Storytime with Meme: The Most Precious Gem of All

One day Bojo was sitting next to Meme on the bus. It was a long ride and he was bored of just looking out the window. He asked Meme to think of something to pass the time. He felt like the bus ride would never end.

Meme smiled and replied to her friend. Let me think of a riddle and you can figure out what it is:

“Some rarely think of me, while others attempt to measure me. Many have tried to hold on to me but simply cannot, and oh! How they miss me when I have flown.”

Meme laughed as Bojo tried to figure out the riddle, and finally Bojo urged Meme to tell him the answer.

“It is easy once you know that no matter what we do, this second, this very moment in our lives, whether we see it as mundane, uneventful or exciting and completely wonderful, it will not come again, and it is our precious and most priceless gem.”

Bojo then yelled, “Time!” and smiled back at Meme.

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Storytime with Meme: Heaven & Hell

Meme had heard that the Venerable Master would be arriving in the temple, and she had a question to ask of him. She walked all the way to Fo Guang Shan and entered the gate of the monastery.

It took a moment or two for her to locate the Venerable Master in the gardens. She approached him and stood before him, bowed and asked, “can you explain, to me, the meaning of heaven and hell?”

The Master Venerable remained silent.

Meme wondered if he had not heard her and repeated the question again.

After a few more moments the Venerable Master said, “How can I tell someone as stupid as you what something means. It would only be a waste of time. Your clothes are worn and old. You look like a beggar. There is nothing that I wish to share with you.”

This made Meme quite upset. She had never had anyone say such awful things to her. Her mind was filled with ugly thoughts of herself and of the Venerable Master. She was about to turn and walk away when she heard the Venerable Master softly say, “that is hell.”

She looked at him realizing that somehow he knew what her mind had been thinking. He had clearly shown her where hell was all this time. Quickly her thoughts changed to one of admiration and respect for the Venerable Master who stood before her. Her mind stopped its chattering about bad things and instead her thoughts connected directly to her heart filled with complete compassion for him, and at that moment he looked at her and said, “and that my friend is heaven, the pureland that you seek.”

Storytime with Meme: The Reflection

One day Liriope met with Meme. Liriope wanted to prove that she was the superior person.

As their conversation drew on, she asked Meme, “Meme, do you know what I think of you?”

Meme replied, “I don’t know what you think of me. You are entitled to have your opinion.”

Liriope smirked and said, “Well, I will tell you what I think anyway. In my eyes, you are just like a pile of dung!”

Meme simply smiled and stayed quiet.

Seeing that her insult had not effected Meme, she asked curiously, “And what do you think of me?”

Meme said, “In my eyes, you are just like the Buddha.”

Hearing this, Liriope left happily and bragged to another friend about the incident.

Her friend said to Liriope, “Liriope, you have much to learn. When a person has a heart like a pile of dung, she sees everyone in that light. Meme has the heart of the Buddha, and that is why in her eyes, everyone, including you, looks like the Buddha!”

Storytime with Meme: The Eyebrows

Once, Meme’s eyes, nose, and mouth had a discussion. First the eyes said, “We, the eyes, are the most important on the face. The body depends on us to see everything. Without eyes, it would be difficult to tell what was beautiful and what wasn’t beautiful. So we, the eyes, are very important. But we have been improperly placed under the eyebrows, which are of no use. It is not right!”

The nose soon joined in the discussion and said, “I, the nose, disagree with the eyes. It is I, the nose, who is the most important. I can tell the body when something smells. I also help the body breath. Without me allowing the air to pass through, Meme could die. I am the most important and it is unfair that I am placed below the eyebrows. I am really unhappy!”

Then the mouth said, “You are all mistaken. I am the most important part of Meme. I allow her to speak. Without me, she could not tell her stories. I also take in the food. Meme would die of hunger without me. I have been unfairly treated since I am the most important and placed in the lowest part of the face. The useless eyebrows have been place on the highest part of Meme’s face. I cannot accept it!”

The eyebrows sighed and spoke, “There is no need to complain. We, the eyebrows, accept that we are the most useless things. There must have been a mistake in our placement. We are willing to be placed below you.” After saying this, the eyebrows moved down below the eyes. Of course when this happened, Meme no longer looked like Meme but really strange. The eyes, the nose and the mouth all continued to complain so the eyebrows moved down below the nose. It was still horrible. Meme still did not look at all like Meme. The nose said to the eyebrows, “You are hideous below me. Go below the mouth!” The eyebrows moved down below the mouth. Even this was beyond ridiculous looking.

