A Mendicant and the Buddha

by Dr. Pran Rangan

A homeless young mendicant noticed that the food he used to beg for was disappearing. One day he caught a mouse stealing his food.

He asked the mouse, "Why are you stealing from a poor man like me? You steal from rich people. It will have no effect on them."

The mouse replied, "It is your destiny that you can't have more than eight items in your possession, no matter how much you gather."

The mendicant was shocked and replied, "Why is that my destiny?"

The mouse answered, "I don't know. Go and ask the Buddha."

So, the man went on a journey in search of the Buddha. One day, it became quite late on the journey. Soon he reached the house of a wealthy man, whom he requested that it would be very kind of him if he allowed him to stay for one night and he would begin his journey next morning.

The man allowed him to stay and asked, "Young man, why are you traveling so late?"

He replied, "I am going to ask the Buddha a question. So I will be on my way tomorrow."

The rich man requested him, "Will you ask a question for me too. I have a young daughter who can't speak. You ask the Buddha what I should do to make my daughter speak."

Next morning he left, promising him to ask his question. On his journey, the young mendicant reached a range of mountains. While climbing the mountain, he met an old wizard, who helped him cross the mountain by using his staff.

The wizard asked him, "Why are you crossing over the mountain?"

He replied, "I am going to ask the Buddha a question."

The wizard again asked, "Will you ask him a question for me? I have been trying to go to the Heaven for 1000 years. I have been unsuccessful as by now I should have been there. Ask the Buddha what I should do to go to the Heaven."

The young man promised to do so and parted with him, continuing his journey. Soon he came across a river, which he found he couldn't cross. He was in a fix; he luckily met a giant turtle, who helped him cross the river.

After helping him cross the river, he asked, "Where are you going?"

The young man replies, "I am going to meet the Buddha and ask him a question about my destiny."

The turtle asked, "Can you ask a question for me too? I have been trying to become a dragon for 500 years. By now I should have become a dragon. Will you ask him what I should do to become a dragon?"

He promised that he would do so and left on his journey. Finally, the mendicant met the Buddha and told him that he wanted to ask some questions. The Buddha told that he would only answer three questions.

The young man was in bewilderment as he had four questions to ask. He carefully thought about the wizard, the turtle and the girl, and found that his problem is smaller than theirs. So he decided to ask their questions because, being a homeless mendicant, he could go back and live by begging.

When he asked about them, the Buddha replied, "The turtle is unwilling to leave its shell. When he will leave it, he will become a dragon. The wizard is unwilling to get rid of his staff. When he will get rid of it, he will go to the Heaven. The girl will be able to speak, when she will meet her soul mate."

After thanking the Buddha, he left on his journey back home.

On meeting the turtle, he told him, "You would have to take off the shell so as to become a dragon."

The turtle did the same and became a dragon. He then gave precious stones lying inside the shell to him, saying that now he doesn't need them.

When he reunites with the wizard, he tells him, "You will have to let go of your staff so as to go to the heaven."

The wizard did the same, giving his staff to him. He ascended to the Heaven.

The young man now has wealth from the turtle and power from the wizard.

He goes back to the family that gave him shelter and tells them: "The Buddha said that your daughter would be able to speak when she would meet her soul mate."

At the same time, the daughter came down, saying, "Is he the same man who had come here the last week?"

The young girl and the once homeless young man have now found their soul mate.

The tale has perennial wisdom -

If one can notice other's problems, one's own problems appear smaller.

If one thinks of others and their problems compassionately and goes all out to help them, the Universe bestows its generosity on such an individual.

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