Once there were two monks who lived in a temple. One was the master and the other, his disciple, who was still only a child. The temple was situated deep in a valley, thus not much worshippers visited. The little monk, in his spare times, likes to play in the forest surrounding the temple.
One day, while playing in the forest, the little monk decided to do something new. Seeing some fishes swimming freely in a pond, he grabbed one and proceeded to tied a stone to it with a string. He then released the fish with the stone back into the pond. As the poor fish struggled to swim away, not realising the extra burden, the little monk bursts into laughter. He was enjoying the misfortune, the suffering and the ignorance of the fish.
Next, the little monk came across a frog in his path. A twinkle could be seemed in his eyes as he tied a stone around its body. Again, he released the frog into the pond and laughed even louder as the frog seemed to sink deeper with every kick of its legs. Somehow, the frog managed to swim a fair distance, but just could not jump onto dry land despite several attempts.
The little monk's last victim was a snake. He left the snake struggling as the uneven ground eventually stopped its movement completely. As the night fell, the little monk retired to the temple. The master, having witnessed all these without his disciple's knowledge, said not a word. However, he had carried a big heavy stone back. During the night, as his disciple slept soundly, the master carried out his plan.
The following morning, the little monk, having discovered the heavy stone tied to his back, approached his master for help. The master refused to, but said: "If either the fish, frog or snake dies, you will have to carry the stone in your heart for the rest of your life…now you have to go and release them before I release you." The little monk was shocked, but had no choice as he scrambled along to the forest. The extra weight slowed his progress, as he climbed over a slope and into the pond. His effort was enormous as he moved along in the clear water. He finally spotted the fish, still tied to the stone, but dead. After burying the fish in some soil, he proceeded to look for the frog. He easily found it at exactly the same spot where it was still jumping for dry land. His expectation grew high as he continued his search. Finally, he found the snake, immobilised by the stone and dead. This time, the child's guilt was so overwhelming that he broke down in tears.
The obvious lesson, which the little child has learnt the hard way, is not to do what you don't want others to do to you. He just wanted to have some harmless fun, but it was at the expense of others. In the process, the child has "belittled" the fish, the frog and the snake, thinking that their lives are less significant because of his larger "size" or by just simply being him. Similarly, we have also at times, treated people around us in the same way. Other peoples' lives or rights are just as important as our own if not more. Be assertive, not aggressive. Thus, to be a better person, we must always strive to put ourselves in other people's shoes.
P.S. The story is adapted from the “Spring” segment of the Korean movie “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…& Spring again”