For articulately carrying the teaching of the Buddha, Ananda receives a bag of gold from a queen. The king decides to test whether this monk has really renounced the desire for wealth.
What will you do with so much gold?
Ananda replies that he would buy clothes.
But a bag of gold will buy a lot of clothes. What will a monk do with so many?
The clothes are not for me. They are for all the villagers.
But what will become of their old clothes? Thrown away?
Ananda explains that they will sew their old clothes into quilts to keep them warm.
But what of the quilts that they have? Thrown away?
They are old and worn, and hardly warm anymore. So we will stuff them into new pillows.
And their old pillows? Thrown away?
Ah, those are pillows only in name. They are but scraps, which we will now sew together to make into rugs.
Don’t they have rugs now?
Yes they do, but those are thin. They can be folded and become doormats, to keep their homes clean.
So they don’t have doormats presently?
They do, indeed. But those are threadbare. And are fit only for mops. Which they will now become.
Sniffing a loophole, the king advanced…
Ah the old mops, you will throw them away?
Certainly not. Although their work is well done, they will live on in another form. We will pound them along with clay, and use them to strengthen the walls of the houses.
And the king, looking on all the wealth in his palace, was silent.
Sridhar Rajan, a friend from Delhi, posted this story on Storytell as part of a thread about recycling stories.
… in India, waste is a fairly recent phenomenon, and a lot of that is coming from the import of ‘western’ practices. In many of our homes, nothing gets thrown away, and value is attached to stuff that most (if not all) westerners wouldn’t even notice they were discarding. So stories about recycling and reuse are pretty pedestrian, hardly the stuff of heroics that dominate our mythology and permeate our folklore.
However, I do know of one exception. Many years ago, while designing an exhibit themed around sustainability, I encountered a lovely story about Ananda (the Buddha’s disciple).
My good friend Fran Stallings has included Ananda Recycles, with some further information, on her website.
She has many other folk tales tales relating to teaching the natural sciences.
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For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling