Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta had a very wise adviser who understood the speech of animals. He understood what they said, and he could speak to them in their languages.
One day the adviser was wandering along the riverbank with his followers. They came upon some fishermen who had cast a big net into the river. While peering into the water, they noticed a big, handsome fish following his pretty wife.
Her shining scales reflected the morning sunlight in all the colors of the rainbow. Her feather-like fins fluttered like the delicate wings of a fairy, as they sent her gliding through the water. It was clear that her husband was so entranced by the way she looked and the way she moved, that he was not paying attention to anything else!
As they came near the net, the wife fish smelled it. Then she saw it and alertly avoided it at the very last moment. But her husband was so blinded by his desire for her, that he could not turn away fast enough. Instead, he swam right into the net and was trapped!
The fishermen pulled in their net and threw the big fish onto the shore. They built a fire and carved a spit to roast him on.
Lying on the ground, the fish was flopping around and groaning in agony. Since the wise adviser understood fish talk, he translated for the others. He said, “This poor fish is madly repeating over and over again:
“My wife! My wife! I must be with my wife! I care for her much more than for my life!
‘My wife! My wife! I must be with my wife! I care for her much more than for my life!”
The adviser thought, “Truly this fish has gone crazy. He is in this terrible state because he became a slave to his own desire. And it is clear that he has learned nothing from the results of his actions. If he dies keeping such agony, and the desire that caused it, in his mind, he will surely continue to suffer by being reborn in some hell world. Therefore, I must save him!”
So this kind man went over to the fishermen and said, “Oh my friends, loyal subjects of our king, you have never given me and my followers a fish for our curry. Won’t you give us one today?”
They replied, “Oh royal minister, please accept from us any fish you wish!” “This big one on the riverbank looks delicious,” said the adviser. “Please take him, sir,” they said.
Then he sat down on the bank. He took the fish, who was still groaning, into his hands. He spoke to him in the language only fish can understand, saying, “You foolish fish! If I had not seen you today, you would have gotten yourself killed. Your blind desire was leading you to continued suffering. From now on, do not let yourself be trapped by your own desires!”
Then the fish realized how fortunate he was to have found such a friend. He thanked him for his wise advice. The minister released the lucky fish back into the river and went on his way.
The moral is: Fools are trapped by their own desires.
Once upon a time, there was a very rich man living in Benares, in northern India. When his father died, he inherited even more wealth. He thought, “Why should I use this treasure for myself alone? Let my fellow beings also benefit from these riches.”
So he built dining halls at the four gates of the city — North, East, South and West. In these halls he gave food freely to all who wished it. He became famous for his generosity. It also became known that he and his followers were practicers of the Five Training Steps.
In those days, there was a Silent Buddha meditating in the forest near Benares. He was called Buddha because he was enlightened. This means that he no longer experienced himself, the one called ‘I’ or ‘me’, as being in any way different from all life living itself. So he was able to experience life as it really is, in every present moment.
Being one with all life, he was filled with compassion and sympathy for the unhappiness of all beings. So he wished to teach and help them to be enlightened just as he was. But the time of our story was a most unfortunate time, a very sad time. It was a time when no one else was able to understand the Truth, and experience life as it really is. And since this Buddha knew this, that was why he was Silent.
While meditating in the forest, the Silent Buddha entered into a very high mental state. His concentration was so great that he remained in one position for seven days and nights, without eating or drinking.
When he returned to the ordinary state, he was in danger of dying from starvation. At the usual time of day, he went to collect alms food at the mansion of the rich man of Benares.
When the rich man had just sat down to have lunch, he saw the Silent Buddha coming with his alms bowl. He rose from his seat respectfully. He told his servant to go and give alms to him.
Meanwhile, Mara, the god of death, had been watching. Mara is the one who is filled with greed for power over all beings. He can only have this power because of the fear of death.
Since a Buddha lives life fully in each moment, he has no desire for future life, and no fear of future death. Therefore, since Mara could have no power over the Silent Buddha, he wished to destroy him. When he saw that he was near death from starvation, he knew that he had a good chance of succeeding.
Before the servant could place the food in the Silent Buddha’s alms bowl, Mara caused a deep pit of red hot burning coals to appear between them. It seemed like the entrance to a hell world.
