musicology #481

PoliceAndThieves #6

(Junior Murvin – Police&Thieves)

Last day of this theme but before the final cut I would like to elucidate on the my thoughts and inspiration for laying it down. various parts of London, (and many other parts of the world), in the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s were a battleground as the old world began to give way to the new and the front line soldiers were the police. Stop and search was a BIG problem that only served to alienate ‘us’ from ‘them’. In my experience community policing gave way to bullying and now we live in a society where for many the Police are the oppressors.

Of course the argument could, (and does as far as some are concerned), run that fire needs to be fought with fire but on the other hand the Tao maintains that the ‘way’ to deal with ‘yang’ (fire) is with ‘Yin’ (water) and I have to state wholeheartedly that I agree..my recent experience has highlighted that fire burns whilst water soothes..anyone who has been in such a situation must know of what I speak?. I’m not blaming those individuals who join ‘the force’ as ‘a wo/man has to do what a wo/man has to do’ in order to survive. My belief is that the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of those who crack the whip….

Could only be this one to finish up..Junior Murvin’s international 1976 ‘hit’ … Supremely produced and mixed by Lee Perry.

musicology #426

noExcuses #3

(Brand New Start – Paul Weller)

must have already laid this one down along the way but today it’s in honour of the two most beautiful and inspirational parts of my whole..one of which, (who is 11 years old), said to me the other night

“don’t worry dad, a new start is much better than a bad one”

how’s that for wisdom..choked me and I cried !! took me two days to absorb it but it was while listening to this cut yesterday that the full force hit me like a runaway train and then, (less than an hour later), just to make sure that I didn’t miss the opportunity one of the the other parts of my heart and soul (independently), checked in to ask for MY help..

Bravery and courage come in many forms but children are purity personified and when they knock I am, and will always be, there with door, arms and heart WIDE open.

Just like to add my deep thanks to Paul Weller for also being a huge inspiration and trusted guide on the journey.

“I’m gonna clear out my head,
I’m gonna get myself straight,
I know it’s never too late,
To make a brand new start,

I’m gonna kick down the door,
I’m gonna get myself in,
I’m gonna fix up the yard,
And not fall back again,

I’m gonna CLEAN up my earth,
And build a heaven ON the ground,
Not something distant and unfound,
But something real to me,
But something real to me,

All that I can I can be,
All that I am I CAN see,
All that is mine is in my hands,
So to my self I call

There’s somewhere else I should be,
There’s someone else I CAN see,
There’s something more I can find,
IT’S ONLY UP TO ME

I’m gonna clean up my earth,
And build a heaven ON the ground,
Not something distant and unfound,
But something real to me,
But something real to me,

I’m gonna clear out my head,
I’m gonna get myself straight,
I KNOW it’s never too late,
To make a brand new start,
To make a brand new start,
To make a brand new start.

musicology #424

noExcuses #1

(Paul Weller – Cold Moments)

Tried countless times over the last few weeks to get back in themusicologist saddle and every time something changes, (such is life), so what is themusicologist going to DO about it. Stop thinking and start throwing em down, day to day without thought or reflection..cuts that are rocking my soul. musicology style, without pages of the incessant internal dialogue that flows in, out and through this current fucked up mess of the life that I take FULL responsibility…..and with authenticity offer NO EXCUSES for

First up it’s a cut from one my long time trusted guides Paul Weller, who has been there for themusicologist since the late 70’s around the time I entered what is sometimes referred to as the ninth year transition. Borrowed from his No 1 album from last year 22 Dreams..also featuring among others the all round talents of Steve Craddock and the drumming expertise of Steve White.

Listen keenly to the RIDE and if you refuse, (for whatever reason), then step the fuck off this musicology train and perhaps get back on board somewhere down the line. I have no intentions other than to share the way I feel which is always in flux and has no meaning other than in the here and now.

musicology #203

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #13

(Billie Holiday – They Can’t Take That Away From Me)

end of the teachings…beginning of the journey.

epilogue

‘Three weeks on the road and all that greets me are smouldering ashes,’ sighed the Merchant-Sage, Ni.

‘What was it that you expected,’ said a voice behind him. ‘With all the provinces in such chaos! where have you been?’

Turning round the merchant saw a young man in a bedraggled state, his face stained with blackened smoke and blood. Getting down from his horse Ni said. ‘I had hoped that I would arrive before the Emperor Ch’in’s outrages had reached this outpost. But, I see that I am too late. Has all been lost?’

