Birth of a Banyan Tree
[Respect for Elders]
a time, there was a big banyan tree in the forest beneath the
mighty Himalayas. Living near this banyan tree were three very
good friends. They were a quail, a monkey and an elephant. Each
of them was quite smart.
the three friends got into a disagreement. When this happened,
they did not consider the opinion of any one of them to be more
valuable. No matter how much experience each one had, his opinion
was treated the same as the others. So it took them a long time
to reach an agreement. Every time this happened, they had to start
from the beginning to reach a solution.
After a while
they realized that it would save time, and help their friendship,
if they could shorten their disagreements. They decided that it
would certainly help if they considered the most valuable opinion
first. Then, if they could agree on that one, they would not have
to waste time, and possibly even become less friendly, by arguing
about the other two.
they all thought the most valuable opinion was the one based on
the most experience. Therefore, they could live together even
more peacefully if they gave higher respect to the oldest among
them. Only if his opinion were clearly wrong, would they need
to consider others.
the elephant and the monkey and the quail had no idea which one
was the oldest. Since this was a time before old age was respected,
they had no reason to remember their birthdays or their ages.
Then one day,
while they were relaxing in the shade of the big banyan tree,
the quail and the monkey asked the elephant, "As far back
as you can remember, what was the size of this banyan tree?"
replied, "I remember this tree for a very long time. When
I was just a little baby, I used to scratch my belly by rubbing
it over the tender shoots on top of this banyan tree."
Then the monkey
said, "When I was a curious baby monkey, I used to sit and
examine the little seedling banyan tree. Sometimes I used to bend
over and nibble its top tender leaves."
and the elephant asked the quail, "As far back as you can
remember, what was the size of this banyan tree?"
said, "When I was young, I was looking for food in a nearby
forest. In that forest, there was a big old banyan tree, which
was full of ripe berries. I ate some of those berries, and the
next day I was standing right here. This was where I let my droppings
fall, and the seeds they contained grew up to be this very tree!"
and the elephant said, "Aha! Sir quail, you must be the oldest.
You deserve our respect and honor. From now on we will pay close
attention to your words. Based on your wisdom and experience,
advise us when we make mistakes. When there are disagreements,
we will give the highest place to your opinion. We ask only that
you be honest and just."
replied, "I thank you for your respect, and I promise to
always do my best to deserve it." It just so happened that
this wise little quail was the Bodhisatta the Enlightenment Being.
moral is: Respect for the wisdom of elders
leads to harmony.