Once, the Buddha was born as a wealthy merchant. On a journey with his caravan, he stopped outside a forest through which their route led.
“Beware, my brothers. This forest has many poison trees within. Eat nothing here without consulting me first.”
They nodded agreement and the caravan proceeded through the forest.
Just within the periphery of the forest was a village. On its outskirts grew a What-fruit tree, with an amazing likeness to the mango in trunk, leaves, flowers and fruit. The difference? Its fruit, when eaten, caused death. Some members of the merchant’s caravan, who’d gone ahead, stopped under this tree. They plucked the fruits and began to eat them.
The others, remembering their master’s words, waited for him to catch up. When he arrived, he exclaimed, “This is no mango! It’s the What-fruit tree, poisonous to the core!”
Immediately, he administered an emetic to the ones who had eaten of it and gave them an antidote; all the men recovered.
What none of them knew was that the villagers living nearby were a conniving lot. Whenever any passers-by stopped to eat the What-fruit and died, the villagers would arrive, loot all their belongings and throw their corpses in a secret grave.
This time too, the villagers came, expecting much booty from the huge caravan. To their shock, all were alive and healthy!
“Why did you not eat the fruits?” they asked the merchant.
He smiled. “When I see a tree near a village, one that’s easy to climb and yet heavy with fruit, what more proof do I need? I can only conclude that the fruit is poisonous!”
We see the world through the filters of our hopes, desires and expectations. But these emotional elements cloud our perceptions and blind the ‘inner eye’. How imperative it is to have the Right View as preached by the Buddha in the Eightfold Path – open, simple and straightforward!