Stories of Thien

by

[A tale from the book by Venerable Hue Can and Nick Mills]

In his Early sermons Buddha told this following story :

Once there was a rich old man who had four wives. One day the man was very ill. Knowing that death was coming soon, he summoned all the wives and declared, “When I was well I loved you all dearly. I provided you all with luxuries that no girl in the town would ever dream of. I made sure that all of you had servants to wait on your every need. Now I’m about to die. I feel very lonely. My wish is that you join me when I die.”

He expected that the youngest and most recent wife, who he favoured, would happily responded to his wish. Yet her answer was, “My dear husband, I am sure that your adore me the most. You keep me with you at all times, both day and night. I appreciate your love so I’ll see you off at the door.”

The man was deeply disappointed. He looked at his third wife with hope. The woman replied, “You neglected me most of the time. You only showed interest in me for your own benefit, whenever I could render you a service or appreciate your generosity. nevertheless, to show my gratitude I will see you off at the gate.”

The man turned his desperate look to the second wife. The woman said, “When you were well wherever you went, although you didn’t take me like the fourth sister, you always mentioned my name to everybody. Often you boasted about me. For that consideration I will see you off at the service and accompany you to your last moment at the cemetery.”

Three remained the first wife whose existence te man always ignored. To his surprise the woman said, “I’m your first wife. I was betrothed to you when I was very little. Since then my duty has been to be with you, although you forget me all the time. But I will never separate from you. Be assured that whenever you go, I will be your loyal companion.”

The man signed his last breath.

Buddha concluded the story as follows :

We sentient beings, regardless of gender, have these four wives. Who are they ? The fourth wife — money. The third wife — family and friends. The second wife — fame. The first wife — your karma.

Karma is an action which is continuously repeated to form a habit. Eventually we accept its outcome. Karma can be changed. All you need is to be strong and determined to detach from your habits.

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