The Lost Bead

Nin and the caretaker sat on a hill and watched the young rabbits as they played amid the wildflowers. One of them, Nin saw, had a sparkling marble which they batted around with their paws.

Nin felt a twinge of sadness. “Many years ago I had a small bead—a shiny object,” he said. “I carried it with me everywhere! I loved it! One day, as I was playing, I accidentally dropped my treasure. It rolled down a steep embankment and into a muddy bog, lost forever! It has been a very long time now, but I still remember the feel of the bead, and the weight of it. I think about it often. Sometimes I dream of those old days. My bead is gone, but I still cling to it.”

“In my time raising young rabbits,” said the caretaker, “I have observed that many of them have a favourite object or toy, that often, like you, they will eventually lose or misplace.”

Nin shook his head sadly. “How terrible.”

“Not so,” replied the caretaker. “Little rabbits are always seeking the new; they have little time for the old. In a week or month most will have completely forgotten about their once precious object. If only we were all like this—and could realize the impermanence of all things!”

“If only,” replied Nin. “Once I even entertained dreams of dredging the bog to recover my bead. In some ways I would have preferred it to have been utterly destroyed. Every time I passed that place, that bog, I was reminded of what laid buried just out of reach.”

“Children grasp the dharma easily,” said the caretaker. “We adults have lost that knowledge, we have been plied by the world. I wonder, if you were just a little bit younger when you lost that bead—a mere kit—would you even remember it today, or would you have been able to let it go, would it have slipped from your memory just as it slipped from your paw?”

“I can only speculate,” replied Nin.

“It would have been better if you had forgotten,” said the caretaker. “How many other things from your childhood have you lost? But you do not dwell on them. Why cannot you accept the impermanence of your bead as well?”

And they sat on the hill and contemplated this wisdom, and below them the little rabbits played without a care in the world.