A Mouse Merchant in Real Life or the Red Paper Clip Man

The Mouse Merchant [Diligence and Gratitude]

The Khuddaka Nikaya is the fifth of the Nikayas found in the Sutta Pitaka, and consist of a collection of short suttas.  Amongst them is the Jataka, which contain the birth stories told by the Buddha.  In one such sutta, CULLAKA-SEṬṬHI-JĀTAKA, the Mouse Merchant, the Buddha tells of a rags-to-riches story of a young man who takes on the advice of a King’s adviser he overheard, and becomes wealthy
through his hard work and determination.  The young man began with a dead mouse and in the end of the story, he returns the favour to the adviser out of gratitude by offering half his fortune to the adviser.  I’ll leave you to read the sutta with the link below. ^_<

Now, I’ve shared with many people those wonderful stories found in the suttas, and many often dismiss them as being more of a fairy tale or legend that having anything in parallel.  Well, a while back, I read of a man who had a similar experience of starting off with something small (a red paper clip) and ending with a tidy fortune (I’ll leave it to you to read about it as well).  Amazing?  Truly.  Just as amazing is the young man in the Mouse Merchant Jataka struck his fortune with something insignificant and small (a dead mouse), working his way up through his diligence and diligence.

The next time when you read one of the Jataka stories, remember, as amazing as they are, they can happen in real life, as the Mouse Merchant did, or should we say the Red Paper Clip Man? ^_^

Reference

Full Sutta, http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j1/j1007.htm
Birth Story part of the sutta, http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/bt1_04.htm

The amazing story on news sites and links
http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2171378
http://news.cnet.com/Blogger-asks,-Wanna-trade-a-paper-clip-for-a-house/2100-1025_3-6061438.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_red_paperclip

The blog that started it all
http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/2005_07_01_archive.html

A Moment of Sadness, a Moment of Silence

Dear friends,

Let us take a moment to remember those who suffered and perish in the recent spate of disasters.

Earthquake in Samoa, Indonesia, and Typhoon in Manila, Indonesia.

May they receive help swiftly and find peace and comfort where ever they are. May those who perished have good conditions to be reborn in the human realms where they can learn and practise the Buddha-Dharma and in due time attain Final Liberation, Nibbana.

With so much suffering around already, may the rest of the world find peace in their mind and lay their arms to rest. May they not incur any more suffering onto others through mindless wars.

The Only ‘Stupid’ Questions Are … …

I often have people asking two questions in a row, with the first one being “Ven, can I ask a stupid question?”, followed by their actual question.  Sometimes I’m like, can I say No?

I sometimes will tell people this: “The only ‘stupid’ questions are those that are not asked!” 🙂

Sometimes we really do not know enough to ask questions; other times we are unconsciously stifled by ourselves to ask questions.  We should learn more like kids.  Kids will ask anything that comes to mind.  There may be many reasons for this, and I reckon, is in part due to A) an openness of their mind to see various aspects of the subject matter and B) the absence of embarrassment of asking.

Their openness is in turn likely due to an absence of assumptions about how things should or should not be while their absence of embarrassment is due to an absence of assumption of who they are and what they should or should not know.  As kids grow up, they learn more and more about this world.  What they learn become part of their experience of how things are.  These become patterns that describes the behaviour of the world we are in.  It is this ability to retain patterns, recollect and reuse them that allow us to become wiser or intelligent about the world.  This is also what assumptions are about.

The patterns we learn about the world, which we call knowledge, becomes the assumptions we may have in predicting or anticipating a future event.  Having the ability to predict future events can be very useful, say when it comes to crossing a busy street.  We observe movements of the cars, and colors of the traffic light and we learn that cars in general follow a certain pattern in relation to the traffic lights.  These assumptions allow us to cross the streets safely but sometimes when we rely overly strongly on these assumptions, the consequences can be dire.  Assuming that cars will stop at the red light can sometimes prove to be fatal, while assuming that pedestrians will not jaywalk can be risky business.

Assumptions in general allows us to not have to overload ourselves in considering all the possibilities in our daily activities.  Some people looses this ability and live in paranoia about everything around them.  We may be onto something here, but that
is another blog entry.  When this assumption mechanism lapse into our learning process, then we loose the ability to see different facets of the subject matter.  We are conditioned by our past learnings, our knowledge, to see differently like a child.  It is not that the children are super creative or smart, it is that they are not bogged down by the assumptions (knowledge) that we have.  So, while assumptions are helpful, we got to learn to relate to them differently and put them aside where suitable.

The other side effect of assumptions is in assuming who we are.  Throughout our lives, we play many different roles; we start off as a baby, and then a child, a kid, a student, a teen, a youth, a young adult, an employee, a partner, a spouse, a parent etc etc.  Children are very good with playing make believe games and they can switch roles very easily.  I believe it is because they do not know or assume themselves to be anything, that is why they can be a fireman at one time, and then a doggie next etc etc.  Some adults are good at it too, and they play with kids very well, because they are able to immerse into the kids world and play at the kids level and not be stuck with being an adult.

Some adults however, are not able to step out of a role and switch into another one easily.  We probably have met the teacher who sees everyone as a student, the nurse / doctor who sees everyone as a patient and the gambler who sees a winning combination in any number they encounter.  As they say, to a hammer, everything is a nail! … oh, and did I mention about how to a monk, everyone is a student in need of a three hour discourse? 😉

If we can step out of our usual role, be it a parent, a manager, a teacher, a policeman, a whatever, and just not assume any role for awhile, then perhaps we won’t have the related assumptions of how we should be or should know.  If at all, we should assume the role of a child, and learn in a child-like fashion, then we would not feel embarrassed to ask questions.  For if we see ourselves as a child, we would not assume ourselves to know anything.  Then we will perhaps be able to ask questions with the openness of a child-like student.

As the Chinese word for ‘knowledge’ goes, “學問” literally means 學Learning-問Asking, so

“As we learn, we ask; and as we ask, we learn!”