The Courageous Captain: Trusting in Our Actions, Not Superstitions
Sometimes Jataka Tales are reserved for our youngest children. Why? The Buddha used them to convey important morals and truths to his followers. Most of them were adults. My older students always gobble up these lessons, even when I use books clearly intended for younger readers.
Before they can roll their eyes and say, "OMG, this is a baby story," I call myself out for using it. "Obviously this book is intended for younger readers," I'll say, "but I learned so much from it when I was working on it for the little kids, that I knew y'all would appreciate too." And they do.
We used a book titled, Courageous Captain, A Jataka Tale. You can find it here.
Before we read the story, I invited the kids to share any superstitions they knew.
Their list included things like:
A black cat crossing your path
Athletes spitting on bats or wearing the same socks
Breaking a mirror means 7 years bad luck
Carrying a lucky rabbit's foot
Women on a Pirate ship was bad luck...
Then I asked, "When we trust in superstitions, do we keep control of our fate?"
I wanted the kids to come away from this lesson knowing that we must rely on our actions, not our luck if we want to be successful.
After the story I asked the following questions:
1.) Why did the captain want Supuraga on board?
2.) Did they listen to his wisdom, or just rely on the good luck his presence would bring?
3.) What made Supuraga such a good navigator?
(his presence, or his skills, wisdom, insight, etc...)
4.) When the crew trusted in Supuraga as a good luck charm where did their ship travel?
(closer to danger)
5.) When they trusted his words and acted upon them, what happened?
(they took control of their ship and gained treasures)
6.) How is this similar to the Buddha?
7.) Does keeping a Buddha statue or picture nearby keep us safe and protect us?
8.) Why do we keep statues of the Buddha around?
9.)When will we find refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, or Sangha?
(When we follow his teachings)
After the discussion I had a small pasting activity for the younger children to do. It tickled me that the older kids wanted to make this too. Thankfully I had enough supplies for everyone.
May all be free from suffering by the power of the Triple Gem.