A story about kindness
A Jataka Tale
Translated by Yingrik Drubpa
Illustrated by Rosalyn White
Once upon a time deep within a jungle in the far-off land of India, there lived a Great Being in the form of a wild buffalo, the inside he had a gentle and wise heart.
In the same jungle hoed a mischievous monkey whose life’s goal was to tease the buffalo, which he did day and night.
Whenever the buffalo was about to feed on some tasty green grass, the monkey liked to play a trick on him. “Try and eat! Try and eat! Even though I am sitting right under your feet!”
When the buffalo went to the river to take a refreshing bath, the monkey played a different prank on him:”Don’t slip and fall! Don’t dip and fall! Even though you cannot see at all!”
When the buffalo was getting ready to take a well deserved nap, the mischievous monkey would jump up and down on his back, to keep him from dozing off. “Give me a ride! Give me a ride! Or my stick will beat you hide!”
Still the buffalo was never harsh with the monkey, and never even tried to frighten him away. He patiently endured the monkey’s antics and always treated him kindly.
One day a magical forest sprite caught sight of the monkey playing his antics and became angry. “O great buffalo, why do you put up with this silly game? What are you thinking? Are you afraid of this monkey? Have you become his slave? Does he perhaps know some terrible secret about you that he threatens to tell? The strongest lions fear your wrath! Even elephants step out of your path! With these hooves of yours, you could crush him to bits! With these horns of yours, you could shred him to strips!”
“O forest sprite,” the buffalo replied, “anger never leads to happiness. In fact, the monkey is doing me a great favor by giving me an opportunity to overcome my anger and practice patience. By learning to be kind, I am protecting myself as well as others. How peaceful I feel inside when I am patient. Anger would only upset my heart; I might even hurt someone and feel sorry later.”
The forest sprite still don’t understand. “Really! This rascal’s tricks will only worsen if you don’t wise up fast and teach him a lesson!”
“Believe me, my friend, it is better to be patient. Who knows if patience may awaken his inner feelings? You may be right, he is a silly monkey. But just like all creatures, he possesses a true heart.”
The forest sprite was amazed. Even though he was familiar with all manner of magic and spells, he had not yet figured out how to handle a tease. “Patience! What is that? It must be a magical charm! Could you teach me how to do it? Show me quickly! Show me now!”
“To practice patience,” replied the buffalo, “you need help from a real rascal. It’s no use practicing on gentle and kind creatures who require no patience at all. No, what you need is a real monkey. Would you like to use mine? “
“Monkey! That tease? If he tried his silly tricks on me, I’d show him some of mine!”
“Well, you see how hard it is to have patience. But please keep trying, for it is indeed like a magical charm.”
The buffalo continued, “I learned to be patient by thinking about the monkey. One day his teasing will surely get him in trouble. Sooner or later he will anger some quick-tempered creature who will give him a bad scare or a serious beating. Poor monkey! And I imagined how lonely he must be. None of the animals want him around, and everyone pushes him away. Poor monkey! Then I thought about how confused he is. He relies on bad qualities instead of good ones, turning all his cleverness and energy into foolish tricks. I feel sorry for the monkey and do not wish to cause him even more misery.”
“Imagine!” said the forest sprite. “If I learn to think it through the way you do, then maybe I will learn patience too.”
And off flew the forest sprite, eager to practice this wonderful charm called patience.
Just then the monkey, who had been hiding in the trees listening to every word, come up to the buffalo and said, “O dear buffalo, I did not know I had such a good friend. In fact, I did not think I had any friends at all. How kind and strong you are to be patient with a naughty monkey like me. Please forgive me for teasing you and playing mean tricks, and let me be your friend.”
If you think of all beings as your friends, tricks and teasing can do you no harm, for your heart is protected by patience and patience works like a charm!