A MAN who had travelled in foreign lands boasted very much, on returning to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic feats he had performed in the different places he had visited. Among other things, he said that when he was at Rhodos he had leaped to such a distance that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him as to that, there were in Rhodos many persons who saw him do it and whom he could call as witnesses. One of the bystanders interrupted him, saying:
"Now, my good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be Rhodos, and leap for us."
A BULL finding a lion's cub asleep gored him to death with his horns. The lioness came up, and bitterly lamented the death of her whelp. A wild-boar hunter, seeing her distress, stood at a distance and said to her,
"Think how many men there are who have reason to lament the loss of their children, whose deaths have been caused by you."
THE FROGS, grieved at having no established Ruler, sent ambassadors to Sir Success entreating for a king. Perceiving their simplicity, he cast down a huge log into the lake. The frogs were terrified at the splash occasioned by its fall and hid themselves in the depths of the pool. But as soon as they realised that the huge log was motionless, they swam again to the top of the water, dismissed their fears, climbed up, and began squatting on it in contempt. After some time they began to think themselves ill-treated in the appointment of so inert a ruler, and sent a second deputation to Jove to pray that he would set over them another sovereign. He then gave them an eel to govern them. When the frogs discovered his easy good nature, they sent yet a third time to Jove to beg him to choose for them still another King. Jove was now displeased with all their complaints and sent a heron, who preyed on the frogs day by day till there were none left to croak on the lake.
❋ Many a time there is more to take into account than what is seen at first and second glance.
❋ Beware of repercussions.
❋ "Nothing too much" is one of the treasured values in Taoism. The Greek metron (measured regulations, functioning within bounds) comes to mind too.
ONCE ON A TIME, when the sun announced that he intended to take a wife, the frogs lifted up their voices in clamour to the sky. Jove got disturbed by the noise of their croaking, and asked why they complained so loudly. One of them said,
"The sun, now while he is single, parches up the marsh, and compels us to die miserably in our arid homes. What will be our future condition if he should beget other suns?"
❋ What suits one, may not always suit all others.
A HEIFER saw an ox hard at work harnessed to a plow, and tormented him with reflections on his unhappy fate in being compelled to labour. Shortly afterwards, at the harvest festival, the owner released the ox from his yoke, but bound the heifer with cords and led him away to the altar to be slain in honour of the occasion. The ox saw what was being done, and said with a smile to the heifer:
"For this you were allowed to live in idleness, because you were to be sacrificed."
❋ Consider as much as you can of the total picture before your mind gets set on lots of things. "Why here" is a help toward ongoing reflection.
A JACKDAW, seeing some doves in a cote abundantly provided with food, painted himself white and joined them in order to share their plentiful maintenance. As long as he was silent the doves supposed him to be one of themselves and admitted him to their cote. But when one day he forgot himself and began to chatter, they discovered his true character and drove him forth, pecking him with their beaks. Failing to get food among the doves, he returned to the jackdaws. They too, not recognising him on account of his colour, expelled him from living with them. So desiring two ends, he got neither.
❋ Not all adaptations are successful; we should stay with the best ones for us as long as we can.
A HALF-FAMISHED JACKDAW seated himself on a fig-tree, which had produced some fruit entirely out of season, and waited in the hope that the figs would ripen. A fox seeing him sitting so long and learning the reason of his doing so, said to him,
"You are indeed sadly deceiving yourself; you are indulging a hope strong enough to cheat you, but which will never reward you with enjoyment."
❋ To study the lay of the land before going into hopes and fervent hopes should be a rewarding approach.
A FAMISHED WOLF was prowling about in the morning in search of food. As he passed the door of a cottage built in the forest, he heard a mother say to her child, "Be quiet, or I will throw you out of the window, and the wolf shall eat you."
The wolf sat all day waiting at the door. In the evening he heard the same woman fondling her child and saying:
"You are quiet now, and if the wolf should come, we will kill him."
The wolf, hearing these words, went home, gasping with cold and hunger. When he reached his den, Mistress Wolf asked of him why he returned wearied and supperless, so contrary to his wont. He replied:
"Why, I trusted in the words of a woman!"
❋ Say what you mean and do not overdo it either. Gentle understatement may suit some.