‘If you are a former graduate of this Academy, as I suspect you are,’ said the man, ‘you would be wise to take care. For they are imprisoning all who are followers of the ways of the ancients.’

‘My ancestor, the renowned Merchant Ni, was the grand-nephew of the founding Patriarch, Yen Tzu. Our house is loyal to the philosophy he and his followers taught. And you…,’ Ni once more surveyed the man before him, ‘….what part have you played to be in such a sorry state?’

‘I, too, came here for a similar purpose, but alas I was also too late. My name is Lu, of the House of Chou, whose founding father was also a pupil of Yen Tzu. My young heart and legs were sent by my Uncle in an attempt to rescue what parchments I could. But all was already aflame when I arrived this morning. It must have burned all night. I have fallen many times and scorched myself in my frantic search, but to no avail.’

The two paused in silence as they surveyed the ruins around them. As they did so, their eyes rested on the main gate keystone that now stood alone, unaccompanied by it’s former walls. The charred words were still clear to see.

‘So, not all is lost,’ said Lu.

‘Indeed, none of it can ever be lost,’ added Ni, as together they read the stone’s inscription.

Wisdom comes from one great Sage,
A true source for every age.
Mind, the door, Heart, the key,
Spirit guide, the path to be.
Listen within, Trust to feel,
Illusions vanish, Truth is real.

musicology #202

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #12

(Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face)

Awaiting The Turtle (being in the right place at the right time)

‘The opportunity for human life is rare,’ began the Patriarch Yen Tzu. ‘So rare that it can be likened to that magical event which occurs just once every 400 years. The moment when the great mythical sea turtle rises for air. Imagine, that while breaking the surface, the creature places it’s head through a bamboo ring. A hoop that happens to be floating randomly alone in the vast ocean. What perfect timing that would take! Imagine too that this solitary wooden necklace fitted exactly. What precision that would be! Now imagine that the human physical body is the bamboo circle, and the turtle is the immortal spirit entering it. Then you can imagine the perfect coming together of forces that must happen for our own birth.’

‘It is indeed hard to consider that our life is such a rarity,’ replied his pupil, Lu Chou. ‘Just look at the countless people going about their business in the Imperial city each day!’

‘Just so,’ answered Yen Tzu, ‘and each one of them is just where they should be. For in truth our lives are the result of a synchronicity between the physical and the spiritual. As such, each one of us began our lives at the rightly appointed time, and in the correct place intended.’
‘That must be why one person’s timing in life seems infinitely better than another’s,’ commented Lu Chou. ‘Where one man seems to make his fortune, another does not; where one struggles to no avail, another seems to attain easily.’

‘That is not the reason,’ said the Patriarch, ‘for the time and place has nothing to do with a man’s success. The rightness and timing in awaiting the turtle is merely to illustrate that such synchronicity is our birthright. But Man, instead of resolving to continue to use this natural serendipitous power has become conditioned to do the opposite. ‘In doing so he unconsciously acts against himself, seeking to manipulate and control outcomes according to his own rules. He has forgotten that everything that is to happen for his benefit does so at the right time; and everything that is forced beyond a natural course of events is either lost or distorted. ‘Even if the outcome is seemingly right it does not carry the power it would have had, or bring the benefit it was intended to bring. The result is that the harder he seems to push towards that which he wants, the further it moves away from him. Such is the plight of all who take the heritage of how they came to be for granted. Yet, in truth, knowing how to harness our natural synchronicity with Life’s opportunities creates the paradox of the less we do, the more we achieve.’

‘So what can we do to regain this power, this heritage,’ asked the pupil.
‘We must steadfastly resolve to live, trust, accept and have purpose in whatever we do, at the moment we are doing it. For the nature of being always in the right place at the right time is ours to command.’

musicology #201

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #11

(Ernest Wilson – Undying Love)

penultimate cut of the Yen Tzu selection…

Kissing The Scorpion (following your true nature)

‘This will be ideal for my meditations,’ thought a wandering  sage, seeking a cave in the wilderness. Upon entering it, however, he noticed the skeletal remains of many human corpses.  Unconcerned, he sat down on a rock to rest from his travels.

‘How you answer will seal your fate!’ boomed a voice, and turning the sage saw that before him was a gigantic scorpion, the size of a large man.

‘As your questions have undoubtedly sealed yours,’ replied the sage calmly.

‘What manner of Man are you to be without trace of fear?’ demanded the giant scorpion. ‘For the nature of Man is to be afraid.’

