Rabbit in the Moon
The story of one of Shakyamuni's previous lives.

It was a hot lazy day in the forest. A monkey, a rabbit, a weasel and a fox were lazing about in the sun. The rabbit said, "I have a great idea."

The monkey said, "It better be good or I'm not coming down from this tree."

"Does it have to do with longer and better naps," asked the weasel. The fox didn't believe a rabbit could have a good idea at all.

"Ok," said the rabbit. "I guess it will have to stay with me, if you don't want to hear it." They all begged the rabbit to hear it. He cleverly lead them on and then said, "Well, ok, if you really want to hear it." "Let's not eat tomorrow, but instead we'll give anything we find to another hungry animal."

The fox now believed the rabbit was really hare-brained. "Where will that get me. What use is it. There is no benefit to us for giving hungry animals food." The weasel yawned, bored. The monkey screeched. He wanted to know where rabbit got such ideas. "Well ", said rabbit, "deeds of good karma come back to us many times in ways we don't expect and in times we can't predict. But come back to us they do." "So we go without food for one day and give what we find to the needy, is that the idea?" asked the fox. "That's it," replied rabbit. "Only we can't steal and we can't kill to get the food we plan to share with the hungry." They all agreed that if this karma thing were true it would be worth a try, just to see if it worked.

They planned to start the very next morning. When they awoke the next morning they noticed for the first time how every form of life was eating another form of life. Life killed life in order to live. They had to be careful that they themselves weren't killed and eaten on their search for the food gift. All that running around made them hungry too. But not stealing, no killing and no eating. That was going to be hard.

Meanwhile the God of Gods, named Shakra at the time, didn't believe the animals had it in them to follow through with the bargain. He didn't think they knew what compassion and karma were. He was especially suspicious of rabbit.

That is why Shakra made all the food in the forest disappear for one day. It was a way of testing the animal's resolve. Weasel found a piece of meat on the path. It was wrapped in nice paper, like a gift. He grabbed it and realized that he might stealing. He swished it off the path with his tail then said, "O look wrapped meat. Someone must have thrown it away. Just what I need."

Fox found a fish on the bank of the river. He thought, "It is possible that the fish was caught there by someone else, but I will say I think it just flopped out on its own. Fish can jump, you know. Aren't I clever. Now I can take the fish. He bit it and ran off to find rabbit."

Monkey saw some fruit in a basket. "Hey, how did they get fruit to grow in a basket? That's clever. I'll just pick them right now and take them to rabbit."

Rabbit was running through the forest very afraid. There were many hungry animals and rabbit was sleek and fat. He ran faster and faster.

Where would he find food for the hungry? What is going to happen to these animals? What will Shakra do? What rabbit, A future Buddha, thinking?

November 16, 1999

Click here to go to Rabbit in the Moon - Part 2

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