Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Wicked Tyrant and the Howl for Justice

The Parable of the Hungry Dog
Buddhist, 600 B.C.
There was a wicked tyrant; and the god Indra, assuming the shape of a hunter, came down upon earth with the demon Matali, the latter appearing as a dog of enormous size. Hunter and dog entered the palace, and the dog howled so woefully that the royal buildings shook with the sound to their very foundations. The tyrant had the awe-inspiring hunter brought before his throne and inquired after the cause of the terrible bark. The hunter said, "The dog is hungry," whereupon the frightened king ordered food for him. All the food prepared at the royal banquet disappeared rapidly in the dog's jaws, and still he howled with portentous significance. More food was sent for, and the royal storehouses were emptied, but in vain. Then the tyrant grew desperate and asked: "Will nothing satisfy the cravings of that woeful beast?" "Nothing," replied the hunter, "nothing except perhaps the flesh of all his enemies." "And who are his enemies?" anxiously asked the tyrant. The hunter replied: "The dog will howl as long as there are people hungry in the kingdom, and his enemies are those that practice injustice and oppress the poor." The oppressor of the people, remembering his evil deeds, was seized with remorse, and for the first time in his life he began to listen to the teachings of righteousness.
This is another story about a tyrannical ruler, this time from the Buddhist tradition, again gleaned from Upton Sinclair’s “The Cry for Justice.” This morning’s Parade Magazine included its annual assessment of the world’s worst dictators: Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe; Omar al-Bashir, Sudan; Kim Jong-Il, North Korea; Than Shwe, Burma; King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia; Hu Jintao, China; Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Iran; Isayas Afewerki, Eritrea; G. Berdymuhammedov, Turkmenistan and Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya. I wonder: where is the ravenous dog that will not stop howling until the oppressed are given justice? Of course: It is my fate to be that "woeful beast," hungry for justice, who howls without respite, shaking the very foundations of power.

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