Dividing the Spoils

     This story was gleaned from Ten Days in the Light of Akka, which is Julia Grundy's account of her 1905 pilgrimage to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Bahá’í World Center in what was then referred to as Palestine (present day Israel). While pilgrim notes such as these are not considered authoritative Bahá’í texts, but they do provide interesting insights into the life and thoughts of the earlier Bahá’ís. They also are rich resource material, providing Bahá’í stories of all kinds.

     The following parable is credited by Julia Grundy as having been told by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, presumably at a mealtime as he used every available opportunity to teach the Bahá’ís. As he was speaking to the assembled guests about sacrifice, he used a parable to illustrate His point.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá introduced the story by saying, "Live up to the principles of sacrifice. The world will then become as nothing and be without power to attract you away from God. Sacrifice your will to the will of God. The kingdom is attained by the one who forgets self. Everything becomes yours by renunciation of everything" . . . and then he told this simple story:

Dividing the Spoils

A lion, a wolf, and a fox went hunting. They captured a wild donkey, a gazelle, and a hare. The lion said to the wolf, “Divide the spoils.” The wolf answered,

“That’s easy. The wild donkey is for you, the gazelle is for me, and the hare is for the fox.”

The lion told the wolf, “You are not a good divider.” And he bit off the wolf's head.

Then turning to the fox, he said, “You divide!” The fox answered, “The wild donkey, the gazelle, and the hare are yours!”

The lion, looking at him, said, “Because you have tried to save nothing for yourself, you may take all of them!”

     It's obvious from his choice of parable that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá not only had a point to make about sacrifice, he also had a sense of humor. Bahá’í storytelling, even the use of parable to teach Bahá’í principles, does not have to be didactic. It does not have to preclude the use of humor. Often humor conveys what moralizing does not and, as Bahá’ís are fond of saying, "God loves laughter".