The Devoted Buddhist
One upon a time in ancient China, there were two thieves, Jia and Yi, who found themselves down on their luck. Both had been starving for days when they came across a Buddhist temple. The smell of cooked food wafted from its general direction and made them even hungrier.
Yi was the first to speak “Let’s go ask for some food.”
Jia replied. “What if they are not willing to share? We may need to resort to force.”
Yi shook his head. “That is not a good idea. These monks come from the Shaolin lineage.
They are quite capable of defending themselves. You and I would have no chance against them.”
Jia thought for a moment and said, “I have an idea. We’ll tell them we are devout Buddhists.”
Yi was doubtful. “But we are not religious at all.”
“You can say that about yourself if you want. I am going to be the most devoted Buddhist they have ever seen. “ Jia said as he knocked on the door.
“Yes?” A monk opened the door.
“May merciful Buddha bless you!” Jia exclaimed. “ I bring you humble greetings from the Shaolin temple, where I am an enthusiastic patron serving the monks, who of course belong to the same honorable lineage as yourself. O Great Master.”
“How about you, sir?” The monk turned to Yi. “Are you also of our faith?”
“Uh…No, I am not very religious.”
“Very well. Please come in, gentlemen. “ The monk pointed to the hallway and said to Yi: “Sir, the kitchen is in that direction. You will find that it is well stocked. Please help yourself to whatever food you want.”
The Monk then took Jia’s hand with a friendly smile: “Sir, you can follow me to the inner chamber. Since you are of our order, you must already know today is a fasting day. We are glad to see you come such a long way to join us in meditation.
“This way please.”
This is the ultimate Tao story about deception. With a few quick strokes, it sketches the human tendency to deceive, and the consequences that follow.
Lau Tzu addresses the same subject in the Tao Te Ching chapter 65 with the following lines:-
Therefore, using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a thief of the state
Not using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a blessing of the state
We can understand the above when we recall that Lao Tzu habitually uses this king of metaphor for one’s self, and the country as a metaphor for life. Thus, governing the state simply means life management. Cleverness, in this context, refers to the ploys we use to deceive. Just like Jia in the story, we think of ourselves as being quite clever when we conjure up our various tricks.
Lao Tzu’s message is clear: In practicing deception against others, we are actually stealing from ourselves. We may think we have gained a benefit, but it is an illusion that will soon be revealed as a loss. This describes Jia’s fate in the story. He hoped to win and advantage, but ended up depriving himself of a much-needed meal when his trick backfired on him.
At a deeper level, this story addresses not just the immediate effect of deception, but also it’s eventual consequence. Jia’s ploy backfired right away, but real life may not work out this way. Sometimes it takes a while for the true consequence to unfold. We may think, for a short time, that we have gotten away with it, but the sages teach us that there is no escape from Karma. We will have to answer for our actions sooner or later.
I do hope you have enjoyed this Buddhist story and the metaphors used by Lao Tzu to explain the process and the consequence?
Namaste with Love my friends