Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 2: Story - A Huge Lump of Gold

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you can present it effectively.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.

Description of Activity

The group hears and discusses a Buddhist story about moderation.

Read the story, without identifying its source. Then, invite the youth to guess what religious tradition the story comes from. After everyone knows it is a Jataka tale from the Buddhist tradition, ask if anyone can identify a tenet of Buddhism that support moderation. The answer is the Middle Path, which the Buddha said is the path between indulging in too much pleasure and indulging in too little.

Process the story with these additional questions:

  • The wealthy woman hid the lump of gold from robbers by burying it. Why was this not a helpful thing to do?
  • Breaking the lump into four pieces made sense because it was easier to move. Yet the farmer did not need to divide the use of the gold. He could have used all four pieces to purchase a luxurious house. What do you think his reasoning was behind dividing it up the way he did?
  • What does this story have to do with moderation?
  • If you had a lump of gold, how would you divide it?
  • Have you ever had someone give you a large sum of money ("large" is relative; to a seven-year-old, $20 might seem large) and say, "Don't spend it all in one place?" Why would they say that?
  • Does this story remind you of anything you or someone you know has done? [If a prompt is needed, ask if anyone earns an allowance or a paycheck and divides the money between savings and spending.]