long ears, and very powerful hind legs. She was new to the forest and was pleased to find the perfect home under a beautiful mango tree. The opening was big enough for a rabbit but too small for a wolf, and the tunnel led down to a safe, cozy den. The mango tree was very tall and provided cool shade. Savita could see the fruit high up in the tree, ripening in the sun. Someday soon she would have fresh mangoes to eat right at her door. A mother boar and two piglets lived down the forest path. The two little piglets were playing outside Savita’s den one day, and she could hear them boasting to one another. “I’m going to be the biggest and strongest boar ever!” one piglet told his brother. “Nothing will be able to hurt me—not a wolf, or a bear, or anything!” “You can’t be stronger than everything,” his brother scoffed. “What if something really big — like the sky — fell on you? You would still be squashed.” As the piglets went away, Savita thought about the sky falling. She never thought the sky could fall down. It was a frightening thought. Wasn’t it stuck up there with the clouds?
Although it was time to go out and get something to eat, she decided to stay safely in her den. Eventually, Savita fell asleep. In the early light of dawn, Savita woke up hungry. She reassured herself that the sky would never really fall down and prepared to go up the tunnel and outside. Suddenly, there was a loud THUMP! and the earth shook. Savita froze — even her whiskers stopped twitching. THUMP! THUMP! KA — THUMP! The ground was shaking all around her, and then Savita ran. She bounded up the tunnel and outside and kept running down the path and through the trees.
The other animals of the forest saw the golden rabbit running fast and looking very scared. “What are you running away from, Savita?” called the deer. “The sky is falling down! A big piece landed near my home — I heard it!” yelled the rabbit as she ran by. Some of the animals that heard this were frightened and ran after Savita. A parrot flew over her head and squawked, “Why are you all running so fast?” “The sky is falling down! Big pieces almost landed on Savita!” the boar called back. Hearing this, the parrot flew down near the ground and joined the growing crowd of animals running toward the river. They raised such a cloud of dust that Parindra, the wise lion, saw it and ran in front to find out what was happening.
He stood with his tail to the river, directly in the path of the golden rabbit and all those who followed. When they saw him, the animals were so surprised they stopped running. “What is happening here?” Parindra demanded in his deep, kind voice. “The sky is falling down! I heard it land near my home — you better run!” Savita explained. The lion simply said, “Show me.” And he walked back into the forest towards the rabbit’s den. Savita knew she must go with him, although she trembled with fear. When they reached the den, Parindra gently asked, “What do you see?”
Savita was confused. There were no chunks of sky on the ground. There was just her den, the tall mango tree, and — THUMP! A large, ripe mango landed on the ground beside her. Savita jumped in alarm and then noticed there were many of the big yellow-and-red fruits lying in the grass around her den. Suddenly, the golden rabbit realized her mistake — the sky wasn’t falling; the mangos were! She had not even stopped to look. Her whiskers twitched with relief and understanding as she told herself, “I’ll remember to stop and think before I act next time.”
*Lesson from A JOYFUL PATH: Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds, Year 1 of the Inner Wisdom Series