Category Archives: General

The Good Colonel

Awakening a Spark

In the mid 1800s, Colonel James Anderson decided to open up his library of over 300 books to the young working boys of Allegheny, a small town in Pennsylvania. These were teenage boys who worked 8-12 hour days to support their families, boys who otherwise would not have been able to afford the books in Colonel Anderson’s library.

The impact of Colonel Anderson’s simple kindness was life changing. In the words of one of those boys:

“My dear friend, Tom Miller, one of the inner circle, lived near Colonel Anderson and introduced me to him, and in this way the windows were opened in the walls of my dungeon through which the light of knowledge streamed in. Every day’s toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty. And the future was made bright by the thought that when Saturday came a new volume could be obtained…. Nothing contributed so much to keep my companions and myself clear of low fellowship and bad habits as the beneficence of the good Colonel.

This boy would grow up to be Andrew Carnegie, the steel tycoon who would pay forward the good Colonel’s kindness tenfold by giving away some $350 million dollars to education institutions, the building of theaters, child welfare centers and over 2,500 libraries.

Regardless  of one’s circumstance, we all have more to give than we know.  Countless are the opportunities  offered daily to serve. A simple act of kindness rooted in love for another can have an unbelievable impact.

A Young Artist’s Discovery

Just Give

In the summer of 1882, a young artist took a job as a bellboy in a hotel. The salary was $10 a month but he was told tips could surpass $100 in a season. When offered his first tip after helping a guest with his luggage, something within him prevented him from accepting it. “No, thank you sir,” he stammered and hurried off.

Why did I refuse the tip, he wondered. He then suddenly realized the rightness of his decision by the lightness in his heart. He resolved to be the best and only bellboy who never took a tip. When asked why he did not take tips he replied, “I receive a salary and I love my work.” This endeared him to guests who invited him to dinner parties and yachting trips. Instead of the $100 he might have received from tips, the guests paid over $850 for his artworks. He developed lifelong friends from whom he received many more commissions for painting.

From this experience, the universal law of reciprocal action became a reality to the young artist.  He now knew for certain that whatever a man does to or for another, he does to or for himself.


*Inspired from Glenn Clark’s “The Man who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe”

Santiago and Frederick

Practice Simplicity With Constant Repetition

Unhappy with his weight, Santiago decided to begin an exercise routine with a trainer at his local gym. His seriousness was evident by his diligent efforts day after day despite the soreness of his body after each workout. He expected to make great strides and was disappointed at having lost only six pounds in the first month. “These exercises are not effective,” he sometimes said to his trainer. Slowly his enthusiasm waned … he terminated his appointments with the trainer and began looking online for more complex routines. He would begin one routine only to stop it after a few weeks since his desired objective had not being attained. And so it went for two years … the thrill of a new routine, its practice for a few weeks, subsequently followed by his apathy and the longing for a newer, more effective routine. He never practiced any particular routine long enough to reap its benefits.

Leaving the grocery store one morning, he saw a familiar face but could not quite remember how he knew the individual. “Long time Santiago, how have you been? We have not seen you at the gym in a while.” Santiago instantly remembered the voice of his former workout partner, Frederick, who stayed with the trainer after Santiago left. Frederick was almost unrecognizable, his face looked much slimmer and his belly had lost its roundness.  Santiago stood before his old friend in complete disbelief of his remarkable progress and realized his mistake in prematurely leaving the trainer.

Regarding personal growth, the incessant desire for newer knowledge without first consistently putting to practice previously gained insights is indolence disguised as earnest longing. It is through the consistent practice of the little things that real knowledge expands, not through outwardly searching for newer books and insights. With the consistent practice of the little things, however, the right books and circumstances will emerge at the appropriate time when the student is ready.

Flight of the Bird

Flight of the Bird

Leap or Remain Bound

A bird gazes at the sky and hesitates to take flight. It is not because it does not know how to fly– it does. It is not because its wings are inoperative–they work. It is not because it is without the willpower — it is within. The bird knows how to fly, and it has both the wings and the willpower. But its wings are inhibited, its willpower is fragile and its wings unsteady, because … deep within, the bird is not utterly convinced that the potential joys of being borne aloft this unknown airspace will outweigh the more familiar and seemingly closer pleasures of the ground. And so the bird remains earthbound, until the moment it can summon enough courage to take that self-preservative leap on the strength of hope and faith, or remain bound forever. It must decide, for the ground is quickly collapsing beneath it.

