Life often presents us with a mix of challenges, ranging from personal struggles to family issues and health problems. It can be overwhelming, especially for a young boy, as he opens up to his Grandma about everything going wrong. However, through a simple baking analogy, Grandma imparts a profound lesson about the nature of adversity and the importance of trust and faith in difficult times.
In the midst of school problems, family issues, and serious health concerns within the family, the little boy finds solace in confiding in his Grandma. He shares his frustrations, expressing how everything seems to be going wrong in his life. Unfazed by the boy’s grievances, Grandma calmly continues her task of baking a cake. Recognizing the boy’s need for a snack, she offers him various individual ingredients used in baking, such as cooking oil, raw eggs, flour, and baking soda. The boy’s disgusted reactions reflect his belief that these items are unpleasant to consume on their own. In response to the boy’s repulsion, Grandma imparts a valuable lesson. She explains that while these ingredients may taste unpleasant individually, when combined in the right amounts and manner, they create a delicious cake. She further extends the analogy to the way God works in our lives.
Grandma draws a parallel between the ingredients in baking and the challenges we face in life. Just as the ingredients, when mixed together, create something wonderful, God works in mysterious ways to bring about goodness from our trials. While we may question why we endure difficult times, Grandma encourages us to trust in God’s divine plan.
Life’s challenges may seem overwhelming and bitter when viewed in isolation. However, Grandma’s wisdom reminds us that even the most difficult circumstances can serve a purpose and lead to positive outcomes. By placing our trust in God’s guidance, we can find meaning, growth, and resilience amidst the adversities we encounter.
The story of the little boy and his Grandma’s cake-baking analogy provides a powerful reminder of the transformative potential hidden within life’s challenges. Like the ingredients in a cake, our trials and tribulations may appear unappealing when viewed individually. However, with faith and trust, we can embrace the belief that God’s hand is at work, orchestrating events in our lives for a greater purpose.
By embracing faith, trust, and resilience, we can find hope, strength, and a renewed sense of purpose, even in the face of adversity.
There was an elementary school teacher who taught in a remote town. One day, he asked the little children in his class, “Do you have anyone you hate?” After thinking it over, some of the little children remained silent while others nodded with great force. The teacher then passed a bag to everyone and said, “Let’s play a game. Now, all of you think about who has offended you and what hateful things have been done to you in the past week. Once you have them in mind, go find a rock by the riverside on your way home after school. “Paste a little paper note, written with the person’s name, on the rock. If his fault was big, then find a bigger rock; if his fault was small, then find a smaller rock. “Every day, place what you have collected in a bag and bring it with you to school and show me!” All the students felt that it was very interesting and new. After school, every one rushed to the riverside to find rocks. Early next morning, all the students brought their bags, filled with pebbles to school, and discussed about it happily. With the passing of one day passed, two days, and three days, some of the students’ bag grew larger and larger. It had become a burden. Finally, someone protested and said, “This is so tiring!” The teacher smiled but did not respond. Immediately, someone picked the conversation and continue to complaint, “Exactly! Carrying all these rocks to school is so tiring!”
At that moment, the teacher spoke up and said, “Now put down these rocks which represent the faults of people who have offended you!” The students were all surprised, so the teacher explained, “Learn to forgive others’ offenses. Do not keep them as treasures in your mind, nor bear them on your shoulders. No one can stand it overtime.” That week, the students of the class learned an extremely precious life lesson. The greater the number and the bigger the rocks held in the bag, the deeper the tired accumulated in the mind, and the heavier the burden. If you have rocks written with others’ names, you should know what to do.
A true story about a female worker who was saved from being locked inside a freezer at work, due to her having a modest and respectful mind. A lady worked for a food processing factory. One day, at the end of her work, she routinely walked into the freezer for a final check. Suddenly, an unfortunate moment happened, the door accidently closed behind her and she got locked inside the freezer. Although she exhaustedly screamed and pounded on the door, no one could hear her crying voice, she was totally out of people’s sight. All the workers were off from factory at this moment and no one could hear what had happened inside. Five hours later, when she was at the brink of death, the security guard of the factory opened that door and miraculously saved her. Afterwards she asked the security guard why he would open the door since that was not his daily job. He explained, “I have been working at this factory for 35 years. Every day there are several hundred workers who enter and walk out: however, you are the only one who greet me with “How are you?” in the morning and say “Goodbye, see you tomorrow.” in the evening. Many people do not see me as if I were transparent. Today, you came to work in the morning as usual and asked me “How are you?”, but at the end of the work day, I did not hear you say to me “Goodbye, see you tomorrow.” As a result, I decided to take a look inside the factory. I anticipated your “Hi” and “Goodbye”, because these words remind me of who I am and make me very happy. Without hearing your word of goodbye, I knew something might have happened. That was the reason why I searched for you in every corner of the factory.”
