One day around nightfall, a monk was on his way back to the temple. Suddenly, lightning was striking and it was raining cats and dogs, the rain didn’t seem to be coming to a stop. He thought eagerly, “What should I do”. Just as he was becoming anxious, a manor was nearby. He ran towards it hoping to be warranted a night’s stay. The manor was enormous, and the servant saw the monk. After asked for the monk’s business there, the servant said, “My master has no affinity with monks. You will need to seek shelter elsewhere.“ The monk replied, “It is raining hard, and there is no other household nearby. If you just provide me a place to stay would be really appreciated.” “I cannot make the decision, let me go ask for my mater’s permission.” The servant went into the manor, and after he came back, he still refused the monk. The monk asked for the manor’s master’s name after the rejection, and without other options, he hurried back to the temple in the rain.
Three years later, the master of the manor married a concubine, he was very fond of her. One day, the concubine wanted to go to the temple for making offering, the master went with her. In the temple, the master of the manor saw his name written on a plate for meritorious deeds praying. The master was puzzled, and asked a little monk nearby for the reason of the plate. The little monk replied with a smile, “This is written by the head monk three years ago. There was a night that he hurried back to the temple in heavy rain, and said that there was an almsgiver that he did not build positive affinity with. So the head monk written the plate and chant the prayers for the almsgiver on daily basis to dedicate any merits back to him. Hopefully, their affinity can be transformed to positive. This is as much as I know, the head monk did not provide us with more detail.” When the manor of the master hear what the little monk said, he knew the story and he was regretful. At the end, he became a dedicated almsgiver of the temple.
This is a very inspiring story of an old monk, a story to transform “negative affinity”. This mundane world is big yet small, and people often run into each other. A person with great tolerance can understand the fact that “Great kindness and great enmity; others and me are no different.” In addition, the environment and how others treated ourselves should be a catalyst to encourage us. Kindness and enmity are all affinities to help us. On the other hand, those who are shallow and with narrow-minded will hinder themselves from positive affinity, and will aloof themselves from a future with prosperity. Indeed, to be able to act as the head monk’s heart of embracement might not be easy; however, ” Saints and sages have virtuous actions that we look up to, and have mindsets and actions that are legit and above-board. Though we are not yet at the same extent, but I try to be the same.”
The act of positive thoughts and action can really transform negative affinity. The act of giving is the cause of prosperity, and the action of greed is the cause of poverty. Instead of giving wealth to children, we should leave them with virtue. Have you not noticed? Wealth creates conflict of interest. There are countless incidents where sibling or parents sue each other for money. If our children are well educated and are virtuous, then it is unnecessary to leave them with money.
An old Chinese saying goes: Do not fail to do good no matter how petty the deed; do not engage in evil no matter how trivial the deed. Kindness has the power to bring happiness, peace and good fortune. The heroic Army General Eisenhower’s story is a great testimony of this ancient and eternal law: what goes around comes around.
One day, during the horrific throngs of World War II, Lieutenant General Dwight David Eisenhower of the Allied Forces was returning to France, to attend an emergency military conference.
That day, the snow was dense, the air was cold. And his car was urgently speeding to its destination. On the dimly lit path, Eisenhower suddenly saw an old couple sitting at the side of the road, shivering in the freezing cold.
Mr. Eisenhower immediately stopped the car and told the officer beside him to get out of the car and speak with them. An officer, another passenger in the car, immediately argued that, “General, we must be on time for the meeting at the Head office, please leave it to the local police.” Eisenhower knew that his concern for their punctuality was just an excuse not to help.
The General, however, was resolved to get out of the car at once to attend to the desperate elderly couple. He said to his staff, “If we wait for the local police to come, they will be dead before the police arrive!”
He found out that they were on the way to visit their son in Paris. But their car had broken down in the middle of their journey. In the thick snow they could not see anyone to ask for help from; they did not know what to do.
After learning of their plight, Mr. Eisenhower, without any hesitation, immediately invited them to get into the car. He offered them the gracious favor of delivering them to their son’s home in Paris, before heading back to the Head Office himself.
