How and Why this Book was Written

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.

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.

So 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:

The 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 him.

In 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.

Lioness adopts third baby antelope,
BBC, 1/4/2002

Chapter 14: Two Small Boy's Try to Feed the Masses

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 14.

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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