He who loves others is constantly loved by them; he who respects others is constantly respected by them. Helping others is truly helping ourselves.
Once there was a poor woodcutter who found a wounded dragon snake in the mountains. The woodcutter kindly nursed the dragon snake back to health and later released it into a hole in the mountain. There, a precious ganoderma lucidum grew, which the dragon snake protected day and night.
One day, the emperor fell ill and needed ganoderma lucidum to cure his disease. He offered a heavy reward for anyone who could provide it. The woodcutter remembered the dragon snake and went back to the mountain to find it. The dragon snake, grateful for the woodcutter’s kindness, gave him the ganoderma lucidum. The woodcutter presented it to the emperor, who gave him a lot of gold and silver as a reward.
The woodcutter now lived a life of luxury but was not satisfied. He wanted to become an official and saw an opportunity when the queen lost her sight. The emperor announced that whoever could restore her sight with the eye of a dragon snake would become the prime minister. The woodcutter remembered the dragon snake again and begged for its help. The snake allowed the woodcutter to take one of its eyes with huge pain, which the woodcutter presented to the emperor. The queen’s sight was restored, and the woodcutter was made prime minister.
However, the woodcutter’s greed was insatiable. When the princess fell ill, and the dragon snake’s liver were needed to heal her, the woodcutter asked for the dragon snake once again. The dragon snake, wanting to repay the woodcutter’s kindness, allowed him to cut a small piece of its liver. But the woodcutter, overcome by greed, he went inside dragon snake’s stomach and took a large piece, causing the snake unbearable pain. The snake closed its mouth in agony, and the woodcutter was trapped inside.
This story shows that the woodcutter’s downfall was entirely due to his own actions, driven by his insatiable greed.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta was ruling in Benares, in northern India. The Enlightenment Being was born as his son the prince. Being quite intelligent, he completed his entire education by the age of sixteen. So, at this early age, his father made him second in command.
In those days, most people in Benares worshipped gods. They were very superstitious. They thought gods caused things to happen to them, rather than being results of their own actions. So they would pray to these gods and ask special favours. They would ask for a lucky marriage, or the birth of a child or riches or fame.
They would promise the gods that, if their prayers were answered, they would pay them by making offerings to them. In addition to flowers and perfumes, they imagined the gods desired the sacrifice of animals. So, when they thought the gods had helped them, they killed many animals — goats, lambs, chickens, pigs and others.
The prince saw all this and thought, “These helpless animals are also subjects of the king, so I must protect them. The people commit these unwholesome acts due to ignorance and superstition. This cannot be true religion. For true religion offers life as it really is, not killing. True religion offers peace of mind, not cruelty.
“I fear these people believe in their superstitions too strongly to give them up. This is very sad. But perhaps their beliefs can at least be put to good use. Some day I will become king. So I must begin to make a plan to let their superstitions help them. If they must offer sacrifices, let them kill their own greed and hatred, instead of these helpless animals! Then the whole kingdom will benefit.”
So the prince devised a clever long term plan. Every so often, he rode in his grand chariot to a popular banyan tree just outside the city. This was a huge tree, where the people prayed and made offerings to a god they thought lived there. The prince came down from his chariot and made the same offerings as the others — incense, flowers, perfumes and water — but not animal sacrifices.
In this way he made a great show, and the news spread about his offerings. Pretty soon, all the people thought he was a true believer in the great god of the banyan tree.
In due time, King Brahmadatta died and his son became king. He ruled as a righteous king, and the people benefited. So all his subjects came to trust and respect him as a just and honourable king.
Then one day, he decided it was the right time to carry out the rest of his plan. So he called all the leading citizens of Benares to the royal assembly hall. He asked them, “Worthy ministers and loyal subjects, do you know how I was able to make sure that I would become king?” No one could answer.
He said, “Do you remember that I often gave wonderful sweet offerings to the great god of the banyan tree?” “Yes, our lord,” they said.
The king continued, “At each of those times, I made a promise to the powerful god of the tree. I prayed, ‘Oh mighty one, if you make me King of Benares, I will offer a special sacrifice to you, far greater than flowers and perfumes.’
