Monday, June 26, 2017


It seems that in ancient times there was a king named Akbar, who had a brilliant and clever prime minister name Birbal. Akbar was always asking questions that he hoped would baffle Birbal, but Birbal was always able to answer and so save his life and his ministership. One day Akbar asked Birbal if he could bring him someone who was HERE and not THERE.  Birbal brought him a thief, saying, “This thief is only in the world trying to get money and goods to increase his wealth HERE.”
Then Akbar told Birbal, “Bring me someone who is THERE and not HERE.” Birbal responded by bringing a wondering ascetic and said, “He completely neglects all aspects of this world.  Including his body and his well-being, to focus entirely on the world beyond.”

“Very good,” said Akbar. “Now bring me someone who is neither HERE nor THERE.” Birbal left for a while and then returned, presenting to the king a beggar, saying, “This man is neither HERE nor THERE, because he is always envious of everyone else in the world. He’s not participating in the world in any sense and, at the same time, has no concern for spiritual matters. Thus, he is in no way THERE either.”

“Very good again,” exclaimed a pleased Akbar. “Now, is it possible that there is anyone in the world who is both HERE and THERE?”  “Yes, your majesty,” answered, Birbal., and he brought forth an honest household couple. “This man and woman work in the world and tend to their family, but do everything with God in their thoughts. Because they do the work of the world and allow their spiritual practices to carry them through both the good and the bad times, they are a woman and man who are both HERE and THERE.” (Story by John Shea – The Legend of the Bells)

Reflection: In a recent article it stated that many of us are being seduced by multi-tasking, - trying to do a number of things at once. Researchers have now identified a new syndrome emerging called Continuous Partial Attention (CPA). This is described as when a person continues to e-mail, text message, and blog, while supposedly listening to someone else.

Much like our story, CPA can fool us into being not HERE and not THERE! - or be an Absent Presence (another syndrome). These syndromes can un-ground us from our capacity to listen to ourselves, or to the words of another, and to listen between their words and beyond their words. So let us consider a simple practice for the week:  Stop, breathe deeply, – be HERE, be PRESENT, and attend to the moment. 

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