One time in a corner of the world, a goose and a mongoose walked along the bank of a raging river.
“Only a goose can swim in such turbulent waters,” said the goose.
The mongoose responded, puffing its chest and standing tall: “I am a mongoose, and so, being ‘mon’ more than a goose, I too can swim in such waters.”
And so the mongoose dove in, and, being more or less a sort of carnivorous rodent, drowned.
So much for the sin of delusion.
One time in a corner of the world, there was a foolish but kind king who delegated much of the work of ruling to his ministers. His counselors, however, were cruel, and passed many villainous acts on his behalf. Each day the ministers would bring their decrees to the absentminded king, who would stamp each in turn with his signet ring.
One day the cruelest of the ministers decided to simplify the process and steal the signet ring for himself. He planned with great care and eventually found himself standing before the signet ring, ripe for the taking, in the king’s private chambers. Upon taking it into his hand, a hole opened in the ceiling and deposited a quite enormous cucumber onto him, crushing him.
So much for the sin of theft.
One time in a corner of the world, two old men, one kindhearted and one covetous, lived as neighbors. One day in the corner of his garden, the kindhearted man found an injured bird, which he nursed back to health. Later, the bird brought him a special seed that in time grew into an enormous squash, which the kind old man found to be made of solid gold.
The covetous neighbor, jealous of this fortune, asked where one gets such enormous golden squash. Receiving a truthful answer, he schemed to replicate the process: he shot down a bird into his garden, nursed it back to health, and did, eventually, receive a seed.
In time, the seed grew into an enormous squash. But when the greedy old man went to cut open the squash its hull parted, and, a fierce old man sprang from its insides.
The fierce old man produced a large measuring scale and preceded to aggressively measure the greedy man, finally proclaiming that he was of no use at all. He then cut off the greedy old man’s head.
So much for the sin of covetousness.
Story Source: “The Golden Squash,” from Albert Shelton’s book of Tibetan folk tales, via the course UnTextbook.
Author’s Note: This is a revision StoryLab of my Week 7 story of the same name. In short, I was inspired by the random and bizarre nature of the punishment meted out to the covetous old man. In particular, I was struck by the casual sound of the final sentence — “so much for the sin of covetousness” — and decided to make something of it.
My revisions mostly consisted of improvements in flow and diction.
The bookend phrases: “One time in a corner of the world” and “So much for the sin of ____” are both taken directly from the source story. And the “fierce old man” is straight from the source as well.