This week we’ve been discussing “attention” as our virtue for the week and the following story really illustrates how paying attention can save you from harm and hardships.
I once was a monkey, strong and nimble, living in a forest near the Ganges River. Now and then, I would go to the river to drink. The Ganges was full of crocodiles and I was careful where I stepped, because the crafty creatures often lay hidden on the muddy banks.
One day, I spotted a huge crocodile near one of drinking spots.
“Come closer, Monkey, don’t be afraid,” he called to me. “Have a drink of water, I want to tell you something.”
When he saw that I wasn’t going to move closer, he said to me, “I notice you here often. Do you ever leave this side of the river?”
“No,” I said. “I am happy here.”
“Do you know that there are more fruit trees on the other side? Trees whose branches are heavy with ripe mangoes, rose apples, and jackfruit?”
My mouth was watering as I listened to him name those delicious fruits. “I cannot cross this wide river,” I said. “I do not swim.”
“Climb on my back,” said the crocodile. “I will take you across.”
Without thinking, I jumped on his back. When we were in the middle of the river, the crocodile began to lower himself into the water.
“What are you doing?” I screamed. “You are drowning me!”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing! I am going to eat your heart!”
Why didn’t you tell me before? ” I said, trying to sound calm. “I could have saved you the trouble. We monkeys never bring our hearts with us when we go near the water.”
“Where do you leave them, then?” asked the crocodile, very annoyed.
“We always leave them hanging on our fig tree,” I said, pointing to a fig tree on the riverbank. “See that big red shape there, that’s my heart. I will take it down for you if you bring me back.”
The crocodile turned around. As soon as we reached land, I jumped off his back and scampered up the tree.
“Tricky Crocodile! You thought you could fool me!” I cried. “You can’t even tell a fig from a monkey’s heart!”
The foolish old creature was so embarrassed he dropped to the depths of the river without a sound.
The monkey was greedy for the fruit and therefore was ready to believe the crocodile without thinking. It is always best to have a clear mind, to think before we act.