Neru Jataka (#379)

temple painting of Neru Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a golden goose living with his younger brother in the Himalayas. One day, while flying home, they saw the magical Mount Neru, where the animals that live there turn a golden hue, and they landed on the summit. The brother commented how all animals—the dim and clever, the cowardly and brave—were honored equally. Jackals rivaled tigers, and crows rivaled golden geese. Saying good creatures would never stay in such a terrible place, they quickly left.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The Buddha gave one of his disciples some topics for meditation and sent him away to spend the rainy season in a frontier village. At first, the people there welcomed him, building him a hut and bringing him food, and he was happy there. But not long after, people switched their support to some teachers proposing that things are permanent, and then to men from a sect that denied immortality, and later to some naked ascetics.

When the rainy season ended, the disciple went back to the Buddha’s monastery and told him about being unsatisfied in a place where people did not know right from wrong. The Buddha said he should have moved to another place, and he told this story as an example of how he himself had done so in the past.

The younger goose was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.

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