The Fables Of Buddha

Post sayings or stories from Buddhist traditions which you find interesting, inspiring or useful. (Your own stories are welcome on DW, but in the Creative Writing or Personal Experience forums rather than here.)
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The Fables Of Buddha 18.

Post by antropolis » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:27 pm

Once there was a young woman named Kisagotami, the wife of a wealthy man, who lost her mind because of the death of her child. She took the dead child in her arms and went from house to house begging people to heal the child.

Of course, they could do nothing for her, but finally a follower of Buddha advised her to see the Blessed One who was then staying at Jetavana, and so she carried the dead child to Buddha.

The Blessed One looked upon her with sympathy and said: "To heal the child I need some poppy seeds; go and beg four or five poppy seeds from some home where death has never entered."

So the demented woman went out and sought a house where death had never entered, but in vain. At last, she was obliged to return to Buddha. In his quiet presence her mind cleared and she understood the meaning of his words. She took the body away and buried it, and then returned to Buddha and became one of his disciples.

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The Fables Of Buddha 19.

Post by antropolis » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:29 pm

There is no one way to get free from the trap of worldly passions. Suppose you caught a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a fox and a monkey, six creatures of very different natures, and you tie them together with a strong rope and let them go. Each of these six creatures will try to go back to its own lair by its own method: the snake will seek a covering of grass, the crocodile will seek water, the bird will want to fly in the air, the dog will seek a village, the fox will seek the solitary ledges, and the monkey will seek the trees of a forest. In the attempt of each to go its own way there will be a struggle, but being tied together by a rope, the strongest at any one time will drag the rest.

Like the creatures in this parable, man is tempted in different ways by the desires of his six senses, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch and mind, and is controlled by the predominant desire.

If the six creatures are all tied to a post, they will try to get free until they are tired out, and then will lie down by the post. Just like this, if people will train and control the mind there will be no further trouble from the other five senses. If the mind is under control people will have happiness both now and in the future.

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The Fables Of Buddha 20.

Post by antropolis » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:31 pm

At one time Shakyamuni Buddha was staying in the town of Kausambi. In this town there was one who resented Him and who bribed wicked men to circulate false stories about Him. Under these circumstances it was difficult for His disciples to get sufficient food from their begging and there was much abuse in that town.

Ananda said to Shakyamuni: "We had better not stay in a town like this. There are other and better towns to go to. We had better leave this town."

The Blessed One replied: "Suppose the next town is like this, what shall we do then?"

"Then we move to another."

The Blessed One said: "No, Ananda, there will be no end in that way. We had better remain here and bear the abuse patiently until it ceases, and then we move to another place.

"There are profits and loss, slander and honor, praise and abuse, suffering and pleasure in this world; the Enlightened One is not controlled by these external things; they will cease as quickly as they come."

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The Fables Of Buddha 21.

Post by antropolis » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:32 pm

Once there was a rich widow who had a reputation for kindness, modesty and courtesy. She had a housemaid who was wise and diligent.

One day the maid thought: "My mistress has a very good reputation; I wonder whether she is good by nature, or is good because of her surroundings. I will try her and find out."

The following morning the maid did not appear before her mistress until nearly noon. The mistress was vexed and scolded her impatiently. The maid replied:

"If I am lazy for only a day or two, you ought not to become impatient." Then the mistress became angry.

The next day the maid got up late again. This made the mistress angry and she struck the maid with a stick. This incident became widely known and the rich widow lost her good reputation.

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The Fables Of Buddha 22.

Post by antropolis » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:34 pm

There is a fable told of a man who found an anthill which burned in the daytime and smoked at night. He went to a wise man and asked his advice as to what he should do about it. The wise man told him to dig into it with a sword. This the man did. He found in succession a gate-bar, some bubbles of water, a pitchfork, a box, a tortoise, a butcher-knife, a piece of meat and, finally, a dragon which came out. The man reported to the wise man what he had found. The wise man explained the significance of it and said, "Throw away everything but the dragon; leave the dragon alone and do not disturb him."

This is a fable in which "anthill" represents the human body. "Burned in the daytime" represents the fact that during the day people turn into acts the things they thought about the previous night. "Smoked at night" indicates the fact that people during the night recall with pleasure or regret the things they did the previous day.

