26. Ladyface [Association]

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon time, the King of Benares had a royal bull elephant who was kind, patient and harmless. Along with his sweet disposition, he had a lovely gentle face. So he was affectionately known as ‘Ladyface’.

One night, a gang of robbers met together just outside the elephant shed. In the darkness they talked about their plans for robbing people. They spoke of beating and killing, and bragged that they had given up ordinary goodness so they would have no pity on their victims. They used rough he-man type gutter language, intended to scare people and show how tough they were.

Since the nights were quiet, Ladyface had nothing else to do but listen to all these terrible plans and violent rough talk. He listened carefully and, as elephants do, remembered it all. Having been brought up to obey and respect human beings, he thought these men were also to be obeyed and respected, even as teachers.

After this went on for several nights, Ladyface decided that the correct thing to do was to become rough and cruel. This usually happens to one who associates with those of a low-minded cruel nature. It happens especially to a gentle one who wishes to please others.

A ‘mahout’ is what the Indians call the special trainer and caretaker of a particular elephant. They are usually very close. Early one morning, Ladyface’s mahout came to see him as usual. The elephant, his mind filled with the night’s robber-talk, suddenly attacked his mahout. He picked him up in his trunk, squeezed the breath out of him, and smashed him to the ground, killing him instantly. Then he picked up two other attendants, one after another, and killed them just as ferociously.

Word spread quickly through the city that the once adored Ladyface had suddenly gone mad and become a frightening man-killer. The people ran to the king for help.

It just so happened that the king had an intelligent minister who was known for his understanding of animals. So he called for him and asked him to go and determine what sickness or other condition had caused his favorite elephant to become so insanely violent.

This minister was the Bodhisatta, the Enlightenment Being. Arriving at the elephant shed, he spoke gentle soothing words to Ladyface, and calmed him down. He examined him and found him in perfect physical health. As he spoke kindly to Ladyface, he noticed that the elephant perked up his ears and paid very close attention. It was almost as if the poor animal were starved for the sound of gentle words. So the understanding minister figured out that the elephant must have been hearing the violent words or seeing the violent actions of those he mistook for teachers.

He asked the elephant guards, “Have you seen anyone hanging around this elephant shed, at night or any other time?” “Yes, minister,” they replied, “for the last couple of weeks a gang of robbers has been meeting here. We were afraid to do anything, since they were such mean rough characters. Ladyface could hear their every word.”

The minister returned immediately to the king. He said, “My lord king, your favourite elephant, Ladyface, is in perfect physical health. I have discovered that it was by hearing the rough and vulgar talk of thieves during many nights, that he has learned to be violent and cruel. Unwholesome associations often lead to unwholesome thoughts and actions.”

The king asked, “What is to be done?” The minister said, “Well my lord, now we must reverse the process. We must send wise men and monks, who have a high-minded kind nature, to spend just as many nights outside the elephant shed. There they should talk of the value of ordinary goodness and patience, leading to compassion, loving-kindness and harmlessness.”

So it was carried out. For several nights the kind wise ones spoke of those wonderful qualities. They used only gentle and refined language, intended to bring peacefulness and comfort to others.

Lo and behold, hearing this pleasant conversation for several nights, Ladyface the bull elephant became even more peaceful and pleasant than before!

Seeing this total change, the minister reported it to the king, saying, “My lord, Ladyface is now even more harmless and sweet than before. Now he is as gentle as a lamb!”

The king said, “It is wonderful indeed that such a madly violent elephant can be changed by associating with wise men and monks.” He was amazed that his minister seemed to be able to read the mind of an elephant. So he rewarded him appropriately.

The moral is: As rough talk infects with violence, so do gentle words heal with harmlessness.

26. Ladyface [Association]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/05/16/26-ladyface-association/


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Dirty Bath Water [Cleanliness]

25. Dirty Bath Water [Cleanliness]

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon a time, in a kingdom in India, the finest of the royal horses was taken down to the river to be bathed. The grooms took him to the same shallow pool where they always washed him.

However, just before they arrived, a filthy dirty horse had been washed in the same spot. He had been caught in the countryside and had never had a good bath in all his life.

The fine royal horse sniffed the air. He knew right away that some filthy wild horse had bathed there and fouled the water. So he was disgusted and refused to be washed at that place.

The grooms tried their best to get him into the water, but could do nothing with him. So they went to the king and complained that the fine well-trained royal stallion had suddenly become stubborn and unmanageable.

It just so happened that the king had an intelligent minister who was known for his understanding of animals. So he called for him and said, “Please go and see what has happened to my number one horse. Find out if he is sick or what is the reason he refuses to be bathed. Of all my horses, I thought this one was of such high quality that he would never let himself sink into dirtiness. There must be something wrong.”

