Once upon a time, there was a big banyan tree in the forest beneath the mighty Himalayas. Living near this banyan tree were three very good friends. They were a quail, a monkey and an elephant. Each of them was quite smart.
Occasionally the three friends got into a disagreement. When this happened, they did not consider the opinion of any one of them to be more valuable. No matter how much experience each one had, his opinion was treated the same as the others. So it took them a long time to reach an agreement. Every time this happened, they had to start from the beginning to reach a solution.
After a while they realized that it would save time, and help their friendship, if they could shorten their disagreements. They decided that it would certainly help if they considered the most valuable opinion first. Then, if they could agree on that one, they would not have to waste time, and possibly even become less friendly, by arguing about the other two.
Fortunately, they all thought the most valuable opinion was the one based on the most experience. Therefore, they could live together even more peacefully if they gave higher respect to the oldest among them. Only if his opinion were clearly wrong, would they need to consider others.
Unfortunately, the elephant and the monkey and the quail had no idea which one was the oldest. Since this was a time before old age was respected, they had no reason to remember their birthdays or their ages.
Then one day, while they were relaxing in the shade of the big banyan tree, the quail and the monkey asked the elephant, “As far back as you can remember, what was the size of this banyan tree?”
The elephant replied, “I remember this tree for a very long time. When I was just a little baby, I used to scratch my belly by rubbing it over the tender shoots on top of this banyan tree.”
Then the monkey said, “When I was a curious baby monkey, I used to sit and examine the little seedling banyan tree. Sometimes I used to bend over and nibble its top tender leaves.”
The monkey and the elephant asked the quail, “As far back as you can remember, what was the size of this banyan tree?”
The quail said, “When I was young, I was looking for food in a nearby forest. In that forest, there was a big old banyan tree, which was full of ripe berries. I ate some of those berries, and the next day I was standing right here. This was where I let my droppings fall, and the seeds they contained grew up to be this very tree!”
The monkey and the elephant said, “Aha! Sir quail, you must be the oldest. You deserve our respect and honor. From now on we will pay close attention to your words. Based on your wisdom and experience, advise us when we make mistakes. When there are disagreements, we will give the highest place to your opinion. We ask only that you be honest and just.”
The quail replied, “I thank you for your respect, and I promise to always do my best to deserve it.” It just so happened that this wise little quail was the Bodhisatta the Enlightenment Being.
The moral is: Respect for the wisdom of elders leads to harmony.
One day, a young college student was walking with his professor. The professor was very kind. The young student beside him was his student but also his friend. While walking, they saw an old pair of shoes on the side of the road.
It turned out that there was a man who left his shoes there before working in the fields, and every day when he finished work, he would come back to retrieve his things. It was almost time for that man to get off work.
The young student suddenly told the professor that they should play a joke on the poor man. He proposed to hide the shoes and see how the owner of the shoes would react when he could not find them.
The student decided to do as the professor said, and then they hid behind the woods to see how the poor man would react. Soon the poor man was off work, and he returned to the roadside to find his things.
He put his foot into the first shoe as he put on his clothes. Immediately he felt something in the shoe, and when he bent over, he saw a silver coin inside the shoe. With a look of astonishment on his face, he turned the silver coin over and over again, looked at it and looked at it again, and looked left and right at the same time, to see if anyone was playing a prank. But finding no one around, he put the silver coin in his pocket.
He continued to wear another shoe, and unexpectedly found another silver coin. For the second time, a surprised expression appeared on his face. In addition to being happy, he immediately knelt down and prayed thanks.
He prayed out loud, thanking God for knowing that his wife was sick and there was no food at home, and he thanked God even more for letting him survive through the hands of unknown people.
After the man left, the young student stood beside the professor, and was moved to tears.
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.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Long ago and far away, there was a king who ruled in Benares, in northern India. One of his ministers was called the Royal Price Maker, and he was a very honest man. His job was to set a fair price for anything the king wanted to buy or sell.
On some occasions, the king did not like his price making. He did not get as big a profit as he wanted. He did not want to pay so much when he bought, or sell for what he thought was not enough. So he decided to change the price maker.
