A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Buddhism for dragons

There is an old tale about a dragon that terrorizes the people of many villages. The dragon meets a Bodhisattva one day who shows the dragon the path to enlightenment. The dragon follows this new path, soon the children of the villages no longer fear the gentle dragon. They torment the dragon by poking him with sticks, pulling on his tail, making him eat dirt and throwing rocks at him. Soon the dragon is sick from not eating, and then encounters the bodhisattva again. He complains that the bodhisattva told him if he followed this new path, and kept the precepts he would be happy, but just the opposite occurred. The bodhisattva replied my son, if you have compassion, morality, and virtue, you must also have wisdom and intelligence. This is the way to protect you, let them feel the heat without being hurt. The next time the children make you suffer, show them your breath of fire again, without burning them. After this demonstration of your power, they will trouble you no more. The moral of the fable is that showing strength is not the same as using it. A modern version of this fable is when countries hold military parades. They show off their ability to inflict damage to any enemy who would consider attacking them, without actually using these weapons. To use a schoolyard analogy, just because you are the biggest strongest kid, doesn’t mean you have to be the bully.

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