Elephant King Goodness
[Generosity and Ingratitude]
upon a time the Enlightenment Being was born as an elephant. He
was wonderfully white in colour, glowing like polished silver. His
feet were as smooth and bright as the finest lacquer. His mouth
was as red as the most elegant red carpet. And his marvellous eyes
were like precious jewels, sparkling in five colours - blue, yellow,
red, white and crimson.
splendid beauty of this magnificent elephant was the outer form
of the Enlightenment Being. But this was only a pale reflection
of his inner beauty because during many previous lives he had filled
himself with the Ten Perfections: energy, determination, truthfulness,
wholesomeness, giving up attachment to the ordinary world, evenmindedness,
wisdom, patience, generosity, and of course - loving-kindness.
he became an adult, all the other elephants in the Himalayan forests
came to follow and serve him. Before long his kingdom contained
a population of 80,000 elephants. Such a large nation was crowded
and filled with distractions. In order to live more quietly, he
separated himself from the rest and went to live alone in a secluded
part of the forest. Because of his wholesomeness and purity, which
were easily seen by everyone, he was known as the Elephant King
the meantime, a forester from Benares travelled into these Himalayan
foothills. He was searching for things of value he could sell back
in Benares. After a while he lost his sense of direction. He ran
back and forth trying to find his way. Soon he became exhausted
and scared to death! He began trembling and crying out loud from
Elephant King Goodness heard the sound of the poor lost man's frightened
weeping. Immediately he was filled with pity and compassion. Wishing
to help him in any way he could, he began walking through the forest
the man was in such a big panic that, when he saw the gigantic elephant
coming towards him, he started running away. When the wise elephant
king saw this, he stopped moving. Seeing this, the forester also
stopped. Then King Goodness began walking towards him again, the
man started running, and once again stopped when the elephant stopped.
that point the man thought, "This noble elephant! When I run,
he stops. And when I stop, he walks towards me. No doubt he intends
me no harm - he must want to help me instead!" Realising this
gave him the courage to stop and wait.
the Elephant King Goodness slowly approached, he said, "My
human friend, why are you wandering about crying in panic?"
elephant," said the man, "I lost all sense of direction,
became hopelessly lost, and was afraid I would die!"
the Enlightenment Being took the forester to his own secluded dwelling
place. He comforted and soothed him by treating him to the finest
fruits and nuts in all the Himalayas. After several days he said,
"My friend, don't be afraid. I will take you to the land where
people live. Sit on my back." Then he began carrying him towards
the land of men.
riding comfortably on this glorious being, the man thought, "Suppose
people ask me where I was. I must be able to tell everything."
So he made notes of all the landmarks, while being carried to safety
by the kind elephant king.
he came out of the thick forest near the highway to Benares, the
Elephant King Goodness said, "My good friend, take this road
to Benares. Please don't tell anyone where I live, whether they
ask you or not." With these parting words, the gentle elephant
turned around and went back to his safe and secret home.
man had no trouble finding his way to Benares. Then one day, while
walking in the bazaar, he came to the shops of the ivory carvers.
They carved ivory into delicate and beautiful statues, scenes and
shapes. The forester asked them, "Would you buy tusks that
come from living elephants?"
ivory carvers replied, "What a question! Everyone knows the
tusks from a live elephant are much more valuable than from a dead
one." "Then I will bring you some live elephant tusks,"
said the forester.
only for money, ignoring the safety of the elephant king, and without
any gratitude towards the one who had saved his life the
man put a sharp saw in with his other provisions, and set out towards
the home of King Goodness.
he arrived the elephant king asked him, "Oh my dear human friend,
what brings you back again?" Making up a story, the greedy
man said, "My lord elephant, I am a poor man, living very humbly.
As these times are very difficult for me, I have come to beg from
you just a little piece of tusk. If you can give it to me, I will
take it home and sell it. Then I will be able to provide for myself,
and survive for a while longer."
the man, the Elephant King Goodness said, "Of course my friend,
I will give you a big piece of tusk! Did you happen to bring a saw
with you?" "Yes lord," said the forester, "I
did bring a saw." "All right then," said the generous
King Goodness, "cut from both my tusks!"
he said this, the elephant bent down on his knees and offered up
his spectacular silvery-white tusks. Without the slightest regret,
the man sawed off big pieces of ivory from both tusks.
Enlightenment Being picked up both pieces with his trunk. He said,
"Good friend, I am not giving you my lovely tusks because I
dislike them and want to get rid of them. Nor is it because they
are not valuable to me. But a thousand times, even a hundred thousand
times more lovely and valuable are the tusks of all knowable wisdom,
which leads to the realisation of all Truth."
the wonderful tusks to the man, it was the elephants wish
that his perfect generosity would eventually lead him to the greatest
man went home and sold both pieces of ivory. But it didnt
take long for him to spend all the money. So again he returned to
the Elephant King Goodness. He begged him, "My lord, the money
I got by selling your ivory was only enough to pay off my debts.
I am still a poor man, living very humbly. Times are still hard
in Benares, so please give me the rest of your tusks, oh generous
hesitation, the elephant king offered what was left of his tusks.
The man cut off all that he could see of them, right down to the
sockets in the elephants skull! He left without a word of
thanks. The wonderful kind elephant meant no more to him than a
bank account! He took the ivory back to Benares, sold it, and squandered
the money as before.
again the forester returned to the Himalayan home of the Elephant
King Goodness. And again he begged him, "Oh noble elephant
king, it is so very hard to make a living in Benares. Have pit on
me and let me have the rest of your ivory the roots of your
generosity holds nothing back. So once again the elephant king bent
down on his knees and offered his remaining stumps of ivory. The
ungrateful betrayer did not care at all for the elephant. He stepped
onto the magnificent trunk like a thick silver chain. He
climbed up and sat between the pure white temples, on top of the
great head like a snowy Himalayan dome. Then he roughly dug
in with his heels, rubbing and tearing away the tender flesh from
the stumps of the once-beautiful tusks. He used his dull worn-down
saw to cut and hack the ivory roots out of the noble skull!
is said there are many worlds the hell world of torture,
the worlds of hungry ghosts, of animals and of mankind, as well
as many heaven worlds from the lowest to the highest. In
all these worlds there are millions of beings who, at one time or
another, have been born and lived as elephants. And some who tell
this story say, that although they knew not why, all those one-time
elephants felt the pain of the Great Being the Elephant King
forester departed carrying the bloody ivory stumps. Thinking there
was no reason to see the elephant again, the didnt bother
to show any sign of gratitude or respect.
vast solid earth, which is strong enough to easily support great
mountains, and is able to bear the worst filth and stench, could
not bear and support this cruel mans enormous unwholesomeness.
So, when he could no longer be seen by the suffering elephant, the
mighty earth cracked open beneath him. Fire from the lowest hell
world leaped up, engulfed him in bright red flames, and pulled him
down to his doom!
moral is: The ungrateful stops at nothing,
and digs his own grave.