One day he saw a nice looking young man and he thought, “This fellow will be good for my price making position.” So he dismissed his former honest price maker, and appointed this man to be the new one. The man thought, “I must make the king happy by buying at very low prices and selling at very high prices.” So he made the prices ridiculous, without caring at all what anything was worth. This gained the greedy king a lot of money, and made him very happy. Meanwhile, all the others who dealt with the new price maker, including the king’s other ministers and ordinary people, became very unhappy.
Then one day a horse merchant arrived in Benares with 500 horses to sell. There were stallions, mares and colts. The king invited the merchant to the palace, and called upon his Royal Price Maker to set a price for all 500 horses. Thinking only of pleasing the king, he said, “The entire herd of horses is worth one cup of rice.” So the king ordered that one cup of rice be paid to the horse dealer, and all the horses were taken to the royal stables.
Of course the merchant was very upset, but he could do nothing at the moment. Later he heard about the former price maker, who had a reputation for being very fair and honest. So he approached him and told him what had happened. He wanted to hear his opinion, in order to get a proper price from the king. The former price maker said, “If you do as I say, the king will be convinced of the true value of the horses. Go back to the price maker and satisfy him with a valuable gift. Ask him to tell the value of one cup of rice, in the presence of the king. If he agrees, come and tell me. I will go with you to the king.”
Following this advice, the merchant went to the price maker and gave him a valuable gift. The gift made him very happy, so that he saw the value of pleasing the horse dealer. Then the merchant said to him, “I was very happy with your previous evaluation. Can you please convince the king of the value of one cup of rice?” The foolish price maker said, ‘Why not? I will explain the worth of one cup of rice, even in the presence of the king.”
So the price maker thought the horse dealer was satisfied with his cup of rice. He arranged for another meeting with the king, as the merchant was departing for his own country. The merchant reported back to the old price maker, and they went together to see the king.
All the king’s ministers and his full court were in the royal meeting hall. The horse merchant said to the king, “My lord, I understand that in this your country, my whole herd of 500 horses is worth one cup of rice. Before I leave for home, I want to know the value of one cup of rice in your country.” The king turned to his loyal price maker and said, “What is the value of one cup of rice?”
The foolish price maker, in order to please the king, had previously priced the herd of horses at one cup of rice. Now, after receiving a bribe from the horse dealer, he wanted to please him too. So he replied to the king, in his most dignified manner, “Your worship, one cup of rice is worth the city of Benares, including even your own harem, as well as all the suburbs of the city. In other words, it is worth the whole kingdom of Benares!”
On hearing this, the royal ministers and wise men in the assembly hall started to roar with laughter, slapping their sides with their hands. When they calmed down a little, they said, “Earlier we heard that the kingdom was priceless. Now we hear that all Benares, with its palaces and mansions, is worth only a cup of rice! The decision of the Royal Price Maker is so strange! Where did your highness find such a man? He is good only for pleasing a king such as you, not for making fair prices for a merchant who sells his horses from country to country.”
Hearing the laughter of his whole court, and the words of his ministers and advisers, the king was ashamed. So he brought back his former price maker to his official position. He agreed to a new fair price for the herd of horses, as set by the honest price maker. Having learned a lesson, the king and his kingdom lived justly and prospered.
The moral is: A fool in high office can bring shame even to a king.
Once upon a time, there was a Quail King who reigned over a flock of a thousand quails.
There was also a very clever quail hunter. He knew how to make a quail call. Because this sounded just like a real quail crying for help, it never failed to attract other quails. Then the hunter covered them with a net, stuffed them in baskets, and sold them to make a living.
Because he always put the safety of his flock first, Quail King was highly respected by all. While on the lookout for danger, one day he came across the hunter and saw what he did. He thought, “This quail hunter has a good plan for destroying our relatives. I must make a better plan to save us.”
Then he called together his whole nation of a thousand quails. He also invited other quails to attend the meeting. He said, “Greetings to our quail nation and welcome to our visitors. We are faced with great danger. Many of our relatives are being trapped and sold by a clever hunter. Then they are being killed and eaten. I have come up with a plan to save us all. When the hunter covers us with his net, every single one of us must raise his neck at the same time. Then, all together, we should fly away with the net and drop it on a thorn bush. That will keep him busy, and we will be able to escape with our lives.” All agreed to follow this smart strategy.
The next day the hunter lured the quails with his quail call as usual. But when he threw his net over them, they all raised up their necks at once, flew away with the net, and dropped it on a thorn bush. He could catch no quails at all! In addition, it took him the rest of the day to loosen his net from the thorns – so he had no time left to try again!
The same thing happened on the following day. So he spent a second day unhooking his net from sharp thorns. He arrived home only to be greeted by his wife’s sharp tongue! She complained, “You used to bring home quail to eat, and money from selling quails. Now you return empty-handed. What do you do all day? You must have another wife somewhere, who is feasting on quail meat at this very moment!”
The hunter replied, “Don’t think such a thing, my darling. These days the quails have become very unified. They act as one, and raise up their necks and carry my net to a thorn bush. But thanks to you, my one and only wife, I know just what to do! Just as you argue with me, one day they too will argue, as relatives usually do. While they are occupied in conflict and bickering, I will trap them and bring them back to you. Then you will be pleased with me again. Until then, I must be patient.”
The hunter had to put up with his wife’s complaints for several more days. Then one morning after being lured by the quail call, it just so happened that one quail accidentally stepped on the head of another. He immediately got angry and squawked at her. She removed her foot from his head and said, “Please don’t be angry with me. Please excuse my mistake.” But he would not listen. Soon both of them were squawking and squawking, and the conflict got worse and worse!
Hearing this bickering getting louder and louder, Quail King said, “There is no advantage in conflict. Continuing it will lead to danger!” But they just wouldn’t listen.
Then Quail King thought, “I’m afraid this silly conflict will keep them from cooperating to raise the net.” So he commanded that all should escape. His own flock flew away at once.
And it was just in time too! Suddenly the quail hunter threw his net over the remaining quails. The two arguing quails said to each other, “I won’t hold the net for you.” Hearing this, even some of the other quails said, “Why should I hold the net for anyone else?”
So the conflict spread like wildfire. The hunter grabbed all the quails, stuffed them in his baskets, and took them home to his wife. Of course she was overjoyed, and they invited all their friends over for a big quail feast.
The moral is: There is safety in unity, and danger in conflict.
There was a caterpillar in the flowers, it laid lazily in the grass and did not like to move. An old cricket advised him: “Children should be up for activities. Isn’t there a saying that life is movement!” The caterpillar glanced at the cricket and replied, “I don’t need to move, all I need is to stay safe and stable, soon I will become a beautiful butterfly. A dragonfly flew over and said to the caterpillar, “Ah, I have never seen such an ugly butterfly like you. Do not get lazy, get up and exercise, it is good for you.” The caterpillar did not move, it even closed its eyes. It said, “No matter how much you look down on my body, the fact of my becoming a butterfly will never be changed. So why do I need to move, isn’t it fine that I just quietly wait to become a butterfly?” After having said so, the caterpillar laid motionlessly in the grass and comfortably basked in the sun. Soon the caterpillar was wrapped in a cocoon, inside which its body did not want to move, and it slept all day long. One day, it awoke and found itself a butterfly. It happily wanted to break free of the cocoon, but the cocoon shell did not even budge under its impact. It followed with several more impacts and felt pain over its whole body. So it did not feel like breaking the cocoon and closed its eyes to sleep.
At this time a thump sounded from outside, the old cricket calling from without, “Child, put effort into getting out of the cocoon, otherwise you will die inside.” The caterpillar shrugged and didn’t take it seriously; it thought that the old cricket was really nosy. Inside, the cocoon is safe and comfortable, why do I need to exert my effort to get out of it, will the outside world be safer and more comfortable than inside? Therefore, no matter how hard the old cricket knocked, it did not respond and continued to sleep comfortably.
However, not long after, it discovered that breathing was getting difficult. Its body size was becoming bigger yet the cocoon was shrinking. It became scared and put strength into struggling. But it had no strength left and air decreased inside the cocoon. It had no strength for even a few movements, and its breathing became more difficult. At death’s door, the caterpillar finally realized that although one’s destiny is foreordained, it is through one’s self-effort that it can be fulfilled.
