The monk who laughed
Many years ago when Lord Buddha was alive, there lived an enlightened monk named Katayana in a village in eastern India. One morning he set out around the village begging for alms as it was a common practice of Buddhist monks of that time.
That same morning katayana happened to be at a house of a lady where she was having meal. He saw the lady eating boiled fish. She had a baby in her laps. She was so much caring and loving for the baby and breast feeding her with great love. A poor skinny dog was trying to eat the bones of the fish that the lady had left behind. As the dog tried to eat the bones of fish, the lady got furious and beat the skinny dog mercilessly till it cried out of pain. The enlightened monk diligently observed all these events for a while and burst into series of laughter.
The lady got irritated and decided to ask the monk, ‘why are you laughing so much without any reasons?’ The monk contemplated for a while and said, ‘the fish you are eating was your own father in your previous life. The dog you are beating so mercilessly just now was your mother in your past life. And the child you lovingly carry on your laps was your enemy who murdered you in your previous life. Now looking at these situations in samsara, I cannot help but just laugh’. The lady then stopped beating the dog and eating fish from that day.
This simple story from the time of Lord Buddha illustrates how all sentient beings could be our own parents in our past lives. This story highlights the need to be benevolent and compassionate to whoever we meet wherever we go. It also teaches us to not to harm any sentient beings starting from a small ant to the biggest elephants. This is because it is cent percent possible that all sentient beings were our mothers in the previous lives.