At the time, Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied Forces offered this kindness merely out of his own good will, disregarding his position as well as any complication that could affect the mission he was shouldering.
However, the intelligence received after that night, shocked everybody in the car, especially the officer who had tried to prevent the detour.
It turned out, that Nazi snipers had been placed along their route in an attempt to ambush and assassinate them on their way to Head Office.
Hitler was certain that, that day would have been the last day of the Allied commander, but his plan failed unexpectedly, which made him suspicious of the gathered intelligence. Hitler was unaware that it was the rescue of the elderly couple that had led Eisenhower to take another route.
Historians have commented that Eisenhower’s good deed that day saved him, almost certainly, from an assassination. Without his moral actions, the history of the World War II might have been quite different indeed.
It is in the small kindnesses that we show to one another, that may appear small and insignificant at first, that we find the truth of our fate. Within these actions, lies the power to write and rewrite history.
According to traditional culture, the more consideration we show for others and the stronger the goodwill we have towards them, the better our destiny, and the more blessings we have bestowed upon us.
A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents
Collected and Adapted by Sarah Conover
When the Buddha and his followers lived at Jetavana, a certain monk in the group was always upset – so much so that he could barely concentrate. When the Buddha asked him about it, the monk replied that he desired many things he couldn’t have; thus, he never felt content. “Oh, monk,” said the Buddha kindly, “these passions have been discarded even by monkeys. It is all the more important for one who lives the holy life to leave these feelings behind. “ And the Buddha recounted this old-world tale about the monkey king.
Once, in olden times, the Buddha came into the world as a monkey. He lived among the treetops of a remote jungle with a large family of monkeys. One day, a woodcutter came to this same jungle to fetch a good supply of logs for his family hearth. But when the woodcutter felled a large tree, he accidentally trapped the young monkey underneath as the tree dropped to the forest floor. When the woodcutter saw his surprise, he decided to bring the monkey home as a present to his king.
The bright monkey quickly tamed and was soon the favorite royal pet. The king let him run everywhere about the palace. So the monkey spent his days visiting the royal courts and kitchens, the guards’ quarters, and all the other enterprises within. The monkey easily learned to imitate the manners of the royal retinue, the ministers, the guards, and even the cook who chased him from her kitchen. It was impossible not to laugh at the monkey’s antics.
After a few years, the king requested that the woodcutter return to the palace. Then the king asked, “As a favor to this monkey who has pleased us so, would you bring him back to the jungle where he was captured? It would be kindest if we let him live out his years with fellow monkeys.” So the woodcutter did as the king bid: he brought the monkey back to the very same spot in the very same jungle and released him.
At once, as soon as the woodcutter had left, a hundred monkeys surrounded the palace monkey, all asking questions at once. “Where have you been living this long time? Where did that man take you? Did you go on a great adventure? Why did he let you go free?” On and on the monkeys clamored, full of curiosity.
When they quieted down, the palace monkey recounted his tale. He told them all about the king’s splendid palace and how he had entertained the king. He told them of the sumptuous feasts, the elegant dances, the noble ministers of the royal court, the king’s fearsome army, and the dark dungeons.
“But then, how did you escape?” They wanted to know.
“I was such a good pet, and I amused them all so, that they felt badly keeping me from my home. The king decided to set me free again, so here I am!”
Now the monkeys were really excited. “Oh, tell us all about the palace life!” They jumped and shouted. “Tell us about the ways of people! Tell us about the grand deeds of a king!” they insisted.
“No, you wouldn’t want to know,” cautioned the palace monkey. “You really won’t like it.”
But the monkeys would not let up until he agreed to show them what life was like for a king. So the palace money picked a monkey in the troop and said, “O.K. then, you be the king. Get up on this high rock and make it your throne. We will set to work and bring you the best fruit in the kingdom!”
So the monkey king sat upon his rock throne, surveying his kingdom and looking quite content. Soon a huge pile of delicious fruit surrounded him. After a time the king monkey began to feel distressed. “ But I could never eat all this fruit, even in a whole year! And how there’s nothing left for all of you to eat,” laments the monkey king.