There was a man who had walked in the desert for two days. En route, he encountered a sand strom. After the fierce winds and blowing sands had passed, he was unable to recognize the right direction. Just as he could sustain no longer, he suddenly found a small abandoned house. He dragged his body with fatigue and entered the house.
This was a house without ventilation and piled-up with rotten wood. In desperation, he walked to the corner of the house, and to his surprise, found a water pump. He tried excitedly to pump water, but no matter how hard he tried, not a single drop came out.
Collapsing to the ground, he saw a small corked water bottle next to the water pump. On the bottle was a yellowish paper which read:” You must pour ou the water into the water pump in order to pump water! Don’t forget, please fill the bottle with water again before you leave!”
He pulled out the cork and indeed discovered that the bottle was filled with water! His mind started to struggle… Out of selfishness, as long as I drink all the water in the bottle, I will not die and can walk out of this house alive! If I follow what is written on the paper and pur the only water available into the water pump, in case no water comes up, the I will die of thirst here. Should I take the risk or not?
Finally, he decided to pour the whole bottle of water into the water pump which looked shabby and unusable. He drew water with a shaking hand …. water truly gushed out!
After he had satisfied his thirst, he filled the bottle with water and recorked it. Then, he added his own words at the bottom of the paper: “Believe me, it truly works.” Enlightenment: Learn to give before taking.
The Arrangement of the Angel
Two traveling angels came to a rich family and asked to stay for the night. This family was not friendly towards them, they refused to let the angels rest in a comfortable guest room. Instead, the family gave them a comer in the cold basement. When the angels were setting the bed, the older angel saw a hole in the wall, so he patched it up. The younger angel asked for the reason, the older angel said, “Some things are not how they look.” On the second night, the two angels arrived at a poor farmer’s house, and asked to stay for the night. The farmer couple welcomed them with great warmth. They offered all of their very little food to the two guests, and also let the angels sleep in their bed. The following morning, the two angels saw that the farmer and his wife were crying. Their milk cow, the only source of income, had died last night.
The younger angel was very angry, he questioned the older angel for a good explanation. The first family had everything, and the older angel even helped them patch up a hole in the wall. The second family was very kind even when they were so poor, yet their cow had died. “Sometimes things are not as they look, said the older angel, “when we were staying in the basement of the rich family, I looked through the hole in the wall and found that there was a pile of gold behind the wall. Because the owner was already blinded by greed, he was not willing to share, so l patched up the wall.” “Last night, the angel of Death came for the farmer’s wife, I let the milk cow take her place. So sometimes things are not as they look.”
Story of Alexander the Great
When Alexander the Great was young, he was extremely powerful and influential. He made conquests everywhere, including most of the three major continents in Europe, Asia, and Africa, which were once belonged to ancient Greece.
Alexander the Great had countless treasures, lands, and subordinates (people); however, this mighty conqueror died at a very young age of 33, and he was nationally mourned. Before his death, Alexander the Great requested to carve out two holes at the sides of his coffin. When he lay inside the coffin, he wanted both of his hands dangling out from his coffin. He told people next to him that he would like to warn the world of the lessons he had learned: Although he owned countless treasures and attained the highest status, he could not take anything with him.
At his deathbed, he called his generals and told them that he had three wishes that they must carry out. He said, “My first desire is that’, said Alexander, “my physicians alone must transport my coffin back to the city. Secondly, when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard is to be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury. My third and last wish is that both my hands are to be kept dangling out of my coffin.” The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dared to bring the question to their lips, so they were silent with the orders. At this very confusing moment, Alexander explained the reason for having these three last wishes, “First, I want my physicians to carry my coffin to show people that no doctor can really cure anybody from sickness. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So people must not take life for granted. The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time and life to chase after wealth. Wealth cannot buy back time and life. And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people know that I came empty-handed into this world and I go out of this world empty-handed as well.
At that time, so very long ago, there were some unfortunate ugly gods called ‘Asuras’. They had taken to living in the second heaven world.
