Once there was a prince who was very interested in playing chess. One day he thought that he would play chess against the man who was the court jester, someone we would call a fool.
So the prince started playing chess with him and the court jester was very good at the game. He manoeuvered to the point of the game where he said, 'Checkmate,' which means to say that he had the prince in the position where he could not win and so the jester would have won the game.
The prince was so angry that he threw the chess set at the jester, then he said to him, 'Now you can play me again.'
The poor court jester had to play again and he was very frightened. After some time it became quite apparent that the prince was going to lose, the jester had beaten him. When the time came for the jester to shout out 'Checkmate' he ran into a corner and flung a whole lot of rugs over himself. He lay hidden under the rugs and several cushions, to escape the blows from the prince. The prince called out, 'What are you doing?' and the little jester shouted out from underneath the cushions and rugs, 'Checkmate, checkmate.'
This story shows how the jester was frightened while he was humble and the prince was a bully. To be really humble one has to be very brave.
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Another story shows humility on a different scale.
There was once a young prince whose father and mother decided they would protect him from all the unpleasant things in life. They had a large splendid palace and beautiful gardens with a great wall around, which the prince was forbidden ever to leave. So he spent all of his time in the palace or the garden.
When the prince was about thirteen years old he was married to a girl who had been chosen for him by his parents, as was the custom in those days. They lived happily in the palace for a number of years, never venturing outside the walls.
At eighteen however the prince became curious, and he decided he would like to go and see what the outside world was like, so taking with him a retainer (servant) he left the palace on horseback. On travelling through the countryside the young Buddha, for that was who the prince was, saw an old man. He was surprised to see him, for only young people had been allowed within the palace. He asked the retainer what was wrong with the man, but the retainer replied that he was merely old. 'But why is he limping?' the young Buddha enquired. 'His leg has been hurt,' replied the other. On travelling further the two came upon a man walking with the aid of a stick, which he was tapping on the ground. When he asked what was the matter he was told that the man was blind, and used the stick to feel his way. Later on their journey they came upon a group of hungry children begging for food. The prince was very concerned to see this, as all these things had been hidden from him within the palace. 'The children are very poor and are so thin because of lack of food,' he was told.
By this time the Buddha was very sad. On returning to the palace he felt very uncomfortable in his rich surroundings and began to question why he had been protected from all this sadness. He worried about it a great deal.
Finally one day he decided he must leave the palace and go out to live in the real world with all of its sorrows and injustices. Leaving behind his fine clothes he dressed in simple ones, and went out to try and help the people to overcome their suffering by working from within themselves.
This story shows that humility comes from a real understanding of man's place on Earth.