The minister went down to the riverside bathing pool immediately. He found that the stately horse was not sick, but in perfect health. He noticed also that he was deliberately breathing as little as possible. So he sniffed the air and smelled a slight foul odour. Investigating further, he found that it came from the unclean water in the bathing pool. So he figured out that another very dirty horse must have been washed there, and that the king’s horse was too fond of cleanliness to bathe in dirty water.

The minister asked the horse grooms, “Has any other horse been bathed at this spot today?” “Yes,” they replied, “before we arrived, a dirty wild horse was bathed here.” The minister told them, “My dear grooms, this is a fine royal horse who loves cleanliness. He does not wish to bathe in dirty water. So the thing to do is to take him up river, where the water is fresh and clean, and wash him there.”

They followed his instructions, and the royal horse was pleased to bathe in the new place.

The minister returned to the king and told what had happened. Then he said, “You were correct your majesty, this fine horse was indeed of such high quality that he would not let himself sink into dirtiness!”

The king was amazed that his minister seemed to be able to read the mind of a horse. So he rewarded him appropriately.

The moral is: Even animals value cleanliness.

25. Dirty Bath Water [Cleanliness]

Link: https://peacelilysite.com/2022/05/12/dirty-bath-water-cleanliness/


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The Great Horse Knowing-One [Courage]

The Great Horse Knowing-One [Courage]

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta ruled in Benares, in northern India. He had a mighty horse, who had been born in the land of Sindh, in the Indus River valley of western India. Indeed, this horse was the Enlightenment Being.

As well as being big and strong, he was very intelligent and wise. When he was still young, people noticed that he always seemed to know what his rider wanted before being told. So he was called Knowing-one.

He was considered the greatest of the royal horses and was given the very best of everything. His stall was decorated and was always kept clean and beautiful. Horses are usually faithful to their masters. Knowing-one was especially loyal and was grateful for how well the king cared for him. Of all the royal horses, Knowing-one was also the bravest. So the king respected and trusted him.

It came to pass that seven neighbouring kings joined together to make war on King Brahmadatta. Each king brought four great armies — an elephant cavalry, a horse cavalry, a chariot brigade and ranks of foot soldiers. Together the seven kings, with all their armies, surrounded the city of Benares.

King Brahmadatta assembled his ministers and advisers to make plans for defending the kingdom. They advised him, “Do not surrender. We must fight to protect our high positions. But you should not risk your royal person in the beginning. Instead, send out the champion of all the knights to represent you on the battlefield. If he fails, only then must you yourself go.”

So the king called the champion to him and asked, “Can you be victorious over these seven kings?” The knight replied, “If you permit me to ride out on the bravest and wisest, the great horse Knowing-one, only then can I win the battle.” The king agreed and said, “My champion, it is up to you and Knowing-one to save the country in its time of danger. Take with you whatever you need.”

The champion knight went to the royal stables. He ordered that Knowing-one be well fed and dressed in protective armor, with all the finest trimmings. Then he bowed respectfully and climbed into the beautiful saddle.

Knowing-one knew the situation. He thought, “These seven kings have come to attack my country and my king, who feeds and cares for and trusts me. Not only the seven kings, but also their large and powerful armies threaten my king and all in Benares. I cannot let them win. But I also cannot permit the champion knight to kill those kings. Then I too would share in the unwholesome action of taking the lives of others, in order to win an ordinary victory. Instead, I will teach a new way. I will capture all seven kings without killing anyone. That would be a truly great victory!”

Then the Knowing-one spoke to his rider. “Sir knight, let us win this battle in a new way, without destroying life. You must only capture each king, one at a time, and remain firmly on my back. Let me find the true course through the many armies. Watch me as you ride, and I will show you the courage that goes beyond the old way, the killing way!”

As he spoke of ‘a new way’, and ‘the true course’, and ‘the courage that goes beyond’, it seemed the noble steed became larger than life. He reared up majestically on his powerful hind legs, and looked down on all the armies surrounding the city. The eyes of all were drawn to this magnificent one. The earth trembled as his front hoofs returned to the ground and he charged into the midst of the four armies of the first king. He seemed to have the speed of lightning, the might of a hundred elephants, and the glorious confidence of one from some other world.

The elephants could remember no such horse as this, and so the elephant cavalry retreated in fear. The horses knew that this their relative was the worthy master of them all, and so the horse cavalry and the chariot brigade stood still and bowed as the Great Being passed. And the ranks of foot-soldiers scattered like flies before a strong wind.

The first king hardly knew what had happened, before he was easily captured and brought back into the city of Benares. And so too with the second, third, fourth and fifth kings.