The eyes, nose, and mouth grumbled and resentfully came to the same conclusion that somehow the useless eyebrows made Meme look like Meme. Without their top placement, Meme looked freakish and abnormal. They decided that it was best if the eyebrows returned to their original place on the face. It was where the eyebrows belonged. When the eyebrows returned to their original spot, the appearance was once again that of a face.

Storytime with Meme: The Four Types of Friends

:spins around in the sunshine of the new day:

It is me, Meme! Let us sit down just by the cherry tree and watch the wind blow the leaves, and I will tell you a story. This one is a very old one that my grandfather told me when I had this really awful day.

I had just came home after talking with a person who I thought was my best friend. The person said many malicious words to me, and it hurt me because I didn’t understand. My grandfather as I walked through the door must have seen the tears that I tried to hide, and he asked me what was wrong. I told him that I didn’t understand people. He asked me to sit with him at the table while he poured each of us a cup of mate. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the most beautiful mirror. It had intricate heart designs on it with red rubies surrounding it.

He smiled at me and said as he handed it to me, “that used to belong to your grandmother. Now Meme, look in it and tell me what you see.”

I held the small mirror in my hand and looked inside of it. “There is only me, grandfather.”

“Yes, it is you. Look closer though, you will see your friends there too. Your friends are mirrors of yourself Meme. What you see of yourself in that mirror, you will see in your friends and all the people that you allow in your life.”

He hesitated and smiled broadly, “you are a kind person Meme. You should always have good friends in your life. Those friends will encourage you to correct your mistakes and allow your character to grow.”

He smiled gently and continued, “of course, there will be not so good friends, and there is a purpose to them too. They serve as a way for you to understand how not to treat others. There are some people in this world who accidentally get confused and end up walking down the wrong path because they, themselves, ran into the wrong kind of friends and than became what they never intended to be: malicious, unkind and just cruel. The wrong kinds of friends block your ability to become who you are meant to be. You can try to help them by just being a friend and being kind to them, but when they start hurting you too much, you have to realize that you must walk your own way.”

“There are mostly just four types of friends. One treats you like a flower, another treats you like a balance and than the others treat you like a mountain or the earth.”

“Oh! you have to tell me about the flower first grandfather! I love flowers.”

“Yes, we all love flowers, but you would not care much for the flower type of friend, Meme. The flower friends only pick the flowers when they are in full bloom. They do not admire the flower for the struggle that it took to bloom. They pick the flower preventing others from enjoying the fragrance and beauty of it. The flower friends will carry you in their hand and maybe even wear you in their hair and display you. However, flowers once cut will wither, and when you begin to wither, these friends will simply throw you away. Some people only want to be your friends when you are rich or popular, and leave you when you are poor or are no longer beautiful to them. These people treat friends like flowers.”

“What is the balance friend?”

“Well, maybe those dried tears on your face are from this type of friend. When you think of a balance or a scale, one side of it drops when a heavy object is placed on it and rises up when a light object is placed on it. These type of friends only show their respect when you have something they want. They become arrogant and distant when you no longer have anything to offer them. These people are like a balance in the way they treat friends.”

My grandfather poured me some more mate and said, “The last two friends are similar in a way. They are the reason why we welcome all people into our life hoping that they are like them. The mountain friend is one that stands strong as a mountain. When the mountain is golden from the sunshine of the day, all that gathers on it or near it are covered in a golden light. When friends share their good fortune and beauty, they are like the mountain.”

“The last type of friend is like the earth. The earth yields hundreds of types of grains and treasures for all living beings to live on. Likewise, some friends share everything they have with you and help you in every way they can. These kind of friends are like the earth.”

“But grandfather how do I tell the difference when I first meet people? How do I tell which type of friends that they will be to me?”

He sipped some more mate and than said, “Meme, in everything there are things we like and things we don’t care so much about. In people, there are things maybe you don’t like so much about them, but there is always something unique in each person that you will cherish and love. You accept the whole person, not just one part of him. Each person that comes in our lives is a puzzle piece that adds up to the most beautiful picture of all.”

He hesitated and asked, “You understand, right Meme?”

“Yes, I think so grandfather.”

“Good. That is important. Fear limits us from understanding. You should not be afraid of people. People all come in our lives for a reason. The first two types of friends will befriend you when you are rich, and beautiful, and abandon you when you are poor and your outer beauty faded. They will only pay attention to you when you give them gifts, and are aloof when you stop giving. These are superficial friends. These people are your friends, but do not consider them close friends. As for the latter two types of friends, the mountain and the earth friends, they share happiness and joy with others, and they protect and care for all beings. These are the kind of friends that you should always allow inside your heart for they are the ones that will water the seed and not crush it.”

