Goodness the Great [Perseverance]
Once upon a time, in Benares in northern India, the Enlightenment
Being was born into the royal family. When he became king he was
called Goodness the Great. He had earned this title by trying to
do good all the time, even when the results might not benefit him.
For example, he spent much of the royal treasury on the building
and running of six houses of charity. In these houses good and aid
were given freely to all the poor and needy who came along, even
to unknown travellers. Soon King Goodness the Great became famous
for his patience, loving-kindness and compassion. It was said that
he loved all beings just like a father loves his young children.
course King Goodness observed the holy days by not eating. And naturally
he practiced the Five Training Steps, giving up the
five unwholesome actions. These are: destroying life, taking what
is not given, doing wrong in sexual ways, speaking falsely, and
losing ones mind from alcohol. So his gentle kindness became
more and more pure.
he wished to harm no one, King Goodness the Great even refused to
imprison or injure wrongdoers. Knowing this, one of his highest
ministers tried to take advantage of him. He cooked up a scheme
to cheat some of the women in the royal harem. Afterwards it became
known by all and was reported to the king.
called the bad minister before him and said, I have investigated
and found that you have done a criminal act. Word of it has spread
and you have dishonoured yourself here in Benares. So it would be
better for you to go and live somewhere else. You may take all your
wealth and your family. Go wherever you like and live happily there.
Learn from this lesson.
the minister took his family and al his belongings to the city of
Kosala. Since he was very clever indeed, he worked his way up and
became a minister of the king. In time he became the most trusted
adviser to the King of Kosala. One day he said, My lord, I
came here from Benares. The city of Benares is like a beehive where
the bees have no stingers! The ruling king is very tender and weak.
With only a very small army you can easily conquer the city and
make it yours.
king doubted this, so he said, "You are my minister, but you
talk like a spy who is leading me into a trap! He replied
"No my lord. If you dont believe me, send your best spies
to examine what I say. I am not lying. When robbers are brought
to the King of Benares, he gives them money, advises them not to
take what is not given, and then lets them go free,"
king decided to find out if this was true. So he sent some robbers
to raid a remote border village belonging to Benares. The villagers
caught the looters and brought them to King Goodness the Great.
He asked them, "Why do you want to do this type of crime?"
robbers answered, "Your worship, we are poor people. There
is no way to live without money. As your kingdom has plenty of workers,
there is no work for us to do. So we had to loot the country in
order to survive." Hearing this, the king gave them gifts of
money, advised them to change their ways, and let them go free.
the King of Kosala was told of this, he sent another gang of bandits
to the streets of Benares itself. They too looted the shops and
even killed some of the people. When they were captured and brought
to king Goodness, he treated them just the same as the first robbers.
of this, the King of Kosala began marching his troops and elephants
those days the King of Benares had a mighty army which included
very brave elephants. There were many ordinary soldiers, and also
some that were as big as giants. It was known that they were capable
of conquering all India.
giant soldiers told King Goodness about the small invading army
from Kosala. They asked permission to attack and kill them all.
King Goodness the Great would not send them into battle. He said,
"My children, do not fight just so I may remain king. If we
destroy the lives of others we also destroy our own peace of mind.
Why should we kill others? Let them have the kingdom if they want
it so badly. I do not wish to fight."
royal ministers said, "Our Lord, we will fight them ourselves.
Dont worry yourself. Only give us the order." But again
he prevented them.
the King of Kosala sent him a warning, telling him to give up the
kingdom or fight. King Goodness the Great sent this reply: "I
do not want you to fight with me, and you do not want me to fight
with you. If you want the country, you can have it. Why should we
kill people just to decide the name of the king? What does it matter
even the name of the country itself?"
this, the ministers came forward and pleaded, "Our Lord, let
us go out with our mighty army. We will beat them with our weapons
and capture them all. We are much stronger than they are. We would
not have to kill any of them. And besides, if we surrender the city,
the enemy army would surely kill us all!"
King Goodness would not be moved. He refused to cause harm to anyone.
He replied, "Even if you do not wish to kill, by fighting many
will be injured. By accident some may die. No one knows the future
- whether our attackers will kill us or not. But we do know whether
our present actions are right or wrong. Therefore I will not harm,
or cause others to harm, any living being!"
King Goodness ordered the city gates be opened up for the invaders.
He took his ministers to the top floor of the palace and advised
them, "Say nothing and try to remain calm."