“Since I am now the king, you all can see for yourselves that the god has answered my prayers. So now I must keep my promise and offer the special sacrifice.”
All those in the assembly hall agreed. They said, “We must prepare this sacrifice at once. What animals do you wish to kill?”
The king said, “My dear subjects, I am glad you are so willing to cooperate. I promised the great god of the banyan tree that I would sacrifice anyone who fails to practice the Five Training Steps. That is, anyone who destroys life, takes what is not given, does wrong in sexual ways, speaks falsely, or loses his mind from alcohol. I promised that, if any do these things, I will offer their guts, and their flesh and blood on the great god’s altar!”
Being so superstitious, all those in the hall agreed that this must be done, or the god would surely punish the king and the kingdom.
The king thought, “Ah, such is the power of superstition that these people have lost all common sense! They cannot see that, since the first training step is to give up killing, if I sacrificed one of my subjects, I would be next on the altar! And such is the power of superstition that I could make such a promise, and never have to carry it out!”
So, with full confidence in the power of superstition, the king said to the leading citizens, “Go into all the kingdom and announce the promise I made to the god. Then proclaim that the first one-thousand who break any of the training steps will have the honour of being sacrificed, to keep the king’s promise.”
Lo and behold, the people of Benares became famous for carefully practising the Five Training Steps. And the good king, who knew his subjects so well, sacrificed no one.
The moral is: Sacrifice your own wrong doing, not some helpless animal.
50. The Prince Who Had a Plan [The Power of Superstition]
It once occurred to a certain king that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.
And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to anyone who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was the most important thing to do.
And learned men came to the king, but they all answered his questions differently.
In reply to the first question, some said that to know the right time for every action, one must draw up in advance a table of days, months, and years, and must live strictly according to it. Only thus, said they, could everything be done at its proper time. Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action, but that, not letting oneself be absorbed in idle pastimes, one should always attend to all that was going on, and then do what was most needful. Others, again, said that however attentive the king might be to what was going on, it was impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for every action, but that he should have a council of wise men who would help him to fix the proper time for everything.
But then again others said there were some things which could not wait to be laid before a council, but about which one had at once to decide whether to undertake them or not. But in order to decide that, one must know beforehand what was going to happen. It is only magicians who know that; and, therefore, in order to know the right time for every action, one must consult magicians.
Equally various were the answers to the second question. Some said the people the king most needed were his councilors; others, the priests; others, the doctors; while some said the warriors were the most necessary.
To the third question, as to what was the most important occupation, some replied that the most important thing in the world was science. Others said it was skill in warfare; and others, again, that it was religious worship.
All the answers being different, the king agreed with none of them, and gave the reward to none. But still wishing to find the right answers to his questions, he decided to consult a hermit, widely renowned for his wisdom.
The hermit lived in a wood which he never quitted, and he received none but common folk. So the king put on simple clothes and, before reaching the hermit’s cell, dismounted from his horse. Leaving his bodyguard behind, he went on alone.
When the king approached, the hermit was digging the ground in front of his hut. Seeing the king, he greeted him and went on digging. The hermit was frail and weak, and each time he stuck his spade into the ground and turned a little earth, he breathed heavily.
The king went up to him and said: “I have come to you, wise hermit, to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important and need my first attention?”
The hermit listened to the king, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.
“You are tired,” said the king, “let me take the spade and work awhile for you.”
“Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the king, he sat down on the ground.
When he had dug two beds, the king stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:
“Now rest awhile – and let me work a bit.”
But the king did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the king at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:
“I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.”
“Here comes someone running,” said the hermit. “Let us see who it is.”
The king turned round and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing from under them. When he reached the king, he fell fainting on the ground, moaning feebly. The king and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The king washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the king again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and re-bandaged the wound. When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The king brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the king, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed, the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the king was so tired from his walk and from the work he had done that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep – so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night.
When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on the bed and gazing intently at him with shining eyes.
“Forgive me!” said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw that the king was awake and was looking at him.
“I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the king.
“You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!”
The king was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised to restore his property.
Having taken leave of the wounded man, the king went out into the porch and looked around for the hermit. Before going away he wished once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.
The king approached him and said, “For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.”
“You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the king, who stood before him.
“How answered? What do you mean?” asked the king.
“Do you not see?” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug these beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important – now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.”
