My reading style since I graduated from college has generally been to maintain a steady diet of constant Internet reading between translations while slowly making my way through 3 books or so that are interesting but not “inspiring” on the back burner, reading each occasionally until I finish them, get more into one of them, or discover something else entirely that excites me enough to finish it in a few sittings. Now that I have recently finished Bob Woddward’s State of Denial (Rumsfeld was a jerk), I’m currently in the middle of 3 books: Matsumoto’s Suicide Notes, a repring of a series of columns by comedy duo Downtown foil Hitoshi Matsumoto, Business Nonsense Dictionary by the late Ramo Nakajima, and finally The Teaching of Buddha, left in my Penang hotel room by “The Society for Promotion of Buddhism.” Maybe now that I’ve posted my reading material publicly it’ll get my ass off the computer chair for a bit to actually read this stuff in earnest.
But for now I’ll just post a couple interesting bits from the Buddhist teachings book:
At one time there lived in the Himalayas a bird with one body and two heads. Once one of the heads noticed the other head eating some sweet fruit and felt jealous and said to itself: “I will then eat poison fruit.” So it ate poison and the whole bird died.
Queen of Videha in India once dreamed of a white elephant that had six ivory tusks. She coveted the tusks and besought the king to get them for her. Although the task seemed an impossible one, the king, who loved the queen very much, offered a reward to any hunter who would report if he found such an elephant.
It happened that there was just such an elephant with six tusks in the Himalayan Mountains who was training for the Buddhahood. The elephant once had saved a hunter’s life in an emergency in the depths of the mountains and the hunter could go back safely to his country. The huinter, however, blinded by the great reward and forgetting the kindness the elephant had shown him, returned to the mountains to kill the elephant.
The hunter, knowing that the elephant was seeking Buddhahood, disguised himself in the robe of a Bhuddist monk and, thus catching the elephant off guard, shot it with a poisoned arrow.
The elephant, knowing that its end was near and that the hunter had been overcome by worldly desire for the reward, had compassion upon him and sheltered him in its limbs to protect the hunter from the fury of the other revengeful elephants. Then the elephant asked the hunter why he had done such a foolish thing. The hunter told of the reward and confessed that he coveted its six tusks. The elephant immediately broke off the tusks by hitting them against a tree and gave them to the hunter saying: “By this offering I have completed my training for the Buddhahood and will be reborn in the Pure Land. When I become a Buddha, I will help you to get rid of your thee poisonous arrows of greed, anger, and foolishness.”