The baby grew
into a little boy. His friends took to making fun of him for not
being of high-class birth like they were. So he went and asked his
mother who his father was. She told him to pay no attention to what
the other children said. She told him his father was the dead King
Badfruit of Mithila, and how his brother, Prince Poorfruit, had
stolen the throne. After that, it didnt bother him when the
others called him "son of a widow."
he was sixteen, the bright young Fruitful learned all there was
to know about religion, literature and the skills of a warrior.
He grew into a very handsome young man.
decided it was time to regain his rightful crown, which had been
stolen by his uncle. So he went and asked his mother, "Do you
have any of the wealth that belonged to my father?" She said,
"Of course! I did not escape empty-handed. Thinking of you,
I brought pearls, jewels and diamonds. So there is no need for you
to work for pay. Go directly and take back your kingdom."
he said, "No mother, I will take only half. I will sail to
Burma, the land of gold, and make my fortune there." His mother
said, No my son, it is too dangerous to sail abroad. There
is plenty of fortune here!" He said, "I must leave half
with you, my mother, so you can live in comfort as a queen should."
So saying, he departed by ship for Burma.
the same day that Prince Fruitful set sail, his Uncle King Poorfruit
became very ill. He was so sick that he could no longer leave his
on the ship bound for Burma there were some 350 people. It sailed
for seven days. Then there was a violent storm that damaged and
weakened the ship. All except the prince cried out in fear and prayed
for help to their various gods. But the Bodhisatta did not cry out
in fear; the Enlightenment Being did not pray to any god for help.
Instead he helped himself.
filled his belly with concentrated butter mixed with sugar, since
he didnt know how long it would be before his next meal. He
soaked his clothes in oil to protect himself from the cold ocean
water and help him stay afloat. Then when the ship began to sink,
he went and held on to the mast, for it was the tallest part of
the ship. As the deck sank underwater, he pulled himself up the
his trembling praying shipmates were sucked underwater and gobbled
up by hungry fish and huge turtles. Soon the water all around turned
red from blood.
the ship sank, Prince Fruitful reached the top of the mast. To avoid
being devoured in the sea of blood, he jumped mightily from the
tip of the mast in the direction of the kingdom of Mithila.
And at the same time as he saved himself from the snapping jaws
of the fish and turtles, King Poorfruit died in his bed.
his mighty leap from the top of the mast, the prince fell into the
emerald-coloured sea. His body shone like gold as he swam for seven
days and seven nights. Then he saw it was the fasting day of the
full moon. So he purified his mouth by washing it out with salt
water and observed the "Eight Training Steps".
upon a time in the very distant past, the gods of the four directions
had appointed a goddess to be the protector of the oceans. They
had told her that her duty was to protect especially all those who
honour and respect their mothers and other elders. All such, who
did not deserve to fall into the sea, were to be protected by her.
just so happened that Prince Fruitful was one who deserved the protection
of the ocean goddess. But for the seven days and seven nights that
he had been swimming through the sea, the goddess had not been paying
attention and doing her duty! She had been too busy enjoying heavenly
pleasures to remember to keep watch on the oceans.
she remembered her duty and looked over the oceans. Then she was
the golden prince struggling in the emerald sea after seven days
and seven nights of swimming. She thought, "If I let this Prince
Fruitful die in the ocean, I will no longer be welcome in the company
of the gods. For truly, he is the Enlightenment Being!"
she took on a form of splendour and beauty, and floated in the air
near him. Wishing to learn Truth from him, she asked, "Without
seeing the shore of the ocean, why are you trying to reach the oceans
those words the prince thought, "For the seven days Ive
been swimming, I have met no one who can this be?" When he
saw the goddess above him he said, "Oh lovely goddess, I know
that effort is the way of the world. So as long as I am in this
world, I will try and try, even in mid-ocean with no shore to be
to learn more from him, she tested him by saying, "This vast
ocean stretches much farther than you can see, without reaching
a shore. Your effort is useless for here you must die!"
prince replied "Dear goddess, how can effort be useless? For
he who never gives up trying cannot be blamed, either by his relatives
here below or by the gods above. So he has no regrets. No matter
how impossible it seems, if he stops trying he causes his own downfall!"
with his answers, the protecting goddess tested him one last time.
