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Between Master and Disciples / Buddhist Stories

Buddhist Stories: The Better Wife, Part 3 of 4, Aug. 12, 2015

Lecture Language:English
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“Lady, you should know, this body is ephemeral. Today you may have it, tomorrow you might lose it. And during the time that we have it, it’s suffering. Today headaches, tomorrow a pain here, a cut here, there’s always suffering when we still have this body.

After that the neighboring country still did not believe that this country was awesome, and intelligent. So he ordered this messenger to go back there again and bring two pieces of wood, very long. Both sides were similar; there was not one end bigger, not one end smaller. Only one, sorry. One column of wood, brought it there, and asked them if they knew which one was the root, and which one was the top. You know how, right? If you put it in water, the root is heavier, it comes down. I think, I’m not sure. Maybe I’m wrong. I haven’t read it yet. Have a look. I’m not the daughter-in-law. I don’t know. So said and done. Nobody knew anything again. The king and the whole court officials, nobody knew anything. What a court! King and officials knew nothing. And then the prime minister went home again and asked the daughter-in-law. “Oh, daughter, this time that neighboring country, Đặc Xoa Thi Lợi (Taksasila), brought a piece of wood here and asked us which one is the top, which one is the root. And also nobody knows. Can you tell me? You know how? How to find out?” She said, “Sir, father, this is even less difficult, more easy. You just bring it into the river, put it down in the river. Which end, (Sinks.) sinks lower, that is the root. And which end pops up, floating up, that is the top.” I was right! I could be the daughter-in-law of the prime minister. Do you know any prime minister looking for a daughter-in-law? So intelligent like me? Young and beautiful like me? OK. So they did that. The king knew and did that, etc., put it in the river, and naturally they saw that. So they called the messenger to come. They brought it in. They marked already. They said, “That one is the root. That one is the top.” So the messenger had more respect for this country, came home and reported everything. “They know also, Majesty. They know everything. We better not test them again. They know everything.” So in Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country they had many talented and intelligent people. So after that, the neighboring country didn’t dare to make trouble or war with that Sravasti country anymore. After that, he brought a lot of gold and silver and (vegan) silk and all that and made a gift to the Sravasti country king. And then he wrote also, “We praise your country with so many intelligent and talented persons. So I also advise the king, the Sravasti king from now, you should improve more of your moral standards and teach your citizens, all kind of principles, etc., etc.” He talked like a teacher. A loser, and still tried.

After that the king Ba Tư Nặc (Pasenadi) ordered the prime minister to come to him and asked, “Hey, all these answers, how did you know?” So, he said, “Your Majesty, this is my daughter-in-law, not I. I don’t have any wisdom like that.” After that, the king was very, very respectful of this girl. And then, even gave her a title. Like, the Third Sister, meaning the sister of the king. Adopted, but Third Sister. So happy, happy.

After a while, she gave birth to 30 eggs. 30 eggs. And chopped them in half. Out came 30 sons. The first, the second, they all had special, distinguished features. All were beautiful, good looking and strong. The whole country was very respectful of them. And of course, their parents loved them so much. And then, after that, of course they were married to the best daughters and most moral in the whole country, and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Oh, this reminds me of an Aulacese (Vietnamese) legend. The Aulacese mother, the first one, supposed to have come from Heaven and she had a relationship with another person from the dragon origin. That’s why we call ourselves “the descendants of dragon and angels,” something like that, “…and devas.” When she was pregnant afterward, she gave birth to 100 eggs. And then 100 eggs became 100 children. And then they divided… after they grew up, they divided into two. 50 went to the mountains, and 50 stayed in the plain. Because they said to each other, “You are like a fairy in Heaven. So it’s better you go and live on high. I am a dragon kind, so I go low. So we both separate.” And they practiced, until they became better. They have a song about that. I think I sang it once to you before.

OK, this person, the girl, the seventh daughter-in-law, was a very, very deep believer of the Buddhist Three Jewels. Often she went to listen to the Buddha’s teaching. This day, she invited the Buddha and many monks to come to her house for an offering of lunch. After the meal, the Buddha came to the high dais, and preached to the whole family. Everyone attained one of the high levels of spirituality. Only the last son was less intelligent, less wisdom. He had nothing. He attained nothing. Is it possible to sit in front of the Buddha and attain nothing? So terrible is that! (Bad) karma. It’s possible. The last son of this beautiful, intelligent, wise woman received nothing, received no spiritual benefit, even in the presence of Buddha and a whole lot of monks. So much blessing. No wonder, huh? This person even was a very violent one, the last son of the Tỳ Xá Ly (Vaisali), beautiful woman. Imagine, a mother like that even could give a birth to such a son. Understand? You never know. Imagine, we thought such a mother, and a beautiful father, would never have had such a son in the family, but they had one. In the presence of Buddha and Sangha, received no blessing. It was like a wall around him. OK.

