• By Nhat Quan
    A wealthy man had four wives. Both parents accepted the first woman, so she performed a proper wedding ceremony. When she returned to her husband's house, she was loved and pampered by the rich man, so she got whatever she wanted. Whenever it was cold, he made sure to provide her with a warm mattress and soft blanket. When it was hot, he fanned her to cool her down. In general, from eating, drinking, playing, living, and working, to sleeping, he took care of her fully and took care of everything, every necessary need without missing anything.
    Next to the second wife, she is truly a stunning beauty. Although she was not as pampered as the first woman, the second woman was so beautiful, charming, and cute that she made the wealthy man passionate, fascinated, and numb to the soul. When she was away from home for a long time, the wealthy man became sad, worried, and longed for her day and night like a lost soul.
    As for the third wife, although not as passionate as the previous two wives, over time the love between husband and wife became richer and deeper, and they lived more and more meaningfully. Therefore, the wealthy man also showed her some kindness when needed. At times, she also shared and supported each other's sufferings and pains, and enjoyed living together, loving and supporting each other.
    The fourth wife, this woman, seemed to have endured many sorrows, pain, bitterness, and humiliation all her life because she loved, pampered, and took care of the wealthy man with all her might. No matter how difficult, arduous, and tiring the job is, she still tries to take care of everything. She was always by his side like a shadow, never taking a step away. Yet he did not pay any attention to his fourth wife, only caring and thinking about the other three wives. Many times, the wealthy man even beat, chased, and scorned her like a servant.
    One day, the wealthy man was seriously ill and knew he would not survive, so he called his four wives to ask if any of them were faithful and willing to follow him to the afterlife.
    He asked his first wife:
    - I love you so much, are you willing to follow me to the other side of the eternal world?
      The First Lady said:
    - Please understand and forgive me, I still know and miss you very much. Thanks to your dedicated care and help, my life has been comfortable and peaceful for many years. You are truly a unique ideal husband in this world. That's why I always love and thank you so much. But please understand and forgive me, because everyone has different karma and circumstances. Because of our long-standing love between husband and wife, if you die, I will see you off to the house gate, which is very precious and meaningful.
    Second Wife
    - When the rich man heard the first woman say that, two tears rolled down the corners of his eyes. He sadly turned to ask the second wife, what about you? Can you follow me to the other world?
    The second lady was smarter and more intelligent, so she quickly answered:
    - Don't worry, you don't have to worry about that anymore, because we all have our blessings. Normally at that time, you love, care, and worry about me a lot. I am very grateful that you have lived such a meaningful life with me. But now I am still young and beautiful, still pretty, still cute, so many people like and love you, and my future is still full of life and hope. If you ever go to the other side, please sympathize and quietly walk away alone. My future is still bright, so I need to find a husband to depend on for a long time and live the rest of my life. Thinking that you have loved, pampered, and cared for me for many years, I will see you off to your door, which is already very precious.
    The Third Wife
    Hearing the second woman say that, the wealthy man felt like his intestines were broken, and he turned to his third wife in pain and sadness. What about you? Can you follow me?
    Hearing the rich man's question, the third wife cried and said:
    - When you were still healthy, you only cared about your eldest and second sisters but never cared about, or thought about me. However, there are still times when you sincerely love me. Thinking about the long-standing love between husband and wife, after you return to the other world, I will take you to the cemetery to take care of your peaceful grave. After that, I will make a full sacrifice to you, to repay the gratitude you have shown me for loving and caring for me while I was alive. As for having to follow you to the other side, it is impossible. I also have duties and responsibilities to my family and relatives. Please understand and sympathize with my sincerity.
    Like a thunderclap, all the beautiful dreams that had been there for so long were now shattered in smoke. The wealthy man's hands and feet were exhausted, and he was sweating profusely. He felt extremely miserable and didn't know what to think anymore, he had to accept and close his eyes and let his fate be whatever it was.
