The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.Muriel Rukeyser

The Bank of I.D.E.A.S. both in its creation and evolution has been influenced by many people from around the globe.

One such person is Anthony de Mello, a Goan Jesuit Priest who through his wonderful publications (e.g. Song of the Bird, Prayer of the Frog etc) has taught the importance of the story. In his own words, he captured so well this reality:

‘It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for truth in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction of human beings to truth is one of hostility and fear. So the spiritual teachers of humanity, like Budda and Jesus, created a device to circumvent the opposition of their listeners – the story. They knew that the most entrancing words a language holds are – “Once Upon a Time…” that it is common to oppose a truth, but impossible to resist a story. Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata says that if you listen carefully to a story you will never be the same again. That is because the story will worm its way into your heart and break down barriers to the divine.’

Below is a range of inspirational fables from across the globe that teach simple truths about personal and community development. Enjoy, but in the words of Anthony de Mello:

‘Even if you read these stories only for the entertainment, there is no guarantee that an occasional story will not slip through your defences and explode when you least expect it to. So you have been warned’.

If you have a story, please share it with us.



’Once upon a time a man found an eagle’s egg and placed it under a brooding hen. The eaglet hatched with the chickens and grew to be like them. He clucked and cackled; scratched the earth for worms; flapped his wings and managed to a few feet in the air.

Years passed. One day, the eagle, now grown old, saw a magnificent bird above him in the sky. It glided in graceful majesty against the powerful wind, with scarcely a movement of its golden wings.

Spellbound, the eagle asked, “Who’s that?“

“That’s the king of the birds, the eagle, “said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to earth—we’re chickens.”

So the eagle lived and a chicken for that’s what he thought he was.’

The village elders had failed time after time to resolve a difficult problem. They invited a very wise person from another village to come and help them. In time, she came. People gathered to hear her wisdom. She asked them: “Do you know what I am going to tell you?” In unison they responded, “NO”. The wise women replied, “You will only learn what you already know, and if you don’t know, I am leaving.” She left. The village was in an uproar.

Months passed and the problem didn’t go away. The elders debated and issued a second invitation to the wise women. In advance of her arrival, they coached the villagers.

When the woman arrived the second time, the village gathered. Again she asked, “Do you know what I am going to tell you?” The villagers shouted in unison, “YES”. She stared at the people. “If you already know, then I have nothing to tell you.” She left.

The village became even more frustrated, but after many months, the issued a third invitation. This time they were ready for the wise woman

“Do you know what I am going to tell you?” Half the villagers shouted “YES”; the other half shouted “NO”. The wise woman looked at the people and said, “Those who know should now get together with those who don’t; and then you will all know.”

She rose left and never returned.

That night, an elderly woman had a dream. “Last night, a voice told me the meaning of the message from the wise women. She wanted us to know that really important knowledge can be derived from our own community and our traditions, not from outside experts. We already have the knowledge. We already know that the wisdom of locals will always exceed the knowledge of the experts. We just don’t have the confidence to believe in ourselves.”

The explorer returned to his people, who were eager to know about the Amazon. But how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded his heart when he saw exotic flowers and heard the night-sounds of the forests; when he sensed the danger of wild beasts or paddled his canoe over treacherous rapids?

He said, “Go and find out for yourselves.”

To guide them he drew a map of the river. They pounced upon the map. They framed it in their Town Hall. They made copies of it for themselves. And all who had a copy considered themselves experts on the river, for did they not know it’s every turn and bend, how brood it was, how deep, where the rapids were and where the falls were? But no one took the journey. No one wanted to experience the journey themselves!

The Japanese General Nabunaga decided to attack even though he had only one soldier to the enemy’s ten. He was sure he would win, but his soldiers were full of fear.

On the way to battle they stopped at a Shinto shrine. After praying in the shrine Nabunaga came out and said, ‘I shall now toss a coin. If it is heads, we shall win. If tails, we shall lose. Destiny will now reveal herself.”

He tossed the coin. It was heads. The soldiers were so keyed up for the fight that they wiped out the enemy.

Next day an aide said to Nabunaga, ‘No one can change destiny.” “Right”, said Nabunaga showing him a doubled coin that was heads on both sides.

Who makes Destiny?

A troubled mother one day came to Mahatma Gandhi with her daughter and explained to him that her daughter was in the habit of eating far more sweet food than was good for her. Please, she asked, would the Mahatma speak to the girl and persuade her to give up this harmful habit?