In the same way the sixth king was captured. But one of his loyal bodyguards leaped out from hiding and thrust his sword deep into the side of the brave Knowing-one. With blood streaming from the wound, he carried the champion knight and the captured sixth king back to the city.

When the knight saw the terrible wound, he suddenly became afraid to ride the weakened Knowing-one against the seventh king. So he began to dress in armour another powerful war horse, who was really just as big as Knowing-one.

Seeing this, though suffering in great pain from his deadly wound, Knowing-one thought, “This champion knight has lost his courage so quickly. He has not understood the true nature of my power — the knowledge that true peace is only won by peaceful means. He tries to defeat the seventh king and his armies in the ordinary way, riding an ordinary horse.

“After taking the first step of giving up the killing of living beings, I cannot stop part way. My great effort to teach a new way would disappear like a line drawn in water!”

The great horse Knowing-one spoke to the champion knight. “Sir knight, the seventh king and his armies are the mightiest of all. Riding an ordinary horse, even if you slaughter a thousand men and animals, you will be defeated. I, of the mighty tribe of Sindh horses, the one called Knowing-one, only I can pass through them harming none, and bring back the seventh king alive!”

The champion knight regained his courage. The brave horse struggled to his feet, in great pain. While the blood continued to flow, he reared and charged through the four armies, and the knight brought back the last of the seven warlike kings. Again all those in his path were spared from harm. Seeing their seven kings in captivity, all the armies laid down their weapons and asked for peace.

Realizing that the great horse Knowing-one would not live through the night, King Brahmadatta went to see him. He had raised him from a colt, so he loved him. When he saw that he was dying, his eyes filled with tears.

Knowing-one said, “My lord king, I have served you well. And I have gone beyond and shown a new way. Now you must grant my last request. You must not kill these seven kings, even though they have wronged you. For a bloody victory sows the seeds of the next war. Forgive their attack on you, let them return to their kingdoms, and may you all live in peace from now on.

“Whatever reward you would give to me, give instead to the champion knight. Do only wholesome deeds, be generous, honour the Truth, and kill no living being. Rule with justice and compassion.”

Then he closed his eyes and breathed his last. The king burst into tears, and all mourned his passing. With the highest honours, they burned the body of the great horse Knowing-one — the Enlightenment Being.

King Brahmadatta had the seven kings brought before him. They too honored the great one, who had defeated their vast armies without spilling a drop of blood, except his own. In his memory they made peace, and never again did these seven kings and Brahmadatta make war on each other.

The moral is: True peace is only won by peaceful means.

The Great Horse Knowing-One [Courage]

Link: https://peacelilysite.com/2022/05/03/the-great-horse-knowing-one-courage/


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Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon time, the King of Benares went to his pleasure garden in his fancy decorated chariot. He loved this chariot, mostly because of the rich hand-worked leather belts and straps.

On this occasion, he stayed in his pleasure garden all day long and into the evening. It was late when he finally got back to the palace. So the chariot was left outside in the compound all night, instead of being locked up properly.

During the night it rained heavily, and the leather got wet, swelled up, became soft, and gave off an odour. The pampered palace dogs smelled the delicious leather scent and came down into the compound. They chewed off and devoured the soft wet chariot straps. Before daybreak, they returned unseen to their places in the palace.

When the king woke up and came down, he saw that the leather had been chewed off and eaten by dogs. He called the servants and demanded to know how this happened.

Since they were supposed to watch the palace dogs, the servants were afraid to blame them. Instead, they made up a story that stray dogs, the mutts and mongrels of the city, had come into the grounds through sewers and storm drains. They were the ones who had eaten the fancy leather.

The king flew into a terrible rage. He was so overcome by anger that he decided to take vengeance against all dogs. So he decreed that whenever anyone in the city saw a dog, he was to kill him or her at once!

The people began killing dogs. The dogs could not understand why suddenly they were being killed. Later that day, they learned of the king’s decree. They became very frightened and retreated to the cemetery just outside the city. This was where their leader lived, the Dog King Silver.

Silver was king not because he was the biggest or strongest or toughest. He was average in size, with sleek silver fur, sparkling black eyes and alert pointed ears. He walked with great dignity, that brought admiration and respect from men as well as dogs. In his long life he had learned much, and was able to concentrate his mind on what is most important. So he became the wisest of all the dogs, as well as the one who cared most for the others. Those were the reasons he was king of the dogs.

In the cemetery, the dogs were in a panic. They were frightened to death. The Dog King Silver asked them why this was. They told him all about the chariot straps and the king’s decree, and the people killing them whenever they saw them.

King Silver knew there was no way to get into the well-guarded palace grounds. So he understood that the leather must have been eaten by the dogs living inside the palace.

He thought, “We dogs know that, no matter how different we may appear, somehow we are all related. So now I must make my greatest effort to save the lives of all these poor dogs, my relatives. There is no one to save them but me.”

