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The Widow's Two Mites And The Parable Of The Three Merchants









There was once a lone widow who was very destitute, and having
gone to the mountain she beheld hermits holding a religious
assembly. Then the woman was filled with joy, and uttering
praises, said, "It is well, holy priests! but while others give
precious things such as the ocean caves produce, I have nothing
to offer." Having spoken thus and having searched herself in vain
for something to give, she recollected that some time before she
had found in a dungheap two coppers, so taking these she offered
them forthwith as a gift to the priesthood in charity.

The superior of the priests, a saint who could read the hearts of
men, disregarding the rich gifts of others and beholding the deep
faith dwelling in the heart of this poor widow, and wishing the
priesthood to esteem rightly her religious merit, burst forth
with full voice in a canto. He raised his right hand and said,
"Reverend priests attend!" and then he proceeded:

"The coppers of this poor widow
To all purpose are more worth
Than all the treasures of the oceans
And the wealth of the broad earth.
"As an act of pure devotion
She has done a pious deed;
She has attained salvation,
Being free from selfish greed."

The woman was mightily strengthened in her mind by this thought,
and said, "It is even as the Teacher says: what I have done is as
much as if a rich man were to give up all his wealth."

And the Teacher said: "Doing good deeds is like hoarding up
treasures," and he expounded this truth in a parable:

"Three merchants set out on their travels, each with his capital;
one of them gained much, the second returned with his capital,
and the third one came home after having lost his capital. What
is true in common life applies also to religion.

"The capital is the state a man has reached, the gain is heaven;
the loss of his capital means that a man will be born in a lower
state, as a denizen of hell or as an animal. These are the
courses that are open to the sinner.

"He who brings back his capital, is like unto one who is born
again as a man. Those who through the exercise of various virtues
become pious householders will be born again as men, for all
beings will reap the fruit of their actions. But he who increases
his capital is like unto one who practises eminent virtues. The
virtuous, excellent man attains in heaven to the glorious state
of the gods."





Next: The Man Born Blind

Previous: Parables



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Buddha's Gospels