I just finished reading this book: Why I Am A Buddhist. Great book, really reinforced my existing views and also introduced me to some additional knowledge I didn’t know before. I was reading the final chapter last night before bed and came across a nice little fable, as told to the author by one of his friends in Cambodia, who also happened to be a Buddhist monk that stood up to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and lived to tell the tale. (not an easy feat). The point of the fable is to emphasize that peaceful, nonviolent, weapons-shunning Buddhists are not “weak,” counter to some stereotypes.
The fable goes like this:
A dragon was befriended by a monk. The monk taught the dragon meditation, compassion, and the dharma, so the dragon learned peace. No more did the dragon terrorize the countryside, instead he spent his days peacefully sitting in his lair or collecting alms for the poor instead of burning villages and hoarding treasure. But soon, the village children lost their fear of the dragon and began tormenting him. They hurled stones at him, poked him with sticks, stole his food, and insulted him. The compassionate dragon did not respond in kind, but he became very sad. The dragon went to his friend the monk and said, “I have tried to do as you have taught and live peacefully, but now everyone is unkind and hurts me. Why is this?”
The monk replied, “Being peaceful and compassionate to others is good. But you should do the same for yourself. Next time the children come to torment you, show them your fire. I promise, once they see it, no further harm will come to you.”
The monk was right.
Note that this doesn’t mean the dragon used his fire as a weapon, or even used it at all. When the monk said, “Show them your fire,” he meant, “Show them what’s inside you.” We all have fire inside us. Why use something that burns and destroys others when we can defend ourselves peacefully with our very nature?
It works, too. I’ve even lived in violent, crime-infested urban neighborhoods (even as an attractive single young woman) without ever once being the victim of a crime, no weapons needed.