He comforted them by saying, “Do not be afraid. I will save you all. Stay here in the cemetery and don’t go into the city. I will tell the King of Benares who are the thieves and who are the innocent. The truth will save us all.”

Before setting out, he went to a different part of the cemetery to be alone. Having practiced goodness all his life, and trained his mind, he now concentrated very hard and filled his mind with feelings of loving-kindness. He thought, “May all dogs be well and happy, and may all dogs be safe. I go to the palace for the sake of dogs and men alike. No one shall attack or harm me.”

Then the Dog King Silver began walking slowly through the streets of Benares. Because his mind was focused, he had no fear. Because of his long life of goodness, he walked with a calm dignity that demanded respect. And because of the warm glow of loving-kindness that all the people sensed, no one felt the rising of anger or any intention to harm him. Instead, they marvelled as the Great Being passed, and wondered how it could be so!

It was as if the whole city were entranced. With no obstruction, the Dog King Silver walked right past the palace guards, into the royal hall of justice, and sat down calmly underneath the king’s throne itself! The King of Benares was impressed by such courage and dignity. So when servants came to remove the dog, he ordered them to let him remain.

Then the Dog King Silver came out from under the throne and faced the mighty King of Benares. He bowed respectfully and asked, “Your majesty, was it you who ordered that all the dogs of the city should be killed?” “It was I,” replied the king. “What crime did the dogs commit?” asked the dog king. “Dogs ate my rich beautiful chariot leather and straps.” “Do you know which dogs did this?” asked King Silver. “No one knows,” said the King of Benares.

“My lord,” said the dog, “for a king such as you, who wishes to be righteous, is it right to have all dogs killed in the place of the few guilty ones? Does this do justice to the innocent ones?” The king replied, as if it made perfect sense to him, “Since I do not know which dogs destroyed my leather, only by ordering the killing of all dogs can I be sure of punishing the guilty. The king must have justice!”

The Dog King Silver paused for a moment, before challenging the king with the crucial question – “My lord king, is it a fact that you have ordered all dogs to be killed, or are there some who are not to be killed?” The king suddenly became a little uneasy as he was forced to admit, before his whole court, “It is true that most dogs are to be killed, but not all. The fine pure-breeds of my palace are to be spared.”

Then the dog king said, “My lord, before you said that all dogs were to be killed, in order to insure that the guilty would be punished. Now you say that your own palace dogs are to be spared. This shows that you have gone wrong in the way of prejudice. For a king who wishes to be righteous, it is wrong to favor some over others. The king’s justice must be unbiased, like an honest scale. Although you have decreed an impartial death to all dogs, in fact this is only the slaughter of poor dogs. Your rich palace dogs are unjustly saved, while the poor are wrongly killed!”

Recognizing the truth of the dog king’s words, the King of Benares asked, “Are you wise enough to know which dogs ate my leather straps and belts?” “Yes my lord, I do know,” said he, “it could only be your own favorite palace dogs, and I can prove it.” “Do so,” said the king.

The dog king asked to have the palace pets brought into the hall of justice. He asked for a mixture of buttermilk and grass, and for the dogs to be made to eat it. Lo and behold, when this was done they vomited up partly digested pieces of the king’s leather straps!

Then the Dog King Silver said, “My lord, no poor dogs from the city can enter the well-guarded palace compound. You were blinded by prejudice. It is your dogs who are the guilty ones. Nevertheless, to kill any living being is an unwholesome thing to do. This is because of what we dogs know, but men do not seem to know – that somehow all life is related, so all living beings deserve the same respect as relatives.”

The whole court was amazed by what had just taken place. The King of Benares was suddenly overcome by a rare feeling of humility. He bowed before the dog king and said, “Oh great king of dogs, I have never seen anyone such as you, one who combines perfect wisdom with great compassion. Truly, your justice is supreme. I offer my throne and the kingdom of Benares to you!”

The Enlightenment Being replied, “Arise my lord, I have no desire for a human crown. If you wish to show your respect for me, you should be a just and merciful ruler. It would help if you begin to purify your mind by practising the ‘Five Training Steps’. These are to give up entirely the five unwholesome actions: destroying life, taking what is not given, sexual wrong-doing, speaking falsely, and drunkenness.”

The king followed the teachings of the wise dog king. He ruled with great respect for all living beings. He ordered that whenever he ate, all dogs, those of the palace and those of the city, were to be fed as well. This was the beginning of the faithfulness between dogs and men that has lasted to this day.

The moral is: Prejudice leads to injustice, wisdom leads to justice.

22. The Dog King Silver [Justice]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/04/26/22-the-dog-king-silver-justice/


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Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon a time, there was an antelope who lived in the deep forest. He ate the fruits that fell from the trees. There was one tree that had become his favorite.

