Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 07/29/2012

A Sikh Story about Patience and Respecting One’s Parents

KhantiI found the following story on a Sikh site and have adapted it for the ears of a 4-year old Buddhist. Enjoy!

An old man was sitting in the courtyard of his house along with his son who recently finished college. Suddenly a crow perched on a wall of the house. The father asked the son: What is that? The son replied: It is a crow.

After a little while the father again asked the son: What is that? The son said: It is a crow. After a few minutes the father asked his son the third time: What is that? The son said: Father, I have just now told you that it is a crow.

After a little while the old father again asked his son the fourth time: what is that? At this time some son’s tone betrayed his irritation and he stated curtly: Father! It is a crow, a crow.

A little later the father again asked his son: What is that? At this time the son lost it and he screamed at his father, saying:  Father, you are always repeating the same question, although I have told you so many times that it is a crow. Are you not able to understand this?

A little later the father went to his room and came back with an old diary. Opening a page he asked his son to read that. When the son read it the following words were written in the diary:

“Today my little son was sitting with me in the courtyard, when a crow came and perched on a branch. My son asked me twenty-five times what it was and I told him twenty-five times that it was a crow and I did not at all feel irritated. I rather felt affection for the innocent child.”

The son, though educated in the mundane arts and sciences, seems to have forgotten his spiritual education entirely. Not only does he lose his patience (khanti) with his father but he has neglected his duty of filial piety. The Lord Buddha states the following in regard to our parents:

Which two? Your mother and father. Even if you were to carry your mother
on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, & were
to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs,
and they were to defecate and urinate right there on your shoulders, you
would not thereby repay your parents. Even if you were to establish your
mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in
the seven treasures, you would not in that way repay your parents!
Why is that? Mothers and fathers do much for their children. They care for
them, they nourish them for long, and they introduce them to this world.
But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes
them in faith; rouses his immoral mother & father, establishes them in virtue;
rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity;
rouses his unwise mother & father, settles & establishes them on a new level
of understanding: It is in this way that one truly repays one’s mother’s and
father’s many and longstanding services and sacrifices.
Anguttara Nikāya  2.32

Realizing that we owe such an unimaginable debt to our parents we can begin to see the importance of exercising forbearance with them on those occasions when we find it hard to lovingly accept their speech or behaviors as they once did ours as children.

Here is the fun page for today: Khanti Labyrinth

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