The one who had been Magha the Good in his previous life, was now Sakka, King of the Heaven of 33. He thought, “Why should we, who are the 33, live in our Heaven of 33 with these unfortunate ugly Asuras? Since this is our world, let us live happily by ourselves.”
So he invited them to a party and got them drunk on very strong liquor. It seems that, in being reborn, King Sakka had forgotten some of his own teachings as Magha the Good. After getting the Asuras drunk, he got them to go to a lower world, just as big as the Heaven of 33.
When they sobered up and realized they had been tricked into going to a lower heaven world, the Asuras became angry. They rose up and made war against King Sakka. Soon they were victorious, and Sakka was forced to run away.
While retreating in his mighty war chariot, he came to the vast forest where the Garudas have their nests. These are gods who, unfortunately, have no super powers. Instead they are forced to get around by flapping huge heavy wings.
When King Sakka’s chariot drove through their forest, it upset their nests and made the baby Garudas fall down. They cried in fear and agony. Hearing this, Sakka asked his charioteer where these sad cries were coming from. He answered, “These are the shrieks of terror coming from the baby Garudas, whose nests and trees are being destroyed by your powerful war chariot.”
Hearing this suffering, King Sakka realized that all lives, including his own, are only temporary. Hearing this suffering, the compassion of the Great Being, which passes from life to life, arose within him and said, “Let the little ones have no more fear. The first training step must not be broken. There can be no exception. I will not destroy even one life for the sake of a heavenly kingdom that must some day end. Instead I will offer my life to the victorious Asuras. Turn back the chariot!”
So the chariot returned in the direction of the Heaven of 33. The Asuras saw King Sakka turn around, and thought he must have reinforcements from other worlds. So they ran, without looking back, down to their lower heaven world.
King Sakka returned victoriously to his palace in the Heaven of 33. Next to it stood the mansion of his first wife, the reborn Good-doer. Outside the mansion was the garden of his second wife, the reborn Beauty. And there was the heavenly pond of his third wife, the reborn Happy.
However, Well-born had died and been reborn as a slender crane in the forest. Since he missed her, Sakka found her and brought her up to the Heaven of 33 for a visit. He showed her the mansion and the garden and the pond of his three wives. He told her that, by doing good work, the other three had gained merit. This merit had brought them happiness, both in their previous lives and in their rebirths.
He said. “You, my dear crane, in your previous life as Well-born, did no such good work. So you did not gain either merit or happiness, and were reborn as a forest crane. I advise you to begin on the path of purity by following the Five Training Steps.” After being taught the five steps, the lovely crane decided to follow them. Then she returned to the forest.
Not long afterwards, King Sakka was curious about how the crane was doing. So he took the shape of a fish and lay down in front of her. The crane picked him up by the head. She was just about to swallow the King of the Heaven of 33, when the fish wiggled his tail.
Immediately the crane thought, “This fish must be alive!” Remembering the first training step, she released the living fish back into the stream. Rising from the water, King Sakka returned to his godly form and said, “It is very good, my dear crane, that you are able to follow the Five Training Steps.” Then he returned to the second heaven world.
In the fullness of time, the crane died. Following the Five Training Steps had brought her both merit and a peaceful mind. So she was reborn in the wonderful state of mankind, into a potter’s family in Benares, in northern India.
Again King Sakka was interested in finding out where the one who had been Well-born, and then the crane, was now reborn. He found her in the potter’s family, and wanted to help her in gaining merit and finding happiness.
So he disguised himself as an old man and created a cart full of golden cucumbers. He went into Benares and shouted, “Cucumbers! Cucumbers! I have cucumbers!”
When people came to buy these amazing cucumbers, he said, “These golden cucumbers are not for sale. I will give them away, but only to one who is wholesome, that is, one who follows the Five Training Steps.”
The people said, “We never heard of the Five Training Steps. But we will buy your golden cucumbers. Name your price!” He repeated, “My cucumbers are not for sale. I have brought them to give to any person who practices the Five Training Steps.” The people said, “This man has come here only to play tricks on us.” So they left him alone.