In the same area there was a hunter who captured and killed antelopes and deer. He put down fruit as bait under a tree. Then he waited, hiding in the branches above. He held a rope noose hanging down to the ground around the fruits. When an animal ate the fruit, the hunter tightened the noose and caught him.

Early one morning the antelope came to his favorite tree in search of fruits to eat. He did not see that the hunter was hiding in it, with his noose-trap ready. Even though he was hungry, the antelope was very careful. He was on the lookout for any possible danger. He saw the delicious looking ripe fruits at the foot of his favorite tree. He wondered why no animal had yet eaten any, and so he was afraid something was wrong.

The hiding hunter saw the antelope approaching from a distance. Seeing him stop and take great care, he was afraid he would not be able to trap him. He was so anxious that he began throwing fruits in the direction of the antelope, trying to lure him into coming closer.

But this was a pretty smart antelope. He knew that fruits only fall straight down when they fall from trees. Since these fruits were flying towards him, he knew there was danger. So he examined the tree itself very carefully, and saw the hunter in the branches. However, he pretended not to see him.

He spoke in the direction of the tree. “Oh my dear fruit tree, you used to give me your fruits by letting them fall straight down to the ground. Now, throwing them towards me, you do not act at all like a tree! Since you have changed your habits, I too will change mine. I will get my fruits from a different tree from now on, one that still acts like a tree!”

The hunter realized his mistake and saw that the antelope had outsmarted him. This angered him and he yelled out, “You may escape me this time, you clever antelope, but I’ll get you next time for sure!”

The antelope realized that, by getting so angry, the hunter had given himself away a second time. So he spoke in the direction of the tree again. “Not only don’t you act like a tree, but you act like a hunter! You foolish humans, who live by killing animals. You do not understand that killing the innocent brings harm also to you, both in this life and by rebirth in a hell world. It is clear that we antelopes are far wiser than you. We eat fruits, we remain innocent of killing others, and we avoid the harmful results.”

So saying, the careful antelope leaped into the thick forest and was gone.

The moral is: The wise remain innocent.

21. The Tree that Acted Like a Hunter [Impatience]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/04/19/21-the-tree-that-acted-like-a-hunter-impatience/


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20. The Monkey King and the Water Demon [Attentiveness]

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon a time, far away in a deep forest, there was a nation of 80,000 monkeys. They had a king who was unusually large, as big as a fawn. He was not only big in body, he was also ‘large in mind’. After all, he was the Bodhisatta — the Enlightenment Being.

One day, he advised his monkey nation by saying, “My subjects, there are poisonous fruits in this deep forest, and ponds possessed by demons. So if you see any unusual fruit or unknown pond, do not eat or drink until you ask me first.” Paying close attention to their wise king, all the monkeys agreed to follow his advice.

Later on, they came to an unknown pond. Even though they were all tired out and thirsty from searching for food, no one would drink without first asking the monkey king. So they sat in the trees and on the ground around the pond.

When he arrived, the monkey king asked them, “Did anyone drink the water?” They replied, “No, your majesty, we followed your instructions.” He said, “Well done.”

Then he walked along the bank, around the pond. He examined the footprints of the animals that had gone into the water, and saw that none came out again! So he realized this pond must be possessed by a water demon. He said to the 80,000 monkeys, “This pond is possessed by a water demon. Do not anybody go into it.”

After a little while, the water demon saw that none of the monkeys went into the water to drink. So he rose out of the middle of the pond, taking the shape of a frightening monster. He had a big blue belly, a white face with bulging green eyes, and red claws and feet. He said, “Why are you just sitting around? Come into the pond and drink at once!”

The monkey king said to the horrible monster, “Are you the water demon who owns this pond?” “Yes, I am,” said he. “Do you eat whoever goes into the water?” asked the king. “Yes, I do,” he answered, “including even birds. I eat them all. And when you are forced by your thirst to come into the pond and drink, I will enjoy eating you, the biggest monkey, most of all!” He grinned, and saliva dripped down his hairy chin.

But the monkey king with the well-trained mind remained calm. He said, “I will not let you eat me or a single one of my followers. And yet, we will drink all the water we want!” The water demon grunted, “Impossible! How will you do that?” The monkey king replied, “Each one of the 80,000 of us will drink using bamboo shoots as straws. And you will not be able to touch us!”

Of course, anyone who has seen bamboo knows there is a difficulty. Bamboo grows in sections, one after another, with a knot between each one. Any one section is too small, so the demon could grab the monkey, pull him under and gobble him up. But the knots make it impossible to sip through more than one section.

