Chance of Manna (parable blog)

Archive for the ‘eastern parables’ Category

I found this parable in “Living Buddha, Living Christ”, by Thich Naht Hanh.

A young couple and their two-year-old child were trying to cross the desert, and they ran out of food. After deep relection, they realized that in order to survive they had to kill their son and eat his flesh. They calculated that if they ate such and such a proportion of their baby’s flesh and carried the rest on their shoulder to dry, it would last the rest of their journey. But with every morsel of their baby’s flesh they ate, the young couple cried and cried. After he told this story, the Buddha asked, “Dear friends, do you think the young couple enjoyed eating their son’s flesh?” “No, Lord, it would not be possible for them to enjoy eating their son’s flesh.” The Buddha said, “Yet many people eat the flesh of their parents, their children, and their grandchildren and do not know it.”

This fine buddhist parable is about being true to your own nature, whatever the consequences. I think you’ll find that it has a profound message for us Christians.

One morning, after he had finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in
the water. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long
roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the
scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he
stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its
poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted: “Hey,
stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you
know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned his head. Looking into the stranger’s eyes he said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s
nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”

“This is a Buddhist parable from the Jataka, but I think you’ll agree that it meets the standard of ”will it preach?'”

There was once a kingdom of monkeys in the forest. The King of the Monkeys was very very large, and was very kind and wise. One day, the King was strolling & he noticed mango trees along the side of a river. He also noticed a human castle downstream. He then ordered the monkeys to remove all the mangos from these trees, “or there would be disaster”. The monkeys did not understand the King’s intention, but they did as told anyway. All the mangos were taken off these trees except one. This one was hidden behind a nest.

One day, this mango was ripe and fell into the river. It flowed downstream where the human King was having a bath. He noticed the mango & asked the Prime Minister what it was. The PM told him it was a “mango”, a fruit of wonderful taste. The King then ordered that the mango be cut into small pieces & he gave a small piece to each of his ministers. When satisfied that the mango was not poisonous, he ate the rest of it & realized how tasty it was. He craved for more.

The next day, the human king, with his troops, went upstream to search for more of these fruits. There were lots of mango trees, but also lots of monkeys. The human king doesn’t want to share the mangos with the monkeys, so he ordered all of them to be killed. A massacre started.

When the news reached the wise Monkey King, he commented, “The day has finally arrived”. The thousands of monkeys were chased all the way to the edge of the forest. There was a deep cliff at the edge of the forest, and a bamboo forest at the other side of the cliff. The Monkey King saw that if his subjects could cross over to the bamboo forest, they will be saved.

With his huge body, he formed a bridge over the cliff and thousands of monkeys trampled over him to reach the safety of the bamboo forest. He endured all the pain. One monkey did not like the King & he saw this as an opportunity to get even. As he was crossing over the King’s body, he pierced a spear through the King’s heart. The King screamed in pain but endured the pain until all his subjects were safely across. Then he collapsed.

The human king witnessed the whole thing. He was so touched that he ordered the Monkey King be saved. When the Monkey King recovered his consciousness, the human king asked him, “You are their King, why did you bother to die for them?”. The Monkey King replied, “Because I am their King”. With that, he died.

The human king was so touched that he decided to be a good king from that day and he ordered that the monkeys in the bamboo forest be protected from harm forever.


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