Master Cheng Yen was once presented with a piece of fragrant agarwood and an agarwood rosary; the well-wisher hoped that the precious gifts would bring blessings of fortune and health to the Master.
Though the Master was grateful, she took the opportunity to advise the well-wisher that instead of spending a large sum of money to buy expensive gifts for just one person, it would have been better to donate the money to charity, which could have helped numerous sick and needy people. In so doing, one would have maximised the true value of that monetary sum.
By quoting a story from the “Dharmapadavadana Sutra,” the Master explained that the real treasure in this world is actually found within our hearts.
There was once a Brahmin that was very learned in many subjects and well-versed in the art of foretelling the future from the stars. One day, his 500 disciples gathered to have a discussion on the various auspicious treasures found in different countries of the world. Not able to reach a conclusion, they sought the advice of the Brahmin.
The Brahmin told them that auspicious objects treasured by people could be found in many countries all over the world, and these objects were gold, silver, amber, pearl, agate etc. His disciples commented that these were all very common items, and asked if there existed an auspicious treasure that could benefit a person throughout his entire life. The Brahmin replied that he had read many books in his lifetime, but had never come across any mention of such a treasure.
One of his followers pointed out: “Prince Siddharta of Kapilavastu has attained enlightenment and become a Buddha; he now preaches the Dharma to the masses, perhaps he knows the answer.”
Hence, the Brahmin led his 500 followers on an arduous journey to Vulture’s Peak in Rajagriha to look for the Buddha.
After arriving, the Brahmin asked the Buddha if there was any treasure that was superior than the current ones found in countries around the world.
The Buddha replied, “There is no need to look far for the truly auspicious treasure; it is inherent in everyone.”
So saying, the Buddha taught them the method of purifying their minds; the “fragrance” that emanates from one’s pure speech and mind is truly the most auspicious type of fragrance in the world.
When our hearts are pure, the lands we inhabit become similarly pure. Diligently abiding by the five precepts, the ten wholesome ways and the six paramitas, we can increase the value of our lives and bring our wisdom to a higher level.
The Master advises that we should not blindly follow the views of others; if we keep spending our money on objects that we believe possess special powers, we will only be depleting our store of blessings.
One who is easily swayed by the words of others, is unable to differentiate between truth and falsehood. Such a person will easily deviate from the right path. Even if he has a virtuous friend by his side, he will not awaken to the truth simply because he chooses to cling on to his own beliefs and views.
May all of us learn and understand the Dharma and eliminate erroneous views. Only then can we bring ourselves closer to the innate Buddha nature deep within us.
Extracted from Tzu Chi Monthly, Vol. 552
Translated by the Tzu Chi Singapore translation team