The monkey king was very special, and that is why so many followed him. In the past, he had practiced goodness and trained his mind with such effort and attention, that he had developed very fine qualities of mind. This is why he was said to be ‘large in mind’, not because he simply had a ‘big brain’.

The Enlightenment Being was able to keep these fine qualities in his mind, and produce a very unlikely event – a miracle. First, he took a young bamboo shoot, blew through it to make the knots disappear, and used it to sip water from the pond. Then, amazing as it may sound, he waved his hand and all the bamboo growing around that one pond lost their knots. They became a new kind of bamboo.

Then, all his 80,000 followers picked bamboo shoots and easily drank their fill from the pond. The water demon could not believe his green eyes. Grumbling to himself, he slid back under the surface, leaving only gurgling bubbles behind.

The moral is: “Test the water before jumping in.”

20. The Monkey King and the Water Demon [Attentiveness]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/03/28/20-the-monkey-king-and-the-water-demon-attentiveness/


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19. The God in the Banyan Tree [A Bad Promise]

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

In the past, and even in some places today, people have had superstitions. One such is that a large or unusual tree is inhabited by a tree god, or some kind of spirit. People think that they can make a promise to this tree god, so he will help them in some way. When they think the god has helped them, then they must keep their promise.

Once upon a time, in the city of Kasi in northern India, a man came upon a large banyan tree. He immediately thought there must be a go

d living there. So he made a promise to this tree god that he would perform an animal sacrifice, in return for a wish being granted.

It just so happened that his wish was fulfilled, but whether by a god or a demon or by some other means — no one knows. The man was sure the tree god had answered his prayer, so he wanted to keep his promise.

Since it was a big wish, it called for a big sacrifice. He brought many goats, mules, chickens and sheep. He collected firewood and prepared to burn the helpless animals as a sacrifice.

The spirit living in the banyan tree appeared and said, “Oh friend, you made a promise. You are now bound by that promise. You think you must keep the promise in order to be released from the bondage to it. But if you commit such terrible unwholesome acts, even though promised, the unpleasant results will put you in much greater bondage. For you will be forced to suffer those results in this life, and even by rebirths in hell worlds! The way to release yourself into future deliverance is to give up unwholesome actions, no matter what!

“And furthermore, since you think I’m a true god, what makes you think I eat meat? Haven’t you heard that we gods eat better things, like ‘ambrosia’ or stardust or sunbeams? I have no need of meat or any other food offerings.” Then he disappeared.

The foolish man understood the mistake he had made. Instead of doing unwholesome deeds that would force unhappy results on him in the future, he began to do only wholesome deeds that would benefit himself and others.

The moral is: Keeping a bad promise is worse than making it.

19. The God in the Banyan Tree [A Bad Promise]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/03/15/19-the-god-in-the-banyan-tree-a-bad-promise/


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18. The Goat Who Saved the Priest [Ignorance]

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon a time, there was a very famous priest in a very old religion. He decided it was the right day to perform the ritual sacrificing of a goat. In his ignorance, he thought this was an offering demanded by his god.

He obtained an appropriate goat for the sacrifice. He ordered his servants to take the goat to the holy river and wash him and decorate him with flower garlands. Then they were to wash themselves, as part of the purification practice.

Down at the riverbank, the goat suddenly understood that today he would definitely be killed. He also became aware of his past births and deaths and rebirths. He realized that the results of his past unwholesome deeds were about to finally be completed. So he laughed an uproarious goat-laugh, like the clanging of cymbals.

In the midst of his laughter, he realized another truth that the priest, by sacrificing him, would suffer the same terrible results, due to his ignorance. So he began to cry as loudly as he had just been laughing!

The servants, who were bathing in the holy river, heard first the laughing and then the crying. They were amazed. So they asked the goat, “Why did you loudly laugh and then just as loudly cry? What is the reason for this?” He replied, “I will tell you the reason. But it must be in the presence of your master, the priest.”

Since they were very curious, they immediately took the sacrificial goat to the priest. They explained all that had happened. The priest, too, became very curious. He respectfully asked the goat, “Sir, why did you laugh so loudly, and then just as loudly cry?”

The goat, remembering his past lives, said, “A long time ago, I too was a priest who, like you, was well educated in the sacred religious rites. I thought that to sacrifice a goat was a necessary offering to my god, which would benefit others, as well as myself in future rebirths. However, the true result of my actions was that in my next 499 lives I myself have been beheaded!

“While being prepared for the sacrifice, I realized that today I will definitely lose my head for the 500th time. Then I will finally be free of all the results of my unwholesome deeds of so long ago. The joy of this made me laugh uncontrollably.

“Then I suddenly realized that you, the priest, were about to repeat the same unwholesome action, and would be doomed to the same result of having your head chopped off in your next 500 lives! So, out of compassion and sympathy, my laughter turned to tears.”