‘Not so,’ answered the sage. ‘For in truth the nature of Man is to be in balance, and such a state comes when he has no fear of what life may confront him with, because he is in love with the true meaning of life. As my thoughts and actions have led me to this place, how can I fear it? To do so is to fear myself, which I do not, for I have only love for the person that I am.’

‘Then you are rare indeed,’ said the scorpion, ‘for the men who have come before you have been escaping from themselves, as one seeks to leave another within a loveless relationship.’

‘You speak as one who has experienced such,’ said the sage intuitively, ‘for your visage is not strong enough to hide the pain, frustration and indeed anger that you exude.’

‘It would seem that truthful perception is yours to command,’ answered the fearsome creature. ‘Because in truth I was as a man once, long ago, until my ruthlessness attracted a demon seeking a disciple. My resistance to it resulted in having my current condition cast upon me. But because what was left of my original nature was able to resist, the demon was compelled to allow my situation a reversal. Though little use it has been. For of all those who have approached my lair these past long years, none have caused the spell to be reversed.’

‘Because no doubt they must answer of their own accord and without direction,’ said the sage. ‘An accord distorted by their fear.’

‘Exactly so! and now you will forgive me if I become impatient to address the riddle I must ask of you!’ said the scorpion. ‘If you refuse to answer, cannot or your answer is wrong, then I thank you in advance for our debate, for afterwards it will be too late.’

‘Proceed as you wish,’ the sage said, ‘for it is of little consequence.’

‘Take heed though,’ advised the scorpion ‘that immediately after I have incanted my words I will be rendered helpless in order to allow you to make your choice. Although you are weaponless, there are many swords around you that are sharp enough to enable even the weakest of arms to slice off my deadly tail. And so:

‘When you embrace the most deadly, you overcome your worst fears;
When you act the least likely, there can be nothing but tears;
When you act from the heart and engage worthy might,
Then to the end from the start, you have held to what’s right;
Your balance to death will be as it is for your life,
To do one over the other, can bring sorrow and strife;
when you act as you do because you are as you be,
You will know if a kiss or a strike is the key.

‘Quickly!’ added the now motionless scorpion looking menacingly into the eyes of the sage. ‘You have the opportunity to strike me.’

‘My answer is as my action,’ said the sage and calmly outstretched his arms and kissed the creature on it’s evil-looking head. Immediately the scorpion was transformed and it was now a man that stood before him. With the spell broken, tears flowed freely down the large man’s cheeks and he fell at the feet of the sage in gratitude. As the sage helped him up, the large man said,

‘You chose correctly, yet why were you so sure, when the nature of a scorpion is to strike when face to face with it’s adversary?’

‘Because deep down you were still a man,’ said the sage, ‘and it is the true-nature of a man to love, not strike. And as the riddle implied, transforming you back into a man is the greatest risk to overcome, because Man can be more deadly than any scorpion. Acting in the least likely way of not seemingly protecting myself could only release your tears. Those tears a man has prior to his transformation and the tears of happiness that follow it. Furthermore because I am in a state of balance I can but only act in a right manner.’

‘I am indeed fortunate to have found such a natural individual to release me from my predicament,’ said the man.

‘Fortune has nothing to do with it,’ replied the sage with finality. ‘It was your own need to return to your true vocation that attracted you to me, and it was my own thoughts to test my own vocation that led me to you. All of us are interdependent of others whether we are aware of it or not. As such, all of us are both teachers and students, appearing as appropriate to one another when each is ready. That is how we can fulfil our true vocation. Learning how to express it effectively requires a state of balance. For only in such a state can we act as our true nature intended.’

musicology #200

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #10

(The Swallows – I Only Have Eyes For You)

Holding The Carp, (cultivating your superconscious)

A traveller who had recently entered a foreign province was accosted suddenly by another traveller who told him in a frightened voice, ‘We have wasted our time in this direction, for behind those dark clouds is a vast mountain which will block our way.’

The first traveller felt strangely calm, a calmness that he had not fully experienced before. A while ago he would have acted with great concern, but this time he felt no artificial sense of impending doom. Surprised at the report, though, he thanked the frightened traveller and continued on his journey to see whether it was true or not.

He came apoun no mountain, but he did meet another stranger who reported gloomily,

‘It is hopeless to continue your journey. Just beyond that medow is a precipitous canyon that even the nimblest of goats are unable to cross.’

