The Giving Heart: Folktales for Exploring Generosity is both an anthology and a guide. Twenty-four folktales from around the world reveal the many ways that cultures teach generosity. Introductory notes decribe the process for starting a story-circle, and each story is followed by questions and prompts to spark readers' and listeners' own stories.
Dharma teacher Leigh Brasington writes:
"I very much enjoyed seeing how you use these stories for healing. I enjoyed seeing and contemplating the suggestions and exercises as well. In fact this was such a good and unique book, I added to my Reading List ."
The following story is from Chapter Two - "Giving and Receiving":
A Quick Crop
This story comes from the writings of Sheik Muzaffer Ozak. Born in 1916 near Istanbul, he was educated by a succession of teachers who instructed him in all branches of the Islamic tradition. He became Muezzin and eventually Imam to many of the mosques of Istanbul. He later retired from the office of the Imam and preached the Friday prayers at a mosque near the famous Istanbul book market, where he owned a shop specializing in rare and antique books. He was a prolific author in the Turkish language. This story tells of Harun al-Rashid, an eighth century ruler in the region which encompasses modern Iraq.
Harun al-Rashid was once walking through a plantation when he saw a hunched old graybeard putting in sapling date palms. He greeted him, saying, “Take it easy, father!”
“Thank you, my son,” the old man replied.
“What are you doing, father?” asked the caliph.
“As you see, I am planting sapling date palms.”
“How many years does it take a date palm to bear fruit?”
“Ten, twenty, thirty years. Some take as long as a hundred years.”
“Will you be able to eat the fruit of these palms you are planting?”
“I may not live to see the day,” said the old man, “but we eat from those our forebears planted. So let us plant, that those who follow us may eat in turn!” His words impressed the caliph, who tossed him a purse of money. The old man took the gold pieces, saying, “I give praise to Allah, for the saplings I planted have borne fruit immediately!” The caliph was pleased to hear him say this, and he gave him another purse of gold.
Said the old man, “I give praise to Allah, for trees normally bear fruit only once a year, but mine have produced two crops in one year!”
Throwing him yet another purse of gold, the caliph turned to the servant at his side and said, “Quick, let us get away from here before this old man leaves us penniless.”
And off they went.
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Story Circle Practice
What seeds are we planting as a gift to future generations?
In your family or community, what gifts have you received from your forebears?
Tell a story.
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Source: Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak al-Jerrahi. Irshad. Translated from the Turkish with an introduction by Muhtar Holland. Pir Publications, 1990.