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When No One Is Looking

Buddhist Jataka tale retold by Jessica York.

In the town, there was a school for young people. The school was very poor, but the youth were mostly happy because they had teachers who were wise and who cared for them very much.

One day, one of the wise teachers gathered the students. "Our school needs money to buy food. We have exhausted all our resources. I need for you to go out into the town and steal items we can sell for money. Steal only luxury items, though, things people do not really need. Steal only when no one is looking."

The students started talking among themselves. Everyone made plans—everyone except for one student who simply stood there with downcast eyes. The teacher approached this student. "What is wrong with you? Everyone else is glad to help out! Are you lazy or afraid? Do you not love your school?"

"I am not lazy or afraid. I love my school as much as anyone here does. Yet, I cannot do what you ask of me."

"Why is that?" the teacher asked angrily.

"It is impossible for me to steal when no one is looking. I will be there. I will be looking. I will see myself steal," the sad student replied.

The teacher hugged the student. "You are the only one who has learned what I have been truly teaching."

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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