Overcoming Attachment

There is one story in Buddha’s teachings. I don’t think it is from the Jataka tales. There was a man walking on the path. Suddenly he saw a snake. He was so scared that he tried to run away from the snake. The snake said, “Stop, don’t run. If I wanted to, I could chase you and catch you. But don’t run. I need your help.” So he asked the snake, “What’s the problem?” The snake told him that a long time ago he was a man who found gold. But he was so stingy and didn’t want to give it to anybody. He dug a big hole and put all the gold in a pot and buried it there. Then suddenly he died. He was born as a snake just next to that pot.

What could he do with the gold? Nothing, but he liked the gold and stayed there. Then he was reborn again as a snake and again and again and always ended up with that pot of gold. Finally he started remembering his previous lives, because he was doing the same thing again and again, like in Groundhog Day. Then he remembered his previous lives and realized, “I am always a snake and always end up with this pot of gold, which is meaningless. The attachment to the gold is the problem that makes me become a snake and always remaining in the same spot.” Then he found renunciation of the samsaric life style. That’s why he wanted that man to help him figure out how to give away that pot of gold coins………so it is better to use things when you have them.

It happened in Tibet. Before the Cultural Revolution, the government of China gave a lot of silver away in Tibet to bribe the authorities. So the authorities had tons of silver packed away. They were so happy, but didn’t use it, they just kept it. Then one day, times changed. Tibet was taken over by the Communist party, which then took all the silver back. Like that, that is samsara. When you have it, use it and enjoy it, otherwise one day somebody will take it.

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