When he saw this, the servant was frightened to death. He ran back to his master. The rich man asked him why he returned without giving the alms food. He replied, “My lord, there is a deep pit full of red hot burning coals just in front of the Silent Buddha.”
The rich man thought, “This man must be seeing things!” So he sent another servant with alms food. He also was frightened by the same pit of fiery coals. Several servants were sent, but all returned frightened to death.
Then the master thought, “There is no doubt that Mara, the god of death, must be trying to prevent my wholesome deed of giving alms food to the Silent Buddha. Because wholesome deeds are the beginning of the path to enlightenment, this Mara wishes to stop me at all costs. But he does not understand my confidence in the Silent Buddha and my determination to give.”
So he himself took the alms food to the Silent Buddha. He too saw the flames rising from the fiery pit. Then he looked up and saw the terrible god of death, floating above in the sky. He asked, “Who are you.?” Mara replied, I am the god of death!”
“Did you create this pit of fire?” asked the man. “I did,” said the god. “Why did you do so?” “To keep you from giving alms food, and in this way to cause the Silent Buddha to die! Also to prevent your wholesome deed from helping you on the path to enlightenment, so you will remain in my power!”
The rich man of Benares said, “Oh Mara, god of death, the evil one, you cannot kill the Silent Buddha, and you cannot prevent my wholesome giving! Let us see whose determination is stronger!”
Then he looked across the raging pit of fire, and said to the calm and gentle Enlightened One, “Oh Silent Buddha, let the light of Truth continue to shine as an example to us. Accept this gift of life!”
So saying, he forgot himself entirely, and in that moment there was no fear of death. As he stepped into the burning pit, he felt himself being lifted up by a beautiful cool lotus blossom. The pollen from this miraculous flower spread into the air, and covered him with the glowing colour of gold. While standing in the heart of the lotus, the Great Being poured the alms food into the bowl of the Silent Buddha. Mara, god of death, was defeated!
In appreciation for this wonderful gift, the Silent Buddha raised his hand in blessing. The rich man bowed in homage, joining his hands above his head. Then the Silent Buddha departed from Benares, and went to the Himalayan forests.
Still standing on the wonderful lotus, glowing with the color of gold, the generous master taught his followers. He told them that practising the Five Training Steps is necessary to purify the mind. He told them that with such a pure mind, there is great merit in giving alms — indeed it is truly the gift of life!
When he had finished teaching, the fiery pit and the lovely cool lotus completely disappeared.
The moral is: Have no fear when doing wholesome deeds.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, an important adviser to a certain king was on his way to a meeting with the king and other advisers. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dead mouse by the roadside. He said to those who were with him. “Even from such small beginnings as this dead mouse, an energetic young fellow could build a fortune. If he worked hard and used his intelligence, he could start a business and support a wife and family.”
A passerby heard the remark. He knew this was a famous adviser to the king, so he decided to follow his words. He picked up the dead mouse by the tail and went off with it. As luck would have it, before he had gone even a block, a shopkeeper stopped him. He said, “My cat has been pestering me all morning. I’ll give you two copper coins for that mouse.” So it was done.
With the two copper coins, he bought sweet cakes, and waited by the side of the road with them and some water. As he expected, some people who picked flowers for making garlands were returning from work. Since they were all hungry and thirsty, they agreed to buy sweet cakes and water for the price of a bunch of flowers from each of them. In the evening, the man sold the flowers in the city. With some of the money he bought more sweet cakes and returned the next day to sell to the flower pickers.
This went on for a while, until one day there was a terrible storm, with heavy rains and high winds. While walking by the king’s pleasure garden, he saw that many branches had been blown off the trees and were lying all around. So he offered to the king’s gardener that he would clear it all away for him, if he could keep the branches. The lazy gardener quickly agreed.
The man found some children playing in a park across the street. They were glad to collect all the branches and brush at the entrance to the pleasure garden, for the price of just one sweet cake for each child.
Along came the king’s potter, who was always on the lookout for firewood for his glazing oven. When he saw the piles of wood the children had just collected, he paid the man a handsome price for it. He even threw into the bargain some of his pots.
