up Power [Chapter
story happened very long ago, at a time when people lived much longer
lives, even 10,000 years! After King Fruitful had ruled for about
7,000 years, it just so happened that the royal gardener brought
him an especially wonderful collection of fruits and flowers. He
liked them so much that he wanted to see the garden. So the gardener
arranged and decorated the garden, and invited him to visit.
king set out on a royal elephant, followed by the entire court and
many of the ordinary people of Mithila. When he entered through
the garden gate he saw two beautiful mango trees. One was full of
perfectly ripe mangoes, while the other was completely without fruit.
He took one of the fruits and enjoyed its delicious sweet taste.
He decided to eat more of them on his return trip.
the people saw that the king had eaten the first fruit, they knew
it was all right for them to eat. In no time at all the mangoes
had been eaten. When the fruits were gone, some even broke the twigs
and stripped the leaves looking for more.
King Fruitful returned he saw that the tree was stripped bare and
nearly destroyed. At the same time the fruitless tree remained as
beautiful as before, its bright green leaves shining in the sunlight.
king asked his ministers, "What has happened here?" They
explained, "Since your majesty ate the first fruit, the people
felt free to devour the rest. Searching for more fruits they even
destroyed the leaves and twigs. The fruitless tree was spared and
remains beautiful, since it has no fruit."
saddened the king. He thought, "This fruitful tree was destroyed,
but the fruitless one was spared. My kingship is like the fruitful
tree - the more the power and possessions, the greater the
fear of losing them. The holy life of a simple monk is like the
fruitless tree - giving up power and possessions leads to
freedom from fear."
the Great Being decided to give up his wealth and power, to leave
the glory of kingship behind, to abandon the constant task of protecting
his position. Instead he decided to put all his effort into living
the pure life of a simple monk. Only then could he discover lasting
deep happiness, which would spread to others as well.
returned to the city. Standing next to the palace gate, he called
for the commander of the army. He said, "From now on, no one
is to see my face except a servant bringing food and a servant bringing
water and toothbrush. You and the ministers will rule according
to the old law. I will live as a simple monk on the top floor of
he had lived for a while in this way, the people began to wonder
about the change in him. One day a crowd gathered in the palace
courtyard. They said, "Our king is not as he was before. He
no longer wants to see dancing or listen to singing or watch bull
fights and elephant fights or go to his pleasure garden and see
the swans on the ponds. Why does he not speak to us?" They
asked the servants who brought the king his food and water, "Does
he tell you anything?"
said, "He is trying to keep his mind from thinking about desirable
things, so it will be peaceful and wholesome like the minds of his
old friends, the Silent Buddhas. He is trying to develop the purity
of the ones who own nothing but good qualities. Once we even heard
him say out loud, "I can think only of the Silent Buddhas,
free from chasing ordinary pleasures. Their freedom makes them truly
happy who will take me to where they live?"
Fruitful had been living on the top floor of the palace trying to
be a simple monk for only about four months. At that point he realised
there were too many distractions in the beautiful kingdom of Mithila.
He saw them as only an outer show keeping him from finding inner
peace and Truth. So he decided, once and for all, to give up everything
and become a forest monk and go live in the Himalaya Mountains.
had the yellow robes and begging bowl of a monk brought to him.
He ordered the royal barber to shave his head and beard. Then early
the next morning, he began walking down the royal staircase.
Queen Sivali had heard about his plans. She gathered together the
700 most beautiful queens of the royal harem and took them up the
staircase. They passed King Fruitful coming down, but didn't recognise
him dressed as a monk. When they got to the top floor, Queen Sivali
found it empty, with only the king's shaven hair and beard still
there. Instantly she realised the unknown monk must be her husband.
701 queens ran down the stairs to the palace courtyard. There they
followed the king-turned-monk. As Queen Sivali had instructed them,
they all let down their hair and tried to entice the king to stay.
They cried and cried, pleading with him, "Why are you doing
this?" Then all the people of the city became very upset and
began following him. They were weeping as they cried out, "We
have heard that our king has become a simple monk. How can we ever
find such a good and fair ruler again?"
