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.
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.
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.
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.
practical way my desire and prayers to help my brothers and sisters
has been answered is through the book Shanti the Grass-eating
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
Notes on the book:
Grass-eating Lion is nothing new under the sun. For instance a grass-eating
lion was prophesied many centuries ago in the Bible chapter of Isaiah:
'The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat
straw like the bullock...' (Isaiah 65:25)
In terms of Indian culture; in the late 1800s many people used to
come and pay their respects to a great holy man who used to meditate
on the bank of a river. When he had completed his daily meditation
a huge lion would come and walk around him, bow his head on the
great man's feet and leave. When they saw the lion the people would
feel fear but the holy man would assure them that the lion meant
no harm to any of them and had only come to pay his respects to
India in 1936, Paramahansa Yogananda (Famous
renunciate and author of the Indian Spiritual Classic Autobiography
of a Yogi) met with a monk named Krishnananda and
his tame vegetarian lioness at the Allahabad Kumbla Mela. He wrote
the following words about it in Autobiography
of a Yogi. 'After I had given a brief discourse in Hindi on
the Vedanta, our group left the peaceful hermitage to greet
a near-by swami, Krishnananda, a handsome monk with rosy cheeks
and impressive shoulders. Reclining near him was a tame lioness.
Succumbing to the monk's spiritual charm — not, I'm sure,
to his powerful physique! — the jungle animal refuses all
meat in favour of rice and milk.'
To add more mystery to the world of lions; there was recently a
case of a wild lioness adopting baby antelopes. Apparently the adoptions
took place on significant days — Christmas, Valentine's Day
and Good Friday.
adopts third baby antelope, BBC,
Chapter 14: Two Small Boy's Try to Feed the
This chapter is based on a real
life event when Paramahansa Yogananda actually feed the masses as
a young boy. The way this happened is close to what happens in chapter
Chapters 16 & 17: Shanti Counsels a Troubled Boy &
Shanti Counsels Troubled Parents
A champion friend of mine, Margaret Opio, set up the Blue Balloon
Foundation to help people re-engage their own inner capacity to
function with greater well-being and success in life. She particularly
got great results with children and young people helping them to
see through often negative self images that they had had cast onto
them by other people's thoughtlessness and ignorance. The damage
done to a child's self image by others telling them 'You’re
useless, you'll never amount to anything.' is a common example.
Over dinner one night whilst I was with a group of friends a strong
feeling came into my heart to offer the Grass-eating lion as a vehicle
to spread Margaret's work into more people's lives. Margaret arrived
later that evening and when I suggested this to her she was up for
it. I wrote the chapters 16 and 17 shortly after this.
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