    The Fourth Wife
    At this moment, the fourth wife seemed to understand what he wanted, so she kindly said:
    - Honey, you shouldn't worry too much. Don't worry, I will be the one to follow you throughout your journey, no matter how far away you go, whether you go to heaven or hell. Although normally you only care and worry about your eldest sister, second sister, and third sister, you never know what to think and think about me. Actually, I am also very sad and miserable, but anyway, we are still husband and wife, thinking about the love between husband and wife, I vow to follow you through the three worlds and six paths. You can rest assured that you have me by your side, not leaving you even a step away. Wherever you go, I will follow you there.
    Hearing such sweet and gentle words, the rich man seemed satisfied and immediately closed his eyes and left.
    Through the above story, you see that Buddha gave the image of four wives to refer to the four closest things in your daily life, but you never pay attention, and just keep having fun. Immerse yourself in the sea of suffering, the river of confusion, and let time pass in vain. This is a metaphorical sutra carrying a profound philosophy, leaving each person to ponder, contemplate, enlighten, and have the power to calm down in practice to be able to fully understand the Buddha's teachings.
    Why did the Buddha not use another image as an example, but instead used the image of four wives?
    Because this image is always close to your daily life, in order to destroy the attachment due to ignorance and greed, it makes you realize that mistakes are not in accordance with the truth about the fate of a human life.
    The metaphor of the first wife
    - The image of the first wife, the Buddha exemplifies each person's body, because you mistake this body for me, as mine, so you love and pamper it, become infatuated with it, and have excessive attachment to this body. So do everything to serve me and mine. From that place of ego, you have my property, my wife, my children, and my relatives. That's why even though your body is ugly, if someone praises you for being beautiful, you will be extremely happy and proud, that is your attachment to me and mine. But if anyone asks you: What am I, you don't know. If you don't know what the self is, this life becomes meaningless and has no practical value.
    Buddha taught that this body is only fake, it is illusory so it is not real, but for a long time, you have mistakenly accepted it, then tried to preserve and protect it. If anyone touches it, you are ready to react. A wise person immediately realizes that this body is not really me, not really mine. What is real is always the same and does not change. Although the false body is impermanent and not real, you must know how to protect it as a means of practice, like a person crossing a river needs a raft.
    Yet that rich man, when he was alive, only loved, and pampered in his body, doing everything for this body. Because of that misconception, the cause-and-effect hatred never ends. That's why the world always has wars, massacres, and killings of each other, just to protect and take care of this body. But in reality, no matter how much you protect this body, the day you leave, your body leaves the house gate and sends it to the field. That is the image of the Buddha's first wife as an example of the illusory body.
    Therefore, as a true Buddhist, you must be wise and discerning, regularly examine and observe the body, thus knowing that this body is impermanent, temporary, not real, and less susceptible to contamination and confusion. That way you will cause less harm to people and animals. Although you know that the body is impermanent and illusory, you should not destroy it, but you must know how to use this body as a means of practice, to benefit yourself and others.
    The metaphor of the second wife
    - In life, everyone needs money and possessions to feed themselves and their family. If you have plenty of money, you can live a satisfied life with all the comforts and materials.
    That's why many people, in need of a lot of money to cover themselves and their families, resort to tricks:
    - If you are an official, you are corrupt and exploit people without power. Rich wants to be richer
    - If it's trading. When purchasing, weigh the full amount. But when selling, take less, but still charge the full amount.
    - Some people specialize in defrauding relatives and neighbors.
    That means using every trick to cheat and rob to fill your greedy pockets. But even if you create all kinds of scams, make a lot of money, and get rich in the suffering of others. But the day you go to the other side of the world, your body leaves the door of your house and you have nothing left. That is the image of Buddha's second wife as an example of money and property.
    Therefore, according to the Buddha's teachings, Buddhists also have the right to get rich to improve their lives in addition to fulfilling their responsibilities and obligations to family and society. A meaningful and valuable life is a life that knows how to share joys and sorrows, so it is less affected by depression and suffering. But money can't really buy happiness and true love. Money is not the decisive factor to bring you true happiness. On the contrary, sometimes there are more worries, but it is clear that if there is a serious lack of money, heavy debt, and having to worry about food every meal, then it is really miserable and extremely worrying. Therefore, you need to work diligently to have money to support yourself and your family. According to Buddha's teachings, lay people have the right to make money with their own sweat and tears, which means being diligent with their hands and minds to create a prosperous and happy life.
