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Between Master and Disciples / Buddhist Stories

Buddhist Stories: The Better Wife, Part 2 of 4, Aug. 12, 2015

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But this is the problem, the talented or the trusted person is working so hard. It’s not like, OK, you are talented and you are good and then you are treated well. No, you work harder than everyone else. Much is expected from whom much is given.

One day the prime minister called all the family members to come, and said, “Sons and family members, I am very old now. All the family affairs I cannot take care of anymore. All these properties and wealth and the key to the treasure, whoever can take care of them, I will give them to you to manage.” Manage all of them. All the six daughters-in-law did not want to have anything to do with it. They were scared. And then the last one, the seventh, stood up and said, “Sir, father, all of my bigger sisters don’t dare to take it. Then I will do it to help you.” So he was very happy to give the key and everything to manage the house to her. You know in China, they live together. And one person takes care, just like a manager, that’s all. They live together. After marriage, they still live together. So from then on she was very diligent. Got up early, stayed up late, managing all the servants in the house, everything, tip-tip top-top. And then at the mealtime, she always brought the meal to offer to her parents-in-law first. And then she offered to the brothers and sisters-in-law, and then offered all to the nephews and nieces, and even then she took care of all the servants so they all ate. After she took care of everything, all ready, she told them what to do next, and then she ate last, the last one to eat. All the time like that, every day like that. And the prime minister saw that she was a very loyal and hardworking person, different from everyone else. How come (it’s) like that? How come she didn’t follow her mother’s advice? Because before she left the house, her mother said, “You must sleep well, eat well and wear nice clothes, all the day, every day.” How come she didn’t follow her? To eat well. And then he came and asked, "Before you came here to be my daughter-in-law, your mother had told you, you must every day wear beautiful clothes, eat the best food, tasty food, and then every day you must look into the mirror. How come you don’t follow your mother’s advice at all? I observe not.” So she kneeled down in front of the father-in-law and said, “Sir, father, my mother said to me wearing beautiful clothes and new, meaning your clothes always need to look clean, neat and tidy, so that whenever the house has guests that come, you always look neat so people don’t think that you have a bad daughter–in-law in the house. And my mother said you have to eat tasty and good food. My mother meant you have to eat last because then you will be very, very hungry. Everything will taste very, very good. Meaning everybody eats first and then you’ll have a good appetite. And then the food will taste very good. And then your digestion will be excellent. That’s the meaning of eating well, and good and tasty food. And my mother told me to look into the mirror. It doesn’t mean that mirror of brass or those mirrors for makeup. She meant I have to get up early and clean all the furniture, everything, so that it looks all clean, everything. And all the blankets, everything has to be taken care of well, so that it looks so clean and sparkling like a mirror. That’s what my mother meant.” Oh God, what a mother! And what a smart daughter! Mother didn’t explain anything, but she understood everything. Wow, so the prime minister said, “Wow! Excellent, excellent. Your mother is a wise and a worthy person. I am so respectful of her.” And then he was so happy inside himself that he had such a beautiful daughter, and capable, and moral, and very, very modest as well. And from then on he even treated her more special. Everything he entrusted to her. He never worried about anything in the house anymore. He felt peaceful now.

One day the king and the court officials were talking in the court, in the king’s court, talking about national affairs. And then suddenly he saw a lot of the very special rice from somewhere, just fell onto the courtyard. And then he looked up. There were some birds taking this rice and they dropped some down. And then the king saw this was a very precious kind of rice. So he gave the officials, everyone, a little bit to plant in their house, in their yard. And then the prime minister also had some and brought it home and gave it to the daughter-in-law, the last one, the seventh daughter-in-law, and said, “This rice is from the king; he gave it to us to plant. Please do it for me.” My God! She alone did all these and now had to be a farmer as well. He really trusted her. But this is the problem, the talented or the trusted person is working so hard. It’s not like, OK, you are talented and you are good and then you are treated well. No, you work harder than everyone else. Much is expected from whom much is given. After a while the queen was sick. And then all the medicine men came in and took care of the queen and said, “Your majesty, this sickness of the queen, you must use that special rice to feed her. Then she will be OK.” The one from the beach. Probably it was a wild rice. It’s rare. And then he gathered all his officials and asked, “Sometime before I gave all of you, each one, some rice, that special rice to plant. Is the rice ripe now to harvest?” So they said, “No, it’s a special rice. It doesn’t suit this kind of weather and land. So we tried but it didn’t work. Nothing happened, nothing came out.” So the prime minister came back home, asked the seventh, the last daughter-in-law “Did you plant the rice for me? What happened?” Because right now the king wanted it for the queen to cure her sickness. So the seventh daughter-in-law said, “Yes, father, I planted it and they grew a lot, a lot. And I planted an extra second time, a lot, a lot. I saved a lot in our storeroom. Even if the king wants to make medicine for the whole country, I have enough.” Not just the queen. Wow, such a good daughter! Oh my God, I wish I have one like that. But I don’t have any son; that’s the problem. Any of you want to be my daughter-in-law, you can’t, I don’t have any son. “OK, please bring some to me. I’ll bring it to the king.” “Of course, of course.” And she said, “Yes, but I have to ask someone to pestle it and clean it nicely first.” Wow she’s so detailed! Not saying, “OK here!” Let me clean it and pestle it first. And then next day he brought that, not the rice with hulls, but already cleaned and washed and ready to cook. Oh, isn’t she good? OK, he said, “Your Majesty, obeying your instruction our house has planted a lot of this. And we have a lot of harvest from that. Today we offer this rice and it’s already ready to cook.” “Oh, how good, how good! Yes. You have such a green thumb.” He didn’t know. And after they cooked the rice and then the queen ate it and she recovered.

