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 The Little Golden Bird


Once upon a time . . . several Buddhist monks lived in a great temple that
stood in a magnificent garden full of flowers and rare plants. The monks spent
their days contentedly in prayer and meditation, and the beauty of their
surroundings was all they needed to make them forget the world. Then one day,
something happened to change their life in this peaceful corner, making the
days seem shorter and not so monotonous. No longer did they live peacefully
together, indeed they started to quarrel. But what had happened?
A young monk had arrived, upsetting their lives by telling them all about
the outside world beyond the garden wall. He told them about cities, the
bright lights, everyday life full of entertainments and pleasure. And when the
monks heard about this different world, they no longer wanted to remain in
what had, till then, seemed paradise, but now turned into a lonely existence.
With the young monk as their leader, first one group then another left the
temple. Weeds began to sprout on the paths and the temple was almost deserted.
Then the last five monks, torn between their love for the sacred spot and the
wish to see the new world they'd heard about, sadly got ready to leave.
But just as they were about to turn their backs on the temple, a golden
bird, dangling five long white strings, fluttered over their heads. Each monk
felt himself drawn to clasp one of the strings, and suddenly the little group
found itself carried away to the land of their dreams. And there, they saw the
outside world as it really was, full of hate, misery and violence, a world
without scruples, where peace was forever banned.
It was a long journey, and when the golden bird brought them back to the
temple garden, they decided never to leave it again. Three times the bird
circled overhead before it vanished into the sky. And the monks knew then that
Buddha had come to help them find the pathway to true happiness.

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