By Lama Sakadagami
The Floods of Anderan.
Bodhi Dukkhan was a farmer in the village of Anderan, and a student of the bodhisattva Lama Yacana who was a well-known teacher of Buddha’s Dharma.
It was a special day in the village of Anderan, an elephant that lived in the forest nearby had just given birth to twins. This was a rare occurrence, one which foretells of good luck, and good fortune for all in the area.
The villagers were preparing for the annual rains that would come just ahead of the planting season. These heavy rains would often cause flooding that saturated the dry land, and caused a minor inconvenience for the residents, but seldom lasted for more than seven days.
There had been two days of steady rain in the village of Anderan. The low laying farmland of Anderan was already flooded, and with the waters quickly rising residents were scrambling to flee to higher ground.
Animals were fleeing to higher ground as well. There were squirrels and monkeys that decided to climb the trees to escape the flood waters. Many less than cooperative helpless rabbits and other ground dwelling animals however, were carried to higher ground by helpful villagers.
The villagers had already made sure that their families, friends, and livestock were safely above the flood waters before compassionately helping other animals in the area to escape the flood waters.
The mother elephant not known for having a docile demeanor was distressed trying to get both of her new born calves to safety. She could only carry one calf above the flood waters, and was visibly and audibly anguished.
Even animals experience DUKKHA.
Bodhi seeing this rushed over to help her, being a strong farmer, he lifted up the heavy baby elephant and started walking through the flood waters to higher ground.
The mother elephant walking closely next to Bodhi with her other calf in her tusks lifted her trunk slightly, and made a trumpet like sound as Bodhi struggled to carry the baby elephant to safety.
Bodhi was unsure if the elephant’s response was due to the mother elephant’s compassion for her baby, or her agitation with him for picking up her baby and walking away.
He struggled at first to carry the heavy elephant close to his body, but the depth of the water soon created a buoyance around the baby elephant that helped him hold the elephant up with less effort.
As Bodhi got closer to higher ground the water started to recede causing the baby elephant to get heavier and heavier.
Bodhi struggled to carry the elephant until the water was down to his knees, and Bodhi then dropped down as he was overcome with exhaustion.
He released the baby elephant who was now able to make it the rest of the way alone. Of course the mother followed closely to her offspring until her calves were both safely on dry land.
They then embraced by wrapping their trunks around each other, all of them seemed happy to be on dry land.
Bodhi smiled as he watched them compassionately embrace each other because he was content that his efforts to save the baby elephant had made a difference.
The large mother elephant then had her attention fixed completely on Bodhi. She looked at him with piercing eyes before letting out an extremely loud roar, and charging aggressively at poor defenseless Bodhi.
Still exhausted from carrying the baby elephant to safety, he could only throw his hands up in surrender completely unable to defend himself from the onslaught of the mighty mother elephant.
The mother elephant charged towards him with reckless abandon. Bodhi still on his knees, was shaking with fear, but tried to display to the mother elephant with direct eye contact his true intentions of compassion for her helpless baby elephant.
Bodhi knowing that he did the right thing by helping the baby elephant reach safety was prepared to accept his unfortunate demise.
He believed that the mother elephant being an animal, (Tiryak on the wheel of SAMSARA) did not understand that his intentions were good, and was ready to punish him for his actions.
At the very last moment however just as the elephant reached him, she lifted Bodhi up with her trunk and carried him the rest of the way to dry land, dropping him down next to her calves.
The calf he was carrying gingerly approached him, and cuddled up to him. The other calf not wanting to be left out joined in the embrace as their mother calmly watched.
Lama Yacana smiled knowing experience is a much greater teacher than mere words. His inquisitive student Bodhi Dukkhan showed compassion in the face of fear.
Bodhi’s compassion for another living being, valued the life of a helpless animal over his own. Moreover he learned that animals suffer emotional Dukkha as well.
Bodhi learned that animals are intelligent, and can exhibit signs of empathy for those who are suffering. The elephants taught Bodhi a valuable lesson that day, one even his enlightened teacher Lama Yacana could not impress upon him.
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