The following story is based on a Chinese Buddhist scripture called Bayu-jing, or The One Hundred Parable Sutra. It was originally translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in 492 C.E. by Gunavriddi, a Buddhist teacher from central India. Translated into English for the first time by Kazuaki Tanahashi and retold by Peter Levitt, this story is part of their manuscript, “The One Hundred Parable Sutra: Stories of Ancient Fools for Today.”

The Duck Call

afterword 128 winter 1998On festival days in another country, a long time ago, it was the custom for women to adorn their hair with the beautiful blossoms of the water lily. On one of these occasions there was a poor man whose wife was very cross. “Get me a blossom from a water lily,” she told him, “and I will remain your wife. But if you cannot even provide me with that, I will leave you.”

It turns out that her husband had long been good at imitating the call of the mandarin duck, so he set out for the pond owned by the king. When he got there the man lowered himself into the pond, made the call of the duck so he could draw near to the water lilies without arousing suspicion, and stole a most beautiful blossom for his wife.

While the man was wading back to shore, with the prized blossom in his hand, the keeper of the pond heard something and called out, “Who is it in the pond?”

Liberate this article!

This article is available to subscribers only. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus video teachings, films, e-books, and more.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.