Even a bird knows to dwell in the best place; how can a human being be less wise than a bird?
Sitting upright in front of her loom, Mrs. Meng, nee Zhang, operated it rhythmically. Occasionally, she glanced back at Mengke (Mencius), who was sitting properly and studying. His appearance of reverent concentration pleased her greatly, and she reflected on all the effort she had spent fifteen years ago!
Ever since she had first become pregnant with him, she had been extremely cautious. In the past, when Tai Ren was pregnant with King Wen of the Zhou Dynasty, she avoided looking at unwholesome sights, listening to dissipated music, and saying coarse words. With this kind of prenatal teaching, she nurtured and raised King Wen to be a sage King. Not only did Mrs. Meng observe these practices, she also cut food into pieces of the exact same size for cooking. In her daily conduct, she would not sit down on a seat which was not set straight. She behaved with the utmost caution and propriety, fearing only that improper prenatal teaching would result in the birth of a recalcitrant child. When she saw that her child was able to run and jump, and very clever and good at imitation, she was still not relieved, for she constantly worried that he might unintentionally pick up some bad habits.
"Let's play house, Ziyu!" a child's voice called from outside the window. Mengke lifted his head and looked hopefully at his mother. Mrs. Meng smiled and said, "You've been good all day. Go ahead!" "Thanks, Mom." Jumping up joyfully, Mengke showed his respects to her and then ran out. Soon children's laughter could be heard outside. As Mrs. Meng continued weaving, she suddenly heard a piercing child's voice, "What a butcher! Your meat is so expensive--are you selling human flesh?" Another voice responded rudely, "To hell with your deal! You bum!" Wasn't that Mengke's voice? Hurriedly, she pushed open the window shutters and caught sight of several kids gathered around a small table. One of them, who had his sleeves rolled up and was standing with one foot on the table, was making the motions of slaughtering a pig and cutting up its meat. It was Mengke! What was he doing? Before Mrs. Meng could figure out what was happening, Mengke was already bargaining with another child who played a customer. She couldn't bear to watch any longer. "We've got to move right away!" she decided. At his young age, he'd already picked up the fierce expressions of the butcher next door, and he'd also learned the obstinate and crude ways of the common rabble in the street. This was absolutely intolerable!
"Come out and play, Ziyu!" As soon as they were settled down in their new home, the depressed Mengke discovered that there were quite a few children in the neighborhood. Mrs. Meng, fearing that he might become eccentric, permitted him to play with them. However, when she heard the trumpets playing and people crying, she looked outside and almost fainted. Dressing in mourning clothes, a bunch of kids were holding a mock funeral, sending a coffin to the grave. Immediately she started to pack their belongings, once again deciding to move far away from this new home, which was next to a cemetery.
When they moved near to a school, little Mengke started mimicking the students and asking to go to school. However, he soon grew lazy and began to skip his classes! Mrs. Meng sawed through her loom to teach him a lesson: if he stopped halfway, he'd be just as useless as the unfinished piece of cloth on the loom. Fortunately, Mengke regretted his mistake and reformed, and in several years, he matured into a youth who excelled in both virtue and academics.
A knocking at the door interrupted her reverie. Mengke stood up and led in a refined young gentleman. The young man politely greeted Mrs. Meng, and then sat down with Mengke to go over his lessons. As Mrs. Meng joyfully wove her cloth, the words of a song came to her mind, "A bird, singing softly, moved from the dark valley to a tall and big tree." Even a bird knows to choose a good environment, make good friends, and dwell in the best place; how can a human being be less wise than a bird?
On Sunday, June 19, 1994,Gold Buddha Monastery, the branch temple of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association in Canada, will celebrate its Tenth Anniversary. The Jeweled Repentance of the Emperor of Liang will be conducted from June 12th to 18th. All faithful followers are invited to join in this Dharma Assembly to plant supreme causes, to leave suffering and attain bliss, and to benefit the living and the deceased.
Gold Buddha Monastery
301 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V6A 1P3, CANADA . Tel: (604) 684-3754