Writing from the Heart

By Paul Sinclair 13/11/07

"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. Martin Luther King Jr.

Once whilst traveling through Northern India in 2000, I took a personal vow to recognize that all people are equal and that my thoughts, words and deeds should reflect this. Whilst traveling in the lowest class sections of trains I had been reading An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi. (Often called Mahatma Gandhi) It was the beginning of a journey which was to show me that the so-called poorest of the poor are often the wealthiest in terms of happiness.

I have really struggled with this vow that all are equal ever since. I’ve found that whilst my intellect and ability to reason were able to grasp the fact that all people are equal at the very core of their being (their soul), this was not the solid bedrock on which to alter years of wrong thinking and bad habits that continually caused me to look up to or down on people.

The foundation stone I needed I only found through my ever-growing desire to know and love that which has created all people equally and loves all people equally. That desire to know my maker has slowly brought me a life of near permanent happiness and contentedness. That doesn’t mean I have an easy life, as the storms of trials and tribulations rage around me at times like everyone else; but real happiness comes from within and when we are established in that nothing can ever disturb our peace.

But that inner happiness would be worthless if it did not also feed in our hearts a strong love for all our brothers and sisters in the world and a desire to help them find real peace, happiness and a relief from their suffering. In our world four billion people are estimated to live in material poverty, and a great number who have everything they need; live in spiritual poverty.

One practical way my desire and prayers to help my brothers and sisters has been answered is through the book Shanti the Grass-eating Lion.

I had seen a documentary on the Middle East that had disturbed my conscience. In the documentary two families from two so-called different peoples had each been teaching their children to hate others who lived differently from them. Teaching children to hate other people because they come from a different cultural heritage or speak a different language or hold a different faith is very unwise. It is a form of ignorance that keeps generations locked in hatred and bitterness that costs them happiness and brings them guaranteed suffering. I thought at the time, I must do something to help the youngsters learn to look for what they have in common with people rather than any differences. It was for this need that I made a prayer to my beloved maker.

At the same time I had been following the trials and tribulations of a brother of mine, Korak Day, in all the beautiful things that he did for the world’s underprivileged and unloved. Korak had been a dear friend for many years ever since we met in Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute and dying. A constant companion in this work was always the need for money, as we never knew from where we could get it – the creation of schools and homes for the underprivileged don’t come freely; they have to be paid for. It was in response to this that I used to pray to my beloved Creator to help me to help Korak with his work.

Korak has also had an amazing life, throughout which he has learnt a great deal and acquired much wisdom. I wanted to help him share some of his lessons with the world as I knew in my heart it could do much good.

When the book first came to me I was working as a nursing assistant in an acute psychiatric ward in South East England. I used to work night shifts and I had to catch a train to work. It was my habit to meditate on the train journey so as to calm and focus my thoughts and energise myself for the work, which at times could be quite demanding. Then one night as I closed my eyes ready to enter the silent-joy-filled-temple within I found the way blocked and my mind started receiving Shanti the Grass Eating Lion. It kept coming even whilst I took the forty-five minute walk to the hospital from the train station.

When I got to work, even though everything had been hectic there over the last couple of weeks, for some reason that night all the patients went to bed early and the ward was quiet. When it was quiet like that my supervisors didn’t mind me using the computer and over four or five hours I typed the skeleton of the story.

But that was only the beginning of the journey; since then much has been added on to the story, all from the same source. For instance, a brother mentioned that William Shakespeare had said that in order for a literary work to be really great it needs humour. Then the character Manik the clown-like-rat was dropped into my head.

In all it took a couple of years to write the book as, like all journeys of the soul, nothing truly worthwhile in life is ever easy to achieve. The book had to be earned through struggling, hard work and sacrifices.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." Martin Luther King Jr.

Later I came to the illustrations. I couldn’t find an illustrator to do it. I knew that a good picture tells a thousand words and the only artist I knew who had the skill did not have the time to invest the loving effort required. Rather than getting disheartened about it, I have long had the habit of doing everything I can and leaving the rest to the Creator. I thought, Well, since I can’t find anyone, I’ll have a go myself.

As a kiddie I was apparently alright at drawing and painting so I had a go and to my surprise my first drawing turned out a lot better than I could have imagined. The next one after that was even better. The third involved using a new technique and sharpening the pencils. The rest many tell me look like photographs and they speak the thousand words they are meant to.

So to be truthful, I am not the author of this book, but merely its delivery man and guardian.

My message to people is, if you want to do something that is worthwhile for our world and your Creator; make your prayers, follow your heart, get stuck in, don’t look backwards, or sideways, just straight ahead; and always follow the sage principle, ‘Nothing once begun should be abandoned unless it is proved morally wrong.’

© Shanti Lion Children's Trust: 2007
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