With his profits from selling the flowers and the firewood, the man opened up a refreshment shop. One day all the local grass mowers, who were on their way into town, stopped in his shop. He gave them free sweet cakes and drinks. They were surprised at his generosity and asked, “What can we do for you?” He said there was nothing for them to do now, but he would let them know in the future.
A week later, he heard that a horse dealer was coming to the city with 500 horses to sell. So he got in touch with the grass mowers and told each of them to give him a bundle of grass. He told them not to sell any grass to the horse dealer until he had sold his. In this way he got a very good price.
Time passed until one day, in his refreshment shop, some customers told him that a new ship from a foreign country had just anchored in the port. He saw this to be the opportunity he had been waiting for. He thought and thought until he came up with a good business plan.
First, he went to a jeweler friend of his and paid a low price for a very valuable gold ring, with a beautiful red ruby in it. He knew that the foreign ship was from a country that had no rubies of its own, where gold too was expensive. So he gave the wonderful ring to the captain of the ship as an advance on his commission. To earn this commission, the captain agreed to send all his passengers to him as a broker. He would then lead them to the best shops in the city. In turn, the man got the merchants to pay him a commission for sending customers to them.
Acting as a middle man in this way, after several ships came into port, the man became very rich. Being pleased with his success, he also remembered that it had all started with the words of the king’s wise adviser. So he decided to give him a gift of 100,000 gold coins. This was half his entire wealth. After making the proper arrangements, he met with the king’s adviser and gave him the gift, along with his humble thanks.
The adviser was amazed, and he asked, “How did you earn so much wealth to afford such a generous gift?” The man told him it had all started with the adviser’s own words not so long ago. They had led him to a dead mouse, a hungry cat, sweet cakes, bunches of flowers, storm damaged tree branches, children in the park, the king’s potter, a refreshment shop, grass for 500 horses, a golden ruby ring, good business contacts, and finally a large fortune.
Hearing all this, the royal adviser thought to himself, “It would not be good to lose the talents of such an energetic man. I too have much wealth, as well as my beloved only daughter. As this man is single, he deserves to marry her. Then he can inherit my wealth in addition to his own, and my daughter will be well cared for.”
This all came to pass, and after the wise adviser died, the one who had followed his advice became the richest man in the city. The king appointed him to the adviser’s position. Throughout his remaining life, he generously gave his money for the happiness and well being of many people.
The moral is: With energy and ability, great wealth comes even from small beginnings.
Once upon a time, there was a big banyan tree in the forest beneath the mighty Himalayas. Living near this banyan tree were three very good friends. They were a quail, a monkey and an elephant. Each of them was quite smart.
Occasionally the three friends got into a disagreement. When this happened, they did not consider the opinion of any one of them to be more valuable. No matter how much experience each one had, his opinion was treated the same as the others. So it took them a long time to reach an agreement. Every time this happened, they had to start from the beginning to reach a solution.
After a while they realized that it would save time, and help their friendship, if they could shorten their disagreements. They decided that it would certainly help if they considered the most valuable opinion first. Then, if they could agree on that one, they would not have to waste time, and possibly even become less friendly, by arguing about the other two.
Fortunately, they all thought the most valuable opinion was the one based on the most experience. Therefore, they could live together even more peacefully if they gave higher respect to the oldest among them. Only if his opinion were clearly wrong, would they need to consider others.
Unfortunately, the elephant and the monkey and the quail had no idea which one was the oldest. Since this was a time before old age was respected, they had no reason to remember their birthdays or their ages.
Then one day, while they were relaxing in the shade of the big banyan tree, the quail and the monkey asked the elephant, “As far back as you can remember, what was the size of this banyan tree?”
The elephant replied, “I remember this tree for a very long time. When I was just a little baby, I used to scratch my belly by rubbing it over the tender shoots on top of this banyan tree.”
Then the monkey said, “When I was a curious baby monkey, I used to sit and examine the little seedling banyan tree. Sometimes I used to bend over and nibble its top tender leaves.”
The monkey and the elephant asked the quail, “As far back as you can remember, what was the size of this banyan tree?”
The quail said, “When I was young, I was looking for food in a nearby forest. In that forest, there was a big old banyan tree, which was full of ripe berries. I ate some of those berries, and the next day I was standing right here. This was where I let my droppings fall, and the seeds they contained grew up to be this very tree!”
