Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Murder in Mayberry: The Buddha Predicts

Man charged with murder in Mayberry model town
MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – Police arrested a convicted kidnapper early Monday in the fatal shooting of four men in the town that inspired the idyllic community of Mayberry on the 1960s TV series "The Andy Griffith Show." More>>

What is the world coming to when crime strikes the symbolic heart of America? In fact, the Andy Griffith Show had a great deal of crime, partly obscured by the innocence of the comedy. But the idyllic dream is now completely shattered by a mass murder even Matlock would have trouble defending. The Buddha addressed the decline of society -- and explained the reasons for it -- in a fascinating Jataka tale: A king came to the Buddha to have his dreams interpreted. What the Buddha answered had little to do with the king but a great deal to do with the future of the world.

Jataka Tales of the Buddha, Part IV
Retold by Ken and Visakha Kawasaki (BPS)

"Just before daybreak, venerable sir, I dreamed sixteen terrifying dreams. My brahmin priests have warned me that my dreams foretell calamity. To avert [calamity], they are preparing to sacrifice many animals wherever four roads meet. Queen Mallika suggested that I ask you to tell me what these dreams really mean and what will come of them."

"It is true, sire, that I alone can explain the significance of your dreams and tell you what will come of them. Tell me your dreams as they appeared to you."

"I will, Blessed One," answered the king, and he began relating his dreams. "In the first dream, I saw four jet-black bulls. They came together from the four cardinal directions to the royal courtyard with every intention to fight. A great crowd of people gathered to see the bullfight. The bulls, however, only made a show of fighting, pawing, and bellowing. Finally, they went off without fighting at all. This was my first dream. What will come of it?"

"Sire, that dream will have no result in your lifetime or mine. But in the distant future, when kings are stingy, when citizens are unrighteous, when the world is perverted, and when good is waning and [bad] waxing, in those days of the world's decline, no rain will fall from the [sky], the monsoons will forget their season, the crops will wither, and famine will stalk the land. At that time immense clouds will gather from the four quarters of the heavens as if for rain. Farmers will rush to bring in the rice they had spread to dry in the sun. Men will take their spades and hurry to repair the dikes. The thunder will roar, and the lightning will flash from the clouds. However, just as the bulls in your dream didn't fight, these clouds will retreat without giving any rain. This is what shall come of this dream. But no harm shall come to you from this dream because it applies only to the remote future. The brahmin priests only said what they said to get some profit for themselves. Now tell me your second dream, sire."

"My second dream was about tiny trees and shrubs which burst through the soil. When they were scarcely more than a few inches high, they flowered and bore fruit. This was my second dream. What will come of it?"

"Sire," explained the Buddha, "this dream will be realized in future days when the world has fallen into decay and when human lives are short. Passions then will be so strong that even very young girls will cohabitate with men. Despite their immaturity, they will get pregnant and have children. The flowers and fruit symbolize their babies. However, you have nothing to fear from this. Tell me your third dream."

"I saw cows sucking milk from their very own newborn calves. This was my third dream. What can it possibly mean?"

"This dream will come about only when age is no longer respected. In that future time young people will have no regard for their parents or parents-in-law. Children will handle the family estate themselves. If it pleases them, they will give food and clothing to the old folks, but, if it doesn't suit them, they will withhold their gifts. Thus the old people, destitute and dependent, will survive only by the favor and whim of their own children, like big cows suckled by day-old calves. However, you have nothing to fear from this. Tell me your fourth dream."

"Men unyoked a team of strong, sturdy oxen, and replaced them with young steers, too weak to draw the load. Those young steers refused to pull. They stood stock-still, so that the wagons didn't move at all. This was my fourth dream. What will come of it?"

"Here again the dream will not come to pass until the future, in the days of wicked kings. In days to come, unjust and parsimonious kings will show no honor to wise leaders, skilled in diplomacy. They will not appoint experienced, learned judges to the courts. On the contrary, they will honor the very young and foolish, and will appoint the most inexperienced and unprincipled to the courts. Naturally, these appointees, because of their ignorance of statecraft and the law, will not be able to bear the burden of their responsibilities. Because of their incompetence they will have to throw off the yoke of public office. When that happens, the aged and wise lords will remember being passed over, and, even though they are able to cope with all difficulties, they will refuse to help, saying: 'It is no business of ours since we have become outsiders.' They will remain aloof, and the government will fall to ruins. It is just like when the young steers, not strong enough for the burden, were yoked instead of the team of sturdy oxen. However, you have nothing to fear from this. Tell me your fifth dream." More>>

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