Monday, December 16, 2013

right and wrong

A weeks long meditation retreat that was being held in the mountains of Japan was attended by many students of the great master. During the gathering one student was caught stealing. The matter was reported to the master with the request that the culprit be dismissed. The master ignored the case.

Later the student was caught in a similar act, and again the master disregarded the matter. This angered the other students, who busied themselves drawing up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When the master had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

the end


I never know which of these stories will get me to draw a picture next - they must be lessons I need to hear myself. Anger may be a righteous reaction, but it never seems to solve anything.


marja-leena said...

Susan, you are doing a series of illustrations of the 'lessons' - how wonderful! They are treasures, thanks for sharing!

susan said...

Well, it was something I found myself wondering about, but so many of them provide gentle lessons for us all. I'm so glad you're enjoying them too, Marja-Leena.

Tom said...

Maybe it's the misuse of the energy that anger brings which is the problem. Interesting drawing.

susan said...

There's a big difference between feeling anger and feeding it.

okjimm said...

Dear Susan
I am taking great inspiration from your stories. Which is good. Normaly I just take great libations from friends. did remind me, finally, of a story that has always made me think deeply of life... I would like to share...

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.

Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenage son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

he he hehehe....good holidays to you!

susan said...

Dear Jimm,
That is one heartrendingly beautiful yet sad story.
I'm in your debt.

ps: Be patient and achieve all things.
Be impatient and achieve all things faster.

Best wishes of the Season to you too!

Randal Graves said...

Not jailing thieves? No wonder we beat them in the war.

okjimm said...

ohohoh.... Susan.... it is NOT a true story....gees, I'm sorry...just a satirical bit that was going around.... and with my bit twisted sense of humor... I have grown to love it! must go....son is in town...having breakfast at the "Beastro".... as he spells it. b good.

Life As I Know It Now said...

You are always freely giving your gifts to us dear susan. thank you!

susan said...

oops.. Truth to tell I had read that one before and obviously made a mistake in not being a bit more sardonic in my reply. Maybe a smiley face would have been appropriate :)

Glad to hear the boy is home. Hope you had a good breakfast and are still having a good time.

A wasted day is one where there was no laughing.

susan said...

Well, that and and a couple of nukes.

susan said...

I'm glad to see you, Lib, and glad you liked it too :)

linda said...

I like your drawing, especially what looks like a stream to the left of the little sangha. I enjoyed reading another story of buddhist principle. Isn't anger one of those issues that snare us quickly before we know it? It sure does me. I even get angry at coughing...sigh... do we never learn? i know one thing for sure... I don't! ;)

much love to you, dear heart.

susan said...

How sweet to see you've been by for a visit, my friend. I'm glad you like the picture - I liked the way the water looks too.

Yeah, anger is one of those emotions that triggers our grasping at other negative states. It's probably bet to feel it and let it go quickly. Easier said than done, eh?

Rob-bear said...

Another wonderful story; another beautiful picture. Thank you.

Blessings and Bear hugs, as always, susan!

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Having to teach right and wrong is a foreign concept to most in the west as we believe morality is known baring mental impairment. But dig down and the lines can be blurred in different circumstances. What is wrong may be too sophisticated to be always noticed or too cleverly hidden when it is overlooked, !!
In a similar vein "let the one without sin cast the first stone !!
Lovely drawing .
best wishes

susan said...

I'm very glad you enjoyed them, Rob.
They give me pleasure too.

susan said...

You're so very right, Lindsay. I think that's just the lesson the master was imparting to his student body.

Glad you liked the picture.
Best wishes.

Sean Jeating said...

In the hope not to make a step backwards on my quest to become the politest blogger in this universe and all those yet to discover:
I have learnt that this ["let the one without sin cast the first stone"] is one of the favourite quotes of people who – if only they could :) – would like to end certain discourses.

Sean Jeating said...

Thought-provoking lesson and a fine painting. :)

susan said...

Perhaps so, Sean, but I always interpreted the quote as being a warning against arrogance.

You are doing very well in your quest :)

susan said...

I'm pleased you like the picture. I have a feeling there will be more :)

Lydia said...

Susan, your monk drawings and lessons are epic. I long for you to do a book.
This is special, quite, quite.