Saturday, 29 November 2008

For the weight of an ant

One November afternoon, the Buddha was sitting under the wisdom tree meditating about peace.

It was cold and the Buddha was hungry. The devil saw the opportunity that he had been waiting for a long time.

If the devil was ever to corrupt the Buddha, that November afternoon was the perfect time. "I'll give you a house, so that you won't suffer from cold in the winter," proposed the devil. "All you have to do is give me your sandals."

The Buddha shook his head. "I can't do that," he replied. "I need my sandals to walk the path of truth." The devil decided to try again. "I will give you a hundred goats, so that you will always have enough to eat. All you have to do is give me your robe."

The Buddha was very hungry and reflected for a long moment. If he possessed a hundred goats, he could easily exchange one goat for a new robe. If the Buddha accepted the offer, he would only have to go naked for a short while.

Nevertheless, the Buddha shook his head again. "I can't do that," he answered. "I need my robe to keep my dignity." The devil realized that the Buddha was not ready to trade any of his personal possessions. If the devil wanted to corrupt the Buddha, he would have to try a different approach.

"I will give you a house and a hundred goats," retook the devil. "All you have to do is to kill an ant." The Buddha looked at an ant on the ground. It would be so easy for him to crush the ant and make it disappear. Who was going to miss it? Who was going to complain?

A chill wind reminded the Buddha of his cold and his hunger. The Buddha reflected for an hour and then he shook his head once more. "No, I can't do that," he concluded. "The world needs the weight of every single ant to keep its balance."

The devil gave up and went away. Shortly after, a good man walked by the wisdom tree, saw the Buddha, and offered him hospitality at his home.


[Image by Taras Kalapun under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

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