• While Malcolm Glenn Wyer was working as a librarian at the State University of Iowa, the library was moved into temporary quarters. One day, Mr. Wyer showed the library to a group of college presidents, but explained to them that these were only temporary quarters. The President of the University of Minnesota, Dr. George E. Vincent, heard him and laughed, then explained, “Mr. Wyer, when you have been around universities as long as I have, you will find out that in a university nothing is more permanent than temporary quarters.” Dr. Vincent was right — the library stayed in its “temporary” quarters for more than 45 years.
• The Emperor of Ryo wanted to learn about Zen Buddhism, so he asked Zen master Fu-daishi to explain the Diamond Sutra to him on a certain day. Fu-daishi arrived on the appointed day and stood behind the speaker’s table. Without saying anything, he rapped on the table, then left. Another Zen master, Shiko, witnessed the demonstration, and he asked the Emperor of Ryo, “May I be so bold, sir, as to ask whether you understood?” The Emperor shook his head, No, and Shiko said, “What a pity! Fu-daishi has never been more eloquent.”
• Rabbi Shalom Rokeach left his village at times to journey to visit the Seer of Lublin. Once, the Maggid of Kozienice asked him to stay in the village, promising that he would see the prophet Elijah if he stayed. Rabbi Shalom declined to stay. The Maggid of Kozienice again asked him to stay, promising that he would see the Patriarchs. Rabbi Shalom again declined. The Seer rejoiced to see Rabbi Shalom and said, “One who deprives oneself of the privilege of beholding Elijah and the Patriarchs in order to return to his teacher, is indeed a true Hassid.”
• A Buddhist teacher from India once visited the United States. When he was asked what he thought of Buddhist practices in the United States, he said that they reminded him of a person in a rowboat rowing and rowing, yet getting nowhere because the rowboat is tied to the dock. Many people in the United States devote much time and effort to meditation about lovingkindness, he said, but they forget to practice lovingkindness toward other people in the course of their daily activities.
• Elena Vasilievna Shiripina taught ballet at the Kirov School in Leningrad. Once, ballet student Natalia Makarova lost her sense of direction while dancing tours chaînés on the diagonal. Ms. Shiripina told her, “Keep going, little one, all the way to the door.” Young Natalia did keep going and danced through the door — only to have Ms. Shiripina slam it in her face.
• According to Scott Barnard, ballet master with the Joffrey Ballet, master dancers such as Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev never missed a class. Mr. Nureyev might party all night long until 6 a.m., but at 10 a.m. he attended his ballet class. According to Mr. Barnard, “The people with the long careers are those who are sensible about their work, and who are prepared to take advice.”
• A scandal occurred early in this century when two female students from Smith College invited two male students from Yale University to swim with them in the reservoir providing drinking water to Smith College. President William Allan Neilson of Smith College scolded the two female students, then told them, “I prefer my drinking water unflavored by either Smith or Yale.”
• Princess Seraphine Astafieva ran a dance studio in London, where she helped many great dancers get their start. Often, when students with real potential — such as Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin — did not have money to pay for their lessons, she would tell them, “You pay one day. Now you learn to be great dancer.”
• Gustave Lussi of Switzerland coached American Dick Button, who won the gold medal in men’s figure skating in the 1948 and the 1952 Olympics. Mr. Button trusted Mr. Lussi completely, saying that if Mr. Lussi should order him to jump from a window, he would do it — while making sure his toe was pointed and his head was in the proper position.
• Two convicts were sitting in their cell. One convict was trying to read a book, while the other convict was trying to get him to carry on a conversation. The convict trying to read the book said to the other convict, “I’m going to study and improve myself and when you’re still a common thief, I’ll be an embezzler.”
• The USSR was known for its men’s singles skaters and its pairs skating teams, but it never produced a really fine women’s singles skater until after its breakup. While the USSR was still together, pairs champion and coach Stanislav Zhuk was asked why. He joked, “Because I don’t coach them.”
• Ballerina Natalia Makarova learned at the Kirov School of Ballet that the essence of a character can be found in the way she walks, and so Ms. Makarova approached characters such as Giselle, Odette, and Juliet by first figuring out the way the character ought to walk.
• The Dalai Lama once visited the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where meditation is both taught and practiced. Immediately on walking through the door, he said, “This place seems so different from the rest of America. What do you do here?”
• In the old days, ballet teachers could be slave drivers. In the ballet “The Lesson,” a ballet teacher drives the students very hard — and one by one they drop dead.
• “When you plant for a year, plant grass. When you plant for ten years, plant trees. When you plant for centuries, plant people.” — Chinese proverb.
• “A university without a philosophy department is like a body without a head.” — Lou Marinoff, Ph.D.
• “My teacher of literature at Yale insisted that I had no future as a writer. I became a novelist only to prove him wrong.” — Sinclair Lewis.
• “A little knowledge makes men irreligious, but profound thought brings them back to God.” — Francis Bacon.
• “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” — Mark Twain.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
John Ford’s The Broken Heart: A Retelling