The priest was afraid this goat might be right, so he said, “Well, sir goat, I will not kill you.” The goat replied, “Reverend priest, even if you do not kill me, I know that today I will lose my head and finally be released from the results of my past unwholesome action.”

The priest said, “Don’t be afraid, my fine goat. I will provide the very best protection and personally guarantee that no harm will come to you.” But the goat said, “Oh priest, your protection is very weak, compared to the power of my unwholesome deed to cause its necessary results.”

So the priest cancelled the sacrifice, and began to have doubts about killing innocent animals. He released the goat and, along with his servants, followed him in order to protect him from any danger.

The goat wandered into a rocky place. He saw some tender leaves on a branch and stretched out his neck to reach them. All of a sudden a thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere. A lightning bolt struck an over-hanging rock, and cut off a sharp slab, which fell and chopped off the goat’s head! He died instantly, and the thunderstorm disappeared.

Hearing of this very strange event, hundreds of local people came to the place. No one could understand how it had happened.

There was also a fairy who lived in a nearby tree. He had seen all that had occurred. He appeared, gently fluttering in the air overhead. He began to teach the curious people, saying, “Look at what happened to this poor goat. This was the result of killing animals! All beings are born, and suffer through sickness, old age and death. But all wish to live, and not to die. Not seeing that all have this in common, some kill other living beings. This causes suffering also to those who kill, both now and in countless future rebirths.

“Being ignorant that all deeds must cause results to the doer, some continue to kill and heap up more suffering on themselves in the future. Each time they kill, a part of themselves must also die in this present life. And the suffering continues even by rebirth in hell worlds!”

Those who heard the fairy speak felt that they were very lucky indeed. They gave up their ignorant killing, and were far better off, both in this life, and in pleasant rebirths.

The moral is: Even religion can be a source of ignorance.

18. The Goat Who Saved the Priest [Ignorance]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/03/07/18-the-goat-who-saved-the-priest-ignorance/


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The Monkey King : A Jataka Tale

The Monkey King : A Jataka Tale

From Kindness

A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents

Collected and Adapted by Sarah Conover

When the Buddha and his followers lived at Jetavana, a certain monk in the group was always upset – so much so that he could barely concentrate. When the Buddha asked him about it, the monk replied that he desired many things he couldn’t have; thus, he never felt content. “Oh, monk,” said the Buddha kindly, “these passions have been discarded even by monkeys. It is all the more important for one who lives the holy life to leave these feelings behind. “ And the Buddha recounted this old-world tale about the monkey king.

Once, in olden times, the Buddha came into the world as a monkey. He lived among the treetops of a remote jungle with a large family of monkeys. One day, a woodcutter came to this same jungle to fetch a good supply of logs for his family hearth. But when the woodcutter felled a large tree, he accidentally trapped the young monkey underneath as the tree dropped to the forest floor. When the woodcutter saw his surprise, he decided to bring the monkey home as a present to his king.

The bright monkey quickly tamed and was soon the favorite royal pet. The king let him run everywhere about the palace. So the monkey spent his days visiting the royal courts and kitchens, the guards’ quarters, and all the other enterprises within. The monkey easily learned to imitate the manners of the royal retinue, the ministers, the guards, and even the cook who chased him from her kitchen. It was impossible not to laugh at the monkey’s antics.

After a few years, the king requested that the woodcutter return to the palace. Then the king asked, “As a favor to this monkey who has pleased us so, would you bring him back to the jungle where he was captured? It would be kindest if we let him live out his years with fellow monkeys.” So the woodcutter did as the king bid: he brought the monkey back to the very same spot in the very same jungle and released him.

Photo by vishnudeep dixit on Pexels.com

At once, as soon as the woodcutter had left, a hundred monkeys surrounded the palace monkey, all asking questions at once. “Where have you been living this long time? Where did that man take you? Did you go on a great adventure? Why did he let you go free?” On and on the monkeys clamored, full of curiosity.

When they quieted down, the palace monkey recounted his tale. He told them all about the king’s splendid palace and how he had entertained the king. He told them of the sumptuous feasts, the elegant dances, the noble ministers of the royal court, the king’s fearsome army, and the dark dungeons.

“But then, how did you escape?” They wanted to know.

“I was such a good pet, and I amused them all so, that they felt badly keeping me from my home. The king decided to set me free again, so here I am!”

Now the monkeys were really excited. “Oh, tell us all about the palace life!” They jumped and shouted. “Tell us about the ways of people! Tell us about the grand deeds of a king!” they insisted.

“No, you wouldn’t want to know,” cautioned the palace monkey. “You really won’t like it.”

