Sunday 30 June 2013


2013-22  True Story: How much does a miracle cost? Dr. Carlton Armstrong

Eight year old Tess heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. Only a very costly surgery could save him now and it was looking like there was no-one to loan them the money. She heard Daddy say to her Mother with whispered desperation, "Only a miracle can save him now."

Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. Placing the coins back in the jar, she slipped out of the back door and made her way six blocks to the big Rexall's Drug Store.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too busy talking to his brother who had come from Chicago. Tess twisted her feet and cleared her throat. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it! 

"What do you want?" asked the pharmacist in an annoyed tone. 

"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick.. and I want to buy a miracle

 "I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.

"His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?"

"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you," the pharmacist said, softening a little.

"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs."

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does your brother need?"

"I don't know," Tess replied with her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money".
"How much do you have?" asked the man from Chicago.

"One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely audibly. "And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to."

"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents--the exact price of a miracle for little brothers." He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need."

That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place. 

"That surgery," her Mom whispered. "was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?" 

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost.. one dollar and eleven cents ...... plus the faith of a little child!

Sunday 23 June 2013


2013-21 True Story: Dr Howard Kelly  "Paid in full with a glass of milk"

[Dr Howard Kelly was a distinguished Gynecologist who, in 1895, founded the Gynaecologic Oncology division at Johns Hopkins University. He was one of the four great men who made Johns Hopkins famous. He devised the Kelly’s clamp, Kelly’s stitch for incontinence, Kelly’s red rubber pad for labour patients & medical illustrations, etc.]

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied "Mother has taught us never to accept payment for a kindness." He said... "Then I thank you from my heart."  As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called
in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. 
Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her
room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught; her attention on the side as She read these words.....

"Paid in full with one glass of milk." (Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: "Thank You, 
GOD, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands."

Sunday 16 June 2013


2013-20  Benjamin Franklin: Way to Wealth

Benjamin Franklin rose from a 17-year-old runaway to  a successful printer, newspaperman, author, inventor, scientist, diplomat, and statesman. His great success came from living the virtues of frugality and industry, and his life offers us many invaluable lessons. Let’s dive right into one of the most popular samples of Benjamin Franklin's timeless wisdom, "The Way to Wealth" from his Poor Richard's Almanack.  Before that, please read his own introduction: 

"In 1732 I first published my Almanac under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me for about twenty-five years, and commonly called Poor Richard's Almanack. I endeavoured to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reaped considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand. 

And observing that it was generally read, (scarce any neigbbourhood in the province being without it,) I considered it as a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely any other books. I therefore filled all the little spaces, that occurred between the remarkable days in the Calendar, with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue; it being more difficult for a man in want to act always honestly, as (to use here one of those proverbs) It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright" ]

Courteous Reader,

... I stopped my horse lately where a great number of people were collected at a venue of merchant goods. The hour of sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times, and one of the company called to a plain clean old man, with white locks, "Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Won't these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we be ever able to pay them? What would you advise us to?" 

Father Abraham stood up, and replied, "If you'd have my advice, I'll give it you in short, for a word to the wise is enough, and many words won't fill a bushel, as Poor Richard says." They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:

"Friends", says he, "and neighbors, the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly, and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement." 

"However let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us; God helps them that help themselves, as Poor Richard says, in his almanac of 1733.
It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service." 

"But idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements, that amount to nothing." 

"Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep! forgetting that the sleeping fox catches no poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough in the grave, as Poor Richard says." 

"If time be of all things the most precious,wasting time must be, as Poor Richard says, the greatest prodigality, since, as he elsewhere tells us, lost time is never found again, and what we call time-enough, always proves little enough: let us then be up and be doing, and doing to the purpose; so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity." 

"Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy, as Poor Richard says; and he that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night. While laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him, as we read in Poor Richard, who adds, drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

"So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times. We may make these times better if we bestir ourselves. Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains, without pains, then help hands, for I have no lands, or if I have, they are smartly taxed." 

"And, as Poor Richard likewise observes, he that hath a trade hath an estate, and he that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honor; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the estate, nor the office, will enable us to pay our taxes." 

"If we are industrious we shall never starve; for, as Poor Richard says, at the working man's house hunger looks in, but dares not enter. Nor will the bailiff nor the constable enter, for industry pays debts, while despair encreaseth them, says Poor Richard." 

"What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left you a legacy, diligence is the mother of good luck, as Poor Richard says, and God gives all things to industry. Then plough deep, while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep, says Poor Dick." 

"Work while it is called today, for you know not how much you may be hindered tomorrow, which makes Poor Richard say, one today is worth two tomorrows; and farther, have you somewhat to do tomorrow, do it today. If you were a servant, would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch you idle?" 

"Are you then your own master, be ashamed to catch yourself idle, as Poor Dick says. When there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, your country, and your gracious king, be up by peep of day; let not the sun look down and say, inglorious here he lies." 

"Handle your tools without mittens; remember that the cat in gloves catches no mice, as Poor Richard says. 'Tis true there is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak handed, but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects, for constant dropping wears away stones, and by diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks, as Poor Richard says in his almanac, the year I cannot just now remember."

"Methinks I hear some of you say, must a man afford himself no leisure? I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says, employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour." 

"Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; so that, as Poor Richard says, a life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. Do you imagine that sloth will afford you more comfort than labor?" 

"No, for as Poor Richard says, trouble springs from idleness, and grievous toil from needless ease. Many without labor would live by their wits only, but they break for want of stock. Whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty, and respect: fly pleasures, and they'll follow you. The diligent spinner has a large shift, and now I have a sheep and a cow, everybody bids me good morrow, all which is well said by Poor Richard."

