Great teachers frequently use stories to make their point powerfully. The Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are chockful of parables. The Buddha and Jesus used them to telling effect.
The Jesuit priest, Anthony DeMello has had a profound influence on me, and he was a master raconteur. Some of his books consist entirely of stories, jokes and parables.
There was one story that, when I first read it, seemed nonsensical. It was not funny. It did not have a lesson that made an immediate impact. And it seemed out of place in the context in which he had placed it.
But, instinctively, I knew that there was deep wisdom in it. I just was not ‘ripe’ enough to understand it. So, I remembered it and thought often about it.
Then the light bulb flashed and I knew exactly what Father DeMello wanted to convey. And, of course, that is the way it is!
I have created my own version of the story he narrated.
Pedro and Ramos were both drug lords and they were bitter rivals. Each tried repeatedly to take over the other’s operations – and failed.
Each lost key lieutenants and close family members in a bloody feud that lasted three decades.
Pedro met a wandering holy man and tried to enlist him as an accomplice to penetrate Ramos’ inner circle.
Instead, the holy man got Pedro to ponder what he had done and was doing and why and how this was affecting his well-being and what impact he was having on society.
He even got Pedro to meditate regularly.
Pedro changed. By slow degrees at first and then rapidly.
He gave up his life of crime. He disbanded his gang and set up many of them in honest trade. Some persisted in their old ways and crossed over to join Ramos.
The press celebrated his newfound piety and lauded his endeavors while largely ignoring his bloody past.
This grated on Ramos who was now unquestionably the ruler of the domain and more powerful than he had ever been.
He was feared, but he was not loved. His power commanded respect, but he knew that there were many knives ready to lodge in his back were his attention to falter.
He ordered his henchmen to abduct Pedro.
They did. They delivered Pedro to him trussed up in a chair with his mouth gagged.
Gleefully Ramos confronted his one-time enemy in his inner sanctum. He had sent away his men, so they were alone.
He had obtained a set of surgical scalpels in anticipation, and he grabbed one of these as he advanced on Pedro. There would be much blood and he expected hours of enjoyment.
“Now, you son of an unwed mother, you will meet your just deserts,” he gloated. “There is no one to save you. There is nothing you can do to escape my vengeance.”
He noticed Pedro trying to speak and roughly ripped off the duct tape that was serving as a gag. A generous portion of skin came away, but Pedro did not wince.
“But there is,” said Pedro in a low voice.
“What?” shouted Ramos. “What are you talking about?”
“You said that there is nothing I can do to evade your revenge,” said Pedro in a low voice. “But there is.”
He spoke softly but with authority and conviction. There was not an iota of fear in his voice.
“You are tied up and immobile. You have no men to come to your rescue. My men are guarding the compound. And here is the knife that will shortly disembowel you,” said Ramos, perplexed. “What can you possibly do to escape my wrath?”
“I can awake,” said Pedro.
And he did.
Ponder this story. It has deep meaning.
If this tale resonates with you and you wish to explore further, you should consider taking my program Creativity and Personal Mastery. The dates will be announced soon, and this is the only time it will be offered this year. There will be only twenty seats and they will be taken quickly, so throw your hat in the ring right away.