Storytime with Meme: A Little Ch’an Sunbather

One day, Nibbana saw a group of people gathering in a local park. She wondered what was going on and asked one of the people on his way to the park. He told her that the monastics at the local temple were all sunning their sutras. All the people who were there, were hoping that maybe the wind would blow over the sutras since there was a belief if this happened, it could also blow away troubles and impart wisdom.

Nibbana hearing this immediately thought, “I shall also sun my sutra!” She ran back to her home and got on her swimsuit and went to the park. She found a spot right in the middle of all the sutras and laid down under the sun.

Later, the monks of the temple hearing about what Nibbana had done told her that she had been disrespectful.

Nibbana was puzzled why they would be upset with her and explained, “I was sunning my own sutra. It is alive. It teaches the Dharma. It smiles; it plays and it eats. The sutras that surrounded me were lifeless pieces of paper. Which sutra is more valuable in today’s world? Is not the wisdom that is obtained from within more important?”

Storytime with Meme: Let Go …

Urizen was on his way to the train with a bag of groceries in one hand and a laptop strapped to his shoulder of his other arm. His load was heavy as he raced to the approaching train only to watch it leave him behind. He found a bench and sat down to wait for the next train all the while thinking of what would have to be rearranged in his schedule to compensate for the lost of time. He didn’t notice the person who came to sit by him until he heard him say, “let go.”

Urizen looked at him a little puzzled and than placed down his bag of groceries. It was lighter, and he wondered why he had not thought of it himself. Again the person next to him said, “let go.” Urizen hesitated a moment not wanting to release the hold on his laptop, but than placed it down beside his feet. However, again the person sitting next to him patiently said, “let go.”

Urizen looked at him and said, “There’s nothing else that I can put down. What do you want me to let go of now?”

The person looked directly at Urizen and said, “I did not ask you to put down your groceries or your laptop. What I asked you to let go of is the heavy burden on your back and the stress in your mind.”

Storytime with Meme: The Form in Your Mind

“Lady bug, lady bug, how did you end up being a part of me”?

Once upon a time Manami was walking along the edge of the river. As she walked, she noticed a man pushing his boat into the water. He was taking some friends across the river to the other side.

Meme caught up with Manami and grabbed her hand affectionately as Manami was deep in thought.

“What are you thinking about Manami?” Meme asked.

I just watched that man push his boat into the water. When he did that he must have killed some of the fish that lived at the water’s edge. Who is to blame for their deaths? Is the man or are his friends who wanted to go to the other side of the river at fault?”

Meme answered, “It isn’t the man or his friends fault.”

Confused Manami asked, “If it is not their fault, then whose fault is it?”

Meme smiled and replied, “It is your fault.”

The Flower Garland Sutra says, “the mind is a painter. It paints its own world.” Forms are generated by our own minds. We may describe them as wrongdoings because they have been created from bad intentions only within our own minds.

Let us paint our world with beautiful thoughts. Everything is our own making. Choose to think of beneficial and loving thoughts, and our lives will gradually become brighter and more joyful.

Bojo’s Words: The Lotus

For you, remember the lotus:

I wanted to show you the flower that I see. I cannot even hold it. It is what I see of you.

It sprung from the water. Deep from the depths of the mud, it rose and tipped the edge of the water and still it tried to touch the sky. And I said, “it’s simply beautiful.”

But you couldn’t see it. It was as if there were storm clouds in your eyes.

There it was opened and free, breathing in all of the sun.

It had planted itself deep in the mud at the very bottom, consuming it but not becoming it. Weaving here and there. It didn’t hold the hardships or the joys that it was given: the many burdens, the tears and the laughter, but still it sought the opened air, passed the suffering of all that came, past/present, and comes, taken like a leaf that holds the bubble drop. No carving of the shape did it give as it struggled and climbed. It rose through the muddy water, not rotting, but remaining true to all that it is.

The truth of itself, and there it appeared before me, toppling the water, opening the sky, and I could do nothing but take in all that it is and say…

It is the most beautiful person that I have ever seen, and that person is you.

Namaste

Bojo’s Words: The Moment

There was once a restaurant. It was the very best in town.

Two different people walked in it.

One person loved everything about it. The food, the service, the atmosphere and even the paintings on the wall were all perfect. Everything filled his eyes with delight, and he was very happy.

Another person hated everything about it. Everything, even the clothing that the waitress wore was completely unacceptable.

What was so different about the restaurant? Why did one person see the restaurant one way and the other person saw it completely differently?

Maybe one person wants to be there and the other person is only thinking where he would rather be.

Be where you are at any given moment. Dance right where you are…enjoy.

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