Spider’s thread


Spider’s thread

Grateful Crane

Part 1
In the Buddha-land of Purity, there was a pond with a lot of lotus flowers.
They were all as white as snow.
Their golden stamens were continuously giving off sweet fragrance.
One day in the morning, the Buddha was alone strolling around the lotus pond.

When the Buddha was staying still by the pond, he happened to look down between the lotus leaves and
flowers at the darken world of Hell—it was far beneath the pond.
He could clearly see the Styx, a bloody-pond and a pin-hill through the clear water of the lotus pond.
The Buddha noticed a man called Kandata squirming around with other sinners.
This man used to be a thief who had committed one misdeed after another, such as killing people and setting fires to
houses, such a bad man was he.
But he had carried out a good deed: it was many years ago when he was walking along in the deep woods,
he found a small spider crawling across the path.
He tried to stamp it down to death, but he changed his thought,
“It is merely a small insect, but it is sorrowful to take its life thoughtlessly.”
After all, he didn’t kill the spider.
Looking down at him, the Buddha thought of saving him out of Hell as he remembered Kandata’s only good deed he had done in his life.
Just the right time, the Buddha saw a spider spinning a beautiful silver thread between leaves of lotuses.
He gently picked it up and hung it down into the water between the white lotuses, as if it was aiming at Hell.
It became longer and longer and went down far, far from the lotus pond to Hell.

Part 2
In the meantime, the sinners were floating up and down in the bloody-pond in Hell.
It was completely dark out there.
The only things that could be seen dimly were pins on the dreadful pin-hill.
It was also dumb silent.
The only sounds that could be heard were the sighs they sometimes gave off.
Since they were down there, they were suffering the torments of Hell and had no more energy to speak with each other.
Kandata was also choked with blood in the pond and did nothing but writhed in agony like a dying frog.

In the soundless darkness that day, Kandata happened to look up at the sky above him.
He saw a silver thread hanging down toward him from far above the sky.
Looking at it, he unconsciously clapped his hands with joy.

“If I hold that thread tightly and climb it up, I could escape from Hell.”
He thought,
“If luck could have it, I might climb up to Buddha land of Purity.
In that case, they’d never drive me away onto the pin-hill nor make me sink into the bloody pond.”

Just then the thread reached him on his nose; he at once held the spider’s thread with his both hands tightly and began to climb up hurriedly.
He was good at doing so, as he used to be a thief.
He kept climbing the thread up, up, up.
But however hard he did, it was not easy to get to the goal which was far away from Hell.
On the way he felt too tired to climb up any more and stopped climbing to take a rest.
He looked down; the bloody pond and the pin-hill were far below him.
He thought he’d reach the goal sooner or later.
He chuckled to himself with a voice of “well, well” for the first time in many years.
He, however, noticed a huge number of sinners climbing up his thread like ants.
He was flabbergasted and said to himself,
“I don’t think my spider’s thread can bear such heavy weight.
If it snapped off, all the people on the thread would fall down headfirst into Hell, including me, who have climbed up all the way.”
In fact, hundreds of thousands of sinners were crawling up the thread in a line.

“I have to do something to stop them, otherwise the thread must snap off halfway and I’ll fall down back into the bloody-pond.”
He yelled at them at the top of his lungs,
“Hey, you! This spider’s thread belongs only to me.
From whom the Hell did you get the permission to climb up the thread?
Climb down quickly!”
All of the sudden the thread, which had kept bearing the weight, snapped just where Kandata was holding with both hands.
He fell down headlong into the bloody pond spinning like a top in no time.
The shining but shortened thread was still hanging down from the sky.
It was still dark—no moon or stars in the sky.

Part 3
The Buddha was staying still by the lotus pond and watching what had happened from beginning to end.
After seeing Kandata sinking in the bottom of the bloody-pond like a stone, the Buddha resumed strolling as if nothing had happened, but he looked so sad.
It seemed like the man’s merciless behavior made the Buddha sad: trying to escape from Hell only by himself turned out to get him the equivalent punishment.

The lotuses in the pond had nothing to do with this affair.
The white flowers were quietly swaying and giving off sweet fragrance from their golden stamens.
It had been nearly noon in Buddha land of Purity.

The end