Buddhist Studies jataka tales: vol. 1
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Volume I  - Prince Goodspeaker

Wise Birds and Foolish Birds [Good Advice]

Once upon a time, there was a giant tree in the forest. Many many birds lived in this tree. And the wisest of them was their leader.

One day the leader bird saw two branches rubbing against each other. They were making wood powder come falling down. Then he noticed a tiny wisp of smoke rising from the rubbing branches. He thought, "There is no doubt a fire is starting that may burn down the whole forest."

So the wise old leader called a meeting of all the birds living in the great tree. He told them, "My dear friends, the tree we are living in is beginning to make a fire. This fire may destroy the whole forest. Therefore it is dangerous to stay here. Let us leave this forest at once!"

The wise birds agreed to follow his advice. So they flew away to another forest in a different land. But the birds who were not so wise said, "That old leader panics so easily. He imagines crocodiles in a drop of water! Why should we leave our comfortable homes that have always been safe? Let the scared ones go. We will be brave and trust in our trees!"

Lo and behold, in a little while the wise leader's warning came true. The rubbing branches made sparks that fell in the dry leaves under the tree. Those sparks became flames that grew and grew. Soon the giant tree itself caught fire. The foolish birds who still lived there were blinded and choked by the smoke. Many, who could not escape, were trapped and burned to death.

The moral is: Those who ignore the advice of the wise, do so at their own risk.

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