“Thuenpa Punzhi / The Four Harmonious Friends” is one of the most popular story in Bhutan. The manifestation of the story appears everywhere in Bhutan, including the monastery, walls, hotels or restaurants. You may feel interested in this story from the Jataka Tales.
One day, an elephant, a rabbit, a monkey and a bird is discussing which of them is the oldest one. The elephant claimed that the tree was only a tiny bush when it was a calf. The monkey said the tree was merely a shrub when it was a baby monkey. The rabbit argued that when it was young, the tree just grew the flower. Finally, the bird ensured that it swallowed the seed and the tree was sprouted from his droppings. All of the above provided the clues for their age , which the bird is the oldest, following with the rabbit, the monkey and the elephant accordingly. The animal kingdom returned to its harmonious state after the discussion. It manifested the ideology of respecting for seniority. It is similar to the ideology of respecting for seniority in Confucianism.
There is another way to understand this picture: the bird drops the seed to the ground; the rabbit digs fertilizing the soil for providing a better environment for the seed to grow; the monkey uses its skills cooperating with the elephant’s power to pick up the fruits. Only when the four animals utilizing their specializes together, they can taste the fruit of success.
Accordingly, the story may have the deepened meaning: the four animal represent four different important qualities of our life, including strength(the elephant), smart (the monkey), emotion (the rabbit) and vision(the bird). It is not only focused on the physical level but also in the spiritual level.
In Bhutan, the influences of this story is very powerful from the interpersonal relationship of the citizens, seeking harmony with the animals and the nature to the unity of different cultures or families.
在不丹最常看到的其中一個畫像，相信是這「四個好朋友」 – 象、猴、兔、鳥。
依我之見，這裡想說的或者是「平衡」。身體、精神、智慧、願景四者得到平衡，恰到好處，成功之道。我們常會說「Work-Life Balance」: 工作和生活得到平衡，才是理想的人生。套用到國家/ 社會之上，兼顧環境、經濟、民生、社會等各方面平衡，才是較長遠可行的發展模式。