Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Story morals

The Jataka Tales recount the lives - 550 of them - it took for the future Buddha to be able to be born as the Tathagata. I asked the "Exploring Religious Ethics" students each to surf the net until they found one they wanted to share with the class. (The internet is full to overflowing with such tales, which are clearly the Veggie Tales and Aesop's Fables of Anglophone Buddhist parents in South and Southeast Asia - not just Buddhist.) I had the class do this last time, too, but I don't remember the students so enjoying telling each other moral fables. Nor do I recall its being quite such a revelation of students' temperaments! So we got a story about the importance of respecting others, a story about the importance of not quarreling with one's friends, a story about how even a just man will become unjust when spurned, a story about how the weak can unite to destroy the strong, a story about how the wise can protect their community from dangers... I felt quite flatfooted having chosen a more obviously Buddhist story about an ascetic who offers himself to a starving tigress so she doesn't have to feed herself to her cubs. [picture]

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