A Man Whose Head Was Hit by a Pear
A long time ago, there was a bald-headed fool. Another fool came along and, just for the fun of it, struck the first fool on the head with a pear. After several more blows, the poor fool’s head was entirely covered with bruises. He had allowed himself to receive the blows in silence and did not even consider running away. When the beating was over, a man who had witnessed the episode said, “Why don’t you run away and avoid being hit instead of taking the blows and getting hurt?” The fool answered, “I stayed because that man is ignorant. He boasts constantly and tries to prove how strong he is in any way he can. He saw that I was bald, but he was stupid enough to mistake my head for a stone. That’s why he struck it with a pear.”

The other man answered. “How could you call him stupid? You’re the ignorant one. Only a fool would take such a beating and not even consider running away!”

A monk who has no faith and can neither keep the precepts nor cultivate learning is like the fool who took this beating but could speak only of the stupidity of others. While he maintains the outward forms of practice, and therefore receives some benefit, ultimately he spends his life without understanding even the simplest of things. Such a monk really is a fool.

© Kazuaki Tanahashi
© Kazuaki Tanahashi

The Thirsty Man
Long ago, there was a man who was known to be foolish beyond belief. One day, although it was particularly hot, he decided to go wandering. Of course, the more he wandered, the more he felt the effects of the heat and the thirstier he became. Finally, he was so parched that he imagined a mirage in the distance, and, mistaking it for water, he began to run toward it.

All day long, the man chased the mirage until his tongue was practically hanging out of his mouth in thirst. However, as luck would have it, the man had run so far that he found himself standing on the banks of the Indus River. Though his throat was burning, he stood at the river’s edge, dying of thirst, without taking a single drink.

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