The Beautiful Parrots: Riches & Fame Come and Go Like the Wind

This lesson was shared with both my elementary and middle school students.

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 chose this week's story from it's pages.

In this Jataka Tale, two lovely parrots are treasured as the king's favorite pets, at least until an entertaining little monkey arrives.  Suddenly the parrots are forgotten in the shadow of the new pet's funny faces.  An important lesson is learned about how quickly circumstances in our lives change and how difficult these changes become when we are too attached to things staying the same.

Before the tale I asked the children, "Have you ever felt replaced?  Maybe by a friend or sibling...Maybe you were the best at a sport and then someone joined the team who was even better than you... At school?  This is the story of two parrots who experienced the same feeling."

After the story I asked the younger children the following questions:

This is a lesson about expecting things to change.  We suffer less when we remember that things always change. 

I asked the children to offer examples of things that change.  They shared ideas about seasons, friendships, ages, jobs, homes... This lesson can open the door for young people to examine their thoughts and feelings about life events like the birth of a sibling, the loss of friendship, popularity, success and failures in sports and academics... Invite your students to visualize both the best and worst case scenarios in the things that matter most to them, making peace with both outcomes.  The ability to anticipate and accept change is a priceless tool.  Let's give it to our children as early as possible.

I found a cool parrot craft on Pinterest that I used with my younger students.

We added a quote from the story to our project.

We applied the words of the wise parrot to the folk song, Down By the Riverside:

Gain and loss and praise and blame
Pleasure, pain, dishonor, fame
Come and go like the spring.
                            (sing 2x's)
Why should a little parrot grieve?
                             ( 3x's)
Why should a little parrot sing?
                             ( 3x's)

May all be free from suffering by the power of the Triple Gem!

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