"If you would be wealthy, says he, in another almanac, think of saving as well as of getting: the Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than her incomes. Away then with your expensive follies, and you will not have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families; for, as Poor Dick says,
Women and wine, game and deceit,
Make the wealth small, and the wants great."

"And farther, what maintains one vice, would bring up two children. You may think perhaps that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great Matter; but remember what Poor Richard says, many a little makes a mickle, and farther, beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship, and again, who dainties love, shall beggars prove, and moreover, fools make Feasts, and wise men eat them.

                           Get what you can, and what you get hold;
'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold,

as Poor Richard says. And when you have got the philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes."

"This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things, for they may all be blasted without the blessing of heaven; and therefore ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous. 

"And now to conclude,
 experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that, for it is true, we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct, as Poor Richard says: however, remember this, they that won't be counseled, can't be helped, as Poor Richard says: and farther, that if you will not hear reason, she'll surely rap your knuckles."

Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon; for the venue opened, and they began to buy extravagantly, notwithstanding all his cautions, and their own fear of taxes. I found the good man had thoroughly studied my almanacs, and digested all I had dropped on those topics during the course of five-and-twenty years. 

The frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else, but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me, but rather the gleanings I had made of the sense of all ages and nations. 

However, I resolved to be the better for the echo of it; and though I had at first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away resolved to wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine...

I am, as ever, thine to serve thee,
Richard Saunders.
July 7, 1757. 

Sunday 9 June 2013


2013-19  Benjamin Franklin : Lesson for Life from The Whistle

        "Alas!" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle"

[In “The Whistle”,  Benjamin Franklin explains how the extravagant purchase of a whistle in his childhood taught him a lesson for life. I read about it in Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, 1948 original edition on p. 90. I searched for it without success in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and finally found it in his other writings in an appendix to one edition of his Autobiography. What follows is the story of The Whistle in his own words. ]
           ***                                                                 ***                                             ***
"When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family." 

"My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure."

"This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle."

"When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle."

"When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, "He pays, indeed," said I, "too much for his whistle."

"If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, "Poor man," said I, "you pay too much for your whistle.

"When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, "Mistaken man," said I, "you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.

"If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, "Alas!" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.

"When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, "What a pity," say I, "that she should pay so much for a whistle!"

"In short, I conceive that the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles."  (1779)

Sunday 2 June 2013


2013-18  Auvaiyar: Assorted Songs on the Art of Living

[ Auvaiyar Song with English translation:
Courtesy YouTube -- Lelamekala Vengidasan ]

We have heard that "the classic poets have a brevity and forcefulness of expression, combined with a wealth of striking similes which make even didactic literature, works of real art and beauty."   I give below a few samples from the Assorted songs of Auvaiyar on the Art of Living:

Look at the weaver bird's wondrous nest, 
The beautiful lac or the ancient white ant's hill;
The hive of the honey bee or the spider's web;
No mortal man can imitate these.
Let no one, therefore, vaunt his skill
Because he can do this or that.
There is none but in something excels.

[வான் குருவியின் கூடு வல்லரக்குத் தொல் கறையான் 
தேன் சிலம்பி யாவர்க்கும் செய்யரிதால்  யாம் பெரிதும் 
வல்லோமே என்று வலிமை சொல வேண்டாம் காண்
எல்லோர்க்கும் ஒவ்வொன்று எளிது.] 

Painting comes by practice of hand;
Language by the practice of speech;
Precious learning by the cultivation of mind.
Polished behavior too, by daily practice comes.
But love, compassion and charity
Are qualities 
with which one is born.

[சித்திரமும் கைப்பழக்கம் செந்தமிழும் நாப்பழக்கம் 
வைத்ததொரு கல்வி மனப்பழக்கம்  - நித்தம் 
நடையும் நடைப்பழக்கம், நட்பும் தயையும் 
கொடையும் பிறவிக்குணம்.]

Fire does not diminish the sweetness of milk;
Nor char the conch which shows its whiteness still.
Befriend them as you may,souls that are devoid
Of the spirit of friendship will remain unfriendly ever;
While even hard pressed by adversity,
Noble souls retain their nobility unchanged.

[அட்டாலும் பால் சுவையிற்  குன்றாது அளவளவாய் 
நட்டாலும் நண்பல்லார் நண்பல்லர்;
கெட்டாலும் மேன்மக்கள் மேன்மக்களே சங்கு 
சுட்டாலும் வெண்மை தரும்.]

The river may dry up, and the burning sand alone mark its course;
But even then, from its bosom it yields
Its undercurrent to quench men's thirst.
Misfortune  may overtake the noble born
And reduce them to want.
But even then, when the afflicted seek relief
They will not willingly say, no.

[ஆற்றுப் பெருக்கற்று அடிசுடும் அந்நாளும் அவ்வாறு 
ஊற்றுப்பெருக்கால் உலகூட்டும் -- ஏற்றவர்க்கு 
நல்ல குடிப்பிறந்தார் நல்கூர்ந்தார் ஆனாலும் 
இல்லை என மாட்டார் இசைந்து.]

All religions say but this;
Do good, refrain from evil.
The good you did in the past lives
Is the wealth you inherit on this earth.
Therefore sin not; do good.

[புண்ணியமாம் பாவம்போம் போனநாள் செய்த அவை 
மண்ணில் பிறந்தார்க்கு வைத்த பொருள் -- எண்ணுங்கால் 
ஈது ஒழிய வேறில்லை; எச்சமயத்தோர் சொல்லும் 
தீது ஒழிய நன்மை செயல்.]