Two cactuses

Another story by Katharina Lamprecht

“This is awful!”, one cactus complained, “My thorns are so long that no animal dares to come near me. No lizard, no bird not even the tiniest termite! I feel so lonely”.

“Why are you complaining?” the other cactus answered, “Mine are so weak and thin and soft that I cannot defend myself at all. No animal shows me any respect. The lizards climb all over me and tickle me with their little feet and the birds dig their claws so deep into my flesh that it hurts. I hate it”.

“You are a lucky one”, the first cactus replied, “I would give my roots for an experience like that. Imagine, feeling all that life on oneself”.They went on complaining and lamenting in this way to each other for a while. But suddenly they had a wonderful idea: they would swap their thorns so that each other could get the feeling they wanted. And for a short time, both were happy. One, to feel the birds and lizards and the other to enjoy peace and quiet. But that didn´t hold on for long and soon each began to complain again. They felt their new lives to be exhausting or boring and they longed for their old lives. So they swapped their thorns back. But again, after a short period of contentment they began whining again as before.

Then one day the wise old snake came along and rested for a moment in the shade, the two cactus casted. She listened to the two of them, complaining away, and suddenly she whispered “instead of wailing to one another you better learn from one another”. And with these words said, she slithered on.

The cactus thought about these words for three days and three nights. Then they began to try and find out, how they each managed to let their individual thorns grow. When they knew how to do that, each started to explain and teach the other how to do it. After some practice they knew precisely how to grow strong and how to grow weak thorns. And the more they experimented the better they became and the more colorful and different their thorns got.

Now they were able to keep a perfect balance between peace and quiet and lively action. And for the wise little snake they created a thornless and shady space right between them.

La respiration agréable

Une amie m’a appelée. Elle respirait extrêmement vite et de manière agitée et ne pouvait prononcer que quelques mots à la fois. Sa voix avait un drôle de son. Elle raconta que sa fille venait d’avoir un accident de voiture avec son bébé sur le siège arrière. Le bébé n’avait rien eu mais le SAMU avait transporté sa fille à l’hôpital car ils craignaient une fracture de la base du crâne. Elle-même avait dû rester où elle était ; elle devait garder le bébé et n’arrivait pas à savoir ce qui se passait avec sa fille. J’ai alors commencé à respirer et à parler de la même façon qu’elle et au bout d’un certain temps j’ai changé de rythme et ai ralenti peu à peu ma respiration et ma façon de parler. J’ai remarqué qu’elle me suivait instinctivement dans mon comportement et qu’elle se calmait. Sa voix sonnait claire et forte et ce qu’elle racontait maintenant sonnait plus positif qu’au début de la conversation. « Je te remercie de la façon dont tu m’as parlé », ont été ses mots quand elle termina la conversation.

Coger zarzamoras

Cuando era niño, a menudo ayudaba a mis padres en el jardín. Me acuerdo de como mi padre me instruyó a cosechar zarzamoras: “Toma una mora en la mano y tira un poco de ella. No fuertemente, solo un poco. Si está madura, cae en tu mano por sí misma. Si no se suelta por sí misma, déjala. Todavía tiene un sabor agrio.”

Everything Else

In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.

Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.

Vipassana – Prisoners practising meditation in a jail in India

Lane has shown this film to me some years ago. I don’t know how old Lne is. I know that she used to drink coffee with Albert Einstein every Sunday when she was a student of law. Later, in 1948 she attended the Nürnberg processes where the surviving Nazi leaders were trialled. She worked as a Mediator in peace negotiations for the United Nations and also for some NGOs.
This remarkable film tells the story of a new jail director, a woman who is wondering what she can really do for the prisoners who spend so many years in this jail – and some of them a lifetime. One day she hears about a master of meditation who could possible contribute to this cause. She invites him to visit the prison. An incredible story of change begins. Enjoy this film!

The Little Garden

Mr. Wright lives in Hopville at the river Gies. This is situated near Evenbrook at the Reed, close to the village of Lowfield. Every day, Mr. Wright works in his little garden. He hoes the ground and weeds out the dandelions. He plucks the dry leaves off the sunflowers and waters all the plants in his garden. Two neighbours pass by. They whisper: “Oh, look at him! Does this man have nothing better to do than to water his flowers all day?” The hobby gardener hears their words and says to himself: “I don’t deserve to be considered lazy. I have plenty of work!” The next morning, Mr. Wright gets up quite early. He throws himself into his work and puts in some overtime. He is very industrious. His boss is proud of him. The beautiful plants in his garden dry up however, and after a few weeks, his garden is full of weeds. One evening, he hears his neighbours passing by: “Oh, look at him! How this man lets his garden go to waste! It is an embarrassment for the whole village!”

The next morning Mr. Wright gets up even earlier than before. He takes his job very seriously, working hard without a break, all day. Coming home from work late at night he works in his little garden. While doing so, he hears his neighbours say as they pass by: “Oh, look at him! Hasn’t this man got four children? He spends no time with them nor does he support his poor wife in her daily work. He should be ashamed of himself.”

From then on Mr. Wright gets up even earlier. The break of dawn sees him working in his little garden, just before he goes to his company, where he works like a madman. In the afternoon, he helps his wife, and then he supports his children in any way he can think of. Dead tired he falls into bed. This continues for a while until one morning he does not get up any more. The doctor fills in the death certificate. “Myocardial infarction” he notes. Two days later the funeral takes place. His faithful neighbours also accompany him on his last journey. “Oh, look at him! He could have taken it a bit more easy and lived a calm and pleasant life. Why did he work so hard?”

Margaret and Lucy

There once lived two lizards in a little gap between the stones of a wall. Their names were Margaret and Lucy. Lucy lay on the wall all day sunbathing. Margaret spent most of her time hunting insects for herself and her children. She felt annoyed when she saw Lucy on the wall. “How you are wasting your time! If you were a decent lizard, you would be taking care of your children. What on earth are you doing up there all day long?” Lucy’s eyes twinkled and she said: “I am collecting energy. You see, I am doing something for my children.” “I see it differently”, Margaret grumbled. “And besides, I will not be surprised if one day some buzzard or falcon snatches you from that wall.” “We will see”, Lucy responded, and stretched out in the sun. Margaret preferred to spend her time chasing ants. She appeared exhausted in recent days. Sometimes her life was endangered: She lacked the agility necessary to escape a weasel or a cat. Lucy’s children, however, became strong and quick, like herself. They soon caught the largest spiders, the quickest running beetles, and even huge dragonflies. But their favourite pastime was to lie on the wall and to stretch out in the sunshine.