THE ROBBER AND THE SPIDER
The selfishness and disregard for the welfare of others that e find in the world today brings to mind the Japanese fable of the robber and the spider. The robber had been sent to the infernal regions. One day the Lord Buddha paid a visit to the gloomy underworld and the robber cried out to be returned to the world of light. When questioned by Buddha as to the kind deeds he had performed while on earth, he could think of only one. Once, instead of crushing ‘with his foot a spider in his path, he lifted the spider to the side of the road, where it would be safe from the feet of others.
Buddha responded not. He merely smiled and went his way, but soon the robber saw before him a thread of finest silk glittering in the darkness. It was a thread of spider’s silk leading upward. To his astonishment the robber found the silk strong enough to bear his weight, so hand over hand he climbed upward. As he was nearing the light, he heard below him the voices of many others who were climbing the apparently frail spider’s thread. Fearing that all the weight would break the thin, trembling silk, the robber called angrily to those below, “Get off, get back, this thread belongs to me!” The words had scarcely been spoken when the thread snapped, and the robber fell to the gloomy depths from which he had so nearly escaped.
The robber of the fable has many human imitators. Every day we see cases of those who have given all their efforts to acquiring material things for themselves without thought for others. The physical body cannot stand the effort and the silken cord snaps. On the other hand, we see others who have no ambition to have more than enough to provide for their own comfort, but who get much out of life because of – their regard for the welfare and happiness of others.
Interest in others is not demonstrated by contributions of material things, but rather by forgetting material things long enough to show a keen interest in what others are endeavoring to accomplish. By forgetting material things long enough to have time to mingle with friends. By forgetting material things long enough to have time to take a smile into a sick room. By forgetting the race for material possessions long enough to have time to sympathize with the misfortunes of others. By taking time we might otherwise employ to our own profit to show others how they may follow in the way where we have succeeded.
After all, should any man wish to be the only one to reach a goal? He’d be very lonesome.