Parable Text: Castle in the Sand

The Parable: (taken from the Book, Kindness (A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents) collected and adapted by Sarah Conover



Castles of Sand


Along the banks of a wide, lazy, river, a number of children were playing on a lovely beach in the afternoon sunshine. These were ancient times, but the same story could be told now, whenever children enjoy the irresistible magic of water and sand. On this particular day, castles quickly sprouted across the length of the shoreline beneath busy hands. And the longer each child attended to his or her castle, the more carefully each guarded it and felt a need to keep it separate from their neighbors’. Soon, there was no mistaking which castle and which territory belonged to whom.


But eventually, as it often happens, a child slips or falls clumsily upon a neighboring castle; or someone makes a comparison between castles; or a child acquires a special stick or shell to ornament her fortress and so it stands more proudly than any others do. On this day, when such a mistake was made, an insult was carelessly tossed about, and the insulted child ran up and stomped upon the offender’s castle. The lord of the newly wrecked castle pulled the attacker’s hair and shouted for the others to help administer justice. The boy was soon chased from the beach and given a kick or two for good measure! Then the children returned to expanding their own castles and provinces, each saying, “Don’t touch! Hey!, look at my castle! Mine is the best! Mine is the biggest!”


A short time later, the sun began to set. Dusk arrived and the children knew they were expected home for supper. Suddenly, it seemed as if no one had ever cared about castles. Squeals of joy were heard in the delight of destroying the day’s work: some kicked their castles apart, others dissolved them with buckets of water. Then one and all turned towards home and left.


In the quiet, only the pleasant lapping of the river against the shore was heard. And nightlong, the river gently smoothed the sand again.