There once was a woman who was blessed with many riches. She owned a nice house and possessed many rich assets. One day, an old man came to her house. He was shirtless and wore only a loincloth and carrying a walking stick. The old man asked to come in and the woman welcomed him to her home. The woman believed in kindness to the old and greeted him with warm hospitality.
The old man thanked the woman. “I have traveled far and have become restless and thirsty. Will you allow me a glass of water?” The old man requested.
“Grandpa, I will help you with your glass of water that you have requested,” the woman replied and ordered her servant to bring a cup of water to the old man. The servant brought a nice gold chalice filled with purified water that came from the cleanest spring in the country.
The old man gulped the water thirstily and sighed a great deal of relief. His crusty hands caress the gold cup. “You are surrounded by great wealth.” He commented.
“I am greatly blessed for my fortune,” she answered humbly, “I came from poverty to royalty. I believe I have been blessed by the great Buddha and I shall return my thanks to Him by offering my help to anyone who so needs it.”
“You are indeed blessed, my child,” the old man said and stood up, “I must now continue my long journey. I thank you for your hospitality.”
The woman stood up also and offered to see the old man out. He smiled at her and thanked her as he stepped onto the path and walked briskly away. The woman felt happiness for doing such a great deed and believed she will be blessed even further for her kindness.
When she returned, she noticed that her gold cup is missing. She asked her servant if he had taken away the cup and the servant replied that he had not. The woman felt a bit taken back and tried to push away the thought of the old man taking one of her fine drinking cup. She looked out to the path but the old man was already gone. She tried not to worry about such meager matters and convinced herself that it is just one loss to her wealth. For she is blessed with many more belongings.
Some days have passed and she continued to live her life by helping people and giving thanks to the Heaven for her great wealth. One particular day was a day of prayers and the monks would come by and asked for offerings. The woman met a monk who held an alms-bowl in which they asked for rice and a tote bag for money. The woman believed in giving alms to the monks herself, instead of allowing her servants to do it for her.
The monk stood before the woman with his head down and his bowl to his chest. The woman held a bowl of rice and scooped a great big spoonful into the alms-bowl while the monk chanted prayers for her. During that time, she kept commenting about her own journey from being a poverty little girl to a successful woman who will help others in need. She then placed some money into the bag of the monk. It is forbidden for physical contact between a monk and females, so the woman had to be careful from touching the monk. After the monk gave a thankful prayer to the woman for her offerings, he walked briskly away onto the path.
The woman returned to her home but suddenly realized her fingers felt a little light. She normally wore jade and gold rings on her fingers and suddenly realized that one of her finger was missing a ring. She turned back to the road but the monk was long gone. She felt a little frustration that she had dropped her ring in the monk’s bag. It’s value was too high for an offering. She wanted to chase after the monk and asked him for her ring back.
But she had to let the matter go. She put away the thought of harassing a monk just for her stupid possessions. She regarded herself a little higher than that. She gave a small prayer for the monk to enjoy her wealth that she had mistakenly dropped into his bag.
Times passed and another day came and went. A bodhisattva came to her home one day upon his journey of enlightenment. The woman greeted him with great respect. The bodhisattva asked the woman if she needs any healing or help with her physical or mental being. The woman replied that she does not need service or help and thank the bodhisattva for his offer.
The bodhisattva then was a little embarrassed and asked instead if he could stop by for a bite to eat, because he was hungry along the path. The woman smiled and welcomed him inside, for she believed in kindness to the spiritual seekers. She called her servant over to bring a bowl of rice and soup made of exotic mushrooms and vegetables. The servant brought a fine “china” bowl and gold utensils for the bodhisattva to consume.
The woman asked the bodhisattva about his enlightening and made small conversations. The bodhisattva politely answered and gave her thanks for her hospitality. The woman told the bodhisattva about her own journey from poverty to riches story. And the bodhisattva politely smiled and said, “You are greatly blessed, madam.”