~By Ikenna Q Ezealah

Belief Becomes Conviction!


In the 1890s, a clerk at a Liverpool based shipping line whose steamers had a monopoly on carrying all cargo to and from the Congo came upon a discovery that would drastically change the course of his life. The bilingual Edmund Dene Morel was often sent to Belgium to supervise the arrival and departure of the ships from Antwerp, Belgium to Boma, Congo. While in Antwerp, he observed that only guns, chains, ammunition and articles remote from trade purposes were loaded on the ships to Congo. No commercial goods were being exchanged for the great quantities of valuable rubber and ivory which the ships brought back to Belgium . Other signs of slave labor and mass killings surfaced which prompted the twenty eight year old Morel to inform his boss. His boss not only turned a deaf ear to his complaints but promoted and reassigned him to other tasks in order to prevent his outspokenness from upsetting the King of Belgium and jeopardizing the company’s relationship with its most profitable client.

Unlike the others who were aware of the brutality of the King of Belgium’s private army (Force Publique) in the Congo, Morel spoke out vehemently and eventually quit his job in 1901. Ignoring the temptation of sacrificing  the truth within him for the material comfort of his ever growing family, the financially strained Morel turned down a bribe from the king’s representative. He, who from a materialistic point of view had nothing to gain in his crusade against the king’s atrocities in the Congo, but only a promising career at the prominent shipping company to lose, devoted the next ten years of his life to bringing to light perhaps the first wide spread massacre of the 20th century; one which would claim the lives of millions of Congolese. The former shipping clerk turned writer would gather detailed information of the king’s operations in the Congo and successfully make known the suffering of millions in a distant continent at the hands of a man who once convinced the western world at the Berlin Conference of 1885 that his sole interest in acquiring the Congo was merely philanthropic.

There are times in the life of every man who aspires to live nobly when his belief in his noble principles are tested to the utmost, his response in these times of trial  reveal whether his belief is truly alive and has thus become conviction!


“The man who fearing the loss of present pleasures or material comforts, denies the Truth within him, can be injured, and robbed, and degraded, and trampled upon, because he has first injured, robbed and degraded, and trampled upon his own nobler self; but the man of steadfast virtue, of unblemished integrity, cannot be subject to such conditions, because he has denied the craven self within him and has taken refuge in Truth”

~ James Allen

The Unavoidable Work That Is Ourselves

You Can’t Run Away From Yourself

From the day his son, Sanu, was born Mr. Lawal sought through this child, his unfulfilled desire to play professional soccer. Hardly could little Sanu be found wearing a shirt that did not have a number on the back. A soccer ball was always in the midst of his toys and his father made sure Sanu sat with him when he entertained himself with the slew of professional matches shown on television every Saturday morning.

After his 10th birthday, the first rays of the morning sun never again met Sanu in bed, for Mr. Lawal took his son with him on his early morning jog and continued the youngster’s training in the evening with ball drills and lateral speed work. His strictness pushed his son to excel both in the classroom and on the field such that the soccer competitions at the high school level was no match for the 17 year old prodigy. His stellar performance on the pitch caught the eye of a professional scout who invited him to train in their development league after his high school graduation. Upon hearing this news, Mr. Lawal  picked up his son with a wide grin that betrayed his taciturn nature; his excitement could not be contained.

At 19, Sanu was called up to the first team and Mr. Lawal’s main goal in life was finally realized. From a young age, he tolerated no slackness from Sanu. He challenged and pushed him to heights Sanu did not know existed and now he proudly watches his son on television every Saturday. The passage of a few quiet months, however, abated his excitement and his pride slowly turned into sadness, for he felt unfulfilled despite the accomplishment of his life’s goal. He poured all his energy towards the highest development of his son but neglected his own development. He found it easier to demand excellence from his son than to demand it for himself, and with Sanu’s transition into adulthood his emptiness became ever more apparent. He had relied on his son for his self-worth for so long that he was lost without him. The unavoidable process of self-discovery must now begin if he wishes for inner peace.