In the same fable, "a man" means a person who seeks Enlightenment. "A wise man" means Buddha. "A sword" means pure wisdom. "Dig into it" refers to the effort he must make to gain Enlightenment.

Further in the fable, "gate-bar" represents ignorance; "bubbles" are puffs of suffering and anger; "pitchfork" suggests hesitation and uneasiness; "box" suggests the storage of greed, anger, laziness, fickleness, repentance and delusion; "tortoise" means the body and the mind; "butcher-knife" means the synthesis of the fire sensory desires, and "a piece of meat" means the resulting desire that causes a man to covet after satisfaction. These things are all harmful to man and so Buddha said, "Throw away everything."

Still further, "dragon" indicates a mind that has eliminated all worldly passions. If a man digs into the things about him with the sword of wisdom he will finally come to his dragon. "Leave the dragon alone and do not disturb him" means to go after and dig up a mind free of worldly desires.
Last edited by antropolis on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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The Fables Of Buddha 23.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:12 pm

Once upon a time there was a country which had this very peculiar custom of abandoning its aged people in remote and inaccessible mountains.

A certain minister of the State found it too difficult to follow this custom in the case of his own aged father, and so he built a secret underground cave where he hid his father and cared for him.

One day a god appeared before the king of that country and gave him a puzzling problem, saying that if he could not solve it satisfactorily, his country would be destroyed. The problem was: "Here are two serpents; tell me the sex of each."

Neither the king nor anyone in the palace was able to solve the problem; so the king offered a great reward to anyone in his kingdom who could.

The minister went to his father's hiding place and asked him for the answer to that problem. The old man said: "It is an easy solution. Place the two snakes on a soft carpet; the one that moves about is the male, and the other that keeps quiet is the female." The minister carried the answer to the king and the problem was successfully solved.

Then the god asked other difficult questions which the king and his retainers were unable to answer, but which the minister, after consulting his aged father, could always solve.

Here are some of the questions and their answers. "Who is the one who, being asleep, is called the awakened one, and, being awake, is called the sleeping one?" The answer is this:--It is the one who is under training for Enlightenment. He is awake when compared with those who are not interested in Enlightenment; he is asleep when compared with those who have already attained Enlightenment.

"How can you weigh a large elephant?" "Load it on a boat and draw to mark how deep the boat sinks into the water. Then take out the elephant and load the boat with stones until it sinks to the same depth, and then weigh the stones."

What is the meaning of the saying, "A cupful of water is more than the water of an ocean?" This is the answer: "A cupful of water given in a pure and compassionate spirit to one's parents or to a sick person has an eternal merit, but the water of an ocean will some day come to an end."

Next the god made a starving man, reduced to skin and bones, complain, "Is there anyone in this world more hungry than I?" "The man who is so selfish and greedy that he does not believe in the Three Treasures of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Samgha, and who does not make offerings to his parents and teachers, is not only more hungry but he will fall into the world of hungry demons and there he will suffer from hunger forever."

"Here is a plank of Chandana wood: which end was the bottom of the tree?" "Float the plank in water; the end that sinks a little deeper was the end nearest the root."

"Here are two horses apparently of the same size and form; how can you tell the mother from the son?" "Feed them some hay; the mother horse will push the hay toward her son."

Every answer to these difficult questions pleased the god as well as the king. The king was grateful to find out that the answers had come from the aged father whom the minister had hidden in the cave, and he withdrew the law of abandoning aged people in the mountains and ordered that they were to be treated kindly.

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The Fables Of Buddha 24.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:14 pm

Queen of Videha in India once dreamed of a white elephant that had six ivory tusks. She coveted the tusks and besought the king to get them for her. Although the task seemed an impossible one, the king who loved the queen very much offered a reward to any hunter who would report if he found such an elephant.

It happened that there was just such an elephant with six tusks in the Himalayan Mountains who was training for Buddhahood. The elephant once had saved a hunter's life in an emergency in the depths of the mountains and the hunter could go back safely to his country. The hunter, however, blinded by the great reward and forgetting the kindness the elephant had shown him, returned to the mountains to kill the elephant.

The hunter, knowing that the elephant was seeking Buddhahood, disguised himself in the robe of a Buddhist monk and, thus catching the elephant off guard shot it with a poisoned arrow.

