Monday, October 16, 2006

A Buddhist Parable

There is a Buddhist parable that once at the foot of the Himalayas there was a colony of monkeys whose blood had remarkable properties: red and translucent, it could be turned into a dye of great brilliance that would never fade. Because of this, cloth merchants from all over the world were constantly trying to trap the monkeys.

The monkeys, as it turned out, were extremely cunning, and they could almost always figure out how to get out of the traps set for them. It was found, however, that they had two very serious weaknesses: they enjoyed the taste of rice wine and they like shoes. Yes, shoes. They were passionate about fancy shoes, and liked putting them on and parading about. And wouldn't you? You certainly would.

Having discovered the monkeys' weaknesses a group of clever cloth merchants decided to turn the weaknesses to their advantages. In the general neighborhood of where the monkeys were most often seen they set of several kegs of fine rice wine, and scattered lots of brightly colored shoes. They then went to hide in the bushes.

Now, the monkeys were not stupid. They saw immediately that it must be a trap. Who, after all, leaves kegs of fine rice wine on a hilltop, open and unguarded? Who scatters pretty shoes out in the middle of nowhere? Definitely a trap. So the monkeys said to each other, "We know how wicked and cunning the cloth merchants are, and how they will do anything to further their profit. If we taste the wine, they will kill us for our blood. Let us leave." So they turned around and began to leave.

As they went, however, they could still smell the aroma of that fine rice wine, and some of them cast a look over their shoulders. Doing so, of course, they saw all the pretty shoes scattered about, just waiting to be put on. Finally a few monkeys turned back, saying, "It's obviously a trap, but if we take just a drop or two, we should be able to escape. Remember! Just a few drops! Any more and we will be killed for our blood!"

So they dipped their fingers into the rice wine, and it was excellent. Naturally, a little drop wasn't enough, so they dipped their hands in. Soon they were guzzling it like sailors. After all, if they could not resist the scent of the wine, how could they possibly resist the taste?

The monkeys were soon quite drunk, and, being drunk on a hillside covered with pretty shoes, they just could not bear not to try them on. So they put on the pretty shoes and began to parade about. Then the cloth merchants came out and easily killed them all; not only were the monkeys drunk, they were tripped up by the fancy shoes they were wearing.

The moral of the story is easy enough to see when you begin to understand that you and I are the monkeys, cunning and able to escape almost any trap. And yet there is always that fine rice wine and those pretty shoes....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.