"The Spider's Thread" is a short fantasy tale that aims to impart a moral lesson on compassion and salvation. It is told within the framework of the Buddha in the garden of Paradise, but at the core of the story is a robber, Kandata. In the story, Kandata is suffering in Hell, but a small kindness he performed in life earns him a chance at redemption. The Buddha lowers a spider's thread into Hell and Kandata uses this to ascend. Miraculously, the thin thread supports not only Kandata but several other souls also attempting escape. In a fit of selfishness, Kandata scolds the souls behind him. At that moment, the thread breaks.
"Spider's Thread" is clearly meant to be just a story, not a canonical piece of religious text. Because of its theme and the elements that it uses, however, framing the text within a religious and philosophical structure would not be altogether inappropriate.
What does the story say? Kandata's chance at salvation comes because of the mercy that he showed a spider. He is ultimately damned because he refused to share that salvation with others. The central message of this story follows a variation of the Golden Rule: "It will be done unto you as you would do unto others." In the absence of a more concrete theology, the measure of morality all comes down to natural law.
This essay has been moved to https://dom.cimafranca.com/2017/12/27/an-analysis-of-ryonosukes-the-spiders-thread.