Once more experiencing a sense of inner calm, the traveller decided to see for himself and went on his way leaving the stranger dissaprovingly shaking his head. There was no canyon at all on the path he took, but he did run into a third stranger in a military uniform, who sternly commanded,

‘Stop! You are forbidden to go any further in this direction. This path leads straight into the camp of an army that will punish your attempts to contine.’

Not frightened by the threat the traveller walked past the fuming stranger. He met with no camp and there were no soldiers to block his path. Travelling on his way he encountered a fourth traveller. But this person seemed no stranger, indeed the man felt as if he was entering the prescence of a long lost friend. As he approached, the other traveller extended his arms in welcome, saying, ‘Because you decided to take no-one’s word for anything, but to test everything on yourself, my wait has been brief.’

‘But, tell me,’ asked the traveller, ‘who are you, although I feel sure I know you. Have we met before?’

‘Of course,’ came the answer, ‘I am your faithful guide for life. What you have risked confirmed your faith in me so I am able to become fully present. Come, let us continue, there is no insurmountable obstacle ahead and so much to share with you.

musicology #198

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #8

(Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long To Stop Now)

Fighting The Rat, (harnessing conscience power)

‘Yao Kou, you promised last week that you would be here on time.’ Tan Lee said to his partner. ‘Yet, you let me down again.’

‘How so?’ the astonished partner replied. ‘Me, late? Well, I may not always be punctual, but I am never late! Anyway, it is not my fault. I had every intention of getting up earlier this morning but, upon awaking, I noticed it was raining so I decided to wait awhile before leaving, as the market road would probably be awash. As it turned out it wasn’t, so I am able to be here now as I said I would be, though I can’t remember promising.’

‘It is said that if you find it difficult to be sincere with yourself,’ Tan Lee returned, ‘it is not possible to be sincere with others.’

‘Your trouble is that you always speak in riddles,’ replied Yao Kou. ‘What has sincerity got to do with it? It is simply that sometimes I find that the ‘I’ that declares that it will rise early in the morning is different from the ‘I’ that exists in the morning, who refuses to co-operate. Having so many different parts of him must be why a man, for instance, finds it so hard to keep something secret. First one ‘I’ makes a promise, believing that he wants to keep the secret. Then, tomorrow another ‘I’ in him prompts him to tell his friend over a bottle of rice wine. With a different ‘I’ in command, a clever person may question a man in such a way that he himself is unaware of what he is saying.’

‘You’re not trying to say that you have revealed what we discussed together last week are you?’ enquired Tan Lee. ‘We agreed that would remain between ourselves only for the moment.’

‘I met with the trader Fu’li, we drank and I couldnt help it. But I can’t say I’m sorry because it has been worth it. Fu’li raised doubts which I believe we should seriously consider. Anyway, it’s hardly my fault. You should have made it clearer or at least given me all the facts.’

‘I could not have made it clearer,’ said Tan Lee. ‘Yet, listening to you reminds me of the teachings of that great sage who visited us from the west:

“If one of thine ‘I’s’ offends thee, pluck it out.” For without unity in your thinking you will continue to justify your own actions through blaming other people or things. It is clear that my “I” met with your wrong “I” last week, so, all of me tells me I must depart…Goodbye’

musicology #197

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #7

(Sam Cooke – Keep Movin’ On)

Knowing The Eagle, (realising desires; needing nothing)

The great eagle, it’s huge wings covering it’s craggy mountain eyrie, was not immediately aware of losing one of her young as she tried to protect them from the fierce storm. The mother hen in the farm below was similarly unaware that something had dropped into the soft hay of her coup. Reared to behave as a chicken, the young eagle never learned to fly; completely unaware that his nature was to be a king among birds. A passing hermit noticed him awkwardly holding his great wings while strutting and pecking with the other chickens.

‘Don’t you know what you are?’ said the hermit, gently taking the eagle in his arms. ‘Your nature is to soar high in the sky. Come, stretch forth your wings and fly.’

The hermit’s action confused the eagle, however, and as he did not know who he was he jumped down to rejoin the chickens. For several days the hermit persisted, each time taking the eagle to higher ground, saying:

‘Know that although you may live like a chicken, inside you beats the heart of an eagle, a great eagle, know that you are the king of birds. Go, stretch forth your wings and fly.’

But each time, the eagle appeared unaware of his true, unknown, self, and awkwardly hopped back to join the chickens who were scratching for corn in the dust. The hermit noticed, though, how the eagle would cast a few glances at the sky, almost as if sensing something stir deep within its heart.

