Miscellany and Trivia

The Atheist and the Bear

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the “accident of evolution” had created. “What majestic trees!  What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a seven-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing. He ran even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster.

He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear, right on top of him: reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him. At that instant the atheist cried out “Oh my God! ....” Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky: “You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don’t exist; and, even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?” The atheist looked directly into the light: “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?”

“Very well,” the voice said. The light went out. The river ran again. And the sounds of the forest resumed. And then the bear dropped its right paw . . . brought both paws together . . . bowed its head and spoke: “Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.”

Thoughts on Music and Vedanta

Halldór Haraldsson – Iceland

The author as concert pianist

During my career as a pianist, both as a teacher and a performer, I have often noticed how much music has in common with Vedanta philosophy. Those who have pursued one branch of art or another for some time soon notice how many things are similar to other branches – only the outer form of expression is different. Whether or not we find such correspondences, there is no doubt that finding them can deepen our understanding of our particular art and open our eyes to various important things that would otherwise have been hidden from us.

Read more: Thoughts on Music and Vedanta

Anecdote Hazrat Inayat Kahn – Founder of the International Sufi Movement (1882-1927)

"You have nicely said to us, Murshid*, how Sufism is one with all religions. Now please tell us, what is the difference between Sufism and other religions." The Murshid says, "The difference is that it casts away all differences."

*Murshid is Arabic for guide or teacher. Particularly in Sufism it refers to a Sufi teacher.

Anecdote Arthur Rubinstein – Polish-American pianist (1887-1982)

"So sorry to be late," Arthur Rubinstein remarked upon arriving at a restaurant one day. "For two hours I have been at my lawyer's, making a testament. What a nuisance, this business of a testament. One figures, one schemes, one arranges, and in the end - what? It is practically impossible to leave anything for yourself!"

Anecdote J. K. Rowling – British author and creator of the Harry Potter series

As a child, J. K. Rowling attended a small grammar school where a failing grade in a routine quiz landed her in the "stupid row." The teacher, Rowling later recalled, "positioned everyone in the class according to how clever she thought they were; the brightest sat on her left, and everyone she thought dim sat on the right." And Rowling? "I was as far right as you could get without sitting in the playground."

Anecdote Golda Meir – teacher and politician who became Prime Minister of the State of Israel (1898 – 1989)

One day during the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon asked Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir whether Israel would send some of its generals to help with the war. "Certainly," she replied, "if we can have a couple of yours in exchange." Nixon asked who she had in mind. Meir's reply? "General Motors and General Electric."

Anecdote Madonna – American pop artist, dancer and entrepreneur

"A hotel in Germany is having a hell of a time finding cases of Kabbalah water, a special brand of water blessed by Jewish mystics, before Madonna arrives," the San Francisco Examiner reported some time ago. .

"Apparently, it's the only thing Madonna will drink, but it's hard to find outside of the U.S., more specifically, Hollywood. A source told MSNBC, "It would be easier if Madonna just demanded expensive champagne, like all the other spoiled celebrities."

Anecdote Margot Fonteyn – British classical ballerina (1919 – 1991)

Arts manager Maxim Gershunoff, remembers an unchoreographed moment during an appearance by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in Romeo and Juliet in Boston – USA:

The performance had been going well, but at the scene where Romeo discovers the body of Juliet after she has taken the sleeping potion, the lights in the orchestra pit blacked out completely. The orchestra’s musicians attempted to keep on playing whatever they could remember of the score. However, one by one each instrument gave up until it was practically like a performance of the Haydn "Farewell"  Symphony. All that were missing were the candles. From the stage, Margot could be heard from Juliet’s funeral bier saying, in full voice, "Rudy, either I am growing deaf or I really am dead."  The curtain had to be lowered until the audience stopped laughing and the theater’s electricians could restore power to the orchestra pit.

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