Gandhi sat for a while in silence and then said: ‘Bring your daughter back in three weeks’ time, and then I will speak to her.’

The mother and her daughter returned after three weeks. This time Gandhi quietly took the daughter aside and in a few simple words pointed out to her the harmful effects of indulging in sweet food. He urged her to abandon the habit. Thanking Gandhi for giving her daughter such good advice, the mother then said to him in a puzzled voice, ‘Still, I would like to know, Mahatma, why you did not just say these words to my daughter three weeks ago when I first brought her to you’.

‘But,’ explained the Mahatma in reply, ‘three weeks ago, I myself was still addicted to eating sweet foods.”

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. “I will come next Tuesday,” I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!” My daughter smiled calmly and said, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.” “Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.

“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.” “How far will we have to drive?” “Just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “I’ll drive. I’m used to this.” After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage!” “We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.” “Carolyn,” I said sternly, “please turn around.” “It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.” After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, “Daffodil Garden.” We got out of the car and each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon, yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored Variety Was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own River With its own unique hue. * There were five acres of flowers. “But who has done this?” I Asked Carolyn.

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the Property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well kept a frame house That Looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to The House. On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You are asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one.”50,000 bulbs,” it read. The Second Answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very Little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.” There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a Life-changing experience.

I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than Forty years before, had begun-one bulb at a time-to bring her vision of Beauty and Joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, just planting one bulb at A Time, Year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had Forever Changed the world in which she lived. She had created something Of Ineffable (Indescribable) magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest Principles Of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and Desires One Step at a time-often just one baby-step at a time-and learning to Love The Doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years.

Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct Way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.

It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use today?”

Author Unknown We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his Or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we are able to go on a nice vacation, or when we retire. The truth is there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special to spend your time with… and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting…

….. until your car or home is paid off. Until you get a new car or home. Until your kids leave the house. Until you go back to school Until you finish school. Until you lose 10 lbs. Until you gain 10 lbs. Until you get married. Until you get a divorce. Until you have kids. Until you retire. Until summer until spring. Until winter. Until fall. Until you die. There is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination …..

….. so work like you don’t need money, love like you’ve never been hurt and dance like no one’s watching.

‘A grocer came to the Master one day in great distress and shared the fact that across the way from his shop they had opened a large chain store that would drive him out of business. His family had owned his shop for a century – and to lose it now would be catastrophic, for there was nothing else he was skilled at.Said the Master ‘If you fear the owner of the chain store, you will hate him. And hatred will be your undoing’.‘What shall I do?’ said the distraught grocer.‘Each morning, walk out of your shop onto the sidewalk and bless your shop, wishing it prosperity. Then, turn to face the chain store and bless it too’.‘What? Bless my competitor and destroyer?’‘Any blessing you give him will rebound to your good. Any evil you wish him will destroy you,’ replied the Master.After six months, the grocer returned to report that he had had to close down his shop as he had feared, but he was now the Manager of the chain store and his affairs were in better shape than ever before!’
A young martial artist kneeling before the Master Sensei in a ceremony to receive a hard-earned black belt. After years of relentless training, the student has finally reached a pinnacle of achievement in the discipline.”Before granting the belt, you must pass one more test,” says the Sensei.”I am ready,” responds the student, expecting perhaps one final round of sparring.
“You must answer the essential question: What is the true meaning of the black belt?”
“The end of my journey,” says the student. “A well-deserved reward for all my hard work.”
The Sensei waits for more. Clearly, he is not satisfied. Finally, the Sensei speaks.
“You are not yet ready for the black belt. Return in one year.”A year later, the student kneels again in front of the Sensei.
“What is the true meaning of the black belt?” asks the Sensei.
“A symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art,” says the student.
The Sensei says nothing for many minutes, waiting. Clearly, he is not satisfied. Finally, he speaks.
“You are still not ready for the black belt. Return in one year.”A year later, the student kneels once again in front of the Sensei. And again the Sensei asks: “What is the true meaning of the black belt?”
“The black belt represents the beginning – the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work, and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard,” says the student.
“Yes. You are now ready to receive the black belt and begin your work.”
Many years ago in a time of great hardship and famine an old soldier wandered into a poverty stricken village and asked for shelter for the night. “There’s nothing to eat here,” the villagers told him, “you’d better move on!””I have enough here to make soup for all of us,” the soldier replied, “if I could just borrow a large pot.” Curious, the villagers produced a pot and stood around watching as the soldier filled it with water and built a small fire underneath. He then took three round stones from a small bag and dropped them into the water.As the water came to the boil the soldier sniffed it hungrily saying, “I do love stone soup, but if I just had a little cabbage it would taste even better!” At this one of the villagers disappeared returning a few minutes later with a cabbage he has been hiding and put it into the pot.A while later the soldier tasted the soup and says “Hmm, this is good, but a couple of carrots would make better still.” Again a villager produced a bunch of carrots and so it went on as potatoes, onions, mushrooms and a bit of salt beef were all added to the pot until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.There are many versions of this old story, but the message is the same. We all have a contribution to make and by sharing our gifts and resources our own lives are enriched.
I would bring to your attention a short story…It’s about a man from the first world, let say an American, he’s travelling to South America, somewhere in the Andean mountains, in a little village…Walking through the local market he find a craftsman making beautiful small chairs, he asks, speaking a kind of Spanish: – Excuse-me, do you hablar English?The Bolivian man answers: – Si Senor, yo hablar English! What do you want?Well, could you tell me the price of the chair… How much the chair? Cuantos pesos the silla?
Bonita silla, 100 pesos for usted!
I take one.In fact the American man owns a handcraft shop somewhere in the West coast of the States and, after his holidays, sells the chair for a good price. He then decides to fly back to the Andes to buy more chairs…When he arrives at the market place, he finds the same man and says:Hola, you remember me?
Si senor, the man of the chair, hola!
I want to buy more chairs, muchos sillas, you understand?
Si, si, yo entiendo, cuantas sillas? How much sillas?
Well, we are going to make a good business.. You and me: negocio! – Cuantas sillas?
Let say about two hundred first and then we see… Dos cientos sillas, mucho negocio por ti!The craftsman doesn’t answer or look at the man… So the businessman says:OK, OK… How much for one silla? Cuantos pesos one silla?
One silla 200 pesos… answers the Bolivian
What, are you mad or what? I bought one chair for 100 pesos and now you want 200 pesos for one lonely chair? Tu loco!
No senor, yo no loco, una silla OK, but more sillas is mucho problemas: I have to contract people, rent a bigger shop, work a lot, have troubles with my wife and my kids, muchos problemas, more chairs, more expensive, OK?The moral of the story is:

  • Working is not automatically linked to a better life
  • First world people have a special relationship with work

Welfare concept (development concepts?) should include criteria other than exclusively growth…’

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Long ago in a small, far away village, there was place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the House, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often.”In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again.”All the faces in the world are mirrors.Many thanks to Bruce Dyer from New Zealand who brought this folktale to our attention.


History and contemporary society is full of amazing stories of young people who have made a huge difference to their world. The Bank of I.D.E.A.S. is beginning to collect these stories and circulate them. Did you know for example:

  • Joan of Arc lead 3,000 French knights to victory in the Battle of Orleans at age 17
  • Mozart composed his first symphony at age 6
  • Einstein wrote his first paper on the theory of relativity at age 16
  • Steven Spielberg wrote and directed his first large scale movie – ‘Firelight’ at age 16.

If you have a story, please share it with us.

Thomas as an eight year old was a sickly child and struggled due to his partial deafness. Academically he lagged behind his peers. Both fellow students and teachers continuously ridiculed him for his perceived slowness.

One day Thomas returned home from school with a note from his school principal explaining he was being expelled from school due to his slowness and poor academic performance. His mother responded by teaching Thomas at home within a loving and accepting environment. Soon, Thomas started to develop a new appreciation of learning, and began devising new inventions.

When Thomas finally died, an entire nation – The USA – honoured him by switching off the lights throughout the USA for one minute. This Thomas was Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the light bulb and phonograph.

Louis was born in 1809. At age three he lost his sight through an accident. He never allowed his disability to stop him from trying to improve the world for others. By age 20, Louis Braille had perfected a new alphabet, enabling blind people to read.
Wilma experienced disaster from birth, a premature baby, who caught pneumonia, then scarlet fever, and finally polio. The polio left one leg badly crippled, with her foot twisted inward. Until the age of eleven, Wilma hobbled around on metal braces. Then she asked her sister to keep watch while she practiced walking without the braces, afraid that her parents might discover what she was doing and she might be compelled to stop.

Wilma persisted until she eventually threw away her crutches for good. She progressed to running, and by the time she was sixteen she won a bronze medal in a relay race in the Melbourne Olympics. Four years later, in the Rome Olympics, Wilma Rudolph became the first woman in history to win three gold medals in track and field.