The monkey and the elephant said, “Aha! Sir quail, you must be the oldest. You deserve our respect and honor. From now on we will pay close attention to your words. Based on your wisdom and experience, advise us when we make mistakes. When there are disagreements, we will give the highest place to your opinion. We ask only that you be honest and just.”
The quail replied, “I thank you for your respect, and I promise to always do my best to deserve it.” It just so happened that this wise little quail was the Bodhisatta the Enlightenment Being.
The moral is: Respect for the wisdom of elders leads to harmony.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Long ago and far away, there was a king who ruled in Benares, in northern India. One of his ministers was called the Royal Price Maker, and he was a very honest man. His job was to set a fair price for anything the king wanted to buy or sell.
On some occasions, the king did not like his price making. He did not get as big a profit as he wanted. He did not want to pay so much when he bought, or sell for what he thought was not enough. So he decided to change the price maker.
One day he saw a nice looking young man and he thought, “This fellow will be good for my price making position.” So he dismissed his former honest price maker, and appointed this man to be the new one. The man thought, “I must make the king happy by buying at very low prices and selling at very high prices.” So he made the prices ridiculous, without caring at all what anything was worth. This gained the greedy king a lot of money, and made him very happy. Meanwhile, all the others who dealt with the new price maker, including the king’s other ministers and ordinary people, became very unhappy.
Then one day a horse merchant arrived in Benares with 500 horses to sell. There were stallions, mares and colts. The king invited the merchant to the palace, and called upon his Royal Price Maker to set a price for all 500 horses. Thinking only of pleasing the king, he said, “The entire herd of horses is worth one cup of rice.” So the king ordered that one cup of rice be paid to the horse dealer, and all the horses were taken to the royal stables.
Of course the merchant was very upset, but he could do nothing at the moment. Later he heard about the former price maker, who had a reputation for being very fair and honest. So he approached him and told him what had happened. He wanted to hear his opinion, in order to get a proper price from the king. The former price maker said, “If you do as I say, the king will be convinced of the true value of the horses. Go back to the price maker and satisfy him with a valuable gift. Ask him to tell the value of one cup of rice, in the presence of the king. If he agrees, come and tell me. I will go with you to the king.”
Following this advice, the merchant went to the price maker and gave him a valuable gift. The gift made him very happy, so that he saw the value of pleasing the horse dealer. Then the merchant said to him, “I was very happy with your previous evaluation. Can you please convince the king of the value of one cup of rice?” The foolish price maker said, ‘Why not? I will explain the worth of one cup of rice, even in the presence of the king.”
So the price maker thought the horse dealer was satisfied with his cup of rice. He arranged for another meeting with the king, as the merchant was departing for his own country. The merchant reported back to the old price maker, and they went together to see the king.
All the king’s ministers and his full court were in the royal meeting hall. The horse merchant said to the king, “My lord, I understand that in this your country, my whole herd of 500 horses is worth one cup of rice. Before I leave for home, I want to know the value of one cup of rice in your country.” The king turned to his loyal price maker and said, “What is the value of one cup of rice?”
The foolish price maker, in order to please the king, had previously priced the herd of horses at one cup of rice. Now, after receiving a bribe from the horse dealer, he wanted to please him too. So he replied to the king, in his most dignified manner, “Your worship, one cup of rice is worth the city of Benares, including even your own harem, as well as all the suburbs of the city. In other words, it is worth the whole kingdom of Benares!”
On hearing this, the royal ministers and wise men in the assembly hall started to roar with laughter, slapping their sides with their hands. When they calmed down a little, they said, “Earlier we heard that the kingdom was priceless. Now we hear that all Benares, with its palaces and mansions, is worth only a cup of rice! The decision of the Royal Price Maker is so strange! Where did your highness find such a man? He is good only for pleasing a king such as you, not for making fair prices for a merchant who sells his horses from country to country.”
Hearing the laughter of his whole court, and the words of his ministers and advisers, the king was ashamed. So he brought back his former price maker to his official position. He agreed to a new fair price for the herd of horses, as set by the honest price maker. Having learned a lesson, the king and his kingdom lived justly and prospered.