King of Kosala entered the city of Benares and saw that no one was
against him. So he and his soldiers entered and went up to the top
floor. They capture the innocent King Goodness the Great. The soldiers
tied the hands of the defeated king and all of his ministers.
they were taken to the cemetery outside the city. They were buried
up to their necks, standing straight up, with only their heads above
ground. But even while the dirt was being trampled down around his
neck, the Great Being remained without anger in his mind and said
discipline and obedience to King Goodness were so great that not
a single minister spoke a word against anyone. But the King of Kosala
had no mercy. He said roughly, "Come night time, let the jackals
do as they please!"
so it came to pass that, at midnight, a large band of jackals wandered
into the cemetery. They could smell a feast of human flesh waiting
them coming, King Goodness and his ministers shouted all at once
and scared the jackals away. Twice more this happened. Then the
clever jackals realised, "These men must have been put here
for us to kill and eat." No longer afraid, they ignored the
shouts. The jackal king walked right up to the face of King Goodness.
king offered his throat to the beast. But before he could bite into
him, the king grabbed the jackals chin with his teeth. No
harming him, King Goodness gripped him tightly so the jackal king
howled in fear. This frightened his followers and they all ran away.
the jackal king thrashed back and forth, trying madly to free himself
from the might jaws of the human king. In so doing, he loosened
the dirt packed around the kings neck and shoulders. Then
King Goodness released the screaming jackal. He was able to wiggle
himself free from the loosened earth and pull himself up onto the
ground. Then he freed all his frightened ministers.
there was a dead body. It just so happened that it was lying on
the border of the territories claimed by two rival demons. They
were arguing over the division of the body, insulting each other
in ways that only demons can.
one demon said to the other, "Why should we continue quarrelling
instead of eating? Right over there is King Goodness the Great of
Benares. He is famous in all worlds for his righteousness. He will
divide the dead body for us.
dragged the body to the king and asked him to divide it between
them fairly. He said, My friends, I would be glad to divide
this for you. But I am filthy and dirty, I must clean myself first."
two demons used their magic powers to bring scented water, perfume,
clothing, ornaments and flowers from the kings own palace
in Benares. He bathed, perfumed himself, dressed, and covered himself
with ornaments and flower garlands.
demons asked King Goodness if there was anything else they could
do. He replied that he was hungry. So, again by their magic powers,
the demons brought the most delicious flavoured rice in a golden
bowl and perfumed drinking water in a golden cup also from
the royal palace in Benders.
he was satisfied, king Goodness asked them to bring him the sword
of state from the pillow of the King of Kosala, who was sleeping
in the palace in Benares. With magic that too was easily done. Then
the king used the sword to cut the dead boy into two halves, right
down the spine. He washed the sword of state and strapped it to
hungry demons happily gobbled up the fairly divided dead body. Then
they gratefully said to King Goodness, "Now that our bellies
are full, is there anything else we can do to please you?"
replied, "By your magic, set me in my own bedroom in the palace
next to the King of Kosala. In addition, put all these my ministers
back in their homes." Without a word, the demons did exactly
as the king had asked.
that moment the King of Kosala was fast asleep in the royal bedchamber.
King Goodness the Great gently touched the belly of the sleeping
king with the sword of state. The king awoke in great surprise.
In the dim lamplight he was frightened to see King Goodness leaning
over him with sword in hand. He had to rub his eyes to make sure
he was not having a nightmare!"
he asked the great king, "My lord how did you come here in
spite of all my guards? You were buried up to your neck in the cemetery
how is it you are spotlessly clean, sweet smelling, dressed
in your own royal robes, and decorated with fine jewellery and the
Goodness told him the story of his escape from the band of jackals.
He told of the two demons that came to him to settle their quarrel.
And he told how they gratefully helped him with their magic powers.
hearing this, the King of Kosala was overcome by his own shame.
He bowed his head to King Goodness the Great and cried, "Oh
great king, the stupid ferocious demons, who live by eating the
flesh and drinking the blood of dead bodies they recognised
your supreme goodness. But I, who was lucky enough to be born as
an intelligent and civilised human being I have been too
foolish to see how wonderful your pure goodness is.
promise never again to plot against you, my lord - you who
have gained such perfect harmlessness. And I promise to serve you
forever as the truest of friends. Please forgive me, great king."
Then, as if he were a servant, the King of Kosala laid King Goodness
the Great down on the royal bed, while he himself lay on a small
next day the King of Kosala called all his soldiers into the palace
courtyard. There he publicly praised the king of Benares and asked
his forgiveness once again. He gave back the kingdom and promised
that he would always protect King Goodness. Then he punished his
adviser, the criminal minister, and returned to Kosala with all
his troops and elephants.
Goodness the Great was sitting majestically on his golden throne,
with its legs like those of a gazelle. He was shaded from the sun
by the pure white royal umbrella. He taught his loyal subjects saying,
"People of Benares wholesomeness begins with giving up the
five unwholesome actions once and for all. The highest qualities
of the good person, whether ruler or subject, are loving-kindness
and compassion. Filled with these qualities, one cannot harm another
- no matter what the reason or the cost. No matter how dangerous
the threat, one must persevere until the greatness of the good heart
wins in the end."
the rest of his reign, the people of Benares lived peacefully and
happily. King Goodness the Great continued performing wholesome
works. Eventually he died and was reborn as he deserved.
moral is: Refusing to harm others, the good
heart wins over all.