This story reminded me of something that Henry Shukman, an English Spiritual Director Emeritus and a Zen Buddhism practitioner, once said: ‘Now… is always and ever the most important thing… there is only one place that fulfillment can happen: here and now.’
Once upon a time, there was a rich family living in Benares, in northern India. They arranged for their son to marry a good and honest girl from a nearby village. Being very pretty as well, they were sure they could not find a better wife for their son.
The groom’s family decided on a date for the wedding. The bride’s family agreed to meet them in the village on the wedding day.
Meanwhile, the rich family also had their own special astrological priest. When he found out they had picked the wedding day, without paying him to consult the stars, he became angry. He decided to get even with them.
When the wedding day arrived, the astrological priest dressed up in his finest robes, and called the family together. He bowed to them all, and then looked at his star charts very seriously. He told them that this star was too close to the horizon, and that planet was in the middle of an unlucky constellation, and the moon was in a very dangerous phase for having a wedding. He told them that, not seeking his advice, they had picked the worst day of the year for a wedding. This could only lead to a terrible marriage.
The frightened family forgot all about the wonderful qualities of the intended bride, and remained home in Benares.
Meanwhile the bride’s family had arranged everything for the village wedding ceremony. When the agreed upon hour arrived, they waited and waited for the future husband and his family. Finally they realized they were not coming. So they thought, “Those city people picked the date and time, and now they didn’t show up. This is insulting! Why should we wait any longer? Let our daughter marry an honourable and hard working village man.” So they quickly arranged a new marriage and celebrated the wedding.
The next day, the astrological priest said that, suddenly, the stars and planets and moon were in perfect positions for a wedding! So the Benares family went to the village and asked for the wedding to take place. But the village people said, “You picked the date and time. Then you disgraced us by not showing up!”
The city people replied, “Our family priest told us that yesterday the stars and planets and moon were in terrible positions. It was a very unlucky day for a wedding. But he has assured us that today is a most lucky day. So please send us the bride at once!”
The village family said, “You have no honour. You have made the choice of the day more important than the choice of the bride. It’s too late now! Our daughter has married another.” Then the two families began to quarrel heatedly.
A wise man happened to come along. Seeing the two families quarrelling he tried to settle the dispute.
The city people told him that they had respected the warnings of their astrological priest. It was because of the unlucky positions of the stars and planets and moon, that they had not come to the wedding.
The wise man said, “The good fortune was in the bride, not in the stars. You fools have followed the stars and lost the bride. Without your foolishness, those far off stars can do nothing!”
The moral is: Luck comes from actions, not from stars.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta had a very wise adviser who understood the speech of animals. He understood what they said, and he could speak to them in their languages.
One day the adviser was wandering along the riverbank with his followers. They came upon some fishermen who had cast a big net into the river. While peering into the water, they noticed a big, handsome fish following his pretty wife.
Her shining scales reflected the morning sunlight in all the colors of the rainbow. Her feather-like fins fluttered like the delicate wings of a fairy, as they sent her gliding through the water. It was clear that her husband was so entranced by the way she looked and the way she moved, that he was not paying attention to anything else!
As they came near the net, the wife fish smelled it. Then she saw it and alertly avoided it at the very last moment. But her husband was so blinded by his desire for her, that he could not turn away fast enough. Instead, he swam right into the net and was trapped!
The fishermen pulled in their net and threw the big fish onto the shore. They built a fire and carved a spit to roast him on.
Lying on the ground, the fish was flopping around and groaning in agony. Since the wise adviser understood fish talk, he translated for the others. He said, “This poor fish is madly repeating over and over again:
“My wife! My wife! I must be with my wife! I care for her much more than for my life!
‘My wife! My wife! I must be with my wife! I care for her much more than for my life!”
The adviser thought, “Truly this fish has gone crazy. He is in this terrible state because he became a slave to his own desire. And it is clear that he has learned nothing from the results of his actions. If he dies keeping such agony, and the desire that caused it, in his mind, he will surely continue to suffer by being reborn in some hell world. Therefore, I must save him!”
So this kind man went over to the fishermen and said, “Oh my friends, loyal subjects of our king, you have never given me and my followers a fish for our curry. Won’t you give us one today?”
They replied, “Oh royal minister, please accept from us any fish you wish!” “This big one on the riverbank looks delicious,” said the adviser. “Please take him, sir,” they said.