The moral is: A fool in high office can bring shame even to a king.
Once upon a time, there was a Quail King who reigned over a flock of a thousand quails.
There was also a very clever quail hunter. He knew how to make a quail call. Because this sounded just like a real quail crying for help, it never failed to attract other quails. Then the hunter covered them with a net, stuffed them in baskets, and sold them to make a living.
Because he always put the safety of his flock first, Quail King was highly respected by all. While on the lookout for danger, one day he came across the hunter and saw what he did. He thought, “This quail hunter has a good plan for destroying our relatives. I must make a better plan to save us.”
Then he called together his whole nation of a thousand quails. He also invited other quails to attend the meeting. He said, “Greetings to our quail nation and welcome to our visitors. We are faced with great danger. Many of our relatives are being trapped and sold by a clever hunter. Then they are being killed and eaten. I have come up with a plan to save us all. When the hunter covers us with his net, every single one of us must raise his neck at the same time. Then, all together, we should fly away with the net and drop it on a thorn bush. That will keep him busy, and we will be able to escape with our lives.” All agreed to follow this smart strategy.
The next day the hunter lured the quails with his quail call as usual. But when he threw his net over them, they all raised up their necks at once, flew away with the net, and dropped it on a thorn bush. He could catch no quails at all! In addition, it took him the rest of the day to loosen his net from the thorns – so he had no time left to try again!
The same thing happened on the following day. So he spent a second day unhooking his net from sharp thorns. He arrived home only to be greeted by his wife’s sharp tongue! She complained, “You used to bring home quail to eat, and money from selling quails. Now you return empty-handed. What do you do all day? You must have another wife somewhere, who is feasting on quail meat at this very moment!”
The hunter replied, “Don’t think such a thing, my darling. These days the quails have become very unified. They act as one, and raise up their necks and carry my net to a thorn bush. But thanks to you, my one and only wife, I know just what to do! Just as you argue with me, one day they too will argue, as relatives usually do. While they are occupied in conflict and bickering, I will trap them and bring them back to you. Then you will be pleased with me again. Until then, I must be patient.”
The hunter had to put up with his wife’s complaints for several more days. Then one morning after being lured by the quail call, it just so happened that one quail accidentally stepped on the head of another. He immediately got angry and squawked at her. She removed her foot from his head and said, “Please don’t be angry with me. Please excuse my mistake.” But he would not listen. Soon both of them were squawking and squawking, and the conflict got worse and worse!
Hearing this bickering getting louder and louder, Quail King said, “There is no advantage in conflict. Continuing it will lead to danger!” But they just wouldn’t listen.
Then Quail King thought, “I’m afraid this silly conflict will keep them from cooperating to raise the net.” So he commanded that all should escape. His own flock flew away at once.
And it was just in time too! Suddenly the quail hunter threw his net over the remaining quails. The two arguing quails said to each other, “I won’t hold the net for you.” Hearing this, even some of the other quails said, “Why should I hold the net for anyone else?”
So the conflict spread like wildfire. The hunter grabbed all the quails, stuffed them in his baskets, and took them home to his wife. Of course she was overjoyed, and they invited all their friends over for a big quail feast.
The moral is: There is safety in unity, and danger in conflict.
At that time, so very long ago, there were some unfortunate ugly gods called ‘Asuras’. They had taken to living in the second heaven world.
The one who had been Magha the Good in his previous life, was now Sakka, King of the Heaven of 33. He thought, “Why should we, who are the 33, live in our Heaven of 33 with these unfortunate ugly Asuras? Since this is our world, let us live happily by ourselves.”
So he invited them to a party and got them drunk on very strong liquor. It seems that, in being reborn, King Sakka had forgotten some of his own teachings as Magha the Good. After getting the Asuras drunk, he got them to go to a lower world, just as big as the Heaven of 33.
When they sobered up and realized they had been tricked into going to a lower heaven world, the Asuras became angry. They rose up and made war against King Sakka. Soon they were victorious, and Sakka was forced to run away.
While retreating in his mighty war chariot, he came to the vast forest where the Garudas have their nests. These are gods who, unfortunately, have no super powers. Instead they are forced to get around by flapping huge heavy wings.
