Sufi scholar Tierno Bokar was born at the end of the 19th century in the small town of Bandiagara in Mali, Africa. There, while still a child, he studied the Koran. He was very devoted to his teacher and soon found that all the verses he had learnt by heart conveyed something more than appears at first glance. After his teacher died, he became his successor, and his main object was to help his own townspeople find a way to the hidden meanings behind the written word. This, he was convinced, would eventually lead to a different way of looking at life — a life with more respect for each other. Nearly all the people who listened to his teachings could neither read nor write, and therefore he taught mainly by telling stories. One of them runs something like this:
High up in the mountains, on a rock face, live two different flocks of birds, one flock white, the other black. Each flock has its own nesting site. Never would a black bird fly into the nesting site of a white bird, or vice versa. Like attracts like.
The birds, Tierno Bokar continued, are like human thoughts. We can think of the white birds as our good thoughts, full of love; and the black birds as our evil thoughts, full of revenge and hatred. It is very important how we deal with them. In our souls and hearts are also nesting sites, niches where good or evil thoughts can reside. These niches can be used by good or by evil thoughts, but flying to a wrong niche is impossible. Through their way of thinking all people make these niches into comfortable positive or negative thought-rooms, just like the birds' nests.
Whenever we think an evil thought, it flies out looking for an appropriate room in somebody's soul or heart. If the thought meets a person who is ready to take it in, the thought stops there, makes itself at home in the well-prepared room, and gains energy. But if the thought cannot find any place to stay in a person's soul because no room is available, it must return to its sender, and so loses part of its evil energy.
Whenever we send out a good thought, it looks for an appropriate place too. Like the birds, it can rest only in a room prepared for it. A wonderful picture arises before our inner eye when we imagine the multitude of good thoughts as birds flying out and finding rooms in people's souls and hearts. The sky is covered with clouds of the most wonderful thoughts, chanting lovely songs — as their positive energy multiplies, love will overcome hatred.
(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 2001; copyright © 2001 Theosophical University Press)
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Nothing "just happens." If things just happened, everything would be a jumble; there would be no order or system anywhere, because what holds good in one place, as far as cosmic law is concerned, holds good in all places. Chaos, destruction, death would be the rule if things just happened.
But the truth is that all moves in a sequential, orderly manner. Nothing ever really dies, nothing is lost. Everything, everywhere, is balanced. Action and reaction are equal and opposite. Let us remember that the aggressor of today is but the defender of yesteryear. Old scores, old hates, old debts must be met, must be balanced, if not in this life then in a succeeding incarnation. Fundamentally, perfect justice rules the world. We should hold tight in our hearts to this fundamental idea: out of the welter of seeming injustice something better, finer, nobler will be born; some lesson or lessons the world needs will be born out of the seemingly impossible situation stalking abroad today on this stage called Life.
Nothing can come to us either for good or ill but what is ours: ours to be met, ours to be repaid, ours to conquer, but never ours to get even with. "Hatred ceaseth never by hatred, hatred ceaseth by love." — Helen G. Steward