The great masters of Buddhism always used myths and legends to convey complex messages or lessons to their disciples. It is said that on one occasion some disciples asked their teacher why he used to tell so many fables but never took some time to explain them. To answer he returned with a question: would you prefer to receive a fruit already chewed by someone else?
The best part of Buddhist tales is that have multiple interpretations and each person extract the particular teaching that finds useful for that moment. In addition, tales have the power to reach the most hidden recesses of the mind.
Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist, noticed that sometimes our mind rejects some messages and immediately launches its defense mechanisms because perceives it as an attack on the “ego”. However, fables circumvent such monitoring and can operate more profound changes. From this idea came the Ericksonian hypnosis, in which stories are used instead of direct suggestions.
And as Buddhism still has much to teach us, here are some of the most enlightening fables, behind which are hidden great life lessons, lessons that could definitely change our life, or at least the way we understand things.
1. The farmer who played at being God
One day a farmer met God and said:
– You created the world but you are not a farmer, you do not know agriculture. You have much to learn.
– What is your advice?
– Give me a year and let things happen as I want. Poverty will never exist again.
God accepted. Naturally, the farmer asked the best: no storms, no any danger for the grain. The wheat grew and the peasants were happy. Everything was perfect.
At the end of the year, the farmer met God again and said proudly:
– Have you seen how much wheat we got? There will be enough food for 10 years without working!
However, when the grain was collected he realized that was empty. Puzzled, asked God what had happened, to which he responded:
– You removed the conflicts and frictions from the world, so wheat didn’t end germinating.
Moral: Problems are part of life, make us strong, with them we become resilient people. The days of sadness are as necessary as the days of happiness because they allow us to grow. Therefore, it is better to stop complaining and feeling miserably about difficulties, because these are opportunities to learn to see life through different lenses.
2. The old woman who lost her needle
The evening came and several persons saw an old woman looking for something outside his hut. Some of them came to try to help her.
– What have you lost?
– My Needle – she said.
Everyone joined to help but after a while, someone asked:
– The street is very long and the needle very small, can you tell us the place where it fell?
– Inside my house – said the old woman.
People looked at her in amazement. Some even bothered.
– Are you gone crazy? Why do you look for the needle in the street if you lost it inside your house?
The old woman, smiling, replied:
– Because indoor there’s no light.
They say:- So it makes sense to find a lamp and use it to look inside.
The old woman laughed and said:
– You are very intelligent with little things, when are you going to use that intelligence for your inner life?
Moral: We often seek answers to problems outside of us, when in fact the solution lies within us. We blame others or circumstances instead of taking the reins, just because we don’t want to recognize our share of responsibility. However, in this way we’ll never find a good solution that allows us to grow.
3. Buddha’s forgiveness
Buddha had a wicked cousin, his name was Devadatta, he was always jealous and determined to discredit him.
One day while Buddha was walking quietly, Devadatta threw behind him a heavy rock with the intention to kill him. However, the rock fell next to Buddha and didn’t hurt him.
Buddha realized what happened but remained unmoved, still smiling. Days later, he again met Devadatta and greeted him warmly. Very surprised, the cousin asked:
– Aren’t you angry?
– No, of course not.
Without hiding his amazement, Devadatta asked why.
– Because you’re no longer who threw the rock, nor am I anymore who was there when it was thrown.
Moral: For those who can see, everything is transitory; for who knows how to love, everything is forgivable. It is not healthy or smart to stay tied to hatred and resentment because these feelings only harm us. It is important to realize that life is constantly changing and we need to leave bad experiences in the past. Only through forgiveness we release our resentment and move on.
4. A servant and a lord with a bad mood
A servant was exposed daily to the irascible character of his lord . One day the lord came home in a bad mood, he sat down to eat and finding a cold soup turned so furious that threw the bowl through the window.
The servant, in turn, threw the meat, bread, wine and, finally, the tablecloth and silverware. The master was furious:
– What are you doing, fool?
– Excuse me sir – seriously replied the servant. – I thought today you wanted to eat on the patio. Everything is so peaceful and the sky is so serene!
The master recognized his fault, apologized and thanked the servant for the lesson he had just given him.
Moral: Throughout life, anyone can harm us. We can’t do anything about it. But we can decide for those who suffer. Suffering isn’t caused by the actions themselves but by the meaning and importance we give to them. If we respond to violence with violence, it will grow. If we respond to violence with peace, this will abate it.
5. The hawk that could not fly
A king was presented with two young hawk and delivered them to the master of falconry to train them.
After a few months, the instructor told the king that one of the hawks was polite but did not know what happened to the other. Since he reached the palace he hadn’t moved from the branch, at the point that they had to bring him some food.
The king summoned doctors and healers but nobody could fly the bird. Then issued an edict among his subjects and the next morning saw the hawk flying in his gardens.
– Take to me the author of this miracle – asked.
A peasant appeared before the king. The king asked:
– How did you get the falcon fly? What are you, a magician?
– It was not difficult – the man explained. – I only cut the branch. Then the bird realized that he had wings and flew away.
Moral: Sometimes, it is necessary to stay on the branch to recuperate, but if we stay in the comfort zone for a long time we never know how far we would have been able to reach. So that sometimes we need someone to cut our branch or have the courage to cut the branch to others. Be sure not be you who prevents another person to fly or that another person is keeping you from flying.