When King Sakka’s chariot drove through their forest, it upset their nests and made the baby Garudas fall down. They cried in fear and agony. Hearing this, Sakka asked his charioteer where these sad cries were coming from. He answered, “These are the shrieks of terror coming from the baby Garudas, whose nests and trees are being destroyed by your powerful war chariot.”
Hearing this suffering, King Sakka realized that all lives, including his own, are only temporary. Hearing this suffering, the compassion of the Great Being, which passes from life to life, arose within him and said, “Let the little ones have no more fear. The first training step must not be broken. There can be no exception. I will not destroy even one life for the sake of a heavenly kingdom that must some day end. Instead I will offer my life to the victorious Asuras. Turn back the chariot!”
So the chariot returned in the direction of the Heaven of 33. The Asuras saw King Sakka turn around, and thought he must have reinforcements from other worlds. So they ran, without looking back, down to their lower heaven world.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, when King Magadha was ruling in the land, there was a young noble called, ‘Magha the Good’. He lived in a remote village of just 30 families. When he was young, his parents married him to a girl who had qualities of character similar to his own. They were very happy together, and she gave birth to several children.
The villagers came to respect Magha the Good because he always tried to help improve the village, for the good of all. Because they respected him, he was able to teach the five steps of training, to purify their thoughts, words and deeds.
Magha’s way of teaching was by doing. An example of this happened one day when the villagers gathered to do handicraft work. Magha the Good cleaned a place for himself to sit. Before he could sit down though, someone else sat there. So he patiently cleaned another place. Again a neighbor sat in his place. This happened over and over again, until he had patiently cleaned sitting places for all those present. Only then could he himself sit in the last place.
By using such examples of patience, Magha the Good taught his fellow villagers how to cooperate with each other, without quarrelling. Working together in this way, they constructed several buildings and made other improvements that benefitted the whole village.
Seeing the worthwhile results of patience and cooperation, based on following the gentle ways of the Five Training Steps, all in the village became calmer and more peaceful. A natural side effect was that former crimes and wrongdoing completely disappeared!
You would think this would make everybody happier. However, there was one man who did not like the new situation at all. He was the head of the village, the politician who cared only about his own position.
Formerly, when there were murders and thefts, he handed out punishments. This increased his position of authority, and caused the villagers to fear him. When husbands or wives had affairs with others, the head man collected fines. In the same way, when reputations were damaged by lies, or contracts were not lived up to, he also collected fines. He even got tax money from the profits of selling strong liquor. He did not mind that drunkenness led to many of the crimes.
It is easy to see why the head man was upset to lose so much respect and power and money, due to the people living peacefully together. So he went to the king and said, “My lord, some of the remote villages are being robbed and looted by bandits. We need your help.”
The king said, “Bring all these criminals to me.”
The dishonest politician rounded up the heads of all 30 families and brought them as prisoners to the king. Without questioning them, the king ordered that they all be trampled to death by elephants.
All 30 were ordered to lie down in the palace courtyard and the elephants were brought in. They realized they were about to be trampled to death. Magha the Good said to them, “Remember and concentrate on the peacefulness and purity that come from following the Five Training Steps, so you may feel loving-kindness towards all. In this way, do not get angry at the unjust king, the lying head man, or the unfortunate elephants.”
The first elephant was brought in by his mahout. But when he tried to force him to trample the innocent villagers, the elephant refused. He trumpeted as he went away. Amazingly, this was repeated with each of the king’s elephants. None would step on them.
The mahouts complained to the king that this was not their fault. “It must be,” they said, “that these men have some drug that is confusing the elephants.”
The king had the villagers searched, but they found nothing. Then his advisers said, “These men must be magicians who have cast an evil spell on your mighty elephants!”
The villagers were asked, “Do you have such a spell?” Magha the Good said, “Yes we do.” This made the king very curious. So he himself asked Magha, “What is this spell and how does it work?”
Magha the Good replied, “My lord king, we do not cast the same kinds of spells that others cast. We cast the spell of loving-kindness with minds made pure by following the Five Training Steps.”
“What are these Five Training Steps?” asked the king. Magha the Good said, “All of us have given up the five unwholesome actions, which are: destroying life, taking what is not given, doing wrong in sexual ways, speaking falsely, and losing one’s mind from alcohol.”