Then he sat down on the bank. He took the fish, who was still groaning, into his hands. He spoke to him in the language only fish can understand, saying, “You foolish fish! If I had not seen you today, you would have gotten yourself killed. Your blind desire was leading you to continued suffering. From now on, do not let yourself be trapped by your own desires!”
Then the fish realized how fortunate he was to have found such a friend. He thanked him for his wise advice. The minister released the lucky fish back into the river and went on his way.
The moral is: Fools are trapped by their own desires.
Once upon a time, there was a very rich man living in Benares, in northern India. When his father died, he inherited even more wealth. He thought, “Why should I use this treasure for myself alone? Let my fellow beings also benefit from these riches.”
So he built dining halls at the four gates of the city — North, East, South and West. In these halls he gave food freely to all who wished it. He became famous for his generosity. It also became known that he and his followers were practicers of the Five Training Steps.
In those days, there was a Silent Buddha meditating in the forest near Benares. He was called Buddha because he was enlightened. This means that he no longer experienced himself, the one called ‘I’ or ‘me’, as being in any way different from all life living itself. So he was able to experience life as it really is, in every present moment.
Being one with all life, he was filled with compassion and sympathy for the unhappiness of all beings. So he wished to teach and help them to be enlightened just as he was. But the time of our story was a most unfortunate time, a very sad time. It was a time when no one else was able to understand the Truth, and experience life as it really is. And since this Buddha knew this, that was why he was Silent.
While meditating in the forest, the Silent Buddha entered into a very high mental state. His concentration was so great that he remained in one position for seven days and nights, without eating or drinking.
When he returned to the ordinary state, he was in danger of dying from starvation. At the usual time of day, he went to collect alms food at the mansion of the rich man of Benares.
When the rich man had just sat down to have lunch, he saw the Silent Buddha coming with his alms bowl. He rose from his seat respectfully. He told his servant to go and give alms to him.
Meanwhile, Mara, the god of death, had been watching. Mara is the one who is filled with greed for power over all beings. He can only have this power because of the fear of death.
Since a Buddha lives life fully in each moment, he has no desire for future life, and no fear of future death. Therefore, since Mara could have no power over the Silent Buddha, he wished to destroy him. When he saw that he was near death from starvation, he knew that he had a good chance of succeeding.
Before the servant could place the food in the Silent Buddha’s alms bowl, Mara caused a deep pit of red hot burning coals to appear between them. It seemed like the entrance to a hell world.
When he saw this, the servant was frightened to death. He ran back to his master. The rich man asked him why he returned without giving the alms food. He replied, “My lord, there is a deep pit full of red hot burning coals just in front of the Silent Buddha.”
The rich man thought, “This man must be seeing things!” So he sent another servant with alms food. He also was frightened by the same pit of fiery coals. Several servants were sent, but all returned frightened to death.
Then the master thought, “There is no doubt that Mara, the god of death, must be trying to prevent my wholesome deed of giving alms food to the Silent Buddha. Because wholesome deeds are the beginning of the path to enlightenment, this Mara wishes to stop me at all costs. But he does not understand my confidence in the Silent Buddha and my determination to give.”
So he himself took the alms food to the Silent Buddha. He too saw the flames rising from the fiery pit. Then he looked up and saw the terrible god of death, floating above in the sky. He asked, “Who are you.?” Mara replied, I am the god of death!”
“Did you create this pit of fire?” asked the man. “I did,” said the god. “Why did you do so?” “To keep you from giving alms food, and in this way to cause the Silent Buddha to die! Also to prevent your wholesome deed from helping you on the path to enlightenment, so you will remain in my power!”
The rich man of Benares said, “Oh Mara, god of death, the evil one, you cannot kill the Silent Buddha, and you cannot prevent my wholesome giving! Let us see whose determination is stronger!”
Then he looked across the raging pit of fire, and said to the calm and gentle Enlightened One, “Oh Silent Buddha, let the light of Truth continue to shine as an example to us. Accept this gift of life!”
So saying, he forgot himself entirely, and in that moment there was no fear of death. As he stepped into the burning pit, he felt himself being lifted up by a beautiful cool lotus blossom. The pollen from this miraculous flower spread into the air, and covered him with the glowing colour of gold. While standing in the heart of the lotus, the Great Being poured the alms food into the bowl of the Silent Buddha. Mara, god of death, was defeated!
In appreciation for this wonderful gift, the Silent Buddha raised his hand in blessing. The rich man bowed in homage, joining his hands above his head. Then the Silent Buddha departed from Benares, and went to the Himalayan forests.
