Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Shall I Do with a Bundle of Jewels?

Anuruddha suggested they get rid of their jewels and ornaments before they crossed the border. They all removed their necklaces, rings, and bangles and wrapped them in a cloak.

They agreed to find some poor person to give them to. They noticed a tiny barber ship by the side of the road wich was run by a yound man about their own age. He was an attractive fellow but shabbily dressed.

Anuruddha entered his shop and asked his name.

The young barber replied, "Upali."

Anuruddha asked Upali if he could direct them across the border. Upali gladly led them there himself.

Before they left him, they handed him the cloak containing the precious jewels and ornaments.

Anuruddha said, "Upali, we intend to follow the Buddha and live as bhikkus. We have no more use of these jewels. We would like to give them to you. With these, you will have enough to live in leisure the rest of your days."

The princes bid Upali farewell and crossed the border.

When the young barber opened up the cloak, the glint of gems and gold dazzled his eyes.

He belonged to the lowest caste in society. No one in his family had ever owned so much as an ounce of gold or even a single ring. Now he had an entire cloakful of precious gems.

But instead of being happy, he was suddenly seized with panic. He clapsed the bundle tightly in his arms. All his former feelings of wellbeing disappeared. He knew there were many people who would kill to get at the contents of the cloak.

Upali reflected. The young noblemen who had enjoyed great wealth and power were giving it all up in order to become monks. No doubt they had come to see the dangers and burdens that wealth and fame can bring.

Suddenly, he too wanted to cast the bundle aside and follow the princes in pursuit of true peace, joy, and liberation.

Without a moment's hesitation, he hung the bundle on a nearby branch for the first passerby to cliam, and hen he too crossed the border.

Extracted from: Old Path White Clouds, by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh


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