One day an arrogant and wealthy politician encountered a monk at the center of the town square. The monk, clad in a flowing orange robe with a begging cup in hand, did not pay the politician any notice. He just strolled slowly by the prominent man with eyes staring straight ahead absorbed in a walking meditation. Enraged at having not been acknowledged, the politician ran up behind the monk and aggressively grabbed him by the arm and said:
“Don’t you know who I am? Everyone bows down before me!”
The monk locked eyes with the politician for a few seconds and then suddenly began laughing hysterically out loud. Growing even more enraged, the powerful and famous man raised his fists in the air and threatened the monk with violence. He then demanded to know what was so funny. Still laughing, the monk pointed down at the politician’s feet. The politician looked embarrassingly down at his feet and saw that he was standing in a pile of fresh cow dung! As the politician bent down to clean the dung off his shoes, the monk stood over him and said:
“I think I remember who you are now. You are that former politician turned humble servant of his people. Now allow me to help you clean the cow dung off your shoes.”
At that moment it has been said that a great miracle took place. An arrogant and wealthy politician was transformed into a kind and humble servant for the poorest and most oppressed among his people.
“Pay It Forward: A Life Lesson from the Ganja Shop”
By: Forrest Rivers
It was the start of a typical evening along the Colorado Front Range. Rush hour traffic was unbearable due to multiple car accidents caused by impatient drivers. Understandably, I felt a bit antsy from this hair-raising commute. So, I did the only sensible thing any 420-inclined person might do in a legal state: I stopped at my favorite ganja shop for some much-needed herbal relief! As I made my way into the shop, I was greeted by my favorite bud tender with a hug and smiles (This was pre-COVID-19). Who wouldn’t be all smiles in a cannabis shop! After a few minutes of friendly banter with my grateful host, I motioned toward the pre-rolled joints in the back of the room and inquired about their cost. My beloved bud-tender smiled and said it was $ 11.50 after tax. I reached into my wallet and pulled out $ 7.50. I was clearly short. You know the look children give when they are denied candy by their parents? Well, that is how my face must have appeared to everyone around me. I didn’t have enough cash to buy my favorite green candy!
Since I was a well-liked regular, my bud-tender succeeded in cutting a dollar off the cost. However, I was still $ 3.00 short to make the purchase. Then, suddenly, at the very moment that I was prepared to walk out the door a young man emerged from the back of the shop and handed me $ 3.00. I turned to the man and introduced myself. We then exchanged a high five and I turned to my bud-tender friend and said: “See, that man is a shining example of how world peace will one day be achieved. It won’t come through the brokered “peace” of nation states but rather through the daily generous acts of individuals”. For several moments, the two of us talked excitedly about the beautiful concept of “pay it forward.”
Three days later, with the interaction from the ganja shop still fresh in my mind, I spotted a homeless man on the side of the road. I introduced myself to him and we started talking as two brother souls. As I came to find out, this person was an inspiring being who had simply fallen on rough times in the wake of a recent break up. He had dedicated much of his previous adult life to protecting the Earth from corporate predators and he had a deep faith in the Universe. I handed him $ 7.00 and promised that the next time I saw him I would bring him a copy of the Upanishads, a sacred Hindu text that was also dear to his heart. We then hugged and said good bye. While driving home, I thought of the power of “pay it forward”. I then smiled wide inside as I acknowledged the fitting setting of my training in this practice!