The generosity of the Buddha

Even mundane chores can bring surprises. After setting up the washing machine, I became aware I had a companion – a baby brown tree snake or night tiger, Boiga irregularis. I’ve posted about these before here; they are so pretty. In the words of Douglas Adams, they are “mostly harmless”, having backwards-facing fangs and a fairly calm disposition, especially when asleep in the daytime. Unless you scare them. Or unless you are a bird or lizard on Guam, where they were introduced in the 1950s and have devastated the native species.



Boiga_2I thought all the vibration of the washing machine and me puttering around would disturb it, but when I went down to hang out the clothes, the snake had moved only slightly from its position.


The fat grinning guy depicted in Chinese statues is often described as the “laughing Buddha”, but my meditation teacher told me he is based on a historical Chinese monk called Pu Tai (Hotei in Japan). His name means “Cloth Sack”, after the sack he carries. Pu Tai wandered from place to place, always giving freely from his sack, so embodying the virtue of generosity. He also symbolises contentment. He is portly, so must have been given a lot in return. What goes around comes around.

Generosity is a fine quality to aspire to and to practise. So in that spirit I left the snake to (what I imagined was) its contentment.

This entry was posted in Animals on land, Snakes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The generosity of the Buddha

  1. Roz says:

    Wonderful companion. I knew nothing of these snakes before, thank you for the information. Also the laughing Pu Tai – again I was unaware of the origin. Thanks for the education

  2. janebeau says:

    How big will the baby brown get?

    • Joy Window says:

      Ah, you have to be careful with the name “brown”. In Australia a “brown” is usually taken to mean one of the most deadly, the eastern brown snake Pseudonaja textilis, whereas the brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis, is not anywhere near so scary. I’ve not seen any adult brown tree snakes much over a metre but they are supposed to grow to 1.8 metres-ish.

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