“In this way we have become harmless, so that we can give the gift of fearlessness to all. Therefore, the elephants lost their fear of the mahouts, and did not wish to harm us. They departed, trumpeting triumphantly. This was our protection, which you have called a ‘spell’.”
Finally seeing the wholesomeness and wisdom of these people, the king questioned them and learned the truth. He decided to confiscate all the property of the dishonest village head man and divide it among them.
The villagers were then free to do even more good works for the benefit of the whole village. Soon they began to build a big roadside inn, right next to the highway crossroads.
This was the biggest project they had yet undertaken. The men were confident because they had learned so well how to cooperate with each other for a common goal. But they had not yet learned how to cooperate in this work with the women of the village. They seemed to think it was ‘man’s work’.
By this time Magha the Good had four wives. Their names were Good-doer, Beauty, Happy and Well-born. Of these, the first wife, Good-doer, was the wisest. She wanted to pave the way for the women to benefit from cooperating in doing good work. So she gradually became friendly with the boss in charge of the roadside inn project.
Because she wanted to contribute by helping in a big way, she gave a present to the boss. She asked him, “Can you think of a way that I may become the most important contributor to this good work?”
The boss replied, “I know just such a way!” Then he secretly constructed the most important part of the building, the roof beam that would hold the roof together. He wrapped it up and hid it with Good-doer, so it could dry for the time necessary to become rigid and strong.
Meanwhile, the men of the village continued happily in the building project. At last they got to the point of installing the roof beam. They began to make one, but the boss interrupted them. He said, “My friends, we cannot use fresh green wood to make the roof beam. It will bend and sag. We must have an aged dry roof beam. Go find one!”
When they searched in the village, they found that Good-doer just happened to have a perfect roof beam. It was even the right size! When they asked if they could buy it from her, she said, “It is not for sale at any price. I wish to contribute the roof beam for free, but only if you let me participate in building the inn.”
The men were afraid to change their successful ways. So they said, “Women have never been part of this project. This is impossible.”
Then they returned to the construction boss and told him what had happened. He said, “Why do you keep the women away? Women are part of everything in this world. Let us be generous and share the harmony and wholesomeness of this work with the women. Then the project and our village will be even more successful.”
So they accepted the roof beam from Good-doer, and she helped to finish the building of the inn. Then Beauty had a wonderful garden built next to the inn, which she donated. It had all kinds of flowers and fruit trees. So, too, Happy had a lovely pond dug, and planted beautiful lotuses in it. But Well-born, being the youngest and a little spoiled, did nothing for the inn.
In the evenings, Magha the Good held meetings in the roadside inn. He taught the people to assist their parents and elders, and to give up harsh words, accusing others behind their backs, and being stingy.
It is said that the lowest heaven world contains the gods of the four directions, North, East, South and West. Because he followed his own teachings, Magha the Good died with happiness in his heart. He was reborn as Sakka, king of the second lowest heaven world.
In time, the heads of all the other families of the village, as well as Good-doer, Beauty and Happy, also died. They were reborn as gods under King Sakka. This was known as the “Heaven of 33″.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, there were two calves who were part of a country household. At the same home there also lived a girl and a baby pig. Since he hardly ever made a sound, the pig was called ‘No-squeal’.
The masters of the house treated No-squeal very well. They fed him large amounts of the very best rice, and even rice porridge with rich brown sugar.
The two calves noticed this. They worked hard pulling plows in the fields and bullock carts on the roads. Little Red said to Big Red, “My big brother, in this household you and I do all the hard work. We bring prosperity to the family. But they feed us only grass and hay. The baby pig No-squeal does nothing to support the family. And yet they feed him the finest and fanciest of foods. Why should he get such special treatment?”
The wise elder brother said, “Oh young one, it is dangerous to envy anybody. Therefore, do not envy the baby pig for being fed such rich food. What he eats is really “the food of death”.
“There will soon be a marriage ceremony for the daughter of the house, and little No-squeal will be the wedding feast! That’s why he is being pampered and fed in such rich fashion.
“In a few days the guests will arrive. Then this piglet will be dragged away by the legs, killed, and made into curry for the feast.”
