Big Merit from a Small Wholehearted Offering

Photo by Ravi Kant on

Big Merit from a Small Wholehearted Offering

At the time of the ancient living Buddha, there was an old beggar woman called by the name “Relying on Joy.” She would watch the kings, prince, and common peoples make offerings to the Buddha and his disciples. There was nothing she would have liked more than to be able to do the same. One day she went out begging, but at the end of a whole day all she had was one small coin. She took it to the oil-merchant to try to buy some oil.  He told her that she could not possibly buy anything with so little money. But when he heard that she wanted the oil to make an offering to Buddha, he took pity on her and gave her the oil she wanted.

The beggar woman took the oil to the monastery, where she lit a lamp. She placed it before the Buddha, and made this wish: “I have nothing to offer but this tiny lamp. But through this offering, in the future may I be blessed with the lamp of wisdom. May I free all beings from their darkness. May I purify all their obstructions and lead them to enlightenment.” Over time that night, the oil on all the other lamps went out. But the beggar woman’s lamp was still burning at dawn, when the Buddha’s disciple Maudgalyayana came to collect all the lamps. When he saw that one was still alight, full of oil and with a new wick, he thought: “ There is no reason why this lamp should still be burning in the day time.” And he tried to blow it out.

But it kept on burning. He tried to snuff it out with his fingers, but it stayed alight. He tried to smother it with his robe, but it still burned on. The Buddha had been watching all along, and said: “ Maudgalyayana, do you want to put out that lamp? You cannot. You cannot even move it, let alone put it out. If you were to pour the water from all of the oceans of this world over this lamp, it still wouldn’t go out. The water in all the rivers and lakes of the world could not extinguish it. Why? Because this lamp was offered with devotion and with purity of heart and mind. And that motivation has made it of tremendous benefit.” When the Buddha had said this, the beggar woman approached him, and he made a prophesy that in the future she would become a perfect buddha, called: “Light of the Lamp.”

In our own lives, we must remember that it is the source of our motivation that determines the significance of our deeds. After all, it is easier for a rich man to give than for a poor man to give the same amount. It is difficult to give something of immense value, or if that something is everything you have, just to help someone who is more in need. You can help someone, but maybe in the back of your mind you are thinking: If I help him, I will reap some benefits from this myself.  Or you can help someone, knowing that you are giving your time, energy or possessions without any expectation of benefiting yourself. The latter should be our motivation. Remember: it is not only actions that demonstrate the good that we do, but the motivation behind our actions.

Big Merit from a Small Wholehearted Offering




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