He was very violent. Every day he rode on a white elephant, running around in town, playing. One day he passed by a big bridge. And he encountered another son of the second prime minister, the prime minister’s assistant. They both met on the bridge. And both of them felt that the other must give way. Both of them thought they were the sons of the “biggies,” so nobody gave way to anybody. Both of them were fighting. Nobody gave in. And then the last son of the beautiful lady got angry. He jumped from the elephant down and pushed the cart of the other, the assistant prime minister’s son. And then the prime minister’s assistant’s son fell down into the mud, and he was wounded all over his body and muddy and everything. And then he left, of course, came home and crying all the way. And then he came home and said to his father, the assistant- he’s almost like a prime minister, the second prime minister. He said, “Father, the last son of the Tỳ Xá Ly (Vaisali) lady had no reason at all to push my cart into the ditch and made me wounded like this.” Of course, the father was very, very angry. “Oh! He relied on his muscle and also the close relationship with the king and did this to us. I will get revenge for you. Don’t cry anymore. They will see me.”

And then this prime minister’s assistant asked someone, arranged someone to make 30 whips for the horse, but with seven kinds of precious stones, not normal leather. And then inside the whip ... 32? Oh, 32, yeah, 32 whips all with precious stones, laid around them. And inside he put a very sharp knife, inside of the whip. You know, a big whip, I guess. Inside was a sharp knife. And then brought them there to make offering to each one of them, one. She had only 30. How come he made 32? (Parents and the 30 sons.) Maybe, yeah. No, he brought them to the house and gave each son one of the whips. These sons, they were still very young, and also very temperamental. They saw these beautiful whips: happy, happy, happy. And they didn’t know the wicked idea, the wicked mind of the prime minister’s assistant. At that time, the law of this country was that whoever came to see the king could not bring a knife with him. Of course, you know why, right? If anyone disobeyed this: chop, chop. Now, at that time all the sons of the Tỳ Xá Ly (Vaisali) lady came in and out of the court to see the king, just like a normal thing because they were like buddies, friends. The king treated them nicely because the king loved their mother. I mean respected and loved. One time, the prime minister’s assistant came in and talked to the king: “Your Majesty, the 30 sons…” Maybe it’s just 30 and they said 32. “The 30 sons of the Tỳ Xá Ly (Vaisali) lady are very strong, muscular. Even one of them can fight 1,000. Each one of them can fight 1,000 persons, no problem. They are scheming to harm you, to make a coup d’état to take the throne.” So, the king heard that, he half doubted. It’s not possible. Why? And then the prime minister’s assistant added oil on the fire, saying, “Yeah, I have watched it, Your Majesty, it is very evident. Because each one of the sons has a whip. Inside the whip there is a very sharp knife.” So, the king asked the guard to check out all the whips. Obviously, of course, each whip had a knife inside. Oh, my God! So the king asked all of his strong bodyguards out to stay there waiting and called the 30 sons to come into the court and quietly chopped all their heads off. Just like that. Because he saw the evidence, thinking they were going to kill him. So he killed them first. First he took all the whips from them and then chopped all their heads off. And then put all the heads inside one of the coffins. Wrapped them all up, taped them all up and then brought them to the Tỳ Xá Ly (Vaisali) lady.

At that time, the lady Vaisali invited Buddha that day, invited the Buddha and all the monks to come for lunch. My God! Can you imagine? The love of the king, even her. The king should have asked, should have checked if true or not. You don’t just believe like that. But of course the king cannot imagine why the prime minister’s assistant would say such a thing for no reason, right? OK. At that time, that day, the house was very happy and busy with offerings to the Buddha. And then suddenly the king’s subordinate brought the coffin inside. And she was happy. She thought, “Oh, maybe today the king also brought some nice food to help me to offer to the Buddha and the Sangha.” She thought like that. Yes. And then, she went to open it and the Buddha said, “No, not yet, not yet. Wait. After I eat. Wait until I finish my meal, then you can open it.” Maybe He knew it was not an appetizing thing inside. Because, if she opened it right then, she would have probably fainted and died and nobody would have dared to eat anymore. It’s such a terrible thing to see, no? 30 heads inside. Can you imagine? Innocent people. After the Buddha finished the meal, and then the Buddha called her to the side and said to her, “Lady, you should know, this body is ephemeral. Today you may have it, tomorrow you might lose it. And during the time that we have it, it’s suffering. Today headaches, tomorrow a pain here, a cut here, there’s always suffering when we still have this body. Actually this body is not ours, you can see that. You might go out and just fall into the ditch and die or some cart would run over you, some snake bites and lion, tiger, etc., etc. It’s always something fearful about the body. It’s always dangerous. Even if we try to protect it so much, it won’t always stay with us. We try all we can, but sometimes it just happens that we lose the body. And this body is bound by all kinds of vexation, trouble, anger and sorrow. Even though a loved one, very deep loved one, one day you would lose each other. There is all kinds of suffering, because of the body.” He’s trying to prepare her, I guess, so she doesn’t faint and die.

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