She asked, "Why do you continue, when there really is no reward
to be gained except pain and death?"
answered her again, like a teacher to a pupil, "It is the way
of the world that people make plans and try to reach their goals.
The plans may succeed or fail only time will tell
but the value is in the effort itself in the present moment."
besides, oh goddess, cant you see that my actions have already
brought results? My shipmates only prayed and they are dead! But
I have been swimming for seven days and seven nights and low and
you are, floating above me! So I will swim with all my might, even
across the whole ocean, to reach the shore. While I have an ounce
of strength Ill try and try again."
satisfied, the ocean goddess who protects the good said, "You
who bravely fight the mighty ocean against hopeless odds, you who
refuse to run from the task before you, go wherever your heart desires!
For you have my protection and no one can stop you. Just tell me
where I may carry you to."
prince told her he wished to go to Mithila. The goddess gently lifted
him like a bouquet of flowers and laid him on her chest, Like a
loving mother with a newborn baby. Then she flew through the air,
while the Enlightenment Being slept, cradled against her heavenly
at Mithila, she laid him on a sacred stone in a garden of mangoes,
and told the garden goddesses to watch over him. Then the protector
goddess of the oceans returned to her heaven-world home.
dead King Poorfruit had left behind only a daughter, no sons. She
was well educated and wise, and her name was Princess Sivali.
the king was dying, the ministers asked him, "Who will be the
next king?" King Poorfruit said, "Whoever can satisfy
my daughter Sivali; whoever recognises the head of the royal square
bed; whoever can string the bow that only a thousand men can string;
or whoever can find the sixteen hidden treasures."
the funeral of the king, the ministers began searching for a new
king. First they looked for one who could satisfy the princess.
They called for the General of the Army.
Sivali wished to test him, so Mithila could be ruled by a strong
leader. She told him to come to her. Immediately he ran up the royal
staircase. She said, "To prove your strength, run back and
forth in the palace." Thinking only of pleasing her, the general
ran back and forth until she motioned for him to stop. Then she
said, "Now jump up and down." Again the general did as
he was told without thinking. Finally the princess told him, "Come
here and massage my feet." He sat in front of her and began
rubbing her feet.
she put her foot against his chest and kicked him down the royal
staircase. She turned to her ladies in waiting and said, "This
fool has no common sense. He thinks the only strength is in running
around and jumping up and down and following orders without thinking.
He has no strength of character. He lacks the will power needed
to rule a kingdom. So throw him out of here at once!"
the general was asked about his meeting with Princess Sivali. He
said, "I don't want to talk about it. She is not human!"
same thing happened with the treasurer, the cashier, the keeper
of the royal seal and the royal swordsman. The princess found them
all to be unworthy fools.
the ministers decided to give up on the princess and find someone
who could string the bow that only a thousand men can string. But
again they could find no one. Similarly, they could find no one
who knew the head of the royal square bed, or who could find the
ministers became more and more worried that they could not find
a suitable king. So they consulted the royal family priest. He said
to them, "Calm down, my friends. We will send out the royal
festival carriage. The one it stops for will be able to rule over
they decorated the carriage and yoked the four most beautiful royal
horses to it. The high priest sprinkled the carriage with holy water
from a sacred golden pitcher. He proclaimed, "Now go forth,
riderless carriage, and find the worthy one with enough merit to
rule the kingdom."
horses pulled the carriage around the palace and then down the main
avenue of Mithila. They were followed by the four armies
the elephants, chariots, cavalry and foot soldiers.
most powerful politicians of the city expected the procession to
stop in front of their houses. But instead it left the city by the
eastern gate and went straight to the mango garden. Then it stopped
in front of the sacred stone where Prince Fruitful was sleeping.
chief priest said, "Let us test this sleeping man to see if
he is worthy to be king. If he is the one, he will not be frightened
by the noise of the drums and instruments of all four armies."
So they made a great clanging noise, but the prince just turned
over on his other side, remaining asleep. Then they made the noise
again, even louder. Again the prince simply rolled over from side
head priest examined the soles of the feet of the sleeping one.
He said, "This man can rule not only Mithila, but the whole
world in all four directions." So he awakened the prince and
said, "My lord, arise, we beg you to be our king."
