• Luigi

Shakyamuni Buddha and a Cold-Hearted Couple



The Buddha’s wisdom is the light which brightens our life. If we put the teachings into practice, our daily life will dramatically change.

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Buddhism teaches us the Six Paramitas (six deeds that bring us happiness). The first one is giving. It means doing kind acts such as giving people money or materials, showing consideration, doing acts of service, or saying kind words. He who gives to another bestows on himself. If you practice kindness in order to make others happy, then good results will surely appear to you. This kindness manifests as thoughtfulness towards others. If we see someone who is in trouble or suffering, we feel compelled to help him or her in any way we can. Now here is a story which teaches us the importance of such kindness.

One day, Shakyamuni approached a home disguised as a beggar and asked for a bowl of rice. The housewife gave him a glance and said coldly, “I cook only enough for my husband and myself.”

“Then could you offer me a cup of tea?”

“Tea is too good for a beggar. Water should be good enough.”

“I feel so weak I can hardly move. Will you please fetch me some water?”

“Some nerve … a beggar ordering people around! There’s plenty of water in the river in front of the house, so go over there and drink to your heart’s content.”

Suddenly, Shakyamuni revealed himself and said, “What a merciless person you are! Had you offered me a bowl of rice, I would have given you this iron bowl full of gold. Had you offered me a cup of tea, I would have given it to you full of silver, and had you offered me water, I would have given it to you full of tin. But you have no kindness. No happiness will ever come to you as you are.”

The housewife now suddenly changed her attitude and said politely,

“Oh, Shakyamuni, is it you? Here, please take my offering.”

“I cannot. Charity that expects something in return is mixed with poison. I will not accept anything from you.”

With this, Shakyamuni turned and left.

When the woman’s husband came home, she told him the whole story. “You’re so stupid,” he said. “Why didn’t you offer him the bowl of rice in the first place? Then you could have gotten a bowlful of gold in exchange.”


The couple started quarreling not because they failed to

show kindness to a famished beggar but because they failed to

make a profit. What did Shakyamuni Buddha say to them?

The wife answered sourly, “Believe me, if I’d known that, I’d have given him ten bowls of rice.” “All right, I’ll go after him and give him some rice in exchange for gold,” said the husband, and took off after Shakyamuni.

After a long walk, the husband became very tired. The road branched off. He found a beggar sitting by the roadside.

“Hey, beggar,” said the husband. “Did Shakyamuni pass by here?”

“That I do not know, sir, but … I’m so famished I cannot move. Won’t you please give me something to eat?”

“I didn’t come here to feed you. I came for gold.”

Then Shakyamuni Buddha revealed himself and said, “The husband is no better than the wife. Those who lack compassion will receive no happiness.

“Ah, so you were Shakyamuni all along? It’s you I came here to give this to.”

“No. Offerings made for the sake of fame and profit contain poison. I shall not accept.”

With this solemn reply, Shakyamuni went on his way.

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