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Tale of a Monkey
 

Once upon a time in a mountain, there lived a monkey who had great strength and wisdom, and a heart full of kindness. One day, while this monkey was climbing a tree to pick some fruits, he saw a hunter who was trapped in a deep valley and crying for help. The monkey cried, “I made a vow to be a Buddha to assist all sentient beings, if I do not save him immediately, he may die of starvation.” 

The monkey climbed along the cliff to reach the bottom of the valley. He carried the hunter, climbed through the rattans and bushes and finally reached safe ground. He directed the hunter how to leave the mountain safely and wished: “I hope you will change your career of killing animals once you leave here.” 

The hunter tried to catch his breath while resting, and thought, “I am weak and starving to death. I should just kill this monkey to feed myself.” So he took a rock and hit the monkey in the head. The monkey was shocked by such a sudden attack. He bled profusely and almost fainted next to a tree. 

Despite the ungrateful return to his kindness, the monkey still managed to maintain a clear mind free of hatred. Instead, he felt pity and compassion towards the hunter and thought: “Today I cannot help him change his evil ways. Hopefully he will have the opportunity to meet the Buddha or a bodhisattva one day so he can learn to practice Buddhism. I hope he will never generate such evil thoughts in all his future lives.”

The monkey in this story was Buddha’s previous incarnation.

Reflection

The wise and compassionate always put the well-beings of others ahead of themselves. The ignorant and selfish only seek to satisfy themselves at the expense of others. During his many kalpas of practice, the Buddha had always managed to react to the slanders, insults and injury from the others with calm and tolerance, without a trace of resentment or a thought of revenge. The only thing that concerns the Buddha was if his enemies would one day attain Buddhahood and get ultimate liberation from anger and hatred.

We should always ask ourselves: do we argue profusely with others over the most trivial things? Are we only concerned with our own needs without the slightest care for the others’ feelings and well-being?