In the “Buddha Imparts The Parables Sutra,” Sakyamuni Buddha explained a story to King Shengguang that conveyed the true meaning of life. The story goes like this: A thousand eons ago, there was a man wandering in the wilderness who was suddenly chased by a ferocious elephant. With no place to rely on, he ran in fear and came across an empty well with a large tree beside it. Desperate to escape, he followed the roots of the tree and hid in the well. However, the well was not a safe place either. There were two mice, one black and one white, constantly gnawing at the tree roots. And there were four poisonous snakes surrounding the well, ready to strike, and a poisonous dragon at the bottom of the well. The man was afraid of the snakes and the dragon, and also worried that the mice would eat away the tree roots. Just then, five drops of honey from a honeycomb on the tree fell into the man’s mouth, and he immediately forgot his fear and worries. But soon, bees from the honeycomb stung him due to the shaking of the tree, and a wildfire suddenly broke out and burned the tree.
The Buddha told King Shengguang that the wilderness represents the long night of ignorance, the man represents all sentient beings, the elephant represents impermanence, the well represents life and death, the tree root represents life, and the black and white mice represent night and day. The four poisonous snakes symbolize the four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind; the honey represents the five desires of wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep; the bees represent evil thoughts; the wildfire represents aging and disease; and the poisonous dragon represents death. The Buddha emphasized that birth, old age, sickness, and death are inevitable and frightening. One should always be vigilant and not be consumed by the desires for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. Upon hearing the Buddha’s teachings on the parables of life and death, King Shengguang was deeply moved.
This story serves as a reminder for us as well. Have we become absorbed in the sweetness of “honey” in our lives, forgetting that the “black and white mice” are constantly nibbling away at our time? Life is like a fleeting dream, and it is empty. It is crucial for us to awaken from this dream of fleeting existence.
Buddha Imparted a Parable Story to King Shengguang
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