Still standing on the wonderful lotus, glowing with the color of gold, the generous master taught his followers. He told them that practising the Five Training Steps is necessary to purify the mind. He told them that with such a pure mind, there is great merit in giving alms — indeed it is truly the gift of life!
When he had finished teaching, the fiery pit and the lovely cool lotus completely disappeared.
The moral is: Have no fear when doing wholesome deeds.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, an important adviser to a certain king was on his way to a meeting with the king and other advisers. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dead mouse by the roadside. He said to those who were with him. “Even from such small beginnings as this dead mouse, an energetic young fellow could build a fortune. If he worked hard and used his intelligence, he could start a business and support a wife and family.”
A passerby heard the remark. He knew this was a famous adviser to the king, so he decided to follow his words. He picked up the dead mouse by the tail and went off with it. As luck would have it, before he had gone even a block, a shopkeeper stopped him. He said, “My cat has been pestering me all morning. I’ll give you two copper coins for that mouse.” So it was done.
With the two copper coins, he bought sweet cakes, and waited by the side of the road with them and some water. As he expected, some people who picked flowers for making garlands were returning from work. Since they were all hungry and thirsty, they agreed to buy sweet cakes and water for the price of a bunch of flowers from each of them. In the evening, the man sold the flowers in the city. With some of the money he bought more sweet cakes and returned the next day to sell to the flower pickers.
This went on for a while, until one day there was a terrible storm, with heavy rains and high winds. While walking by the king’s pleasure garden, he saw that many branches had been blown off the trees and were lying all around. So he offered to the king’s gardener that he would clear it all away for him, if he could keep the branches. The lazy gardener quickly agreed.
The man found some children playing in a park across the street. They were glad to collect all the branches and brush at the entrance to the pleasure garden, for the price of just one sweet cake for each child.
Along came the king’s potter, who was always on the lookout for firewood for his glazing oven. When he saw the piles of wood the children had just collected, he paid the man a handsome price for it. He even threw into the bargain some of his pots.
With his profits from selling the flowers and the firewood, the man opened up a refreshment shop. One day all the local grass mowers, who were on their way into town, stopped in his shop. He gave them free sweet cakes and drinks. They were surprised at his generosity and asked, “What can we do for you?” He said there was nothing for them to do now, but he would let them know in the future.
A week later, he heard that a horse dealer was coming to the city with 500 horses to sell. So he got in touch with the grass mowers and told each of them to give him a bundle of grass. He told them not to sell any grass to the horse dealer until he had sold his. In this way he got a very good price.
Time passed until one day, in his refreshment shop, some customers told him that a new ship from a foreign country had just anchored in the port. He saw this to be the opportunity he had been waiting for. He thought and thought until he came up with a good business plan.
First, he went to a jeweler friend of his and paid a low price for a very valuable gold ring, with a beautiful red ruby in it. He knew that the foreign ship was from a country that had no rubies of its own, where gold too was expensive. So he gave the wonderful ring to the captain of the ship as an advance on his commission. To earn this commission, the captain agreed to send all his passengers to him as a broker. He would then lead them to the best shops in the city. In turn, the man got the merchants to pay him a commission for sending customers to them.
Acting as a middle man in this way, after several ships came into port, the man became very rich. Being pleased with his success, he also remembered that it had all started with the words of the king’s wise adviser. So he decided to give him a gift of 100,000 gold coins. This was half his entire wealth. After making the proper arrangements, he met with the king’s adviser and gave him the gift, along with his humble thanks.
The adviser was amazed, and he asked, “How did you earn so much wealth to afford such a generous gift?” The man told him it had all started with the adviser’s own words not so long ago. They had led him to a dead mouse, a hungry cat, sweet cakes, bunches of flowers, storm damaged tree branches, children in the park, the king’s potter, a refreshment shop, grass for 500 horses, a golden ruby ring, good business contacts, and finally a large fortune.
Hearing all this, the royal adviser thought to himself, “It would not be good to lose the talents of such an energetic man. I too have much wealth, as well as my beloved only daughter. As this man is single, he deserves to marry her. Then he can inherit my wealth in addition to his own, and my daughter will be well cared for.”
This all came to pass, and after the wise adviser died, the one who had followed his advice became the richest man in the city. The king appointed him to the adviser’s position. Throughout his remaining life, he generously gave his money for the happiness and well being of many people.
The moral is: With energy and ability, great wealth comes even from small beginnings.