“Of course you can’t eat it all,”said the palace monkey. But that dose’t matter to a king. The point is that you eat whatever you want, but you must not give any of it away. You must always keep a large pile so that others know you are very rich and very powerful!” So the monkeys, wishing to be like men, brought even more fruit and stacked it even higher around their king.
“What else do we do?” asked the monkeys when there was no more fruit to be had.
“You must all come before the king and praise him in every way you can imagine.”
The monkeys liked this idea, so they tried it.
“Well, no wonder his is king!” pronounced one. “His coat glistens like water.”
“His fur is as thick as deep grass!” boasted another.
“I’ve never seen such a strong and capable animal!” exclaimed a third monkey.
“No one is as wise and dignified as our king!” And so they gathered around their king and enjoyed themselves in flattering him.
“Enough of that,” said the little palace monkey. “Now it’s time to come behind the throne and say terrible things about the king.”
The monkeys didn’t like this idea at all and at first refused to do it. But the palace monkey preserved saying, “You have to try this if you want to learn the ways of people! See what it’s like.”
So the monkeys gathered behind the rock and whispered insults about the king.
“Have you noticed how old and confused the king seems lately?” asked a monkey.
“His eyes seem dull and he constantly forgets what he has said!” chuckled another.
“I think his fur is getting extremely thin; I think he might even be going bald in some very funny spots” tittered a third.
“I’ve noticed that the king eats more like a pig than a monkey!” said a fourth and they all howled.
At last the insulted monkey king could stand it no longer. He jumped off his throne and ran after them through the trees. But the monkeys each escaped in a hundred different directions from the frustrated king. When the monkey king as last returned to his throne, his eyes widened in astonishment. All the fruit had vanished!
“Where is the fruit?” cried the king. “All my fruit is stolen!” he bellowed.
“Yes, it’s a shame, but these things happen even to kings!” said the palace monkey. “Now your guards must go find the thieves. That’s what a king would do. And when the guards capture the thieves, they must be sentenced to death at once.”
“What?” cried the monkey king. “You want me to kill them? Oh, how could such a terrible thing come to pass?” he wailed. And he covered his ears with his hands and wept.
“No more! No more!” cried all the monkeys. “We don’t want to know anything else about the ways of people and kings!”
The palace monkey, the Former Buddha, then recited for them a little poem he had made up about life in the palace:
“This gold is mine, this gold is mine!’
so they cry both day and night:
These foolish folk who live in splendor
never think about the holy way”
“And,” said the Buddha, concluding his lesson, “the monkeys ran away from the rock throne and back up to the tree tops where they all lived happily ever after.”
From Kindness <A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom For Children and Parents>
By Sarah Conover
Unlike the Buddha, Kisa Gotami grew up very poor. Her family had little food to spare. She often felt weary, hungry, and weak and so was called Kisa-meaning”frail”-Gotami. When Kisa Gotami married, she moved into the house of her husband’s family: the custom in India at the time. But because she came from a humble background, her new family treated her harshly until the day she gave birth to a child. She was respected now, with her new baby boy. Kisa felt proud and happy. Her new son was the light of her life. She cherished everything about him-his delightful laughter, his eager brown eyes, his toothless smiles. But one terrible, tragic day, the boy was taken by a sudden illness. His death overwhelmed poor Kisa. She bundled him in warm blankets and held him tightly to her chest. Crazed with grief, she stumbled from house to house, begging for medicine that would bring him back to life. But instead of helping, people mocked her madness. “Crazy woman!” they jeered. “How can a person be brought back to life!” Hours later, Kisa Gotami stood in the street, wretched and disheartened.As she wept over her child,a kind man passing by studied her.To himself he said, ”This poor woman has lost her mind from sorrow. I think I know how to get her the medicine she seeks.” He placed his hands firmly on her shoulders.”Dear woman, please let me help you.The wisest of men, a man named the Buddha, resides at a monastery nearby. I will take you to him and you can ask his advice. If anyone has medicine for your child, it is he.”
