The grieving mother and the mustard seeds


Remember, each moment, what you are accumulating--is it going to be taken away by death? Then it is not worth bothering about. If it is not going to be taken away by death, then even life can be sacrificed for it--because one day or another life is going to disappear. Before life disappears, use the opportunity to find that which never dies.


A woman's husband died. She was young, had only one child. She wanted to commit sati, she wanted to jump in the funeral pyre with her husband, but this small child prevented her. She had to live for this small child.

But then the small child died; now it was too much. She went almost insane, asking people, "Is there any physician anywhere who can make my child alive again? I was living only for him, now my whole life is simply dark." It happened that Buddha was coming to the town, so people said, "You take the child to Buddha. Tell him that you were living for this child, and the child has died, and ask him, 'You are such a great enlightened person, call him back to life! Have mercy on me!'"

So she went to Buddha. She put the dead body of the child at Buddha's feet and she said, "Call him back to life. You know all the secrets of life, you have attained to the ultimate peak of existence. Can't you do a small miracle for a poor woman?"

Buddha said, "I will do it, but there is a condition."

She said, "I will fulfill any condition."

Buddha said, "The condition is, you go around the town and from a house where nobody has ever died, bring a few mustard seeds."

The woman could not understand the strategy. She went to one house, and they said, "A few mustard seeds? We can bring a few bullock carts full of mustard seeds if Buddha can bring your son back to life. But we have seen so many deaths in our family...." It was a small village, and she went to every house. Everybody was ready: "How many seeds do you want?" But the condition was impossible because they had all seen so many deaths in their families....

By the evening she understood that whoever is born is going to die, so what is the point of getting the child back again? "He will die again. It is better for you yourself to seek the eternal, which is never born and never dies." She came back, empty-handed.

Buddha asked, "Where are the mustard seeds?" She laughed. In the morning she had come crying; now she laughed, and she said, "You tricked me! Everybody who is born is going to die. There is no family in the whole world where nobody has died. So I don't want my son to be brought again back to life--what is the point? Forget about the child. Initiate me into the art of meditation so that I can go into the land, the space of immortality, where birth and death have never happened."

This I call an authentic miracle: cutting the problem from the very roots.

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Comment by Alexa on December 1, 2009 at 6:13pm
this is such a great little story. thank you for reminding me of it today!
xo marianne
from alexa

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