Buddhist Tales for Young and Old

Volume 2 - King Fruitful

The Careless Lion [Circumspection]

Once upon a time, the Five Training Steps were not yet known in the world. There was a very wealthy man living in Benares who owned a large herd of cattle. He hired a man to look after them.

During the time of year when the rice paddies were filled with the green growing rice plants, the herdsman took the cattle to the forest to graze. From there he brought the milk and butter and cheese to the rich man in Benares.

It just so happened that being in the forest put the cattle in a very frightening situation. There was a meat eating lion living nearby. Sensing the presence of the lion kept the cattle in constant fear. This made the cows tense and high-strung, leaving them too weak to give more than a little milk.

One day the owner of the cattle asked the herdsman why he was bringing such a small amount of milk and butter and cheese. He replied, “Sir, cows need to be calm and contented to give much milk. Due to a nearby lion, your cows are always afraid and tense. So they give hardly any milk.”

The Careless Lion [Circumspection]

“I see”, said the rich man. Thinking like an animal trapper, he asked, “Is the lion closely connected to any other animal?” The herdsman answered, “Sir, there happens to be a variety of deer living in the forest. They are called ‘minideer’ because they are so small. Even the adults only grow to be about one foot tall. The lion has become very friendly with a certain minideer doe.”

The rich man of Benares said, “So that my cows will be at peace and able to give their usual milk, this is what you are to do. Capture the lion’s friend and rub poison all over her body. Then wait a couple days before releasing her. She will be like bait in a trap for the lion. When he dies, bring his body to me. Then my cows will be safe and happy again.”

The herdsman followed his boss’s orders exactly. When the lion saw his favorite minideer doe he was so overjoyed that he threw all caution to the wind. Without even sniffing the air around her, he immediately began licking her excitedly all over. Because of too much joy and not enough caution, he fell into the poisonous trap. The poor lion died on the spot.

The moral is: Too much of a good thing can be dangerous.