Yes, Aesops Animal Stories Still Speak to Us Today
By Sri Harold Klemp
Do you want to unfold spiritually?
If that's your aim in reading this little ECK magazine on people's own experiences with the Light and Sound of God, you may find new inspiration here. You can jump-start your search for truth. Just meet the challengeopen your spiritual eyes.
Some of these ancient truths appear in the animal stories of Aesop, the legendary Greek writer of fables. Animals, too, like maybe your own pets, at times reveal seeds of truth to offer you greater spiritual freedom.
Now let's see what Aesop's fables hold in store spiritually.
The Young Crab and His Mother
This story teaches the need to set a good example. One day the ungainly, sidewise gait of her young son caught the eye of a mother crab.
"Why, look at how you walk!" she exclaimed.
In an effort to make him walk straight, she added, "What kind of walk do you call that?" But her son looked back in bewilderment.
"Show me what you mean, Mother."
Determined to furnish a good example, she set out to show the right way to walk. However, try as she might to turn her toes out, she learned they had an artless habit of pointing in. Of course, this betrayal is due to how crabs are made. They must walk sideways.
So setting a good example tells your children and others who you are and what you believe. It reflects your spiritual light.
The Gnat and the Bull
In a far-off time and place, a tired gnat lit on the tip of a great bull's horn to rest. After he was refreshed, he buzzed down to the bull's ear to shout into it at the top of his miniature voice.
"Thank you, kind Mr. Bull, for letting me catch my breath on your head."
Sleepily, the bull opened his eyes. "Why, I didn't even know you were there."
This fable shows the puffed up self-conceit of some people, who place a lot of weight upon their own importance. Vanity is a terrible block to spiritual progress. So they remain in the dark about the secrets of life and true freedom.
More's the pity.
The Bear and the Bees
Anger is a negative trait, a bad habit that often brings injury and grief to others, though sometimes only to the person who's lost control.
Forgiveness and tolerance are two qualities to help keep one's flash point in check.
Watch, in this story, how a more placid response to an unexpected change in the bear's plans could have made all the difference to the outcome.
* * *
Deep in a forest a hungry bear came upon a fallen tree in which honeybees had a gratifying stash of honey. Delighted by his good fortune, he still approached the tree with caution.
Was the swarm of bees at home?
Before he could determine the answer a solitary bee, arriving from a clover field, saw this lumbering thief and stung him.
The bear went into a wild rage.
Attacking the fallen tree with tooth and claw, in an ill-conceived passion to taste the fragrant honey inside, he merely roused the bees. A swarm of hundreds streamed forth. With their own stirred anger, the honeybees stung him over and over.
The bear ran for his life. Only a nearby pool of deep water saved him, for he dove into it to save his skin. His quick action spared him the pain and indignity of countless other stings.
What lesson does this fable of Aesop teach us?
Isn't it usually the wiser course to bridle one's anger over a trifling injury than to risk a thousand more?
The Wolf and the House Dog
In this final parable, Aesop tells of freedom.
One who searches for truth harbors a deep longing for spiritual freedom, the noblest treasure yet known to man. His search is like an unquenchable thirst. It is similar to the distress of a sailor lost at sea in a lifeboat. In his desire for water, he drinks from the ocean. His thirst then becomes like a demon.
A seeker after truth finds its quest the beginning and end of his entire existence.
The taste of a little freedom, like honey, directs his cravings toward finding more of it. He will stop at nothing to secure it. The seeker may eventually go so far as to deliberately avoid the company of people who mainly see comfort and luxury as the chief pursuits in life.
So let's hear Aesop's last tale for the day.
* * *
Long ago, in a magical land where animals act and talk like people, a wolf went for a stroll. His ribs showed under his matted coat of shabby hair. He tried to ignore his growling stomach.
The town dogs were the reason for his wasted condition, for they were the ruthless, ever-watchful guardians of the town's sheep. These dogs had made him miss many a feast. How he drooled for fat mutton.
To his surprise there happened along one of the sleek, yet fit, town dogs, who looked far too robust to risk an attempt to devour him. So the wolf put on his best face. Flattery was one of his arts. He'd do anything to get those sheep.
"What a fine coat of hair you have," the wolf said. "And how your muscles ripple. You must be the most handsome dog in the whole county."
The dog loved the compliments, so he fell in alongside the wolf and the two engaged in agreeable conversation.
"Come, live in town," urged the dog. "It's a splendid life. There's choice food every day of delicious bones, tidbits from the master's table, and even bread and gravy sometimes. The food is served in a bowl. There's no need to chase about in the forest, uncertain of where the next meal will come from. And we get lots of kind words and caresses."
The wolf's ears perked up.
"But what do you have to do to earn all those comforts and luxuries?" he wondered.
"Hardly a thing," his companion answered him. "I chase away people when the master's family is out of town, scare vagrants silly, and protect the master's flock."
But then the wolf noticed some hair chafed away on the dog's neck. "What's that mark from?" he asked.
The dog glanced away, suddenly ill at ease.
"That's just the place I wear my collar," he explained. "A chain fastens to it."
Alarmed, the wolf replied, "You mean you don't always run free?"
"Well, not always," the dog admitted. "But it's a small price to pay for all the advantages."
The wolf had heard enough. Bounding to the forest, he cried over his shoulder, "All the sheep in the world aren't worth a single hour of my freedom."
* * *
His desire for freedom was like that of a rightful seeker after the mysteries of heaven.
The teachings of ECK can assist you on your own journey of self-discovery on the way to spiritual freedom. They have helped thousands in their quest. The main benefit of the ECK teachings is how you learn to open your heart to God's love.
Mark Twain, the renowned American writer, once said, "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
The ECK teachings are here for people just like you.
Excerpted from the 2000 Eckankar Journal, copyright © 1999 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.