Welcome to our fifty fourth online suggested practise for the week. We are now broadcasting a live teaching each Monday evening. If you would like to participate please contact us using the contact form on the homepage.
1.0) If you feel so inclined, begin by reciting the usual prayers (please follow below links for text). Alternatively, try to think or articulate a wish for all beings to achieve liberation from suffering, etc .
Four Thoughts: contemplating each in turn – https://northantsbuddhists.com/the-four-thoughts/
Refuge Prayer: twice in Tibetan, once in English – https://northantsbuddhists.com/the-refuge-prayer/
2.0) KARMA THE FOUR WIVES – Taken from Buddhist Parables – Presented by Joyce Stirling
KARMA The Four Wives – Taken from Buddhist Parables – Author unknown.
Once there was a man who had four wives. According to the social system and circumstances of ancient India, it was possible for a man to have several wives. The Indian had become ill and was about to die. At the end of his life he felt very lonely and so asked the first wife to accompany him to the other world.
‘My dear wife,’ he said, ‘I loved you day and night, I took care of you throughout my whole life. Now I am about to die, will you please go with me wherever I go after my death?. He expected her to answer yes. But she answered, ‘I know you always loved me. And you are going to die. Now is the time to separate from you’.
He called his second wife to his sickbed and begged her to follow him in death. He said ‘my dear second wife you know how I loved you. Sometimes I was afraid you would leave me, but I held on to you strongly. My dear please come with me’. The second wife expressed herself rather coldly. ‘Dear husband, your first wife refused to accompany you after your death. How can I follow you?’ You loved me only for your own selfish sake’.
Lying in his deathbed, he called his third wife and asked her to follow him. The third wife replied, with tears in her eyes, ‘My dear, I pity you and I feel sorry for myself. Therefore I shall accompany you to the graveyard. This is my last duty to you.’ The third wife thus also refused to follow him to death.
Three wives refused to follow him after his death. Now he recalled there was another wife, his fourth wife, for whom he didn’t care for very much. He had treated her like a slave and had always showed much displeasure with her. He now thought if he asked her to follow him to death, she certainly would say no. But his loneliness was so severe that he made the effort to ask her to accompany him to the other world. The fourth wife gladly accepted her husband’s request. ‘My dear husband,’ she said, ‘I will go with you. Whatever happens, I am determined to be with you forever. I cannot be separated from you.’
This is a story of ‘A man and his four wives,’ Gautama Buddha concluded the story as follows:
‘Every man or woman has four wives or husbands. What do these wives signify?’
THE FIRST WIFE
The first ‘wife’ is our body. We love our body day and night. In the morning, we wash our face, put on clothing and shoes. We give food to our body. We take care of our body like the first wife in this story. But unfortunately, at the end of our life the body, the first wife, cannot follow us into the next world. As it is stated in a commentary, ‘when the last breath leaves our body, the healthy colour of the face is transformed, and we lose the appearance of radiant life. Our love ones may gather around and lament, but to no avail. When such an event occurs, the body is sent into an open field and cremated, leaving only white ashes.’ This is the destination of our body.
THE SECOND WIFE
The second wife stands for our fortune, our material things, money, property, fame, position and job that we worked so hard to attain. We are attached to these material possessions. We are afraid to lose these material things and wish to possess much more. There is no limit. At the end of our life these things cannot follow us to death. Whatever fortune we have piled up, we must leave it. We came into this world with empty hands. During our life in this world we have the illusion that we obtained a fortune. At death, our hands are empty. We can’t hold our fortune after death, just as the second wife told her husband, ‘you hold me with your ego-centred selfishness. Now it is time to say goodbye,’
THE THIRD WIFE
This is the relationship of our parents, sister and brother, all relatives, friends and society. They will go as far as the graveyard, with tears in their eyes. They are sympathetic and saddened. Thus, we cannot depend on our physical body, our fortune and our society. We are born alone and we die alone. No one will accompany us after our death.
THE FOURTH WIFE
The fourth wife is our mind. When we deeply observe and recognise that our minds are filled with anger, greed and dissatisfaction, we are having a good look at our lives. The anger, greed and dissatisfaction are Karma, the law of causation. We cannot be separated from our own Karma. As the fourth wife told her dying husband, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.