The elephant, knowing that its end was near and that the hunter had been overcome by the worldly desire for the reward, had compassion upon him and sheltered him in its limbs to protect the hunter from the fury of the other revengeful elephants. Then the elephant asked the hunter why he had done such a foolish thing. The hunter told of the reward and confessed that he coveted its six tusks. The elephant immediately broke off the tusks by hitting them against a tree and gave them to the hunter saying:--"By the offering I have completed my training for Buddhahood and will be reborn in the Pure Land. When I become a Buddha, I will help you to get rid of your three poisonous arrows of greed, anger and foolishness."

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The Fables Of Buddha 25.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:16 pm

In a thicket at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains there once lived a parrot together with many other animals and birds. One day a fire started in the thicket from the friction of bamboos in a strong wind and the birds and animals were in frightened confusion. The parrot, feeling compassion for their fright and suffering, and wishing to repay the kindness he had received in the bamboo thicket where he could shelter himself, tried to do all he could to save them. He dipped himself in a pond nearby and flew over the fire and shook off the drops of water to extinguish the fire. He repeated this diligently with a heart of compassion out of gratitude to the thicket.

This spirit of kindness and self-sacrifice was noticed by a heavenly god who came down from the sky and said to the parrot:--"You have a gallant mind, but what good do you expect to accomplish by a few drops of water against this great fire?" The parrot answered:--"There is nothing that can not be accomplished by this spirit of gratitude and self-sacrifice. I will try over and over again and then over in the next life." The great god was impressed by the parrot's spirit and together they extinguished the fire.

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The Fables Of Buddha 26.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:18 pm

At one time there lived in the Himalayas a bird with one body and two heads. Once one of the heads noticed the other head eating some sweet fruit and felt jealous and said to itself:--"I will eat poison fruit." So it ate poison and the whole bird died.

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The Fables Of Buddha 27.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:20 pm

At one time the tail and the head of a snake quarreled as to which should be the front. The tail said to the head:--"You are always taking the lead; it is not fair, you ought to let me lead sometimes." The head answered;--"It is the law of our nature that I should be the head; I can not change places with you."

But the quarrel went on and one day the tail fastened itself to a tree and thus prevented the head from proceeding. When the head became tired with the struggle the tail had its own way, with the result that the snake fell into a pit of fire and perished.

In the world of nature there always exists an appropriate order and everything has its own function. If this order is disturbed, the functioning is interrupted and the whole order will go to ruin.

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The Fables Of Buddha 28.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:21 pm

There was a man who was easily angered. One day two men were talking in front of the house about the man who lived there. One said to the other:--"He is a nice man but is very impatient; he has a hot temper and gets angry quickly." The man overheard the remark, rushed out of the house and attacked the two men, striking and kicking and wounding them.

When a wise man is advised of his errors, he will reflect on them and improve his conduct. When his misconduct is pointed out, a foolish man will not only disregard the advice but rather repeat the same error.

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The Fables Of Buddha 29.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:23 pm

Once there was a wealthy but foolish man. When he saw the beautiful three-storied house of another man, he envied it and made up his mind to have one built just like it, thinking he was himself just as wealthy. He called a carpenter and ordered him to build it. The carpenter consented and immediately began to construct the foundation, the first story, the second story, and then the third story. The wealthy man noticed this with irritation and said:--"I don't want a foundation or a first story or a second story; I just want the beautiful third story. Build it quickly."

A foolish man always thinks only of the results, and is impatient without the effort that is necessary to get good results. No good can be attained without proper effort, just as there can be no third story without the foundation and the first and the second stories.

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The Fables Of Buddha 30.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:24 pm

A foolish man was once boiling honey. His friend suddenly appeared and the foolish man wanted to offer him some honey, but it was too hot, and so without removing it from the fire he fanned it to make it cool. In like manner, it is impossible to get the honey of cool wisdom without first removing it from the fire of worldly passions.

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Re: The Fables Of Buddha 27.

Post by Aemilius » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:18 pm

Is this referring to the rule or dictatorship of the proletariat ? It was profesied by Karl Marx too! What is the canonical source of the story ?
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.)

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The Fables Of Buddha 31.

Post by antropolis » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:45 am

Once there were two demons who spent a whole day arguing and quarreling about a box, a cane and a pair of shoes. A man, passing by, inquired, "Why are you arguing about these things? What magical power have they that you should be quarreling about possessing them?"

