Those who are trying to help neighbors in trouble are always beautiful. A story about the moon and a rabbit depicts such a beautiful behavior.
An old man visited where a monkey, dhole, otter, and rabbit lived together. The man looked tired and hungry. Relieving his hunger seemed to be the most urgent. Animals all tried to help the man in their own ways. The monkey picked fruits from mountains, the dhole brought meat and lizards, and the otter caught fish in the water. However, there was nothing the rabbit could do, except for offering grass it eats. The rabbit eventually decided to start and jump into a fire to sacrifice itself for the man. However, no matter how many times it tried, the rabbit did not catch fire. Rather, a fire felt like cold snow, which was odd. “I am the king of heaven. I’ve come here to test you,” said the man. The rabbit said even if he is the king of heaven, he couldn’t stop it. The king was touched by the rabbit’s willingness to sacrifice everything it has for another person. The king squeezed mountains to obtain paints and painted the rabbit on the moon to tell the world the rabbit’s selflessness, which is why the rabbit ended up on the moon.
The above is one of the past-life stories of the Buddha described in the Heart Sutra, with the monkey, dhole, and otter representing the Buddha’s beloved students and the rabbit symbolizing the Buddha himself. The idea to squeeze mountains to get paints to draw the rabbit on the moon is unrealistic, but the fable delivers important messages about hospitality toward others and alms. The story fully shows how valuable and ethical the competitive hospitality for neighbors is through the animals trying to serve the hungry man. The moon with the rabbit shines the world yet another day. This is why the world is still bright and beautiful.