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Can I start by wishing our Jewish friends a Happy Passover, our Christian friends a Happy Easter and our Sikh friends a Happy Vaisakhi. What a busy week it has been!

This week we continue our set of stories around the theme “How to be a Peacemaker.” The second story comes from the Buddhist tradition and looks at the value of seeing things from different perspectives.

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How can we be peacemakers? – BUDDHISM
The Buddhist tradition goes back to the 6th Century BC in Northern India. Buddha gained enlightenment during a time of meditation and became known as one who was fully awake. His teaching is known as the Middle Way and describes how to live a balanced life based on moderate discipline.
There are several Buddhist scriptures and teachings in existence. The Jataka tales are ancient narratives which are believed to have been told by the Buddha himself. They were retold between 300BC and 400AD and form part of the sacred literature from the Buddhist tradition. This story demonstrates how the Sharabha deer and the king created a peaceful environment for all to live in safety.

The Fabulous Sharabha Deer

Once long ago there was a king who set out on a hunt. He was passionate about sport and would hunt elephants with chariots and footmen by his side. One day he had crossed a great distance and became distracted. Without realizing it he had become lost inside a deep dark wood inhabited by the Sharabha deer. This Sharabha deer was no ordinary deer. It was extraordinarily virtuous, swift and beautiful in colour. It was full of compassion and was friendly towards all animals, living happily in the forest, always content and living off the natural vegetation in the woods.
The king quickly spotted the deer and reached for his bow and arrows. He strung his bow and started to chase after the deer until they reached a big chasm which the deer leapt across easily. The king's horse came to a sudden halt and the king was thrown from his horse. When the deer looked back, he realized what had happened. The king had fallen off the horse and landed deep in the chasm on the rocks. He was badly injured and in need of help.
The deer completely forgave the king’s attempt to kill him and he slowly climbed down into the chasm to help him out. The king was deeply moved by the kindness of the deer and tears started to roll down his face. He apologised to the deer and asked for his forgiveness. The king was sorry that he had believed the deer was nothing more than a low-minded beast when instead he recognised that he was the one behaving like a brute.
The deer carried the king up the hill and back to his horse. The king was overcome with remorse and gratitude. He begged the deer to come and live in his palace. The deer declined the offer but said that he did have one request. He asked that the king and his people stop hunting the deer in the woods. He said that forest animals are worthy of his compassion and protection, and not his arrows. The king agreed and from that day onwards hunting was outlawed.
(Adapted from Buddha at Bedtime, Nagaraja, D. 2008)
Follow up questions:
  1. Can you remember what the king did in this story to bring about peace?
  2. Why do you think the deer didn’t want to go and live in the palace?
  3. Can you think of examples from your own experiences where peace was brought about through either:
  • Stepping in to stop something that was wrong? (Like the horse)
  • Showing compassion to someone who had been hurtful? (Like the deer)
  • Being willing to make a change in behavior to restore a friendship? (Like the king)
To access this story in pdf format please click on the link below:
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