In today’s modern world, people may have a hard time believing in what they cannot see or accepting what they cannot fully understand. Therefore, people may think that what they do in this lifetime has no bearing on their future. But the ancients knew that, while we may not fully understand our karmic ties, good deeds are met with good karma, while evil deeds are met with bad returns.
In fact, what a person does in his life creates either good karma, called virtue, or bad karma, often simply called karma, and this follows a person into their next lifetime. The following story illustrates this point.
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Predestined blessings and wealth
In ancient India, there lived a prudent king named King Pasenadi. The king had three daughters — the oldest daughter was afraid of meeting people due to her unattractive appearance, the youngest daughter was separated from her parents when she was a child, and the second daughter, Vajira, was beautiful and intelligent. Princess Vajira was the king and queen’s favorite daughter and was also respected and loved by the people in the palace.
One day, the king said to the princess: “It’s because of me that the people in the nation love and respect you.” Princess Vajira replied: “I believe this is because of my good karma, and not your position, Father.”
The king repeated his statement three more times. After getting the same exact answer from his daughter each time, the king became furious and ordered the princess to marry the poorest beggar on the street. “Since you don’t think I’m the reason for your blessings, then let’s see you depend on yourself and your good karma!”
Princess Vajira was unmoved. Believing she was right, she turned and left the palace with her poor consort.
After the pair left the palace, the husband said: “My father was once the richest man in town. But both my parents are now gone and have left me poor and alone. The only thing remaining is an old house, but it is empty and in disrepair.”
The couple went to the old house to take a look around. While walking around outside, a most unexpected thing happened – the floor suddenly caved in, and underneath it, a wealth of buried treasure was revealed. With the newfound valuables, the couple hired workers to renovate the dilapidated house and in less than a month it became a luxurious estate, staffed with many maids, servants, and entertainers.
One day, the king thought of his favorite daughter and said to his retinue: “I wonder how my daughter is doing now?” The retinue replied: “Princess Vajira’s house and wealth are no less than yours, your majesty.”
Hearing about the couple’s change of fortune, the king sighed and said: “Buddha’s words are true! Karmic fruition really is based on one’s deeds.”
Princess Vajira held no grudge against her father and invited the king to visit her beautiful home. The king commented: “My daughter knows that she is blessed. Karmic retribution is real. What goes around comes around.”
Cause and effect
According to legend, King Pasenadi was born on the same day as Buddha Sakyamuni. He became a follower of the Buddha’s teachings and often went to the Buddha for advice.
One day, the king sought out the Buddha and asked: “What did my daughter do in her past lives to deserve such good fortune in this lifetime?” The Buddha shared the following story:
“In one of Princess Vajira’s previous lives, she made food to worship Buddha Kāśyapa, but her husband tried to stop her. She kindly explained things and, touched by her good heart, her husband was persuaded to let her proceed with the offerings.
That husband is the beggar husband of Princess Vajira now. He became poor in this lifetime because he tried to stop her from making offerings to Buddha Kāśyapa. But since he later allowed her to give the offerings, he was able to meet Princess Vajira and restore his wealth.”
The deeds done in the past stay with us, regardless of how many lifetimes we reincarnate. Even when our memories are erased, the karma remains in the memory of our souls.
Translated by Elaine