43. Bamboo’s Father [Wasted Advice]
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, there was a teacher who meditated much and developed his mind. Gradually his fame spread. Those who wished to be guided by a wise man came to hear him. Considering what he said to be wise indeed, 500 decided to become his followers.
One of these 500, who considered his teachings to be wise, was a certain pet lover. In fact, he loved pets so much that there was no animal he did not wish to keep as a pet.
One day he came upon a cute little poisonous snake, who was searching for food. He decided he would make an excellent pet. So he made a little bamboo cage to keep him in when he had to leave him alone. The other followers called the little snake, ‘Bamboo’. Because he was so fond of his pet, they called the pet lover, ‘Bamboo’s Father’.
Before long, the teacher heard that one of his followers was keeping a poisonous snake as a pet. He called him to him and asked if this was true. Bamboo’s Father said, “Yes master, I love him like my own child!"
The wise teacher said, “It is not safe to live with a poisonous snake. Therefore, I advise you to let him go, for your own good."
But Bamboo’s Father thought he knew better. He replied, “This little one is my son. He wouldn’t bite me. I can’t give him up and live all alone!".
The teacher warned him, “Then surely, this little one will be the death of you!" But the follower did not heed his master’s warning.
Later on, all 500 of the teacher’s followers went on a trip to collect fresh fruits. Bamboo’s Father left his ‘son’ locked up in the bamboo cage.
Since there were many fruits to collect, it was several days before they returned. Bamboo’s Father realized that poor Bamboo had not eaten the whole time he was away. So he opened the cage to let him out to find food.
But when he reached inside, his ‘son’ bit his hand. Having been neglected for all that time, Bamboo was angry as well as hungry. Since he was only a snake, he didn’t know anything about poison!
But his ‘father’ should have known better. After all, he had been warned by the very teacher he himself considered wise.
Within minutes of being bitten, Bamboo’s Father dropped dead!
The moral is: There’s no benefit in following a teacher if you don’t listen to what he says.
INTERPRETER’S INTRODUCTION – BUDDHIST TALES FOR YOUNG AND OLD, VOLUME 1, STORIES 1-50
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