Past deeds determine today’s experiences

November 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Life Lessons, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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Listen to the audio version on Tales of Wisdom

Posted by Michael Anderson on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

There was once a fabric store in Hangzhou. By the time the owner reached 50 years of age, he had had been running the store for several decades. Unfortunately, his greed did not decrease with age.One year, there was a fire in the neighborhood and it affected the fabric store. There was a destitute household of three people living behind the fabric store. They made their living by doing laundry for other people. The only way in and out of their house was the side door of the fabric store.

As the raging fire reached their home, the family of three shouted out loud for help. “Open the side door!” They hoped to escape through the side door, which was their only way out.

Little did they expect that the fabric store owner blocked the side door with all his might so that he could move his inventory of fabrics out of the warehouse. When all the inventory had been moved and when the fire was out, the poor family had already died in the fire.

A year later, the fabric store owner suddenly died. Then one night, his son dreamed of his father, who told him:

“I murdered the destitute family behind our house. The King of Hell forbids me from reincarnating as a human being in the next life. Instead, I will be arranged to reincarnate as a pig. I have already been born to a farmer’s pig in such and such place. There are four piglets in the litter. I am the piglet with spots. Please buy me from the farmer to keep me out of the slaughterhouse.” After the store owner made the confession, he began to sob.

After his son woke up from the dream, he felt the dream was too real to dismiss. He followed his father’s instructions in the dream and found the farmer with the spotted piglet.

When the piglet saw the son, it started to whine and acted like it was begging him for mercy. The son bought the piglet from the farmer and prepared a room for him. He also arranged a servant to wait on the piglet. The piglet was bathed daily and served with decadent meals. In other words, the son treated the piglet like his late father.

A few days later, the son dreamed of his father again. This time his father told him, “I have committed unforgivable sins in my life as the fabric store owner. Now that I have been reincarnated as a pig, I must not lead a good life like a rich man or I will create even more sins. From now on, do not feed me expensive meals for human beings or bathe me like a human being. Just feed me with regular stock feed. Otherwise, I will face worse karmic retributions in the next life. After I died, I came to understand the law of cause and effect, and I cannot do anything but regret what I have done. You, however, still have time to do the right thing. You must cherish your life as a human being and do only good deeds!”

There is a saying: “If you want to know what you have done in your previous life, the answer is in the rewards or retributions you face in the present life. If you want to know if you will have a good life in the next life, look at what you have done in your present life.”

It is a heavenly law that every man will ultimately be rewarded for his good deeds and punished for his bad deeds. It is useless to know if we have done bad things in past lives. The Buddha Fa is compassionate and now gives us opportunities to do the right thing. What matters is now and today. This is a pivotal moment for us to choose our own future. We must never be lost again. Do not commit any sins that we will regret forever and that we can never have a chance to repair. Safeguard our kind thoughts. Cherish our present life as human beings. Only when we follow the universal characteristics of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance will we be making a genuinely wise choice.

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