Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai, Japan,
October 26, 1991 (originally in Chinese)
An Indian farmer and his child were toiling in the fields. It was almost dark by the time they had finished their work and the farmer said to the child, "Wow! It's getting dark! Quickly pack up the tools and run. Let's run quickly!"
"Relax. We're not far from home and we know the way home. Why are you in such a panic?" asked the child.
"There's something you don't know. I'm generally fearless. I'm not afraid of tigers or lions. I'm only afraid of the night. When the night comes, I'm completely powerless. The night is most terrifying to me. I'm really frightened of it. I can't stand it," answered the farmer.
It so happened that a lion was hiding nearby and overheard their conversation. "What's this thing called 'the night'? How could it be more fearful than I am? I must find out about it," the lion mused as it moved closer to the farmer, hoping to learn more about this "night" that was even more frightening than itself.
Then darkness fell and the farsighted farmer couldn't see nearby objects clearly. He only saw the vague outline of an animal approaching, thought it was the donkey he had recently lost, and beat the lion several times, saying, "I've been looking for you all day. Where have you been? How dare you come back so late?"
"This is the end of me," the lion thought with regret. "How could I have been so stupid as to come so close to this thing called 'the night' that beat me just now? It's really horrifying. What should I do now?" As these thoughts flashed through the lion's mind, the farmer again slapped it several times, urging it to go home with him. The petrified lion then obediently followed the farmer back to his house.
It was even darker when they reached home. Since the farmer continued to mistake the lion for his donkey, he tied it in a corner outside his house before he went to bed. That night, the lion stayed out in the cold, starving, petrified and not knowing what to expect of "the night" when morning dawned. It believed that the farmer was "the night."
Early the next morning, before dawn broke, the farmer got up and took his "donkey" to the fields. On the way, another lion passed by and found it hilarious to see a lion obediently following a farmer. It then approached the captive lion and asked, "What are you doing? Why are you walking behind this man?"
"Shh! Keep your voice down and leave quickly. Don't you know that this being walking in front is something called 'the night.' He's very terrible. Last night, he beat me and shackled me, leaving me cold and starving the entire night. I have no idea where he's taking me now. Run along or your life will be in danger!"
After hearing this story, the other lion said, "You're incredible. You idiot! You're a lion, the king of animals! You've been deceived! Just roar at him now and you'll know who is more terrifying." The lion accepted his advice and roared loudly, so the farmer took a closer look. Now that the sky had become brighter, he saw that it was a lion. Wow! He bolted like lightning, and the lion was free again.
The moral of this story is that we humans have wisdom, immense power and status. However, if we're stupid, ignorantly follow the Prince of the Devils, and are thus controlled by karma, we can't possibly be liberated. However, if another soul who knows who he is and is not afraid comes to teach us what to do, we can be liberated. This is what an Enlightened Master does.
There's a similar Aulacese story that I may as well tell you.
A farmer and his buffalo had a hard day plowing the fields. Both were exhausted, but since the work wasn't finished, the farmer beat the buffalo repeatedly, urging it to work faster. The buffalo was panting, with saliva dripping from its mouth and its tongue hanging out, and it was almost breathless, yet it still had to work ceaselessly.
A tiger was hunting for food nearby and saw the man and the buffalo, but couldn't decide which one to eat first. As it looked on, its curiosity was aroused. "This is strange! How could it happen?" It decided to postpone its meal and continue its observation. The buffalo was so huge and strong, yet it was subservient to a little farmer and obeyed its instructions. It dared not resist even when beaten. The tiger was baffled and dared not take a chance for fear of a hidden mystery.
After some time, the farmer stopped for a rest and found a place to take his meal and nap. The tiger then quietly approached the buffalo, which could only take a break and eat some hay during that time. The tiger came closer and shook its head, saying to itself, "How pitiful! It works so hard and yet eats so little. I really don't have the heart to eat it!" It came up to the buffalo and asked, "Excuse me! I don't mean to offend you, but I really must ask. You're so huge and strong and you have two sharp horns. You can kill the farmer with one kick. So why do you obey him? You've toiled for half a day. He beats you and you still continue to work. Only now has he given you a break but he only feeds you hay. What kind of animal are you? Why are you afraid of him? He's many times smaller than you!"
You have no idea. I'm stronger and bigger than he is, but this little man has a very terrific weapon," said the buffalo. "I have no choice but to obey him because his weapon is truly powerful! Don't ask any more questions because you're filling me with shame. We don't have this weapon and that's why we're inferior to him!"
Then the tiger became even more curious and said, "Oh! Please! Please tell me. I've never heard about this. I've never been here before and have never seen such things!"
The buffalo took its time chewing the grass, and then closed its eyes and said, "Aah! Why must you ask about this?"
"I want to learn. This is a rare opportunity!" The tiger implored the buffalo. "I may not run into the same situation again. I usually stay in the mountains and have never seen this. I have the chance to see it only because I ventured down here today!"
"Since you're so sincere, I'll tell you!" said the buffalo. "The weapon is wisdom. Since humans have this thing called wisdom as their weapon, we animals are all dominated by them, no matter how big, fierce or strong we are. Do you understand?"
"No! I've never heard of it!"
"All right! Enough!" the buffalo continued. "Please stop annoying me and let me take a nap!"
The tiger then pondered for a long time, thinking, "What exactly is this weapon that's so powerful? I must see it. My mother never told me about it. If I can learn about it, I'll be more powerful than anyone, including my grandma, grandpa, dad and mom because they don't know about such a thing. We were never taught about this weapon in school."
Next the tiger waited patiently for the farmer to return. Though it remained skeptical, never having been conquered by any other animal before, fear stirred its heart and generated in it some respect for human beings. When the farmer arrived, the tiger held its forepaws together and respectfully asked him, "I heard that you have a 'weapon of wisdom' that gives you control over everything, including huge, strong animals like me. I beg you to let me take a look at it. I've never seen such a thing. Besides, I'm still skeptical about what I've heard. Your body is very small so how can you carry such a big weapon that allows you to control enormous animals like us?"
"Of course, this weapon is so big that I can't carry it with me all the time, so I left it at home," said the farmer.
"Will you please go home and bring it here so I can have a look?" asked the tiger.
"Of course, but I think this is a hoax. You don't really want to see my weapon. You only want me to go home so you can eat or abduct my buffalo," said the farmer. "What if I don't find you or the buffalo when I return carrying the huge 'weapon of wisdom' with such great effort? I won't do it."
"That's not true. I sincerely want to see your 'weapon of wisdom.' I've never seen it before. Oh, please! Go home and bring it here so I can take a look," the tiger begged. "Really, I'm not deceiving you. I won't eat your buffalo. I'll wait for you here."
"All right, if you want me to believe you, then you have to let me bind you to a tree before I go home to fetch it. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll do something evil after I leave," said the farmer.
"Of course, that's no problem! Tie me up quickly," said the tiger, extending its legs and allowing the farmer to tie them to a tree trunk with rattan. And before the farmer walked away, the tiger even urged him, "Please come back soon!"
The farmer did return very quickly with a huge stick. "This is my wisdom," he said, as he killed the tiger with the stick.
The on-looking buffalo laughed until it was breathless! It laughed so hard that its head rolled back and forth, hitting a rock and knocking out its teeth. Since that day, old buffaloes have been without teeth. This is one of our Aulacese stories, very similar to the previous one about the lion, though the moral is not very similar.
Therefore, we humans are truly the masters of all animals. We're honored to be the king of animals. Originally, God told us to take care of the animals, but in the end we dominate them instead. Good grief! We're truly "honored!" So these are our stories. The story about "the night" is lovelier, isn't it?