The Black Bull: Treating and Speaking to Others With Kindness

"Treat others with kindness and your deeds will be rewarded."

This lesson can be shared with children of any age.

Buddha Stories by Demi beautifully illustrates 11 Jataka Tales. Most local libraries have a copy to lend.  It can also be purchased from bookstores in the US.  I pulled this week's story from these sweet pages.

The black bull is dearly loved by its master.  As a calf it was given the name Beauty.  In an attempt to repay his master for his kindness, Beauty persuades him to enter a bull race with a handsome reward for first place.

Beauty is startled and heartbroken at the start of the race when his master whips him and shouts curses upon him.  Shocked by his master's behavior, Beauty loses the race and costs his master a great deal of money.

It is only when both Beauty and his master remember the importance of kind actions and words that they are reconciled and richly rewarded.

Here are some questions I asked the youngest children as we read along:

1.) How did the master feel about Beauty before the contest?

2.) What did the master do to Beauty to try to make him go fast in the race?

3.) Why didn't Beauty win the race?

4.) What did Beauty ask the master to do at the next race?

5.) What happened when the master kindly asked Beauty to race fast?

The older children used the following questions for discussion after the story:

1.) Have you ever had someone tell you to do something in a rude way?
How did it make you feel?

2.) Have you ever asked someone to do something in an angry way?
Did they comply with your request?

3.) How does speaking kindly during conflict help both ourselves and the people with whom we disagree?

4.) How can using Beauty's tactic help us resolve quarrels with our siblings?  friends? teachers? parents?
(We then created some hypothetical conflicts and discussed the best way to speak to those involved.)

After our discussion, we decided to make simple duct tape bracelets to help us remember throughout the week to speak and act kindly.   We folded duct tape over twice longway.  Then using dark fabric markers, the kids chose their own words to write on the tape.  Some decorated their words with stripes and flowers.  Others kept it very simple.  I hot glued the ends with a thin strip of velcro to make them easy to put on and take off.
Unfortunately, I only had my camera phone with me so the pictures are not great.

It's nice to close this lesson with a brief Loving Kindness Meditation.  Invite the children to sit comfortably, close their eyes, and focus on their breathing.  Then guide them in these thoughts:

May I be well, happy, and peaceful.
May my parents be well ,happy and peaceful.
May my teachers be well, happy, and peaceful.
May my family be well, happy, and peaceful.
May my friends be well, happy, and peaceful.
May those who are unkind to me be well, happy, and peaceful.
May all living beings be well, happy, and peaceful.

May all living beings be freed from suffering by the power of Triple Gem.

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