Mankind has poured the greater part of his energy towards the development of his intellect which is tied to the physical body and is therefore transient. He has reached the moon with his intellect while his spirit, which is eternal, remains trapped within the limits of the earth.  As with Mr. Lawal, we have found it easier to demand inventions from the intellect to address the effects of the ills of the earth than to search for its causes within ourselves and thereby chart a different course led by an awakened spirit.  We have obligated ourselves to becoming BUSY with the illusion that we are exacting a positive change in our circumstance whilst truly, we are running away from the true work that is ourselves



Where There is Knowledge, Conceit is Absent

In various ancient civilizations libraries were built primarily for the purpose of preserving their traditions and heritage; the Library of Alexandria, however, was more ambitious. Going beyond the local and regional limits, it sought to be a universal library and embarked on a vast collection of the writings of all men worth serious attention regardless of geographic origin.

Narcisso lived near this great library and was enthralled by the enormous and diverse accounts from other parts of the world. The writings of Aristotle, Eratosthenes and Euripides were especially of interest to him and he marveled at the newness and wisdom of all that was offered.

After several months, his interest in the library waned as his attention was claimed by other pursuits related to his profession and family obligations. Every now and again, he would shake his head disapprovingly at the ignorant comments and actions of his acquaintances. He was proud of the little he retained from Aristotle’s writings on ethics and felt sorry for his fellow men who had no access to the great works in the library due to their inability to read Greek.

To Narcisso, the knowledge of the world was next door and he felt he could always turn to it whenever he pleased. There was no spur to penetrate deeper into the works of the great thinkers of history, applying their theories in his daily life and thereby deriving conviction in their rightness or recognizing their shortcomings; he was simply satisfied and comforted by the library’s proximity. His self-importance grew amidst the pandemonium and immorality of his time for unlike the others he had access to the knowledge of the world. Unlike the others, he could regurgitate the words of wise men. Unlike the others, he had come to the recognition of the value of the library.

Unbeknownst to him, events lay ahead which will reveal his ignorance just where he considered himself advanced.

The man who knows where to find food but does not come to the point of eating starves just as equally as the man with no knowledge of the whereabouts of food.

Calm Objectivity

Calmness Enables Clear Thinking

Calm Objectivity

Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows, was returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego. As described in the magazine Flight Operations, at three hundred feet in the air, both engines suddenly stopped. By deft maneuvering he managed to land the plane, but it was badly damaged although nobody was hurt.

Hoover’s first act after the emergency landing was to inspect the airplane’s fuel. Just as he suspected, the World War II propeller plane he had been flying had been fueled with jet fuel rather than gasoline.

Upon returning to the airport, he asked to see the mechanic who had serviced his airplane. The young man was sick with the agony of his mistake . Tears streamed down his face as Hoover approached. He had just caused the loss of a very expensive plane and could have caused the loss of three lives as well.

You can imagine Hoover’s anger. One could anticipate the tongue-lashing that this proud and precise pilot would unleash  for that carelessness. But Hoover didn’t scold the mechanic; he didn’t even criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the man’s shoulder and said, ‘To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.’“*

By calmly and objectively assessing the situation, undistorted by emotion, Hoover is clearly able to perceive the sincerity of the mechanic’s remorse, therefore he forgives him. The mechanic’s burden is lifted and Hoover wins for himself a most loyal mechanic for the rest of his flying days. Objectivity and peaceful circumspection enable clear thinking, thus allowing for the appropriate response in most situations.

*Carnegie, Dale. How to win friends & influence people. Simon & Schuster, 2009. Print

Ever-Present Guidance

A week before Rupiah Sata left for the United States, she visited her dear friend Chanda in a final attempt to persuade her to apply for the American Visa Lottery. To appease the unrelenting Rupiah, Chanda promised to apply before the November 24th deadline. “I have no intention of leaving Zambia and my application will not even be selected, but if it makes you happy I will apply,” she said smiling.

