Little Prince No-father [The Power of Truth]

Once upon a time, the King of Benares went on a picnic in the forest. The beautiful flowers and trees and fruits made him very happy. As he was enjoying their beauty, he slowly went deeper and deeper into the forest. Before long, he became separated from his companions and realized that he was all alone.

Then he heard the sweet voice of a young woman. She was singing as she collected firewood. To keep from being afraid of being alone in the forest, the king followed the sound of the lovely voice. When he finally came upon the singer of the songs, he saw that she was a beautiful fair young woman, and immediately fell in love with her. They became very friendly, and the king became the father of the firewood woman’s child.

Later, he explained how he had gotten lost in the forest, and convinced her that he was indeed the King of Benares. She gave him directions for getting back to his palace. The king gave her his valuable signet ring, and said, “If you give birth to a baby girl, sell this ring and use the money to bring her up well. If our child turns out to be a baby boy, bring him to me along with this ring for recognition.” So saying, he departed for Benares.

In the fullness of time, the firewood woman gave birth to a cute little baby boy. Being a simple shy woman, she was afraid to take him to the fancy court in Benares, but she saved the king’s signet ring.

In a few years, the baby grew into a little boy. When he played with the other children in the village, they teased him and mistreated him, and even started fights with him. It was because his mother was not married that the other children picked on him. They yelled at him, “No-father! No-father! Your name should be No-father!”

Of course this made the little boy feel ashamed and hurt and sad. He often ran home crying to his mother. One day, he told her how the other children called him, “No-father! No-father! Your name should be No-father!” Then his mother said, “Don’t be ashamed, my son. You are not just an ordinary little boy. Your father is the King of Benares!”

The little boy was very surprised. He asked his mother, “Do you have any proof of this?” So she told him about his father giving her the signet ring, and that if the baby was a boy she should bring him to Benares, along with the ring as proof. The little boy said, “Let’s go then.” Because of what happened, she agreed, and the next day they set out for Benares.

When they arrived at the king’s palace, the gate keeper told the king the firewood woman and her little son wanted to see him. They went into the royal assembly hall, which was filled with the king’s ministers and advisers. The woman reminded the king of their time together in the forest. Finally she said, “Your majesty, here is your son.”

The king was ashamed in front of all the ladies and gentlemen of his court. So, even though he knew the woman spoke the truth, he said, “He is not my son!” Then the lovely young mother showed the signet ring as proof.

Again the king was ashamed and denied the truth, saying, “It is not my ring!”

Then the poor woman thought to herself, “I have no witness and no evidence to prove what I say. I have only my faith in the power of truth.” So she said to the king, “If I throw this little boy up into the air, if he truly is your son, may he remain in the air without falling. If he is not your son, may he fall to the floor and die!”

Suddenly, she grabbed the boy by his foot and threw him up into the air. Lo and behold, the boy sat in the cross-legged position, suspended in mid-air, without falling. Everyone was astonished, to say the least!

Remaining in the air, the little boy spoke to the mighty king. “My lord, I am indeed a son born to you. You take care of many people who are not related to you. You even maintain countless elephants, horses and other animals. And yet, you do not think of looking after and raising me, your own son. Please do take care of me and my mother.”

Hearing this, the king’s pride was overcome. He was humbled by the truth of the little boy’s powerful words. He held out his arms and said, “Come to me my son, and I will take good care of you.”

Amazed by such a wonder, all the others in the court put out their arms. They too asked the floating little boy to come to them. But he went directly from mid-air into his father’s arms. With his son seated on his lap, the king announced that he would be the crown prince, and his mother would be the number one queen.

In this way, the king and all his court learned the power of truth. Benares became known as a place of honest justice. In time the king died. The grown up crown prince wanted to show the people that all deserve respect, regardless of birth. So he had himself crowned under the official name, “King No-father!” He went on to rule the kingdom in a generous and righteous way.

The moral is: The truth is always stronger than a lie.

Dhammapada Reflections

NEW MOON

True Principles

A healthy mind is the greatest gain.

Contentment is the greatest wealth.

Trustworthiness is the best of kin.

Unconditional freedom is the highest bliss.

Dhammapada v. 204

We might assume that the perfect realization of unconditional freedom is some way off, but we can already plant the seeds of the possibility in our hearts. The conditions of the world keep changing: at times quite wonderful, at other times challenging and often something in-between. How do we stay stable with such instability? We orient our hearts toward true principles, Dhamma. Establishing an initial understanding of true principles gives our hearts direction. Contemplating these principles is nurturing the seeds. As to when they will bear fruit is not something we can control. In the meantime cultivating trust in the possibility of unconditional freedom is something we can do.

Behold the Brilliance of Brokenness

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.

They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that.

The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Pema Chodron

Pause for a moment and feel the world changing, feel the absolute impermanence of all things, feel the deep ache of vicissitude moving through you, around you, maybe even despite you.