But the monkeys would not let up until he agreed to show them what life was like for a king. So the palace money picked a monkey in the troop and said, “O.K. then, you be the king. Get up on this high rock and make it your throne. We will set to work and bring you the best fruit in the kingdom!”

So the monkey king sat upon his rock throne, surveying his kingdom and looking quite content. Soon a huge pile of delicious fruit surrounded him. After a time the king monkey began to feel distressed. “ But I could never eat all this fruit, even in a whole year! And how there’s nothing left for all of you to eat,” laments the monkey king.

“Of course you can’t eat it all,”said the palace monkey. But that dose’t matter to a king. The point is that you eat whatever you want, but you must not give any of it away. You must always keep a large pile so that others know you are very rich and very powerful!” So the monkeys, wishing to be like men, brought even more fruit and stacked it even higher around their king.

“What else do we do?” asked the monkeys when there was no more fruit to be had.

“You must all come before the king and praise him in every way you can imagine.”

The monkeys liked this idea, so they tried it.

“Well, no wonder his is king!” pronounced one. “His coat glistens like water.”

“His fur is as thick as deep grass!” boasted another.

“I’ve never seen such a strong and capable animal!” exclaimed a third monkey.

“No one is as wise and dignified as our king!” And so they gathered around their king and enjoyed themselves in flattering him.

“Enough of that,” said the little palace monkey. “Now it’s time to come behind the throne and say terrible things about the king.”

The monkeys didn’t like this idea at all and at first refused to do it. But the palace monkey preserved saying, “You have to try this if you want to learn the ways of people! See what it’s like.”

So the monkeys gathered behind the rock and whispered insults about the king.

“Have you noticed how old and confused the king seems lately?” asked a monkey.

“His eyes seem dull and he constantly forgets what he has said!”  chuckled another.

“I think his fur is getting extremely thin; I think he might even be going bald in some very funny spots” tittered a third.

“I’ve noticed that the king eats more like a pig than a monkey!” said a fourth and they all howled.

At last the insulted monkey king could stand it no longer. He jumped off his throne and ran after them through the trees. But the monkeys each escaped in a hundred different directions from the frustrated king. When the monkey king as last returned to his throne, his eyes widened in astonishment. All the fruit had vanished!

“Where is the fruit?” cried the king. “All my fruit is stolen!” he bellowed.

“Yes, it’s a shame, but these things happen even to kings!” said the palace monkey. “Now your guards must go find the thieves. That’s what a king would do. And when the guards capture the thieves, they must be sentenced to death at once.”

“What?” cried the monkey king. “You want me to kill them? Oh, how could such a terrible thing come to pass?” he wailed. And he covered his ears with his hands and wept.

“No more! No more!” cried all the monkeys. “We don’t want to know anything else about the ways of people and kings!”

The palace monkey, the Former Buddha, then recited for them a little poem he had made up about life in the palace:

“This gold is mine, this gold is mine!’ 

so they cry both day and night:

These foolish folk who live in splendor

never think about the holy way”

“And,” said the Buddha, concluding his lesson, “the monkeys ran away from the rock throne and back up to the tree tops where they all lived happily ever after.”

The Monkey King : A Jataka Tale

Link: https://peacelilysite.com/2022/03/04/the-monkey-king-a-jataka-tale/

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Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50

Once upon a time, there were two very good friends who lived together in the shade of a rock. Strange as it may seem, one was a lion and one was a tiger. They had met when they were too young to know the difference between lions and tigers. So they did not think their friendship was at all unusual. Besides, it was a peaceful part of the mountains, possibly due to the influence of a gentle forest monk who lived nearby. He was a hermit, one who lives far away from other people.

For some unknown reason, one day the two friends got into a silly argument. The tiger said, “Everyone knows the cold comes when the moon wanes from full to new!” The lion said, “Where did you hear such nonsense? Everyone knows the cold comes when the moon waxes from new to full!”

The argument got stronger and stronger. Neither could convince the other. They could not reach any conclusion to resolve the growing dispute. They even started calling each other names! Fearing for their friendship, they decided to go ask the learned forest monk, who would surely know about such things.

Visiting the peaceful hermit, the lion and tiger bowed respectfully and put their question to him. The friendly monk thought for a while and then gave his answer. “It can be cold in any phase of the moon, from new to full and back to new again. It is the wind that brings the cold, whether from west or north or east. Therefore, in a way, you are both right! And neither of you is defeated by the other. The most important thing is to live without conflict, to remain united. Unity is best by all means.”

The lion and tiger thanked the wise hermit. They were happy to still be friends.

The moral is: Weather comes and weather goes, but friendship remains.

17. The Wind and the Moon [Friendship]

Link: https://hhdorjechangbuddhaiiiinfo.com/2022/03/01/17-the-wind-and-the-moon-friendship/


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