The demons explained to him that from the box they could get anything they desired--food, clothing or treasure; with the cane they could subdue all their enemies: and with the pair of shoes they could travel through the air.

Upon hearing this, the man said: "Why quarrel? If you will go away for a few minutes, I can think of a fair division of the things between you." So the two demons retired and as soon as they were gone, the man put on the shoes, seized the box and the cane and was off through the air.

The "demons" represent men of heathen beliefs. "A box" means the gifts that are made in charity; they do not realize how many treasures can be produced from charity. "A cane" means the practice of concentration of the mind. Men do not realize that by the practice of spiritual concentration of mind, they can subdue all worldly desires. "A pair of shoes" means the pure disciplines of thought and conduct, they will carry them beyond all desires and arguments. Without knowing these, they quarrel and argue about a box, a cane and a pair of shoes.

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The Fables Of Buddha 32.

Post by antropolis » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:46 am

Once upon a time a man was traveling alone. He came to a vacant house toward the evening and decided to spend the night there. About midnight a demon brought in a corpse and left it on the floor. Shortly, another demon appeared and claimed the corpse as his and they quarreled over it.

Then the first demon said it was useless to argue about it further and proposed that they refer it to a judge to decide the possessor. The other demon agreed to this and, seeing the man cowering in the corner, asked him to decide the ownership. The man was terribly frightened, for he well knew that whatever decision he might make would anger the demon that lost and that the losing demon would seek revenge and kill him, but he decided to tell truthfully just what he had witnessed.

As he expected, this angered the second demon who grabbed one of the man's arms and tore it off, but the first demon replaced the arm with one taken from the corpse. The angry demon tore away the man's other arm, but the first demon immediately replaced that with the other arm of the corpse. And so it went on until both arms, both legs, the head and the body had been successively torn away and replaced with the corresponding parts of the corpse. Then the two demons, seeing the parts of the man scattered about on the floor, picked them up and devoured them and went away chuckling.

The poor man who had taken refuge in the deserted house was very much upset by his misfortunes. The parts of his body which the demons had eaten were the parts his parents had given him, and the parts that he now had belonged to the corpse. Who was he, anyway? Realizing all the facts, he was unable to figure it out and, becoming crazy, he wandered out of the house. Coming to a temple, he went in and told his troubles to the monks. People could see the true meaning of selflessness in his story.

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The Fables Of Buddha 33.

Post by antropolis » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:47 am

Once a beautiful and well-dressed woman visited a house. The master of the house asked her who she was; and she replied that she was the goddess of wealth. The master of the house was delighted and so treated her nicely.

Soon after another woman appeared who was ugly looking and poorly dressed. The master asked who she was and the woman replied that she was the goddess of poverty. The master was frightened and tried to drive her out of the house, but the woman refused to depart, saying, "The goddess of wealth is my sister. There is an agreement between us that we are never to live separately; if you chase me out, she is to go with me." Sure enough, as soon as the ugly woman went out, the other woman disappeared.

Birth goes with death. Fortune goes with misfortune. Bad things follow good things. Men should realize this. Foolish people dread misfortune and strive after good fortune, but those who seek Enlightenment must transcend both of them and be free of worldly attachments.

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The Fables Of Buddha 34.

Post by antropolis » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:48 am

Once there lived a poor artist who left his home, leaving his wife, to seek his fortune. After three years of hard struggles he had saved three hundred pieces of gold and decided to return to his home. On his way he came to a great temple in which a grand ceremony of offering was in progress. He was greatly ceremony of offering was in progress. He was greatly impressed by it and thought to himself: "Hitherto, I have thought only of the present; I have never considered my future happiness. It is a part of my good fortune that I have come to this place; I must take advantage of it to plant seeds of merit." Thinking thus, he gratefully donated all his savings to the temple and returned to his home penniless.

When he reached home, his wife reproached him for not bringing her some money for her support. The poor artist replied that he had earned some money but had put it where it would be safe. When she pressed him to tell where he had hidden it, he confessed that he had given it to the monks at a certain temple.