700 harem queens, wearing all their lovely veils and rich jewellery,
crying and begging, did not change the mind of the Enlightenment
Being. For he had made his decision and was determined to stick
to it. He had given up the gold anointing bowl of state, which had
passed the power of the royal family to him. Instead he now carried
only the plain clay-begging bowl of a humble monk, a seeker of Truth.
Queen Sivali stopped crying. She saw that the beautiful queens from
the harem had not stopped her husband. So she went to the commander
of the army. She told him to set a fire among the slum houses and
abandoned buildings that were in the king's path. She told him to
set fires of brush and wet leaves in different areas of the city,
to make a lot of smoke.
this was done she fell to the ground at the king's feet and cried,
"All Mithila is burning, my lord! The beautiful buildings with
their valuable art works, precious metals and jewels, and treasures
are all being destroyed. Return, oh king, and save your riches before
it is too late."
the Enlightenment Being replied, "All these things belong to
others. I own nothing. So I'm not afraid of losing anything. And
losing things can't make me sad. My mind is at peace."
he left the city through the northern gate, still followed by all
701 queens. According to Queen Sivali's instructions, they showed
him villages being robbed and destroyed. There were armed men attacking,
while others seemed wounded and dead. But what looked like blood
was really just red dye, and the dead were only pretending. The
king knew it was a trick, since there were no actual robbers and
plunderers in the kingdom in the first place.
walking still farther, the king stopped and asked his ministers,
"Whose kingdom is this?" "Yours, oh lord," they
said. "Then punish any who cross this line," he ordered,
as he drew a line across the road. No one, including Queen Sivali,
dared to cross the line. But when she saw the king continuing on
down the road, with his back to her, she was grief-stricken. Beating
her breast she fell across the line. Once the line was crossed,
the whole crowd lost its fear and followed her.
Sivali kept the army with her as the entire crowd kept following
King Fruitful. He continued for many miles, heading for the Himalayas
in the north.
there was a very advanced monk named Narada, who lived in a golden
cave in the Himalayas. He was a very wise man. By great mental effort
he had gained supernatural powers that only the highest holy men
are said to have. After meditating in a wonderful trance for a full
week he suddenly shouted, "What happiness! Oh what happiness!"
using his special powers, he looked out over all India to see if
there was anyone who was sincerely seeking that same happiness,
free of all the distractions of the world. He saw only King Fruitful,
the Bodhisatta who would some day become the Buddha. He saw that
he had given up all his earthly power. And yet he was still blocked,
still hindered by the obstacle of the crowd following him from his
previous worldly life. In order to help and encourage him, he magically
flew through the air and floated in front of the king.
asked King Fruitful, "Oh monk, why is this crowd with all its
noise following you?" The king replied, "I have given
up the power of kingship and left the world for good. This is why
my former subjects follow me, even though I leave them happily."
holy monk said, "Don't be too confident, oh monk. You haven't
succeeded in leaving the world quite yet. For there are still obstacles
inside of you. These are the 'Five Hindrances' the desire
for ordinary pleasures of sight, sound and so forth; the desire
to harm others; laziness; nervous worrying; and unreasonable doubts.
Therefore, practice the Perfections, be patient, and don't think
either too much or too little of yourself."
finished by saying, "I give you my blessing may goodness,
knowledge and Truth protect you on your way." Then he disappeared
and reappeared back in his golden cave.
to this wise advice, King Fruitful became even less concerned with
the crowd outside, realising that the greatest obstacles, or hindrances,
are the ones inside.
Queen Sivali fell at his feet once again. She pleaded, "Oh
king, hear the wails of your subjects. Before leaving them for good,
comfort them by crowning your son to rule in your place."
replied, "I have already left my subjects, friends, relatives
and my country behind. Have no fear, the nobles of Mithila have
trained Prince Longlife well, and they will protect and support
continued, "Oh king, by becoming a monk you are leaving me
without a husband. What a shame! What am I to do?"
said, "Only be careful to teach the prince no unwholesome thoughts,
words or deeds. Otherwise you would bring painful results to yourself."
the sun set, the queen made camp while the king went into the forest
to sleep at the foot of a tree. The next day she continued to follow
him, bringing the army with her. They approached a small city.
just so happened that a man in the city had bought a fine piece
of meat from a butcher. After cooking it he placed it on a table
to cool, when a stray dog grabbed it and ran off. The man followed
the dog as far as the southern gate of the city. There he gave up
because he was too tired to continue.
escaping dog crossed the path of King Fruitful and Queen Sivali.
