Saturday, August 12, 2017

The story of the poor man

There was once a young man who was so poor that he had hardly enough to eat. Worse than that, even the little food he kept always disappeared at night. One night he stayed up to find who was stealing from him and he discovered a little mouse that carried his left-over food away. He shouted at her, "why do you steal my food? I already have so little!", and she replied that it is his karma to never own more than 8 things at a time. So whenever he stored too much, she comes along and takes it in order to bring the universe back in balance. He was completely perplexed why a weird rule like that has to be written in stone so he decided to go and ask the Buddha about it who was teaching in a distant land.

On his way he passed a home of wealthy merchants and as it was already very late he asked them if he could stay overnight. When the family found out where he was headed they asked him to ask the Buddha why their daughter couldn't speak. He agreed and continued on his journey. Then he reached big mountains and met a wizard who flew him over carried by his staff. He too had a question for the Buddha, why isn't he already enlightened as the prophecy once had foretold? The young man agreed to ask and kept going. On the way he reached a big river he couldn't cross but a giant turtle offered to bring him to the other side. It turned out she too had a question, why wasn't she a dragon like her father?

When the young man reached the market place in the city where the Buddha was teaching he found a big crowd. To enable everyone a turn the Buddha allowed each visitor only three questions and the self-less man decided to drop his in order to let the turtle, the wizard and the merchant's daughter to find answers to their problems. The Buddha had a solution for everyone, he advised the turtle to stop hiding in her shell, the wizard to let go of the comforting power of his staff, and he prophesied that the young lady will be able to speak once she meets her soul mate.

When the young man told the giant turtle she let go of her shell and realized that she was a dragon all along. Once freed of the weight of the shell she flew him over the river. It also turned out that buried in the giant shell were many pearls which she happily gave to the young man. When he reached the wizard he let go of his staff as advised and immediately reached enlightenment. He too gave his staff to the man who used it to fly back over the mountains. And when he reached the home of the wealthy merchant the daughter smiled on his arrival and asked her father who that handsome young man was. They married and she was forever healed of her affliction.

The lesson learned here is that no karmic bonds can undermine our well-being as long as we use our talents for the service of others. Maybe the young man was constrained in his ability to own things, but having wealth, magic powers and the love of his life was probably enough to let him live happily ever after.

No comments: