The Devoted Buddhist
A short story from ancient China, with a deep moral meaning of how to live our lives.
The Devoted Buddhist.
Once upon a time in ancient China, there were two men, Jia and Yi, who found themselves down on their luck. Both of them had been starving for days when they came across a Buddhist temple. They could smell cooked food coming from the temple which made them even hungrier. Yi was the first to speak, “Let’s go ask for some food.” Jia replied, “What if they are not willing to share? We may need to resort to force.” Yi shook his head. “That’s not a good idea. These monks come from the Shaolin lineage. They are quite capable of defending themselves. You and I would have no chance against them!” Jia thought for a moment and said, “I have an idea. We’ll tell them we are devout Buddhists.” Yi was doubtful. “But we are not religious at all.” “You can say that about yourself if you want. I’m going to be the most devoted Buddhist they have ever seen!” Jia said as he knocked on the door. “Yes?” A monk opened the door. “May merciful Buddha bless you!” Jia exclaimed. “I bring humble greetings from the Shaolin temple, where I am an enthusiastic patron serving the monks.” “What about you, sir?” The monk turned to Yi. “Are you also of our faith?” “Uh… no, I am not very religious.” “Very well, please come in gentlemen.” The monk pointed to one hallway and said to Yi, “Sir, the kitchen is in that direction. You will find that it is well stocked. Please help yourself to whatever you want.” The monk then took Jia’s hand with a friendly smile, “Sir, you can follow me. Since you are a devout Buddhist, I am sure you already know today is a day of fasting. We are glad to see you come such a long way to join us in meditation. Come this way, please.”
So, what do you think is the deeper meaning behind this story?
A special thanks to Derek Lin's "The Tao of Success" for introducing me to this story. A wonderful book full of similar stories and meaningful ideas.