A Westernised Hindu contemplates Buddhist teaching

The following is an extract from a review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of the book ‘Eastern Wisdom for Western Minds’ by Victor M. Parachin. (from the Internet)

“Consider the encounter two little American boys had with an elderly Buddhist monk, who was visiting the United States from Thailand. Because of the monk’s reputation as a meditation teacher, he was asked to offer a series of classes. . . . Following the lecture, the monk and the woman were conversing as the children watched with some boredom. A mosquito landed on the monk’s arm and began to probe for blood. Someone was about to whisk it away when the monk shook his head, saying quietly, ‘it takes so little.’

“The young boys, who had been disinterested in the event, suddenly focused intensely on the monk. Evidently, the thought of not killing a biting mosquito had never occurred to them. The monk, noting their interest, used the moment to instruct them in the philosophy of reverence for all life. Addressing them directly, he said, ‘All living things wish to live and be happy.’ ”

That is a most splendid guide for one’s life. However, while I was collecting Buddhist parables which could be understood by a young grandson, I came across one which I did not pass on. Personalising it, I wondered what I should do (under the philosophy of reverence for all life) were I to be attacked by a hungry tiger. Should I do nothing because it is the nature of a hungry tiger to eat me (no personal animosity presumably implicated)?

Or, could I take the view that my spiritual progress through many lifetimes should not require me to be eaten by a carnivore; what learning could I derive from being eaten? What a conundrum!

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