Finally the hermit carried the bird to the top of the mountain. Reaching a steep crag far above the chicken coup, the hermit held the bird aloft while repeating his words of encouragement. ‘Out there, among the heavens is where you belong. Go now! stretch forth your wings and fly! become the eagle that you are.’

But still the bird did not accept its true power. Not knowing what to do the eagle’s powerful vision swept back and forth from his coup to the sky. He could see the chickens pecking at their food, and felt that he needed to be back there. Then, as if spying something far in the distance, he began to tremble and slowly stretched out his wings. It seemed to the hermit that the eagle was growing in stature and, just at the moment when he could no longer hold him, the great eagle let out a triumphant cry and soared into the heavens.

musicology #195

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #5

(Beres Hammond – Focusing Time)

Guiding The Horse, (Governing Your Willpower)

The horse reared in fright as the shrouded man walked unexpectedly onto the path and startled it.

‘Ho there,’ gried the carriage driver, struggling to regain control of his animal. ‘What devil does such a thing! What do you think you are doing suddenly appearing like that?’

‘In peace, I am no devil, moreover, if there were a demon it is within your hand, creating a reign of terror upon unsuspecting travellers,’ answered the man.

‘You are either a sage or a simpleton, speaking as you do,’ said the carraige driver. ‘The former I’ll wager, for any fool can see that this powerful horse has been finely trained and is well harnessed,’

‘Of what good is the strength of a horse and the control of a harness, if the direction of the will guiding the driver’s hand is elsewhere?’ said the sage. ‘It is clear that you are on this road against your will.’

‘What nonsense do you speak of?’ retorted the carraige driver, wondering how the sage had hit upon the truth with his last remark. ‘Explain yourself, or you’ll feel the lash of more than my tongue!’

‘The fine carraige in which you sit can be likened to the body; the powerful horse to your feelings and desires; you, as driver, are like the mind; and your will is the master of them all. Will is the development of a wish, the command that turns a wish into an action. It is clear that you have no wish to travel wherever you now go, because your will was not ready for the unexpected. The unexpected is the test of true constancy, Man’s self-governing key. You did not wish this trip, so, your will lacked the tenacity, steadfastness, stability and fortitude that a road such as this demands. A resolute will has power, control and direction working together. When man lacks this unity, his lack of will is plain for all to see, no matter how he may disguise it.’

‘In truth I have no desire to make this trip,’ said the carraige driver. ‘But the will of my master is such that I have no choice, though in my heart I know misfortune will come of the business I am ordered to do.’

‘It is indeed far easier to train a wild beast than educate one’s own will to perform, because of Man’s uncertainty as to what he really wants,’ replied the sage. ‘That is why Man continues to yield the power of his own will to the will of others and calls it destiny.’

musicology #194

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #4

(Little Miss Cornshucks – Try A Little Tenderness)

Shooting The Monkey (freedom from the distracting ego)

‘Has your majesty never observed the bounding monkeys?’ answered Chang to the King of Wei. ‘If they can reach the tall cedars or camphor trees, they will swing and sway from their limbs, frolicking and lording it in their midst, so that even the famous archers Yi or P’eng Meng could not take accurate aim at them, But when they are attracted to what they suppose are delicacies and find themselves among the prickly mulberries, brambles, hawthorns, or spiny citrons, way below their loftier arena, they must move with caution, glancing from side to side, quivering and shaking with fear.

‘It is not that their bones and sinews have become suddenly stiff and lost their suppleness. It is simply that the monkeys find themselves in a difficult and disadvantageous position, one where they cannot exercise their abilities to the full. And so it is when Man becomes full of himself. His attraction to what is seemingly of benefit and greater security to him actually distracts him from expressing himself in his full light.’

‘I like that tale, ‘ said the King of Wei, ‘but knowing you as I do, I have no doubt that the monkey is merely a metaphor for Man’s own mischievous self. Our fall from our true identity causes us to improvise and clutch at a false identity with the same desperation as someone falling continuously into the abyss.’

‘Exactly so!’ said Chang gleefully. ‘In the absence of the true knowledge of who we really are, our adopted self must keep alive its fictional existence with convincing, albeit empty, chattering.’

‘Chattering which is taken to heart rather than ignored,’ said the King. ‘Incessant and sweet chattering thoughts that, while sometimes a nuisance, sweetly persuade, convince, cajole, even scare us into believing that if we want protection, security and peace of mind, there is no other self worth listening to.’

‘And if such a self was indeed a monkey, how would you, as a sagely king, deal with it?’ enquired Chang.

