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The Extreme State of Riches and Poverty

When Buddha was in the Kosala Kingdom, he was often visited by King Pasenadi, the ruler of the Kingdom. One day, King Pasenadi came to Buddha to seek dharma. Upon arriving at the ashram, King Pasenadi panted heavily as he walked from his carriage towards Buddha…


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(Photo by Lai Tong Heng)

The human world is full of extremism. Some places in this world are remote and poor, while some are at war with many people being displaced and killed. There are also nations that are often hit by natural disasters which leave many of its inhabitants in famine and extreme adversities.

On the other hand, there are rich nations where the people drink and eat in excess, resulting in many of them having health issues. Doctors even have to advise these people to cut down on their food intake and do more exercises. What an extreme world! On one side, there are poverties, hardships, various disasters, and people facing famine and danger. On the other side, there are excessiveness of riches where people indulge too much and suffer from illnesses due to over consumption.

Only eat 80 percent full to stay healthy 

Actually, the situation was the same when Buddha was still around. When Buddha was in the Kosala Kingdom, he was often visited by the ruler of the kingdom, King Pasenadi. One day, King Pasenadi came to Buddha to seek dharma. When he arrived at the ashram, he panted heavily as he walked from his carriage towards Buddha.   

Buddha asked him, "Why are you panting so heavily?" He said, "I do not know why, I always experience shortness of breath after each meal. I came to see you immediately after a meal today, and so I am gasping for air and even find it difficult to walk."

Buddha said, "We must always eat according to our needs, do not eat excessively."

There was a young guard who stood behind the King at that time. The king told him, "Listen attentively to Buddha and help me remember his words. When I have my meals, remind me of what Buddha said!"

The young guard obeyed the king’s order and remembered Buddha’s words by heart. From then on, whenever the king was having his meal, the young guard would stand behind him and say, "One must be mindful to only eat according to one's need." And the king heeded the reminder.

After some time, the King finally regained his health after successfully losing some weight. He became as fit as before and his mind became sharper. He looked into the mirror and said, "Now this looks more like me! I’m so grateful to Buddha for blessing me with good health and peace of mind." He was overjoyed, and he bowed respectfully to Buddha towards the direction of the ashram.

He said, "Buddha's grace has benefited me in two ways. First, his grace has given me enjoyment to good health, free mobility and peace of mind in this present life. In addition to that, I have also gained wisdom from his dharma teachings. Secondly, I have learned to be more careful and serious in what I do because I have understood the truth of cause and effect as well as deeds and karma. Therefore, I can be sure of a safe and blissful next life.”  

Control diet for better health

The fact is the king already knew the ways to maintain good health, what he lacked was self-control. After listening to Buddha's advice, he followed through the teaching by controlling his diet and subsequently regained fitness and peace of mind. Most people behave the same way as the king who needed the direction and advice from Buddha to act. This is the contradictory behaviour of ordinary folks, therefore the presence of Buddha in the world is important.

In conclusion, we must be contented with life. When we are blessed with a good life, we must care for others who are facing with all sorts of adversities and difficult situations. We should also provide for people who are short of living supplies. There are countries that are in riots and instabilities recently while some other are hit by natural disasters. The people in those places are facing deadly threats. Even more tragically, famine in some areas have resulted in cannibalism. That is why some have resorted to keeping the dead body of their deceased family member at home until it started to rot, just to avoid the corpse from being eaten by others.

It is shocking to hear about news like this, just imagine how tragic that is! Therefore, we must gather the power of love to help people in need. The choice is ours.  We will have blessings if we are sincere, and we will find ways to help others if we intend to do so. With an aspiration like this, we will have joy in serving others and enjoy health and peace along the way.