Perhaps Love


A Useful Parable

“Some children were playing beside a river. They made castles of sand, and each child defended his castle and said, ‘This one is mine.’ They kept their castles separate and would not allow any mistakes about which was whose. When the castles were all finished, one child kicked over someone else’s castle and completely destroyed it. The owner of the castle flew into a rage, pulled the other child’s hair, struck him with his fist and bawled out, ‘He has spoiled my castle! Come along all of you and help me to punish him as he deserves.’ The others all came to his help. They beat the child with a stick and stamped on him with their feet. Then they went on playing with their sand castles, each saying, ‘This is mine; no one else may have it. Keep away! Don’t touch my castle!’

“But evening came, it was getting dark and they all thought they ought to be going home. No one now cared what became of his castle. One child stamped on his, another pushed his over with both hands. Then they turned away and went back, each to his home.”

Source: Yogacara Bhumi Sutra 4.

This parable appears in Jack Kornfield’s book, Teachings of the Buddha.

It also appears in this online collection of Buddhist parables:

Munsu Temple, Ulsan, Korea

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Today I visited Munsu Temple, on Munsu Mountain, in Ulsan, Korea. Most temples in Korea are near the base of the mountain, but this one is near the top. It was a tiring and sweaty walk up, but the scenery along the trail, the view from the temple and the temple itself were a nice reward!

Grave Bowing Practice

In the forests on Korean mountains, especially those near towns and cities, there are often small clearings in the trees, with one or more mounds of dirt covered with grassy sod, indicating graves. You pass them by, along the trail, as you are ascending or descending the mountain. However, it has always felt somehow too cold and unfeeling, to skip past, in a carefree way, without acknowledging the human life each grave represents. In order to remedy this, despite my initial self-consciousness and embarrassment, I finally started what I call “grave bowing practice”.

Grave bowing practice is simple. One comes to a brief halt. You bring your hands up to the level of your chest. You press your palms together, with your fingers pointing upward, with no gaps between them. Then, facing the grave, you do a half bow. If you do this every time you go hiking, it then becomes a practice rather than a haphazard, random act.

I think grave bowing practice is adaptable to any religious beliefs, or none at all. For example, for Christians, one could bow while reciting the Lord’s Prayer. For atheists, one could bow (or another, culturally-appropriate physical act) while remembering that prayers or bows need not be communication with a deity, but can merely serve as way of putting a symbolic stamp on one’s feeling, in this case a feeling of respect for a previous human life.