A Flock of Fools

Two ancient Buddhist tales from the One Hundred Parable Sutra, a Chinese Buddhist scripture from the sixth century C.E., known as the most humorous sutra in all of Buddhist literature. Translated, retold, and illustrated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt, each tale is followed by a simple lesson for everyday living.

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A Man Whose Head Was Hit by a Pear
A long time ago, there was a bald-headed fool. Another fool came along and, just for the fun of it, struck the first fool on the head with a pear. After several more blows, the poor fool’s head was entirely covered with bruises. He had allowed himself to receive the blows in silence and did not even consider running away. When the beating was over, a man who had witnessed the episode said, “Why don’t you run away and avoid being hit instead of taking the blows and getting hurt?” The fool answered, “I stayed because that man is ignorant. He boasts constantly and tries to prove how strong he is in any way he can. He saw that I was bald, but he was stupid enough to mistake my head for a stone. That’s why he struck it with a pear.”

The other man answered. “How could you call him stupid? You’re the ignorant one. Only a fool would take such a beating and not even consider running away!”

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