One day there was a homeless man trying to gather food and he noticed that it kept disappearing. One day he caught a mouse stealing his food and he asked him, ‘Why do you keep stealing food from me? I am just a beggar. You can steal from people richer than me and it won’t have as great of an effect on them?” The mouse told him that it was his destiny that he would only be allowed to ever have 8 items in his possession. The beggar asked why? The mouse said, “I don’t know. You should try and ask the Buddha.”
So, the man goes on his journey to try and find the Buddha and as he is traveling it gets very late and comes upon a wealthy family’s home. They invite him for the night and ask him why he is traveling so late. He tells him about how he is traveling to see the Buddha to ask a question about his destiny. The family asks him if he would ask the Buddha a question for them. They have a 16-year-old daughter who has never spoken and we would like to know what we need to do in order to help her. The beggar says he will ask for them and went on his way.
During his journey the next day, he sees a sea of mountains that he has to cross. As he climbs the first mountain he runs into a wizard. The wizard takes his magical staff and flies him across the mountains. Along the way he asks the beggar where he is going. After the homeless man explains, the wizard asks him if he would ask the Buddha a question for him. The wizard explains that he has been around a thousand years and according to his teachings he should be able to go to heaven now. He asked if the Buddha might tell him what he needs to do to get to heaven. Of course, the beggar replies.
As he continues on his journey he comes across his last obstacle – a river that he can not cross. He meets a giant turtle that decides to take him across the river. The turtle asks him where he is going and when the beggar explains the turtle asks him if he would ask a question for him. He explains that he has been trying to become a dragon for 500 years and according to his teachings he should have become a dragon by now. “Can you please ask the Buddha what I need to do to become a dragon?” Of course, the beggar replies.
When the beggar reaches his destination and the Buddha stood before him he told the beggar that I will only let you ask three questions. He thinks about those he came across on his journey and feels that their questions are more important than his so he asks the question for the wealthy family, the wizard and the turtle. The Buddha answers. The turtle is unwilling to leave his shell. As long as he is unwilling to leave the comfort of his shell he will never become a dragon. The wizard always carries his staff and never puts it down. It acts as an anchor keeping him from heaven. As for the girl, she will be able to speak when she meets her soulmate. He bows to the Buddha and heads on his way back home.
When he sees the turtle, the homeless man lets him know that he just needs to leave his shell. When he does, priceless pearls from the deepest part of the ocean fall out. He gives them to the homeless man and tells him thank you. “I know longer needs these because I am now a dragon.” And flies away.
He comes across the wizard on top of the mountain and tells him that all he needs to do is let go of his staff and he will go to heaven. He lets go by giving it to the beggar. The wizard flies off to heaven. The beggar now has wealth from the turtle and power from the wizard.
He goes back to the family that gave him shelter and lets them know that their daughter will be able to speak when she meets her soulmate. In that moment, the daughter comes downstairs and says, “Hey, is that the man that came here last week?” The beggar and the young girl have now each found their soulmate.
I love this story. My husband found it online and decided to share, per a request from one of my yoga students. The teachings remind us that sometimes we have to give things up in order to receive. Sometimes we have to leave what is most comfortable, leave what we know is most safe in order to grow. And in order to find true love we must be willing to put others before ourselves.
When we are alone and lost in our thoughts, fears and doubts, we sometimes feel that our problems are really big. But when we are willing to look around at others’ lives, others who don’t have the same opportunities as us, who have it worse than us, it can make our problems seem like not that big of a deal. When we are willing to give back to others who are in need, whether in big or small ways, we will change their lives.
The gift is in the giving. And……. you must balance that with time for YOU! In my heath coaching with women, I see so many generous, compassionate souls. To be there for others is truly a gift. But I also see depletion. If we give without also filling our own cup we are running on empty.
I absolutely love what I do AND I know that self-care is paramount in order to continue giving back. If I want to continue to do the work that I do until I drop dead (which is my intention) then my own self care is a non-negotiable. Then, when I do give, I do so from an overflowing cup instead of an empty one.
What are ways that you take care of YOU on a daily basis? Share and let others know what you do for yourself that allows you to give from an overflowing cup. If you aren’t creating time for yourself yet, what are you willing to do starting today?
Love yourself a much as you do others! You’re worth it!