Fairytale Sample

Ahtram and the Three Observations

Far away in an eastern country there was a village of farmers who like other farmers in the world, understood the cycles of the seasons and knew there was a proper time for everything. In one family however bad fortune seemed to plaque them constantly. Bandits were always stealing their rice or hungry ghosts were lurking around and causing illness. The mother and father were always giving generous handouts to the beggars and leaving offerings for the hungry ghosts. Their children were raised to obey their parents and to work hard to become successful. The oldest child Ahtram was 15 years old was frail and always getting sick He had the most generous heart of anyone in the family and was constantly praised by his parents for his great generosity.

One day the parents tell Ahtram that they think he should become a monk because he has such a caring heart. His mother tells him to pack up all of his belongings and give them away to the poorer children in the village. As a monk he would have no use for these things. Because his personality wouldn’t allow his parents to experience disappointment or aggravation, he immediately obeyed. He was reluctant to give away his toy soldier with the little wooden sword but he didn’t want to appear selfish. Once he had given away all of his possessions he felt both moved by the appreciation from the children who received them and sad that he didn’t have more to give.

On the next day, Ahtram’s parents made the day’s journey with him and released him to the care of the monastery. The head abbot asked about his health and Ahtrams mother said he had a very generous heart and was completely selfless by nature. The abbot politely asked her again about the boy’s health and she said that he was a very obedient boy and never caused them a day of trouble. The abbot seeing the mother’s insecurity assured her that they would accept Ahtram without any delay. She relaxed and he asked her one more time. Please tell me how long your son has been in poor health. She said as long as she could remember he had suffered from low energy. The abbot bowed and bid the parents a safe journey home. Then he had a long discussion with Ahtram so that he could evaluate his composition, metaphysically. The head abbot was not only very wise but accomplished in many of the ancient healing arts and sciences. He was concerned about the education, training and health of everyone within the walls of the monastery. After the interview, Ahtram was told he would be given an assignment in a week’s time. He asked another boy Ahtram’s age to be his guide and to help him get acquainted with the day-to-day routine of the monastery in the mean time.

The sleeping and eating quarters of the children’s section of the monastery were identified by color. They were called long houses because of their long narrow design. The head abbot had Ahtram brought to him after the week was over and told him that his assignment was to be the Green House leader for the 5-7 years olds. He would be a big brother to them and was responsible for their general well being.

After a month of his leadership in the Green House a noticeable change could be seen in the children. Some had lost weight and some were weak, while a few were obviously ill, but none of them complained because they didn’t want to disappoint their leader or give him anxiety. They had been emulating his charitable actions and gave a portion of their meals to little animals and birds each day. Ahtram would allow any little living thing to take what it wanted before he took what was left. They were even imitating his habit of only speaking when spoken to which made everyone feel as if they were offending someone if they spoke. They didn’t do anything that would result in someone having to do extra work. Ahtram is called by the abbot and asked how the children are doing? He regrets to report that while they are good hearted and kind to one another, that they are poor in health and he is feeling distressed about it. His master asks, “have they not followed your example?” Ahtram responds by saying, “Oh yes, they are very well behaved but I don’t understand why they are ill. Please take the responsibility away from me.” The abbot responds definitively, “No, you will not be excused from this responsibility. Ask the universe how to restore their health. Be alert, for the answers will be revealed through your observation of common daily activities. Return to me in three days and tell me what you have learned.

So Ahtram went out to the courtyard and sat on a bench and with much sincerity asked the universe to show him how to restore the health of the boys in the Green House. He began to walk aimlessly feeling somewhat bewildered and he came across a cow heard grazing in a field. He supported himself against the fence and watched the cows. He saw a little calf following its mother while she was eating and chewing and ignoring her calf. How uncaring that mother cow is thought Ahtram. If I was that mother cow, I would stand still and let my calf receive his nourishment when ever he asked for it. Ahtram went back to the monastery and took a nap. He dreamed that he was a dairy farmer and he saw himself take a whip to the mother cow and told her, when ever your calf wants your milk, you will stand still and let him drink until he is satisfied. The mother cow obeyed her master for fear of disappointing him. Soon the little calf approached her and she stood very still. He drank and drank and drank. He was so full that he waddled away and threw up. The mother cow was hungry and needed to eat to keep up her strength and her milk supply so she began to graze, but her calf came running back ready to feed again. So, she stood very still and the calf drank and drank and drank until he felt like he would burst. He went into the corner of the corral and threw up. This cycle repeated itself over and over until both the mother and the baby calf were weak and emaciated. Ahtram woke up with his heart pounding.

The next day Ahtram went walking aimlessly and came upon a blind beggar. His heart went out to the old man and he wondered what he could give him. He spoke to him and asked if he could provide a service of any kind. The old beggar spoke with grace and authority and told the boy to come closer so that he could touch his face. He moved his hand gently across the boys face and then down to his shoulder and finally over his heart. He withdrew his hand in horror. “You need to leave now!,” said the old man. Ahtram was shocked, “but why he asked?” The old man was adamant, “You are a heartless murderer and I don’t want anything to do with you, leave me at once.” Ahtram was upset and confused. He felt very weak but managed to walk all the way back to the long house before he sat down. Once there, he was told that one of the boys was so sick that he had been moved to the infirmary. Ahtram began to cry and soon fell asleep. He had a dream that the village guards came for him and put him in a jail cell. He pleaded with the men to tell him what his crime had been. One of them looked him in the eye and said, “you know what you have done murderer”. Ahtram cried out in anguish, “but who did I kill, please tell me.” The guard responded, look out your window and you can see the funeral procession. Ahtram was afraid to look. He was afraid that one of his children from the green house was dead. He slowly got up and peered out the tiny barred window and saw that his own family was standing over a grave and the only one missing was him. He heard the priest speak his name and realized that it was his body in the grave. Ahtram awoke from this dream with a start, and was breathing rapidly.