Soon Well-born heard about this unusual man. Even though she had been reborn, she still had the habit of following the Five Training Steps. So she thought, “This man must have come to find me.”
She went to him and asked for the golden cucumbers. He said, “Do you follow the Five Training Steps? Have you given up destroying life, taking what is not given, doing wrong in sexual ways, speaking falsely, and losing your mind from alcohol?” She answered, “Yes sir, I do follow these steps, and I am peaceful and happy.”
Then the old man said, “I brought these cucumbers especially for you, to encourage you to gain more merit and future happiness.” So he left the cart of golden cucumbers with her, and returned to the Heaven of 33.
Throughout the rest of her life, the woman was very generous with all this gold. Spreading her happiness to others, she gained merit. After she died, she was reborn as the daughter of the King of the Asuras. She grew up to be a goddess of great beauty. To the Asuras this seemed like a miracle, since the rest of them were the ugliest of all the gods.
The Asura king was pleased with his daughter’s goodness, as well as her famous beauty. He gathered all the Asuras together and gave her the freedom to choose a husband.
Sakka, King of the Heaven of 33, knew of the latest rebirth of the one who had been his wife Well-born, then a crane, and then a potter’s daughter. So he came down to the lower heaven world and took the shape of an ordinary ugly Asura. He thought, “If Well-born chooses a husband whose inner qualities of wholesomeness are the same as hers, we will be reunited at last!”
Because of her past associations with Magha the Good, reborn as King Sakka, now disguised as an ordinary Asura, the beautiful princess was drawn to him. So she picked him from among all the Asuras.
King Sakka took her to the Heaven of 33, made her his fourth wife, and they lived happily ever after.
The moral is: The Five Training Steps are the beginning of wholesomeness. Wholesomeness is the beginning of peace and happiness.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, when King Magadha was ruling in the land, there was a young noble called, ‘Magha the Good’. He lived in a remote village of just 30 families. When he was young, his parents married him to a girl who had qualities of character similar to his own. They were very happy together, and she gave birth to several children.
The villagers came to respect Magha the Good because he always tried to help improve the village, for the good of all. Because they respected him, he was able to teach the five steps of training, to purify their thoughts, words and deeds.
Magha’s way of teaching was by doing. An example of this happened one day when the villagers gathered to do handicraft work. Magha the Good cleaned a place for himself to sit. Before he could sit down though, someone else sat there. So he patiently cleaned another place. Again a neighbor sat in his place. This happened over and over again, until he had patiently cleaned sitting places for all those present. Only then could he himself sit in the last place.
By using such examples of patience, Magha the Good taught his fellow villagers how to cooperate with each other, without quarrelling. Working together in this way, they constructed several buildings and made other improvements that benefitted the whole village.
Seeing the worthwhile results of patience and cooperation, based on following the gentle ways of the Five Training Steps, all in the village became calmer and more peaceful. A natural side effect was that former crimes and wrongdoing completely disappeared!
You would think this would make everybody happier. However, there was one man who did not like the new situation at all. He was the head of the village, the politician who cared only about his own position.
Formerly, when there were murders and thefts, he handed out punishments. This increased his position of authority, and caused the villagers to fear him. When husbands or wives had affairs with others, the head man collected fines. In the same way, when reputations were damaged by lies, or contracts were not lived up to, he also collected fines. He even got tax money from the profits of selling strong liquor. He did not mind that drunkenness led to many of the crimes.
It is easy to see why the head man was upset to lose so much respect and power and money, due to the people living peacefully together. So he went to the king and said, “My lord, some of the remote villages are being robbed and looted by bandits. We need your help.”
The king said, “Bring all these criminals to me.”
The dishonest politician rounded up the heads of all 30 families and brought them as prisoners to the king. Without questioning them, the king ordered that they all be trampled to death by elephants.
All 30 were ordered to lie down in the palace courtyard and the elephants were brought in. They realized they were about to be trampled to death. Magha the Good said to them, “Remember and concentrate on the peacefulness and purity that come from following the Five Training Steps, so you may feel loving-kindness towards all. In this way, do not get angry at the unjust king, the lying head man, or the unfortunate elephants.”