‘Why I would ensure that both Yi and P’eng Meng practised harder, until they were successful,’ his monarch replied with amusement.

‘And how so for your own self, is it also a case of shooting the monkey?’ asked Chang.

‘Again, I would employ and develop those decisive archer parts of my own being to unmask myself.’

‘Well said, my King, for only by such action will you rid yourself of a fictional power that ultimately renders you powerless.’

musicology #193

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #3

(James Carr – Life Turned Her That Way)

Stalking The Heron, (infinite patience, immediate results)

‘So his obsession for not leting go of anything finally caught up with him,’ commented Yan Kan to himself, on hearing news that the Emperor had met with an untimely end.

It had been several years now since Yan Kan had fortuitously escaped the Emperor’s wrath. It had been his experience of stalking the heron that had led him to see things in a different light. When water accumulates, it breeds predatory fish. And when rites and duties become decorations, they breed artificial and hypocritical people. The title that the Emperor had quickly invented and thrown to him that day, and which he had so obsequiously caught, were now empty and meaningless to him.

He had decided at that moment to apply his new found virtue of patience to more meaningful pursuits and departed the Court.

He would no more attach such importance to such false things. And he would no more suggest solutions that sought reward by pandering to the whims of another in authority. Any leader who demanded, needed or revelled in such bolstering was an insecure leader. How strange it is that when rulers have obsessions, thier subjects do a lot of posturing; when a ruler is crafty, their subjects are devious; and when a ruler is demanding, their subjects are contentious. Any ruler who blamed ill luck for the state of his kingdom and sought to determine outcomes by using his strength to hold on to something weaker, was bound to fall sooner or later.

Yan Kan felt no surprise that the Emperor had lost his life through his rigid attachment to his policy for growth and recognition. His wise friend Cai Tok had ben right: ‘When political leaders ruin their countries and wreck their lands, themselves to die at others hands, it is always because of their impatient desires.’

Since becoming a merchant, Yan Kan had determined to himself that he would follow the sage-like philosophy he now knew to be true: ‘To be able to use the power of other people, it is necessary to win people’s hearts. To be able to win people’s hearts, it is necessary to have self mastery. To be capable of self mastery, it is necessary to have patience.’

Yan Kan resolved to apply patience in everything, particularly when he encountered the obstacles which he had discovered were as much a part of business as they were of life.

‘The ancients were certainly wise in creating writing symbols that contained the meanings of both crisis and opportunity. I will see every obstacle as a further reminder to be infinitely patient and unattached to any particular schedule. For in such flexibility lies the power to cultivate the hidden pearl of opportunity from the grit of adversity.’

musicology #192

teachings of billionaire YenTzu #2

(Van Morrison – Comfort You)

Freeing The Bear, (growing strong relationships)

‘During one particularly difficult winter a certain man thought about how he could reduce his expenses,’ began the storyteller to the listening crowd. ‘And he came up with what he thought was a bright idea. He decided to give his hard-working mule a little less grain and hay. This he did and the mule seemed quite content. So, a few days later, he gave it a little less and it still appeared to be happy.

‘This continued until the man was giving the animal less than half it’s normal ration. The mule moved more slowly and was quieter, but the man still thought it was healthy and happy. Then, one morning, much to his surprise, he entered his barn and discovered that his mule had died in the night. This man then wept and cried aloud saying, “My trusty mule is dead and just when he was getting used to not eating.”

The crowd that now surrounded the storyteller roared with laughter. ‘What did the fool expect!’ shouted someone.

‘Exactly so!’ said the storyteller. ‘To expect the continued support of such a loyal companion, without any sustenance, is foolish. Yet that is how Man himself often behaves towards loyal friends, measuring the strength of their relationships through the lack of complaint they receive.’

‘But man is not an ass,’ shouted another bystander, accenuating the last word to another roar of laughter from the crowd. ‘He does not have to suffer in silence. When he is hungry everybody knows about it. He is like a bear with a sore head!’

‘But when he is hungry for something that really matters to him he is as silent as the night,’ said the storyteller. ‘People go to bed at night starving for affection, praise and love, more than they ever do for food. For it is their relationships that upset their stomachs more than lack of food.

‘In truth, we must never compromise the important relationships in our lives by reducing the level of sustenance every relationship must have to be strong. We must never take the silence of another as agreement to how well we think we are treating them. Indeed, we must never take any of our relationships for granted, for we might discover that one day the very spark of what was once good has slowly died.’