The carpenter and the mosquito

Jataka Tales are an important part of Buddhist literature. These stories relate incidents from the Siddhartha Gautama’s incarnations before he became the enlightened one, the Buddha.  In the story of the mosquito and the carpenter, the not yet realized Buddha is walking along a path near the Ganges River just outside of Benares.  There, in the land of a large but struggling household a carpenter was in the yard overseeing the wood and planks he had gathered, planning out his next project.

The carpenter was a man of some age, his hair already grey and quite bald on the top with just a fringe of grey remaining. The man had three sons nearing adulthood. As he stood there thinking and planning, a mosquito settled on the top of his head on his scalp, and stung him with his stinger like a dart.

The man turned to his son, who was seated nearby and said, “my son, there is a mosquito stinging me on the head. Please drive it away.”

“Hold still, my dear father,” said the son. “I am sure one quick blow will free you from the mosquito.”

At this very moment, the not yet Buddha was just passing the household and paused to witness the interaction between father and son.

“Free me of this pest” the father urged.

“As you say, father,” his son promised. The son was behind the elder man, and raising his ax, intending to kill the mosquito, he rends his father’s head in two, and the elder man fell dead on the spot.

A spark of enlightenment danced through the heart of the Buddha to be as he bore witness to the interaction. “Better to have an enemy with sense, whose fear of men’s vengeance will deter from killing a man, than a sense lacking son.”

And is the tradition in Buddhism, the Buddha to be recited this gatha:

Sense-less friends are worse than foes with sense

Witness the son who slew the gnat

and rends his father’s skull and hat.

And with this realization the Buddha to be continued on his journey.

And the carpenter was buried on the bank of the Ganges by his family even as his senseless son grieved.

 Justice is fairness.

 Platitudes to match the story and make you laugh:

  • Choose your friends wisely so that they are capable of recognizing justice/fairness when it is staring them in the face.
  • Be careful what you wish for (ask for), you just might get it.
  • Match your medicine to your ill. Be sure that the cure is not worse than the cold.

OK, by now you should be on a bit of a roll … please add some more of your own in the comments?

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