All beings are subject to impermanence, including humans. Our surroundings are peaceful and beautiful when we are calm, but when the surroundings get out of balance, we would feel anxious. Therefore, Buddha educated His disciples to always maintain equanimous. This equanimity can only be achieved by having less greed and more contentment with one’s life. Only then can one live a peaceful and joyful life.
Maintaining Wealth by Burying Valuables
Once upon a time, there were two landlords who lived in a hill town. One of the landlords married a very young wife, and they were blessed with a son. One day, this landlord thought to himself, “I am getting old, if I pass on and my wife re-marries, my wealth would be taken over by her new family. If that is the case, what would happen to my son in the future?” He later told his housekeeper about his worries, and subsequently came up with an idea, “You have to help me pack up my valuables and follow me to the forest to bury them.”
When they were in the middle of the forest, the landlord told his housekeeper, “This place looks good, let’s dig a hole here.” The master and his servant dug a big hole, buried all the valuables, and made a mark on the ground. On their way back, the landlord made a request, “You have to keep this a secret. When my son grows up, bring him here to retrieve the valuables.” The loyal housekeeper immediately agreed to the request.
Soon, the landlord fell sick and passed away. A few years later, his son finally grew up into an adult. His mother said, “I know your father has left behind a lot of valuables, I think he and the housekeeper had stashed them away somewhere. Since you are now at the age to become the master of the house, you should ask the housekeeper if you could retrieve the valuables to grow the wealth of the family.”
After hearing what his mother said, the young Master asked the housekeeper, “I heard that my father had buried some valuables together with you, where are they hidden?”
The housekeeper replied, “Yes young master, we had indeed buried some treasures when the late Master was still around.”
The young master then said, “Please bring me to the place so we can retrieve them.”
The housekeeper agreed that this ought to be done, and so he brought the young Master to the burial site. When they arrived at the site, a thought suddenly came to the housekeeper’s mind, “These valuables belonged to the late Master. If the young Master retrieves the items for life enjoyment with his mother, then they do not deserve the valuables!”
Therefore, the housekeeper pretended to have lost his mind and subsequently started to curse and swear. The young Master was perplexed by the sudden change in the housekeeper once they arrived at the burial site. However, he kept his cool and said, “It’s okay if we cannot find the valuables today, let’s go home.” He then peacefully walked home with the housekeeper.
A few days later, the young Master noticed that the housekeeper has reverted to his normal self and became respectful to him, and so he said, “Dear housekeeper, let’s search for the buried treasure again today!” The housekeeper was calm during the journey, but he felt the same reluctance to pass the valuables to the young Master again when they reached the site. And so, he started cursing and shouting again. Feeling helpless, the young master brought the housekeeper home. As soon as they arrived home, the housekeeper returned to being respectful and obedient to the young Master.
Making Good Use of One’s Life and Possessions
The young Master was very frustrated by the matter that he decided to visit the other landlord in the town. He reckoned that the landlord must have known something as he was a close friend with his late father. Upon meeting the landlord, the young Master recounted the incident he had with the old housekeeper. After hearing the story, the landlord said, “You should bring the housekeeper to the forest again. The spot where he stands yelling and cursing, should be the spot where your father buried the valuables.”
Young Master concluded that what the landlord said made sense, so he proceeded to bring the old housekeeper to the forest again. Upon arriving, the housekeeper did the same cursing routine as usual. This time the young Master said, “I don’t care what you are going through right now, you should join me in digging a hole at where you are standing now.” Alas, they managed to uncover a lot of treasures that once belonged to his father.
After all the valuables were dug out, the young Master felt that they could potentially invite danger to him and his mother. His life had been peaceful without these valuables, and he did not know what to do with them when he suddenly possessed these valuables. The valuables had turned the housekeeper into a different person, how would they affect other people then? Therefore, the young Master decided to donate all the treasures he dug out from the hole.
The moral of the story is, happiness does not come from material possessions, but from how well a person uses what he has, to contribute to others.