After the bodhisattva finished eating, he gave thanks to the woman and took his leave. The woman watched the bodhisattva walked briskly away. But a sudden feeling of unease overwhelmed her. She returned to the spot where the bodhisattva was eating and realized that one of her fine gold utensils is missing. She felt greatly annoyed and angered for being taken advantage. She cursed the bodhisattva who had taken her fine utensil. She then cursed the monk for her missing ring and the old man for her golden cup. She felt like she could not trust strangers any longer.
The next day, there came a beggar. “My Lady! I have heard of your great kindness from the village and I seek to witness your hospitality.” The woman sat upon her window and look with disdain to the beggar.
“I’m sorry, I’m not welcoming anyone right now,” the woman replied. “I am greatly busy today.”
“But madam, I have traveled far and I have heard many stories of your kindness,” the beggar replied, “I am very hungry and wish to rest a bit. Will you welcome me? I would only require rice and salted fish.”
The woman gave an annoyed sigh. She agreed to welcome him, because she believed in being kind to the poor. For she had once been in that state. But the woman could not trust this beggar, for he is dirty and being a beggar, would have stole from her. She ordered her servant to serve the beggar, rice on banana leaves instead of using her fine plates and utensils. The beggar was given the rice on banana leaves with bits of salted fish scattered atop of the rice.
The beggar beamed a wide grin and thanked her for the food, for he is hungry and had not eaten for how many days. She sat before him and watched him with hawk-eyes. The beggar dug into the rice with dirty fingers, for he was not given a bowl of water to wash his hands. And he was not given proper utensils. But it was normal to the beggar, for he was used to eating on banana leaves and using his fingers to grab his food.
“Madam, many blessings to you for your kindness,” the beggar said with mouthful of food. He finished swallowing and dug into more rice, hungrily. “Madam, I have heard stories from the people that you have given high offerings with your kindness. I have heard from an old man that you gave him a gold chalice when he was thirsty. I have heard from a blessed monk that you have given him a jade ring with values that could build a monastery. And there was an enlightened bodhisattva that proclaimed you have given him one of your fine utensils as a gift for his Enlightened Path.”
The woman heard this and was deeply angered that it was true the people she had helped had taken advantage of her. The beggar continued to gobble his food and continue to speak with mouthfuls.
“Madam is too kind!” the beggar said, bits of rice and fish flying off his mouth, “This poor beggar believes Madam is very generous and highly blessed with her kindness! It fills me with tears of joy and happiness to see someone who cared for her own people give so much.”
“Please beggar,” the woman began, almost disgusted and very annoyed to hear him speak. She wanted to say more, but she tried hard to hold down her anger, which prevented her from speaking.
“Madam is very humble!” the beggar said, wiping his mouth with his dirty arm. He finished his meal and sigh a great relief. “I have witnessed this remarkable kindness and I can now return back to the Path, reflecting on this special occasion. I am blessed to have received your kindness!”
The woman stood up along with the beggar, making sure to catch him if he tried to swipe one of her belongings. The beggar smiled at the woman. “I thank Madam for your hospitality and for providing me a full belly. Your generosity is great! I shall speak praises for your kindness. I do not require anything else, do not worry. You have been very careful with me, I have seen that. But I shall not take anything of your possessions. You have given me more than anything of value and that is worthy of great blessings!”
And with that, the beggar continued on the path, walking briskly. The woman watched him leave and soon disappear into the shadows. She reflected on this occasion and suddenly, she felt warm and deeply blessed for the lessons she have learned.
The woman believed she was blessed because of her riches. But the Beggar have revealed that he is even more blessed than her to have received the kindness and be able to share it around.
The woman who is rich with wealth was not truly rich during her lifestyle. She believed she was offering kindness to the old, the poor, the enlightened. But she was pompous. She bragged about her poverty to riches story and wanted to be adored for her kindness to people. She believed that she must be kind, but really she was only feeling guilty of her wealth and so to make her feel better, she offered kindness to those in need.
When she realized that those she helped was taking advantage of her, she felt annoyed and anger. For she believed her kindness limits to one helpful affair. The woman bragged and revealed that she was lucky, but did not see that those she helped were luckier than her. In the case of the Beggar, he showed her that he is coming from a poor status, but he is richer because he does not cling to materialistic things.
© Copyright 2016 Sammy Wang Yang. All rights reserved.