Read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on self-reliance and this quote from Zoroaster jumped out at me. A variation of the “God helps those who help themselves” theme: “To the persevering mortal, the blessed Immortals are swift.”

Which in turn reminded me of a Hindu story Joseph Campbell told in Myths to Live By,

“There is a fable told in India of the god Vishnu, supporter of the universe, who one day abruptly summoned Garuda, his air-vehicle, the golden-feathered sunbird; and when his wife, the goddess Lakshmi, asked why, he replied that he had just noticed that one of his worshipers was in trouble. However, hardly had he soared away when he was back, descending from the vehicle; and when the goddess again asked why, he replied that he had found his devotee taking care of himself.”

Campbell also shared an interesting Hindu concept of the two different approaches most common towards religious life, “In India two amusing figures are used to characterize the two principal types of religious attitude. One is “the way of the kitten”; the other, “the way of the monkey.” When a kitten cries “Miaow,” its mother, coming, takes it by the scruff and carries it to safety; but as anyone who has ever traveled in India will have observed, when a band of monkeys come scampering down from a tree and across the road, the babies riding on their mothers’ backs are hanging on by themselves. Accordingly, with reference to the two attitudes: the first is that of the person who prays, “O Lord, O Lord, come save me!” and the second of one who, without such prayers or cries, goes to work on himself.”

Kitten and MonkeyWhich in turn reminded me of St. Benedict’s motto, “Ora et Labora” (Prayer AND work” or, more properly, “Ora, Labora et Lectio” (Prayer, Work and Meditative Reading)

Which in turn reminded me of Jesus’ words, “This you should have done without leaving the other undone” (Lk. 11:42).

It is good for us who believe in God to balance both “the way of the kitten” and “the way of the monkey.”



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