At that time there was a neighboring country, Đặc Xoa Thi Lợi (Taksasila), with which this Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country had some conflict, about business, selling and buying. Then both countries often had problems with each other. But even then the king of the neighboring country, Đặc Xoa Thi Lợi (Taksasila), was still feeling reluctant, worried that the Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country had so many talented persons. So he had a plan to try to see if that country was OK, was really that strong or good, had many talented persons or not. The first time he ordered somebody to go to the Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country he gave them two horses (for the king). Both of them were female horses. Ha ha, you like that. Two horses, both were female. And then he wanted to test to see if any of the country Xá Vệ (Sravasti) persons knew which one was the mother, and which one was the daughter, the horses. They were both female, similar. From the king to all the courtiers, nobody knew which one was what. So the prime minister went home looking very miserable, his face as long as the horses themselves. You know when you are sad or unhappy, we say, “Why is your face so long?” So his face was as long as a horse. And then the seventh daughter was always around and taking care, noticed everything. She said, “Sir, how come today when you came back from the king’s court, you looked so unhappy. What is the matter?” So he told her, “The neighbor sent us two horses and asked us to differentiate which one is the mother and which one is the daughter, and we don’t know how to do. We don’t know what to do. We cannot tell. And they say if we cannot then they are going to attack us. This is just a test, you know. They will attack us. So we are very, very worried. Of course, I am unhappy.” So the daughter said, “Father this is no problem. You bring into the court some very young and juicy grass, a bunch of it, and put it there. See which horse eats very relaxingly, almost like giving in, to the other one, then that is the mother. If the other horse, eats fast and is trying to grab everything, then that is the young horse, OK?” The prime minister thought, “Wow, that is very logical! OK, OK.” He went in and told the king that. All right, and they did, they tried it, and that was correct like that. Then he called the ambassador of the neighboring country to come in and he pointed to the slow eating, relaxed horse. He said, “That’s the mother. And then the one eating fast, kind of snatching and grabbing, competing, that’s the daughter.” So they knew, everybody knew. And then the ambassador had to confess that it was correct. After the ambassador messenger went, the king gave the prime minister a lot of rewards: jewels, silk, all the good things, and raised his salary. Our modern style is like that, a raise, OK.

And then the ambassador, the messenger, went back to his neighboring country and told everything like that. And then the neighboring country still didn’t want to lose, didn’t want to accept that they were losers. They brought two snakes. Both were the same length, same size. And then went there and asked them if they knew which one was the male, which one was the female. If not they would bring their soldiers and make war with them. OK, they brought the snakes to the Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country. And then both the king and the officials also still didn’t know what to do, didn’t know which one (was which). And then the prime minister came home also, his face as long as the snake’s tail, stretched so low. OK. And he said, “Daughter, today they make trouble again. They brought two snakes and asked us which one’s male and which one’s female. And we know nothing. Do you know how to differentiate between each one?” She said, “Sir, that’s also not difficult.” What a daughter! “You just cover a bamboo tray with a piece of silk which is flat, smooth and soft.” OK, cover it. “And then put the two snakes on it. Which one lays still, and which one runs around. Because the female snakes belong to the yin; yin yang, you know? If she feels this is cool and soft, then she will just stay there, enjoying it. But the male snake belongs to yang. If he sees a lot of people, then he’s just nervous and runs around trying to escape.” That kind of tray is not like flat but it has some walls and a little edge around it. In the old time people used it to put things in. Like a basket but very big and flatter. “So he’d be running around trying to escape.” So the prime minister thought, “Wow that is very logical! I’ll try that.” So he went in and told the king everything, and the king did that. Oh! It was so as she said. Then he called the messenger from the neighboring country and showed them and did that. And then he said, “That one is the male and that one is female.” So the messenger also felt, “Awesome! OK.” He went home and told his king. And after that the king of course raised the salary of the prime minister again. Rewarded him with a lot of gifts, precious gifts.

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