On the third day Ahtram sat beside the road on a log and observed everything he saw with great mindfulness. A peddler driving an ox cart came within his view and he noticed that there was a flock of birds following the cart. He watched attentively until the ox cart passed him and he saw why the birds were attracted to the ox cart. A sack of grain apparently had a hole in it and the grain was pouring out onto the road. Ahtram took all the strength he had and ran beside the oxcart and yelled for the driver to stop. The man stopped the cart and waited for Ahtram to catch his breath. “Sir, Ahtram said, “Your grain is spilling out onto the road.” The man jumped out of his cart and saw that this was true. The sack was half empty now and the man was clearly saddened by it but he smiled at Ahtram and said thanks to you, I still have half a sack. He tied the sack tightly and set it up right so that no more could spill out. Ahtram said, “well at least when the grain fell out it fed the birds.” The man laughed and said, “I can’t afford to be that generous.” Then the man told Ahtram that he wanted to give him something as a gesture of his appreciation. He looked through his sacks of various household items and pulled out a toy soldier with a little wooden sword. “Here” said the man, “it’s the only thing I can afford to part with until I sell more of my wares.” Ahtram was amazed. It was his old toy soldier and he was filled with joy. They soon parted company and went their separate ways.

On his return to the monastery, Ahtram was given the message to see the head abbot. Once he was in his presence he was asked to tell him what he had observed over the last three days. He said that on the first day, he observed a mother cow ignoring her calf when he was hungry. The abbot asked if the calf appeared to be suffering. Ahtram said no, the calf appeared to be quite healthy. The abbot asked if he thought the mother cow should behave any differently. Ahtram remembered the disturbing dream he had and said no, I thought at first the mother cow was being selfish but I think this is the way it works best for cows somehow. The head abbot grinned. To be selfish is to put yourself first at the expense of others. Was either the mother cow or the calf depleting the other? No said Ahtram there was a balance of give and take but the mother had to regulate it. I see that now. She had to put her needs first in order to maintain health in their relationship. The abbot laughed out loud. Yes, yes that is very perceptive of you and he clapped his hands.

What else did you observe, the abbot inquired. Well said Ahtram on the second day I met a blind man who called me a heartless murderer and I was very upset by this. I even had a nightmare about it. In the nightmare I am accused of murder and put in jail only to find that I was the one who was killed. The head abbot laughed and clapped his hands. He was clearly amused. What a wonderful dream he said. Ahtram was very confused at the response from the head abbot. The abbot replied, “You are very good at receiving answers from the universe. Now you have to learn to understand the wisdom contained in these messages. What kind of murderer did the blind man say you were?” Ahtram replyed, “heartless.” “ Well who have you given you heart to?, asked the abbot” I have always thought of everyone else first. Even my mother told you that I was selfless and generous of heart.” “Oh”, said the abbot, I am well aware of your generosity, its making all of the children in your care sick” “Didn’t your dream say that it was you who was killed by your own heartlessness? Who have you neglected to be generous with?” Ahtram felt a rush of embarrassment. He suddenly understood what the abbot was saying. He had put everyone first at the expense of himself. He was depleted of love for his own spirit and it was leaving him. He started to cry and he covered his eyes. The head abbott said to continue with the third day’s observations.

Ahtram collected himself. He said that he stopped an ox cart driver because he had a hole in his grain sack and it was spilling out the back of the cart. He said that in return the peddler gave him a toy soldier that originally belonged to him. He thought that was a very auspicious occurrence. The abbot agreed and said that the universe was an endless source of amazement. “Do you see the message here Ahtram?, it couldn’t be any clearer.” The abbot gazed into his eyes and Ahtram suddenly had a realization. “Tell me what you saw said the wise old abbot.” Ahtram said, I saw that, like the sack of grain, I was being more generous than I could afford to be and when the flow was stopped I was given back a part of myself.” “Oh, yes clapped the master, you have found the answer for yourself.” Now return to the green house and use what you have learned to restore the health to all those, who abide under its roof.

Ahtram returned to the Green House with more vitality than the boys were used to seeing in him. He called for their attention and they gathered around him. He told them about the observations of the last three days and ended with the following words.

Self-abuse takes enormous discipline and strength and it is a measure of greatness of spirit, but this is an unbalanced approach to express such greatness. One who ruins the body will never gain awakening. Always put Self –first so that you will, be healthy examples for others and have more to give.

Ahtram and the boys were restored to health and grew to be very wise teachers. They brought much prosperity to the monastery through their service to the surrounding villages and their exceptional reputation throughout the country.

Note: if you read the name Ahtram in a mirror it says Martha. The meaning of Martha is lady. The old expression ladies first can be re-interpreted for either gender as honoring your own spirit and body first so that you can fulfill a broader service to those around you.