Salty Liquor – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Foolishness]
Once upon a time, there was a tavern owner
in Benares. He had a hard working bartender, who
was always trying to be helpful by inventing new
ways of doing things.
One hot day, the tavern owner wanted to
bathe in a nearby river. So he left the bartender in
charge while he was gone.
The bartender had always wondered why
most of the customers ate a little salt after drink-
ing their liquor. Not wishing to show his igno-
rance, he never bothered to ask them why they did
this. He did not know that they ate the salt in order
to chase away the aftertaste of the liquor. He
thought it needed salt to taste good.
He wondered why taverns did not add salt
to their liquor. He decided that if he did so, the
business would make much higher profits, and the
tavern owner would be very pleased. So he added
salt to all the liquor!
To his surprise, when the customers came
to the tavern and drank the salty liquor, they im-
mediately spit it out and went to a different bar.
When the owner returned from his dip in
the river, he found his tavern without customers,
and all his liquor ruined.
So he went and told this story to his friend,
an adviser to the king. The adviser said, “The ig-
norant, wishing only to do good, often cannot help
doing harm.”
The moral is: The best intentions are no
excuse for ignorance.