It is equal parts silent and cataclysmic. Take a deep breath…

You are the vital space in which “coming together” and “falling apart” are eternally dancing. Be still and honor this paradox that is moving within you. Surrender to the delicious puzzle of yourself going through the motions of putting itself back together, again and again.

There is perhaps no more powerful an archetype than that of the Never Not Broken Goddess.

She is a lesser known Hindu deity named Akhilandeshvari. She embodies the ability to come together and fall apart, again and again. She is the personification of healthy annihilation, the archetype of unexpected change.

She breaks apart in order to come back together as a more powerful version of herself. Indeed, it is exactly because she is able to break apart that she is so powerful. We are never not broken. And that’s okay. In our brokenness there is potential for unlimited growth.

It is through our brokenness-turned-robustness that we become stronger, more flexible individuals.

Demons in the Desert (A Buddhist Story About Right Thinking)

Once upon a time there were two merchants, who were friends. Both of them were getting ready for business trips to sell their merchandise, so they had to decide whether to travel together. They agreed that, since each had about 500 carts, and they were going to the same place along the same road, it would be too crowded to go at the same time.

One decided that it would be much better to go first. He thought, “The road will not be rutted by the carts, the bullocks will be able to choose the best of all the grass, we will find the best fruits and vegetables to eat, my people will appreciate my leadership and, in the end, I will be able to bargain for the best prices.”

The other merchant considered carefully and realized there were advantages to going second. He thought, “My friend’s carts will level the ground so we won’t have to do any road work, his bullocks will eat the old rough grass and new tender shoots will spring up for mine to eat. In the same way, they will pick the old fruits and vegetables and fresh ones will grow for us to enjoy. I won’t have to waste my time bargaining when I can take the price already set and make my profit.” So he agreed to let his friend go first. This friend was sure he’d fooled him and gotten the best of him – so he set out first on the journey.

The merchant who went first had a troublesome time of it. They came to a wilderness called the ‘Waterless Desert’, which the local people said was haunted by demons. When the caravan reached the middle of it, they met a large group coming from the opposite direction. They had carts that were mud smeared and dripping with water. They had lotuses and water lilies in their hands and in the carts. The head man, who had a know-it-all attitude, said to the merchant, “Why are you carrying these heavy loads of water? In a short time you will reach that oasis on the horizon with plenty of water to drink and dates to eat. Your bullocks are tired from pulling those heavy carts filled with extra water – so throw away the water and be kind to your overworked animals!”

Even though the local people had warned them, the merchant did not realize that these were not real people, but demons in disguise. They were even in danger of being eaten by them. Being confident that they were helpful people, he followed their advice and had all his water emptied onto the ground.

As they continued on their way they found no oasis or any water at all. Some realized they’d been fooled by beings that might have been demons, and started to grumble and accuse the merchant. At the end of the day, all the people were tired out. The bullocks were too weak from lack of water to pull their heavy carts. All the people and animals lay down in a haphazard manner and fell into a deep sleep. Lo and behold, during the night the demons came in their true frightening forms and gobbled up all the weak defenseless beings. When they were done there were only bones lying scattered around – not one human or animal was left alive.

After several months, the second merchant began his journey along the same way. When he arrived at the wilderness, he assembled all his people and advised them – “This is called the ‘Waterless Desert’ and I have heard that it is haunted by demons and ghosts. Therefore we should be careful. Since there may be poison plants and foul water, don’t drink any local water without asking me.” In this way they started into the desert.

After getting about halfway through, in the same way as with the first caravan, they were met by the water soaked demons in disguise. They told them the oasis was near and they should throw away their water. But the wise merchant saw through them right away. He knew it didn’t make sense to have an oasis in a place called ‘Waterless Desert’. And besides, these people had bulging red eyes and an aggressive and pushy attitude, so he suspected they might be demons. He told them to leave them alone saying, “We are business men who don’t throw away good water before we know where the next is coming from.”

Then seeing that his own people had doubts, the merchant said to them, “Don’t believe these people, who may be demons, until we actually find water. The oasis they point to may be just an illusion or a mirage. Have you ever heard of water in this ‘Waterless Desert’? Do you feel any rain-wind or see any storm clouds?” They all said, “No”, and he continued, “If we believe these strangers and throw away our water, then later we may not have any to drink or cook with – then we will be weak and thirsty and it would be easy for demons to come and rob us, or even eat us up! Therefore, until we really find water, do not waste even a drop!”

The caravan continued on its way and, that evening, reached the place where the first caravan’s people and bullocks had been killed and eaten by the demons. They found the carts and human and animal bones lying all around. They recognized that the fully loaded carts and the scattered bones belonged to the former caravan. The wise merchant told certain people to stand watch around the camp during the night.

The next morning the people ate breakfast, and fed their bullocks well. They added to their goods the most valuable things left from the first caravan. So they finished their journey very successfully, and returned home safely so that they and their families could enjoy their profits.

Moral:

One must always be wise enough to not be fooled by slick talk and false appearances.