Bangkok is a big city with many people and tall buildings. However, several interesting creatures also live here. While walking at Lumpini Park, I spotted several water monitors moving about in their businesses. One of them was eating and sharing his fish with crows.

Asian Water Monitors

These water monitors (varanus salvator) are common in most bodies of freshwater in Thailand. They can eat pretty much any smaller animals as well as carrion. Consequently, they can survive in most environments.

What’s interesting is that, these lizards do eat birds too. But I saw one eating his fish while also sharing the fish with the crows nearby.

The crows indeed looked very happy to eat such a fine meal for free. They were in awe of the lizard and couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

This one knows when to smile for a camera.

A Generous Lizard

Having photographed many animals and observed their behavior, I expected the lizard to chase the crows away from his food. I’ve seen animals fight violently for foods too many times I can count. Instead, he didn’t seem to care that the crows eat his fish. This act of generosity goes against how primitive nature works.

Maybe I’m haven’t seen the whole story. Perhaps this lizard feeds the crows so that he can eat them later when they get fat. That’s probably unlikely for a lizard to be this smart.

A Generous Mindset

Generosity is something that’s mostly observed in beings with great intelligence. But even with human, true generosity is rare. For someone to be generous, he must understand the benefits of generosity. What does one get by being generous? For most people, it’s hard to see what they can get when they are giving something away. In other words, it’s hard to see how they are winning when they are losing.

But winning and losing depends on the mindset of an individual. For most people, winning means acquiring more possessions. But for some Buddhists for example, winning means giving all possessions away and become a monk. Most people see materialistic possessions as happiness. But the more stuff they have, the more careful they must be. They must guard them against thieves, natural disasters, and government who wants to tax everything. They are worried about losing things that bring them happiness.

People who give things away don’t worry about their possessions. Without any possession, they don’t worry if a hurricane will damage their expensive houses. They don’t worry if their stocks and bonds will lose value. They don’t worry if their US dollars will inflate and lose value. This peace of mind is happiness too. This is an example of a happiness that generosity brings. No one can steal things that are people give away freely.

A water monitor found in Lumpini Park, Bangkok

Perhaps this water monitor understands. By sharing his fish with the crows, the crows cannot steal his fish. He just enjoyed the fish with no worry. I wish I can be as generous as this lizard. But it’s not my time yet. I understand the concept but still have yet to fully realize it.

What the miser fears,

that keeps him from giving,

is the very danger that comes

when he doesn’t give.

Buddha, Samyutta Nikaya 1.32

More Lizards

Lumpini Park has several ponds inside the park. During my brief one-hour visit, I saw four lizards. The first one crossed the running trail into the water casually. He wasn’t afraid of people running.

A water monitor found in Lumpini Park, Bangkok

The next one was basking in the sun while still in the water. I don’t know why. These lizards appear rather friendly to me even though they are like snakes. Some scientists believe they are venomous like snakes too. So be careful if you approach one.

Being new to the park, I really didn’t expect to find these lizards here. I had to get very close to take these photos with my 300mm lens (35mm equivalent). Still, the lizards appear very calm. I did not sense any hostility when I moved closer. One of them even walked toward to me, allowing me to get an extremely close-up shot.

I think he thinks he’s fabulous.
Categories: Philosophy

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