He led her to the monastery where she found the Buddha teaching, at the front of a large group of monks and nuns. From the edge of the crowd she shouted,”Teacher, teacher! My name is Kisa Gotami. I am desperate! Please, my son needs your medicine!”
The crowd made way for Kisa to reach the Buddha. As she stood before him, he observed the child’s lifeless face.”You did well in coming here for medicine, Gotamit the Buddha comforted her.”Here you will find the help you need. But first, before l can save your child, you must do something for me.You·must return to the city from which you just came. There, find me a single mustard seed and bring it back.”
Kisa Gotami’s face lit up, for she thought this a simple task in exchange for her son’s life.”Most important of all,”said the Buddha,”the mustard seed must be from a family in which no one has died. Go now, make the rounds of the city and·ask at every home. Bring me back just one mustard seed from such a family.”
“Thank you good sir!”said Kisa happily. She turned and hurried back to the city.At the very first house she stopped and knocked at the door.An old woman answered. She easily gave Kisa Gotami a mustard seed-all India used them in cooking. But just as the seed was placed -in Kisa’s palm, she remembered the Buddha’s further instructions. ”Oh, pardon me. Before I take this, I must ask you, has anyone died in this family recently?” The old woman’s head lowered. She fell silent. When she raised her face, there were pooled tears in her eyes.I’m sorry to say the answer is yes,” replied the old woman. “ My dear husband died six months ago.”
“I am so sorry; said Kisa Gotami.”Thank you for your kindness, but I cannot take this seed.”
A few minutes later she knocked at the door of a house with children running in and out of the entrance,chasing each other in play.A young woman saw Kisa standing in the doorway, and came to greet her. Some of the children stood behind the young woman’s skirt to hear what the stranger wanted. “Can I help you?” she asked Kisa Gotami.
“I have been sent here to find special medicine for my son. I am looking for a single mustard seed from a household in which no one has died;’ said Kisa.
“We cannot help you. l am sorry. We lost our mother two years ago;’ stated the young woman quietly. “For many months I was so unhappy I didn’t know how to go on” One of the boys reached up to hold her hand. She clasped his little fingers and continued,”But I knew I had to help my father take care of my brothers and sisters. That’s what my mother would have wanted. I’m sorry we have no such special mustard seed for you:’
And so Kisa Gotami continued to the next house, and then to another, asking for the single mustard seed. But always, someone had lost a beloved-a brother or a sister, a grandparent, an aunt or cousin, a mother or father. The list grew longer and longer. After a time, nightfall came. People snuffed out their oil lamps for the evening. Kisa Gotami sat down, resting against a tree. She gazed down at her son in her arms.
Studying him closely, she felt a gradual change in herself. Not a single household she had visited today lived untouched by death’s sad hand. Many suffered just as she did now. She was not alone. And somehow, with these thoughts, her grief lightened just a bit, and she returned home. The next day, at first light, Kisa Gotami readied her son for his funeral. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she wrapped him in clean cloth and said farewell. After the funeral, Kisa Gotami went back to the monastery to speak with the Buddha.The Buddha dearly saw in her face that she had come back to her senses. He asked,”Gotami, did you bring me a tiny grain of mustard?”
“ No, teacher. I am done looking for the mustard seed. I know that in the whole city, in the whole world, there is not one family, not one person, free from the certainty of death. It is the way of all living things-we must at some time leave one another.”
”And where is your child, dear woman?”
”At last I have said good-bye to him. I felt terribly alone in my grief, but now I know there are many others who have lost what they most cherished. We must help each other, as you have helped me.”
Kisa Gotami, brought back to her right mind from her search for the mustard seed, became a very wise and compassionate woman. It is said that she never left the Buddha after her return to the monastery. And that from her experience, she was able to comfort many, many others in her lifetime.
The moral is : All fear death, all hold life dear. Feel for others as you do for yourself. Remember this and cause no harm.