The first elephant was brought in by his mahout. But when he tried to force him to trample the innocent villagers, the elephant refused. He trumpeted as he went away. Amazingly, this was repeated with each of the king’s elephants. None would step on them.
The mahouts complained to the king that this was not their fault. “It must be,” they said, “that these men have some drug that is confusing the elephants.”
The king had the villagers searched, but they found nothing. Then his advisers said, “These men must be magicians who have cast an evil spell on your mighty elephants!”
The villagers were asked, “Do you have such a spell?” Magha the Good said, “Yes we do.” This made the king very curious. So he himself asked Magha, “What is this spell and how does it work?”
Magha the Good replied, “My lord king, we do not cast the same kinds of spells that others cast. We cast the spell of loving-kindness with minds made pure by following the Five Training Steps.”
“What are these Five Training Steps?” asked the king. Magha the Good said, “All of us have given up the five unwholesome actions, which are: destroying life, taking what is not given, doing wrong in sexual ways, speaking falsely, and losing one’s mind from alcohol.”
“In this way we have become harmless, so that we can give the gift of fearlessness to all. Therefore, the elephants lost their fear of the mahouts, and did not wish to harm us. They departed, trumpeting triumphantly. This was our protection, which you have called a ‘spell’.”
Finally seeing the wholesomeness and wisdom of these people, the king questioned them and learned the truth. He decided to confiscate all the property of the dishonest village head man and divide it among them.
The villagers were then free to do even more good works for the benefit of the whole village. Soon they began to build a big roadside inn, right next to the highway crossroads.
This was the biggest project they had yet undertaken. The men were confident because they had learned so well how to cooperate with each other for a common goal. But they had not yet learned how to cooperate in this work with the women of the village. They seemed to think it was ‘man’s work’.
By this time Magha the Good had four wives. Their names were Good-doer, Beauty, Happy and Well-born. Of these, the first wife, Good-doer, was the wisest. She wanted to pave the way for the women to benefit from cooperating in doing good work. So she gradually became friendly with the boss in charge of the roadside inn project.
Because she wanted to contribute by helping in a big way, she gave a present to the boss. She asked him, “Can you think of a way that I may become the most important contributor to this good work?”
The boss replied, “I know just such a way!” Then he secretly constructed the most important part of the building, the roof beam that would hold the roof together. He wrapped it up and hid it with Good-doer, so it could dry for the time necessary to become rigid and strong.
Meanwhile, the men of the village continued happily in the building project. At last they got to the point of installing the roof beam. They began to make one, but the boss interrupted them. He said, “My friends, we cannot use fresh green wood to make the roof beam. It will bend and sag. We must have an aged dry roof beam. Go find one!”
When they searched in the village, they found that Good-doer just happened to have a perfect roof beam. It was even the right size! When they asked if they could buy it from her, she said, “It is not for sale at any price. I wish to contribute the roof beam for free, but only if you let me participate in building the inn.”
The men were afraid to change their successful ways. So they said, “Women have never been part of this project. This is impossible.”
Then they returned to the construction boss and told him what had happened. He said, “Why do you keep the women away? Women are part of everything in this world. Let us be generous and share the harmony and wholesomeness of this work with the women. Then the project and our village will be even more successful.”
So they accepted the roof beam from Good-doer, and she helped to finish the building of the inn. Then Beauty had a wonderful garden built next to the inn, which she donated. It had all kinds of flowers and fruit trees. So, too, Happy had a lovely pond dug, and planted beautiful lotuses in it. But Well-born, being the youngest and a little spoiled, did nothing for the inn.
In the evenings, Magha the Good held meetings in the roadside inn. He taught the people to assist their parents and elders, and to give up harsh words, accusing others behind their backs, and being stingy.
It is said that the lowest heaven world contains the gods of the four directions, North, East, South and West. Because he followed his own teachings, Magha the Good died with happiness in his heart. He was reborn as Sakka, king of the second lowest heaven world.
In time, the heads of all the other families of the village, as well as Good-doer, Beauty and Happy, also died. They were reborn as gods under King Sakka. This was known as the “Heaven of 33″.