The $50,000 Words That Saved a Man’s Life
We have been learning about the Six Paramitas: six good deeds that bring us happiness. This month we are going to learn about the last one, Wisdom. “Wisdom” is “self-cultivation,” which sums up the previous five good deeds. That means having a clear understanding of the law of cause and effect, which is the truth of the universe, and thinking and acting correctly. The law of cause and effect says, "Good causes produce good effects, bad causes produce bad effects, own causes produce own effects."
If we plant good seeds (good deeds) we will get good results (good fortune); if we plant bad seeds (bad deeds) we will get bad results. Whether good or bad, results never fail to come back to those who have planted the seeds. Let's read a story from a sutra.
One Phrase of Wisdom Is More Precious Than a Lot of Money
Once upon a time, a wise king, who had been thinking about how to govern the country better, gave an order to one of his retainers. “Go to the neighboring country and buy something that we don't have in our country - something that could benefit the people. You don’t have to worry about the price. I want to use it to make my people happy.”
Following the king's order, the retainer walked everywhere around the neighboring country in search of something useful for his people, but he couldn’t find anything special. Just as he was about to go back to his country empty-handed, he found a shop with a magnificent appearance. There were no goods, and only an old man was sitting inside. The retainer asked, “You must have something unusual in this store, yes?”
The old man answered, “I sell an intangible thing: wisdom.”
“That is special. We don’t have it in our country. How much is this ‘wisdom’?”
“It's a little expensive, but if you pay $50,000 I’ll give it to you at once.”
Since the king told the retainer not to worry about the price, he paid it. The old man said, “Calm down and see things clearly. Do not get angry right away.” He added, “Even if you don’t need it now, it will surely help you someday.” The retainer felt disappointed, thinking to himself, “That was a little too expensive.”
However, he couldn’t take back his purchase. He started on his way back home, repeating the man's words in his mind so he wouldn't forget them.
A few days later he reached his house at night, but his wife didn’t come out. He found an unfamiliar man’s sandals at the entrance.
“She must have taken a man into the house while I was out traveling!”
He flew into a rage and was about to kill both his wife and the man. But the moment he rushed into the room, he remembered what the old man had said.
“Wait. He said the $50,000 wisdom would surely help me sometime. Wouldn't that be a time like now?”
"Calm down and see things clearly. Do not get angry right away." He calmed himself and opened the door to the bedroom. Then he saw his mother taking care of his sick wife. Soon he realized that they had put a man’s sandals outside so that others would not find out there were only women in the house. He suddenly dashed outside and shouted,
“This lesson was not expensive at all! Not expensive!”
His mother wondered why he suddenly shouted and asked him the reason. He explained how he had bought wisdom.
“If I had not bought the wisdom for $50,000 you and my wife would not be alive now. Your lives are far more precious than even $100 million, yet I was able to save your lives for only $50,000. Nothing could be as inexpensive as that!”
One phrase of wisdom is more precious than a lot of money. Just how many people ruin their lives with a single moment of anger? Right action comes from right wisdom.
The Buddha’s wisdom is the light that brightens our life. If we practice the Buddhist teachings, our daily life will dramatically change.