Frightened by them, he dropped the meat on the road. The king saw
that it was a good piece of meat and that the real owner was unknown.
So he cleaned the meat, put it in his begging bowl, and ate it.
Sivali, who was used to eating the delicacies of the palace, was
disgusted. She said to him, "Even at the point of death a high
class person would not eat the leavings of a dog! Eating such disgusting
food shows you are completely unworthy!" But he replied, "It
is your own vanity that keeps you from seeing the value of this
meat. If rightfully obtained, all food is pure and wholesome!"
they continued to approach the city, King Fruitful thought, "Queen
Sivali keeps following me. This is a bad thing for a monk. People
say, 'He has given up his kingdom, but he can't get rid of his wife!'
I must find a way to teach her she must go."
then they came upon some playing children. Among them was a girl
with one bracelet on one wrist and two on the other. Thinking she
was a wise child, the king asked her, "My child, why does your
one arm make noise with every movement, while the other does not?"
little girl replied, "Oh monk, it's because on one arm there
are two bracelets, while on the other there is only one. Where there
are two, it's the second that clangs against the first and makes
noise. The arm with only one bracelet remains silent. So if you
would be happy, you must learn to be contented when alone."
Bodhisatta said to the queen, "Do you hear the wisdom of this
child? As a monk I would be ashamed to let you stay with me in front
of her. So you go your way and I'll go mine. We are husband and
wife no more - good-bye!"
queen agreed and they took separate paths. But she became grief-stricken
again and returned to follow the king. They entered the city together,
so he could collect alms food.
came to the house of an arrow maker. They watched him wet the red-hot
arrow, and straighten it while sighting down the shaft with only
one eye open. The king asked him, "Friend, to make the arrow
perfectly straight, why do you view it with one eye open and the
arrow maker answered, "With both eyes open, the wide view of
the second eye is distracting. Only by concentrating my view in
one eye can I truly see the straightness of the arrow. So if you
would be happy, you must learn to be contented when alone."
king collected alms food and then they left the city. He said to
the queen, "Did you hear the same wisdom again from that craftsman?
As a monk I would be ashamed to let you stay with me in front of
him. So you go your way and I'll go mine. We are husband and wife
no more - good-bye!" But still she followed him.
the Great Being cut a stalk of tall grass. He said to Queen Sivali,
"Just as the two pieces of this stalk of grass cannot be joined
again, so I will not join you again in the marriage bed! We two
can never be joined together again. Like a full stalk of uncut grass,
live on alone, my ex-wife Sivali."
hearing this the queen went crazy with shock and grief. She beat
herself with both hands until she fell to the ground completely
unconscious. Realising this, the Bodhisatta quickly left the roadway.
He erased his footsteps and disappeared into the jungle.
he had given up the power and wealth of a king. Now he had given
up the power and desire of a husband. At last he was free to follow
the path of a Truth-seeking wandering monk. He made his way to the
Himalayas and in only one week he was able to develop special mental
powers. Never again did he return to the ordinary world.
the royal ministers, who had been following at a distance, reached
the fainted queen. They sprinkled water on her and revived her.
She asked, "Where is my husband the king?" They said,
"We don't know. Don't you know?" In a panic she ordered,
"Search for him!" They looked and looked, but of course
he was gone.
Queen Sivali recovered from her fear and grief, she realised she
felt no anger, jealousy or vengeance towards the monk Fruitful.
Instead she admired him more than at any time since the day they
met, when she gave him her hand and led him to the throne.
had monuments erected to honour the courageous King Fruitful on
four sites: where he had spoken with the floating holy man Narada,
where he had eaten the good meat left by the dog, where he had questioned
the little girl, and also the arrow maker.
the two mango trees in the royal garden, she had Prince Longlife
crowned as the new king. Together with the army and crowds of followers,
they returned to the city of Mithila.
spite of herself, Queen Sivali had learned something by following,
and finally losing, her husband King Fruitful. She too had tasted
wise lady gave up her royal duties. She retired to meditate in the
garden by the mango trees. With great effort, she gained a high
mental state leading to rebirth in a heaven world.
moral is: It's easier to gain power than to
give it up.