In keeping with the topic of making assumptions of others that we have discussed during our Nonviolent Communication workshop on Sunday, here is a story is taken from a collection of 108 by Ajahn Brahm:
"My first year as a Monk in northeast Thailand coincided with the last year of the Vietnam War. Close to Ajahn Chah's monastery, near the regional city of Ubon, was an American air-force base, Ajahn Chah enjoyed telling us the following true story on how to deal with abuse.
An American G.I. was traveling from the base into town on a rickshaw. On the outskirts of town, they passed a roadside bar where some friends of the rickshaw driver were already quite drunk. 'Hey! they shouted in Thai, 'Where are you taking that dirty dog to?' Then they laughed, pointing at the American soldier. For a moment, the driver was alarmed. The soldier was a very big man and in Thailand calling someone a 'dirty dog' meant an inevitable fight. However, the soldier was quietly looking around, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Obviously, he did not understand the Thai language.
The driver, deciding to have some fun at the American's expense, shouted back, 'I'm taking this filthy dog and throwing him in the Moon River to give the smelly mongrel a wash.' As the driver and his friends laughed the soldier remained unmoved.
When they reached their destination and the driver put out his hand for the journey's fare, the American soldier quietly walked away. The rickshaw driver excitedly shouted after him in broken but clear English, 'Hey! Sir! You pay me dollars!' To which the big American soldier calmly turned around and said in perfect accented Thai, 'Dogs don't have pockets.'"
A blog by the Lotus Heart Zen Meditation and Study Group members