This made the wife angry and she scolded her husband and finally carried the matter to the local judge. When the judge asked the artist for his defense, the artist said that he had not acted foolishly, for he had earned the money during long and hard struggles and wanted to use it as seed for future good fortunes. When he came to the temple it seemed to him that there was the field where he should plant his gold as seed for good fortunes. Then he added: "When I gave the monks the gold, it seemed that I was throwing away all greed and stinginess from my mind, and I have realized that real wealth is not gold but mind."

The judge praised the artist's spirit, and those who heard of this manifested their approval by helping him in various ways. Thus the artist and his wife entered into permanent good fortune.

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The Fables Of BUddha 35.

Post by antropolis » Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:19 am

A man living near a cemetery heard one night a voice calling him from a grave. He was too timid to investigate it himself but the next day he mentioned it to a brave friend, who made up his mind to trace the place whence the voice came the following night.

While the timid man was trembling with fear, his friend went to the cemetery and, sure enough, the same voice was heard coming from a grave. The friend asked who it was and what it wanted. The voice from under the ground replied: "I am a hidden treasure that has decided to give myself to someone. I offered it to a man last night but he was too timid to come after it, so I will give it to you who are worthy of it. Tomorrow morning I will come to your house with my seven followers."

The friend said: "I will be waiting for you, but please tell me how I am to treat you." The voice replied: "We will come in monk's robes. Have a room ready for us with water; wash your body and clean the room, and have seats for us and eight bowls of rice-porridge. After the meal, you are to lead us one by one into a closed room in which we will transform ourselves into crocks of gold."

The next morning this man washed his body and cleaned the room just as he had been told and waited for the eight monks to appear. In due time they appeared and he received them courteously. After they had eaten the food he led them one by one into the closed room, where each monk turned himself into a crock full of gold.

There was a very greedy man in the same village who learned of the incident and wanted the crocks of gold. He invited eight monks to his house. After their meal he led them into a closed room, but instead of turning themselves into crocks of gold, they became angry and rough and reported the greedy man to the police who eventually arrested him.

As for the timid man, when he heard that the voice from the grave had brought wealth to the brave man, he went to the house of the brave man and greedily demanded the gold, insisting that it was his, because the voice first addressed him. When the timid man tried to take the crocks away he found lots of snakes inside raising their heads ready to attack him.

The king heard about this and ruled that the crocks belonged to the brave man and uttered the following observation: "Everything in the world goes like this. Foolish people are avaricious for good results only, but are too timid to go after them and, therefore, are continually failing. They have neither faith nor courage to face the internal struggles of the mind by which alone true peace and harmony can be attained."

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The Fables Of Buddha 36.

Post by antropolis » Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:04 pm

In the search for truth there are certain questions that are unimportant. Of what material is the universe constructed? Is the universe eternal? Are there limits or not to the universe? In what way is this human society put together? What is the ideal form of organization for human society? If a man were to postpone his searching and practicing for Enlightenment until such questions were solved, he would die before he found the path.

Suppose a man were pierced by a poisoned arrow, and his relatives and friends got together to call a surgeon to have the arrow pulled out and the wound treated.

If the wounded man objects, saying, "Wait a little. Before you pull it out. I want to know who shot this arrow. Was it a man or a woman? Was it someone of noble birth, or was it a peasant? What was the bow made of? Was it a big bow, or a small bow, that shot the arrow? Was it made of wood or bamboo? What was the bow-string made of? Was it made of fiber, or of gut? Was the arrow made of rattan, or of reed? What feathers were used? Before you extract the arrow, I want to know all about these things." Then what will happen?

Before all this information can be secured, no doubt, the poison will have time to circulate all through the system and the man may die. The first duty is to remove the arrow, and prevent its poison from spreading.

When a fire of passion is endangering the world, the composition of the universe matters little; what is the ideal form for the human community is not so important to deal with.

The question of whether the universe has limits or is eternal can wait until some way is found to extinguish the fires of birth, old age, sickness and death; in the presence of misery, sorrow, suffering and agony, one should first search for a way to solve these problems and devote oneself to the practice of that way.

The Buddha's teaching contains what is important to know and not what is unimportant. That is, it teaches people that they must learn what they should learn, remove what they should remove, train for what they should become enlightened about.

Therefore, people should first discern what is the most important, what problem should be solved first and what is the most pressing issue for them. To do all this, they must first undertake to train their minds; that is, they must first seek mind-control.

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