Sure enough, in a few days the wedding guests arrived. The baby pig No-squeal was dragged away and killed. And just as Big Red had said, he was cooked in various types of curries and devoured by the guests.
Then Big Red said, “My dear young brother, did you see what happened to baby No-squeal?” “Yes brother,” replied Little Red, “now I understand.”
Big Red continued, “This is the result of being fed such rich food. Our poor grass and hay are a hundred times better than his rich porridge and sweet brown sugar. For our food brings no harm to us, but instead promises long life!”
The moral is: Don’t envy the well-off until you know the price they pay.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, when King Brahmadatta was ruling in Benares, there was an old woman who had a calf. This calf was of a noble dark color. In fact, he was jet black without a spot of white. He was the Bodhisatta — the Enlightenment Being.
The old woman raised the little calf just as though he were her own child. She fed him only the very best rice and rice porridge. She petted his head and neck, and he licked her hand. Since they were so friendly, the people began calling the calf, “Grandma’s Blackie’.
Even after he grew up into a big strong bull, Grandma’s Blackie remained very tame and gentle. The village children played with him, holding onto his neck and ears and horns. They would even grab his tail and swing up onto his back for a ride. He liked children, so he never complained.
The friendly bull thought, “The loving old woman, who brought me up, is like a kind mother to me. She raised me as if I were her own child. She is poor and in need, but too humble to ask for my help. She is too gentle to force me to work. Because I also love her, I wish to release her from the suffering of poverty.” So he began looking for work.
One day a caravan of 500 carts came by the village. It stopped at a difficult place to cross the river. The bullocks were not able to pull the carts across. The caravan leader hooked up all 500 pairs of bullocks to the first cart. But the river was so rough that they could not pull across even that one cart.
Faced with this problem, the leader began looking for more bulls. He was known to be an expert judge of the qualities of bulls. While examining the wandering village herd, he noticed Grandma’s Blackie. At once he thought, “This noble bullock looks like he has the strength and the will to pull my carts across the river.”
He said to the villagers standing nearby, “To whom does this big black bull belong? I would like to use him to pull my caravan across the river, and I am willing to pay his owner for his services.” The people said, “By all means, take him. His master is not here.”
So he put a rope through Grandma’s Blackie’s nose. But when he pulled, he could not budge him! The bull was thinking, “Until this man says what he will pay for my work, I will not move.”
Being such a good judge of bulls, the caravan leader understood his reasoning. So he said, “My dear bull, after you have pulled my 500 carts across the river, I will pay you two gold coins for each cart – not just one, but two!” Hearing this, Grandma’s Blackie went with him at once.
Then the man harnessed the strong black bull to the first cart. He proceeded to pull it across the river. This was what all one thousand bulls could not do before. Likewise, he pulled across each of the other 499 carts, one at a time, without slowing down a bit!
When all was done, the caravan leader made a package containing only one gold coin per cart, that is, 500 coins. He hung this around the mighty bullock’s neck. The bull thought, “This man promised two gold coins per cart, but that is not what he has hung around my neck. So I will not let him leave!” He went to the front of the caravan and blocked the path.
The leader tried to push him out of the way, but he would not move. He tried to drive the carts around him. But all the bulls had seen how strong he was, so they would not move either!
The man thought, “There is no doubt that this is a very intelligent bull, who knows I have given him only half-pay.” So he made a new package containing the full one-thousand gold coins, and hung it instead around the bull’s neck.
Then Grandma’s Blackie re-crossed the river and walked directly towards the old woman, his ‘mother’. Along the way, the children tried to grab the money package, thinking it was a game. But he escaped them.
When the woman saw the heavy package, she was surprised. The children told her all about what happened down at the river. She opened the package and discovered the one thousand gold coins.
The old woman also saw the tired look in the eyes of her ‘child’. She said, “Oh my son, do you think I wish to live off the money you earn? Why did you wish to work so hard and suffer so? No matter how difficult it may be, I will always care for and look after you.”
Then the kind woman washed the lovely bull and massaged his tired muscles with oil. She fed him good food and cared for him, until the end of their happy lives together.
The moral is: Loving-kindness makes the poorest house into the richest home.