Fruitful replied, "What happened to your king?" "He
died," said the priest. "Did he have any children?"
asked the prince. "Only a daughter, Princess Sivali,"
answered the priest. Then Prince Fruitful agreed to be the new king.
chief priest spread jewels on the sacred stone. After bathing, the
prince sat among the jewels. He was sprinkled with perfumed water
from the gold anointing bowl. Then he was crowned King Fruitful.
The new king rode in the royal chariot, followed by a magnificent
procession, back to the city of Mithila and the palace.
Sivali still wished to test the king. So she sent a man to tell
him she wished him to come at once. But King Fruitful ignored him,
simply continuing to inspect the palace with its furnishings and
works of art.
messenger told this to the princess and she sent him back two more
times with the same results. He reported back to her, "This
is a man who knows his own mind, not easily swayed. He paid as little
attention to your words as we pay to the grass when we step on it!"
the king arrived at the throne room, where the princess was waiting.
He walked steadily up the royal staircase not hurrying, not
slowing down, but dignified like a strong young lion. The princess
was so impressed by his attitude that she went to him, respectfully
gave him her hand, and led him to the throne. He gracefully sat
on the throne.
he asked the royal ministers, "Did the previous king leave
behind any advice for testing the next king?" "Yes lord,"
they said, "Whoever can satisfy my daughter Sivali." The
king responded, "You have seen the princess give me her hand.
Was there another test?"
said, "Whoever recognises the head of the royal square bed."
The king took a golden hairpin from his head and gave it to Princess
Sivali, saying, "Put this away for me." Without thinking,
she put it on the head of the bed. As if he had not heard it the
first time, King Fruitful asked the ministers to repeat the question.
When they did, he pointed to the golden hairpin.
there another test?" asked the king. "Yes lord,"
replied the ministers, "Whoever can string the bow that only
a thousand men can string." When they brought the bow, the
king strung it without even rising from the throne. He did it as
easily as a woman bends the rod that untangles cotton for spinning.
there any more tests?" the king asked. The ministers said,
"Whoever can find the sixteen hidden treasures." These
are the last tests."
is the first on the list?" he asked. They said, "The first
is the treasure of the rising sun." King Fruitful realised
that there must be some trick to finding each treasure. He knew
that a Silent Buddha is often compared to the glory of the sun.
So he asked, "Where did the king go to meet and feed Silent
Buddhas?" When they showed him the place, he had them dig up
the first treasure.
second was the treasure of the setting sun. King Fruitful realised
this must be where the old king had said good-bye to Silent Buddhas.
In the same manner he found all the hidden treasures.
people were happy that he had passed all the tests. As his first
official act, he had houses of charity built in the center of the
city and at each of the four gates. He donated the entire sixteen
treasures to be given to the poor and needy.
he sent for his mother, queen of the dead King Badfruit, and also
for the kind wise man of Campa. He gave them both the honour they
the people of the kingdom came to Mithila to celebrate the restoration
of the royal line. They decorated the city with fragrant flower
garlands and incense. They provided cushioned seats for visitors.
There were fruits, sweets, drinks and cooked foods everywhere. The
ministers and the wealthy brought musicians and dancing girls to
entertain the king. There were beautiful poems recited by wise men,
and blessings chanted by holy men.
Enlightenment Being, King Fruitful, sat on the throne under the
royal white umbrella. In the midst of the great celebration he seemed
as majestic as the heavenly god, King Sakka. He remembered his great
effort struggling in the ocean against all odds, when even the ocean
goddess had abandoned him. Only because of that almost hopeless
effort, he himself was now as magnificent as a god. This filled
him with such joy that he spoke this rhyme:
happen unexpectedly, and prayers may not come true: But effort brings
results that neither thoughts nor prayers can do."
the wonderful celebration, King Fruitful ruled in Mithila with perfect
righteousness. And he humbly gave honour and almsfood to Silent
Buddhas enlightened ones living in a time when their teachings
could not be understood.
the fullness of time Queen Sivali gave birth to a son. Because the
wise men of the court saw signs of a long and glorious life ahead
of him, he was named Prince Longlife. When he grew up, the king
made him second in command.