THE POMEGRANATE and apple-tree disputed as to which was the most beautiful. When their strife was at its height, a bramble from the neighbouring hedge lifted up its voice, and said in a boastful tone:
"Oh my dear friends, in my presence at least cease from such vain disputings."
A SHEPHERD penning his sheep in the fold for the night was about to shut up a wolf with them, when his dog perceiving the wolf said,
"Master, how can you expect the sheep to be safe if you admit a wolf into the fold?"
❋ A good question does not always demand any words in answer.
A SHEPHERD, keeping watch over his sheep near the shore, saw the sea very calm and smooth, and longed to make a voyage with a view to commerce. He sold all his flock, invested it in a cargo of dates, and set sail. But a very great tempest came on, and the ship being in danger of sinking, he threw all his merchandise overboard, and barely escaped with his life in the empty ship. Not long afterwards when someone passed by and observed the unruffled calm of the sea, he interrupted him and said,
"It is again in want of dates, and therefore looks quiet."
❋ When largely out of your waters, it may pay to keep your explanations quite tentative.
A SHEPHERD driving his sheep to a wood, saw an oak of unusual size full of acorns, and spreading his cloak under the branches, he climbed up into the tree and shook them down. The sheep eating the acorns inadvertently frayed and tore the cloak. When the shepherd came down and saw what was done, he said,
"You most ungrateful creatures! You provide wool to make garments for all other men, but you destroy the clothes of him who feeds you."
❋ Overly self-centered moralising may not be benign.
A SHEPHERD once found the whelp of a wolf and brought it up, and after a while taught it to steal lambs from the neighbouring flocks. The wolf, having shown himself an apt pupil, said to the shepherd, "Since you have taught me to steal, you must keep a sharp lookout, or you will lose some of your own flock."
❋ Some can be trusted. Who are they? What do they have in common? [LINK]
A SHEPHERD-BOY, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, "Wolf! Wolf!" and when his neighbours came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The wolf, however, did truly come at last. The shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror:
"Oh do come and help me; the wolf is killing the sheep"; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.
❋ Double trouble: No one believing a liar when he speaks the truth.
A CERTAIN MAN made a wooden image of Mercury and offered it for sale. When no one appeared willing to buy it, in order to attract buyers, he cried out that he had the statue to sell of a benefactor who bestowed wealth and helped to heap up riches. One of the bystanders said to him,
"My good fellow, why do you sell him, being such a one as you describe, when you may yourself enjoy the good things he has to give?"
"Why," he replied,
"I am in need of immediate help, and he is wont to give his good gifts very slowly."
❋ Rationalisations [psychological term] may become costly as time goes by.
A PIGEON, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders.
❋ Zeal should not outrun discretion.
A GREAT CITY was besieged, and its inhabitants were called together to consider the best means of protecting it from the enemy. A bricklayer earnestly recommended bricks as affording the best material for an effective resistance. A Carpenter, with equal enthusiasm, proposed timber as a preferable method of defence. On which a currier stood up and said,
"Sirs, I differ from you altogether: there is no material for resistance equal to a covering of hides; and nothing so good as leather."
❋ Every man for himself, they say.
IN THE WINTERTIME, a dog curled up in as small a space as possible on account of the cold, determined to make himself a house. However when the summer returned again, he lay asleep stretched at his full length and appeared to himself to be of a great size. Now he considered that it would be neither an easy nor a necessary work to make himself such a house as would accommodate him.
❋ Shortsighted and immediate goals may tie us up a lot, just like trivial pursuits.
THE BIRDS waged war with the beasts, and each were by turns the conquerors. A bat, fearing the uncertain issues of the fight, always fought on the side which he felt was the strongest. When peace was proclaimed, his deceitful conduct was apparent to both combatants. Therefore being condemned by each for his treachery, he was driven forth from the light of day, and henceforth hid himself in dark hiding-places, flying always alone and at night.
❋ Find out which side you are on as soon as you are up to it, then.
A WOLF pursued a lamb, which fled for refuge to a certain Temple. The wolf called out to him and said, "The priest will slay you in sacrifice, if he should catch you."
The lamb replied, "It would be better for me to be sacrificed in the temple than to be eaten by you."
❋ "It would add up to the same," seems to be a more correct answer.