Short Stories

Inmost feelings becoming a monk

Update: 31/07/2007
 
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Venerable Thuong Duong told the following story:\r\n\r\n

Long ago, there was a dog with scabies and dartre, so its\r\nmaster threw it away on a river bank close to which lived an old monk in a\r\nsecluded hut and led his own life by begging for alms.  Touched with\r\nsympathy at the sight of the abandoned dog, the monk took the animal to his\r\nsmall hut and took care for it, including washing and applying medicine to its\r\nbody, and let the dog share with him the daily food he was donated. Thanks to\r\nthe good care, the dog was well soon, its hair grew again on its body - it\r\nbecame a smart and good-looking dog. The old monk gave it a name, which was\r\n‘Try-to-become-a-monk’ by which he wished the dog to transform itself from its\r\nanimal karma into another living being.

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But, after being well again, the dog became a vagabond. It\r\nwas crazy about gnawing the pieces of bone thrown away on river banks and\r\nrealised that it no longer liked the taste of sweet soy sauce and soybean jam\r\nthat its benevolent master  - rather, its life-savor  -  still\r\ndid. Now it was accustomed to left- overs. As a result, it grew accustomed to\r\nsecular taste. One day, while sitting on a riverbank with its nose in the air\r\nlooking at things on the other side of the bank, the dog suddenly sniffed a sweet-smelling\r\naroma of fried meat from the other side of the riverbank. It quickly sped into\r\nthe water and swam toward the aroma. When it reached the middle of the stream,\r\nits master also reached back the hut. Not seeing the dog home, the old monk\r\ntried to look for it outside. When seeing his beloved dog reaching up its legs\r\nrepeatedly in the middle of the stream, the monk urgently called it to return.

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“Hey, try-to-become-a-monk! How can you have the heart to\r\nleave your old and weak master behind? Quickly go back to me. There are\r\ntasteless things from a dried bone in this world - you just try to swallow your\r\nsaliva itself. Back home, my beloved try-to-become-a-monk!

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The dog obeyed its master’s call and tried to return.\r\nHowever, unhappily, no sooner had it turned back than it sniffed the attractive\r\nsweet aroma of the meat. It could not resist such aroma and so swam back to the\r\naroma from the sautéed meat. At this riverside, the monk insistently called it\r\nrepeatedly. The dog was unable to hold back its feeling and returned to its\r\nmaster. In addition, the dog did it many times - swimming back to the aroma and\r\nreturning to its master, undecidedly. Finally, it died of drowning right in the\r\nmiddle of the swift current of the river.

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Having finished the tale, the old monk went back to his hut\r\nfor a rest. His disciples still sat there, continuing the gossip about the\r\nstory. One of the fellows asked another, “According to you, what does the story\r\nmean?” The first fellow answered, “It’s the tragic death of an ungrateful subordinate.”\r\nAnother fellow added, “It means that disasters often happen to those who are\r\nindecisive in their making decisions.” The third fellow concluded, “You all are\r\nall right. However, to me, our master has many implications. The dog symbolizes\r\na person who starts his cultivation, whether a home-staying practitioner or a\r\nhome-leaving one. The master is a person who already has his Buddha-nature with\r\ngood sense existing in him. The aroma of the sautéed meat blown by the wind is\r\nthe temptation aiming to lure the human six senses. The river represents death\r\nand life. He who has been imbued with moral standards, they are his real tonics\r\nor poisons. By tonics, it means the right light he has found and followed; but\r\npoisons, it means bad things that he himself cannot resist and turns his back\r\non his religious calls. But the native good judgment call in himself\r\noccasionally rises so that he finds himself in a dilemma, knowing whether\r\nneither to stop his bad way nor return to the right religious path; as a result,\r\nhe is dead in the middle of the death-and-life current like the case of the\r\ndog.-

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Translated into English by Mr.  Hoang Huan.

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