THE EAGLE AND THE DOVE - a story from the Buddhist Sutra
In a previous life, Siddhartha Gautama was a King in a small country that was located somewhere in present day Tibet. And he was very well known among the ancient civilization for his love and compassion towards other sentient beings. So one day, Sakra Devendra, the King of Gods (Note: 1), decided to test him to see if he was indeed the future Buddha.
Sakra turned himself into a dove and one of his gods into an eagle. The eagle was in a hunting mood and chased the frightened dove who flied right into the King's palace. The dove cried out: "Your majesty, please save my life, because I am going to be eaten by a hungry eagle."
On hearing this, the compassionate King tried to chase the eagle away. But the eagle also cried out: "Your Majesty, please save my life and let me eat the dove, otherwise I will be starved to death."
"Why don't you eat something else rather than a dove?", asked the King.
"Look, your Majesty", replied the eagle, "God created me so that I have to eat meet. I had no other choice."
The King now faced a dilemma: how could he save both animals? Without hesitation, he ordered his soldiers: "Cut some flesh from my body and feed it to the eagle". Of course his soldiers were horrified to hear this. But they did obey the order and cut some flesh from the King's own body to feed the eagle. Miraculously, when the soldiers carried out the order, the King did not feel any pain at all, nor were there any blood spilling out. (Some Buddhist texts give a slight differently story. It was said that the eagle asked for some flesh equal to the weight of the dove. The soldiers put the dove on one side of a scale and the King's flesh on the other side. They continued cut out the King's flesh to feed the eagle until the scales were balanced. Then the King fainted).
The Heavenly Emperor was convinced that the King was indeed the future Buddha. He and his god immediately reappeared as themselves and restored the King to his original health.
Note 1: Sakra is the leader of Trayastrimsa Heavens (33 Heavens), where all the gods live. In many Asian cultures, he is also known by other titles such as Emperor Sakra, Heavenly Emperor, Emperor on High, etc., and sometimes Taoists say that he is also Jade Emperor.