A few months later Chanda, who had completely forgotten about her application, received a letter at work informing her that of the 13 million applications received by the U.S. Department of State, hers was among the 55,000 randomly chosen. She sat on the information for weeks and told no one about it, not even Rupiah. What would she do in America?  Her home, friends and family were all in Zambia. She enjoyed her job and was well compensated as a senior manager in a technology company in the hearth of the capital city, Lusaka. There was no reason to leave all this behind only to start afresh in a new country she knew very little about.

In quiet moments, she sometimes heard a subtle but clear voice within reminding her that her selection for the American visa was no accident. She ignored the voice as best she could for she was comfortable in Lusaka. For affirmation on her decision to remain in Lusaka, she confided in her father who to her surprise encouraged her to seek guidance prayerfully. “This is a big decision that should not be taken lightly, let us be guided by the wisdom of creation and not by our own short-sighted thinking,” he said lovingly. Chanda prayed for clarity for weeks and would sometimes hear that same subtle voice admonishing her to move to America but she needed more ‘proof’ that this was indeed the right move. “What if my inner voice is wrong, what if I am unable to get a good job there, what if…”  With her intellectual pondering and fears, she forgot her father’s advice.

Deep in sleep one night, she was awoken by loud shouts and cries. Armed robbers had gotten past security and broken into the house demanding money. They headed straight to the master bedroom with their guns and found Chanda hiding inside her closet. “Where is the man of the house, where is the money,” they shouted impatiently. Chanda, in shock, pointed to her jewelry case by the mirror and to her bag on the floor beside the bed. “Take the money, take everything,” she pleaded.  They grabbed all they could hurriedly and escaped as they heard distant sounds of police sirens. From that day onward, she could no longer sleep at night for more than a couple of hours. Her performance at work suffered due largely in part to her lack of sleep, anxiety and restlessness. Life in Lusaka very quickly became unbearable and she knew it was time to move to the United States.

In the United States, she reconnected with Rupiah and for the first time in weeks felt like herself again . After the traumatizing event of the robbery and the sleepless nights that followed, Chanda was ready for a new beginning and was prepared to face any challenge.  Her educational qualifications were not recognized in the U.S. so she, a senior manager at one of the premier companies in Zambia, had to go back to school while working as a cashier at a local grocery store in order to support herself. She was always interested in medicine and decided to use this opportunity to begin a new career. For nine years, she took on the rigors of medical school along with two part time jobs. Not once did she feel that her work at the grocery store was beneath her, not once did she reminisce of her days as a senior manager, not once did she complain. Her experience with the robbery gave her CONVICTION in the rightness of her new path. She persevered with the trust of a child confident of its parent’s protection and guidance. She would later go on to find her calling as a naturopathic doctor and unearth great medicinal benefits of plants that ameliorate effects of mental illnesses.

A deep reflection of past experiences will reveal the loving guidance which surrounds us even in the most challenging of times. The acknowledgment of this high guidance gives one the strength to persevere through any difficulty with victorious confidence.

Fakira’s Mirror

“Does she see herself, how can she leave her house wearing those tight shorts,” Fakira said to her friend Sodiq after seeing their fellow classmate, Aisha who is only 5 feet tall but is easily over 220 pounds. “You would think that losing some weight would be a priority but she is not even bothered, does she not realize how easier her life would be if she freed herself from some of that weight?” She added.

“We all have our lives to live. Let her be,” Sodiq said in response.

As with Aisha, imagine all the unnecessary weight we carry around in the form of excessive anxieties and worries. We carry this ignoble burden around and are oblivious to our spiritual obesity because no time is taken in the middle of the haste for reflection. Could we but throw off this excess weight, how much easier life would then become.

With the right perception, Fakira could have gained much from her encounter with Aisha for she was being shown a picture of her inner state in the form of Aisha. She could not see this and thereby missed the opportunity presented for spiritual growth. Not for nothing do we encounter various experiences in the course of the day; we just need to make the effort to draw the right lessons from each experience.