Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Tale of Retribution

In the distant past, an archer, a lay Buddhist practitioner of black and white karma visited a Buddha and confessed. The Buddha told the archer that, in order to pay retribution for his black karma, he should go into the forest, and make a simple bulls-eye target on each of three trees. He should take aim at the first tree from a distance of 100 yards, at the second from 200 yards, and at the third from 400 yards.

The next day the archer returned to the Buddha, prostrated himself, and reported to the Buddha that, incredibly, he had, with three arrows, scored three bulls-eyes.

“Should I think,” the archer inquired “that the three bulls-eyes were a reward for my past white karma, or were they rather reward for the virtue of my believing deeply in cause and effect?”

“Neither,” replied the Buddha. “What happened yesterday was retribution for your past black karma.”

“I don’t understand,” said the archer, bewildered. “How can three bulls-eyes from such distances be retribution?”

“Simple,” concluded the Buddha. “Whenever you try to tell anybody about it, no-one will believe you.”


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