Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Four Friends - A Bhutan Folktale

The Four Harmonious Friends
by Ella Brewer
Last week my niece Hayley called to read me a story she wrote. She initially read this story in a folktale book and loved it so much she wrote her own adaptation, just like storytellers do with the tales they love.

Hayley will be entering the second grade in September. She has been exposed to storytelling since she was in kindergarten as she attends the same school where I have directed a storytelling troupe for ten years. Her older brother Brad was part of the troupe for two years so she is very excited about becoming a storyteller herself.

I promised Hayley I would post her version on my blog so my colleagues could delight in her work. I have also added a link to a longer version of the story and some additional websites to whet your storytelling appetites. If you have a moment, please leave a note for Hayley in the comment section at the bottom of the blog. I know she will be delighted to hear your words of encouragement.

The Four Friends
by Hayley

One day a peacock planted a little seed. Along came a rabbit. She asked, “Can I help?”
“Yes”, said the peacock. So the rabbit and watered the seed.
Along came a monkey. He asked, “Can I help?”
“Yes,” said the rabbit. “Please feed the seed.”

 Along came an elephant. She asked, “Can I help?”
“Yes,” said the monkey. “Please watch the seed.”

So the elephant watched the seed. A little plant grew into a big tree. Big red apples grew on the tree. “I cannot reach the apples ,” cried the elephant.

“I can help,” said the monkey. He jumped onto the elephants back. “I cannot reach the apples,” cried the monkey.
“I can help,” said the rabbit. She jumped on monkeys back. “I cannot reach the apples.”

“I can help,” said the peacock. He jumped onto the rabbits back.” Now we can all have apples!”

You may read a much longer version of the story, The Four Hamonious Friends, from the Jataka Tales at this link:,1531,0,0,1,0

It is said that wherever a picture of the Four Harmonious Friends is displayed, the ten virtues will increase, the minds of all will become harmonious, and many auspicious events will occur.

The animals are representations of Lord Buddha himself and his close advocates: the bird is Buddha himself, the rabbit is Sheribu (Shari Putra), the monkey Mou-Gelgi-Bu (Mugyalyana), and the elephant Kingau (Ananda). The painting teaches most of the Bhutanese values of etiquette like respect for elders, cooperation, and generosity.


Jataka Tales -  Collected by Ellen C. Babbitt, 1912.

More Jataka Tales Collected by Ellen C. Babbitt, 1922.

The Jataka Tales – Twelve Tales Collected by D. L. Ashliman

* The artwork at the top left of the blog is the original work of Ella Brewer of New Zealand. She graciously granted me permission to use it in this post. Please take a moment to visit her site and view her other beautiful pieces of art.

Karen Chace 2012 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Send Your Senses Soaring!

Allegory of the Five Senses
by Gérard de Lairesse, 1668

Five Minute
Creativity Boost
by Monica Davis
© 2012

What is creativity? By definition it is: “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns...and create [bring into being] meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.”  We humans love to create...and recreate; to bring forth and nurture originality as if it were our precious child; to push the boundaries of “Why?” and ask, “Why not?”

Have you tasted the stroke of midnight? Heard fruit ripening on the vine? Ever held a shooting star in the palm of your hand? Smelled tomorrow? Seen the fragrance of a rose? 

The logical part of our brain says: “Not possible”; “Doesn't exist”; “Can't do it”; “Human senses don't work that way.”. But the creative part of our brain rises to the challenge and attempts the seemingly impossible: “Stroke of midnight? Hmm, rich, decadent, tangy...delicious!”

Five Minutes, Five Senses!

A simple 5-minute exercise may boost your creativity, bring clarity to your thoughts, open your imagination, and yes, aid memory. The exercise is done in 4 steps. Focus your attention on each individual sense (taste, sight, touch, smell, hearing) one at a time, and fully engage in that particular sense before moving on to the next. (Eyes may be open or closed.)

Step 1: Experience familiar sensations.  

  • Taste cold, juicy watermelon
  • Chocolate melting in your mouth
  • Bite into a sour lemon
  • Watch a beautiful sunset
  • See the smiling face of a happy child
  • Watch a bird fly across the sky
  • Pet the soft fur of a kitten
  • Walk barefoot along a sandy beach
  • Make a snowball with your bare hands
  • Inhale the aroma of freshly brewed coffee
  • Smell a pine forest
  • Smell an ocean breeze
  • Listen as a distant train whistle grows louder, then fades away
  • Hear a clock strike five o'clock
  • Hear the sound of raindrops on a tin roof

Step 2
Apply all five senses to a single experience; such as baking bread.

  • Knead the dough with your hands
  • Smell the bread baking in the oven
  • See the golden color of the freshly baked loaf
  • Hear the crunch of the crust as you bite into it
  • Taste the flavors as you savor a slice spread with melting butter

Step 3
: Experience each sense through obscure and unusual combinations. This allows the creative side of the brain to join in, trying to answer a riddle. (Don't get hung up or struggle; just go with whatever comes and move on. With practice, your creative brain will know what to do.) For example:

  • Taste the air inside a bubble
  • Walk along the red stripe of a rainbow
  • Hear wax shine
  • Smell square
  • See an echo in a canyon

Step 4: Mix up your bread baking senses. For example:
  • See the crunch of the crust
  • Smell the ingredients into forming a dough
  • Taste the color of the finished loaf
  • Hear the flavor of melting butter spread on a warm slice
  • Touch the aroma of the baking loaf

A gifted storyteller moves an audience through all senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste to create a truly satisfying and magical experience. Heightening the senses gives the brain more avenues for memory recall; no longer relying solely on rote data filing, but recalling feelings, sensations and associations.

From once upon a time, to happily ever after is just five senses away.

© 2012 Monica Davis
About the author: Monica Davis is an accomplished writer, editor, speaker and creative consultant. She is the author of the soon to be released non-fiction book, “Wisdom of the Toga: Mythic Patterns That Shape Our Lives”. For more information, please visit her website at:

Monica Davis is a guest blogger for Karen Chace and Catch the Storybug blog. All rights to this article belong to Monica. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without her expressed, written  permission. If you would like to be a Guest Blogger contact Karen at for the details.