    The ultimate goal of your life is not primarily to have a lot of money but to know how to use that money. One thing is that you need to be happy when you spend some money at the right time and when necessary, to do something that really benefits many people. People who do not cultivate merit and virtue will lack first and last, and family life will be difficult in all aspects. Therefore, you are often sad, worried, resent heaven, blame the earth, blame this, blame that... Your life is truly happy when you know how to make enough money to feed yourself and your family, in addition to that, if you have a little extra, save it for when needed, and furthermore, do good deeds.
    To make money honestly, you need to avoid professions that harm humanity. Therefore, lay people must be wise and choose an honest and good profession to cultivate merit. And when there is a predestined relationship, you are ready to share joys and sufferings with a little material and a lot of heart with everyone. The purpose of life is not to be rich or have a lot of money to be happy, but you must know how to be content with the present, knowing enough is the true morality that always helps you not fall into a deadlock.
     The metaphor of the third wife:
    The image of the third wife, Buddha exemplified by the grandparents, parents, and relatives of both husband and wife. The third wife represents career, family, relatives, and titles. When bringing the dead man's coffin to the grave, they recite a eulogy about his merits, then lower the grave to bury him. So it is said to bring him to the grave.
    You all treasure this body, because you think it is you, truly mine, so you keep running after fame and fortune, to have lots of money, wealth, and material prosperity, complete, abundant. From the place of clinging and worrying about this body, you seek to take and exploit as much for yourself as possible. Once you take care of yourself, then your wife, your children, your parents, your relatives, your country, etc.
    As a Buddhist, in addition to taking care of your responsibilities and obligations to your family and relatives, you need to arrange time to practice to build a better and more complete next life. Currently, you must know how to sow good karma while you are still healthy. When you are about to die, your thoughts must be good to be sure of going to a good world. If you normally create good karma but when you are about to die, you create bad karma, it is not guaranteed that you will go to a happy and good world. And if at the moment you don't know how to practice and accidentally create a lot of bad karma, when you are about to die, if you know how to change your mind, you can also convert some of your previous bad karma, because karma is not fixed.
     The metaphor of the fourth wife
    The image of the fourth wife, the Buddha's example for your actions, has been repeated many times from your body, mouth, and mind, from beginningless eons until now, also known as habits or karma. Therefore, the fourth wife symbolizes good or bad karma that always follows you like a picture and shadow. Wherever you are, it will follow without leaving even half a step, that's why she is willing to die as well.
    Karma, to put it simply, is karma's retribution, which means that when you have caused a cause, there will be a corresponding result. And the results come sooner or later when the causes and conditions are met.
    Karma is the energy, the action that comes from thoughts and then comes out with intentional words, is repeated many times, and over time becomes a habit. That habit has the power to dominate and attract you to follow it. Talking about karma is talking about your complete decision-making power. No one can bless or harm you, decide or arrange it, but you are the owner of the disasters or blessings.
    You are the one who creates the karma, and you are also the one who receives the retribution. You acknowledge that karma is created by you, is born from karma, and is bound back by karma. Because karma is an action, a habit, as long as you try, make an effort, and persevere, you can change it.
    The image of the fourth wife represents each person's personal karma. Usually, in life in the world, few people care about this issue. You only want to beautify yourself, nourish your body, and make a lot of money, so you don't care about any tricks as long as it benefits you, and your loved ones, and protects your near and far relatives. You worry about how to have a lot of money and find every way to protect your loved ones, forgetting that what you are doing until you die cannot take anything with you, even a button on your shirt will be cut off.
    Thus, if you know that each person has their own karma, you must have a very harmonious attitude towards life, without questioning or blaming difficult situations and problems that the person involved cannot resolve decisively because of their own karma. Therefore, karma follows you like a shadow and a picture from life to life, until your debt to each other is gone.
    Lay Buddhists should be wise and discerning, choosing a true career so as not to harm all living beings. First, do not kill people, then minimize the killing of animals, until it is completely intact.
    In life, it is difficult to avoid accidental killing, such as farming and growing crops to provide and serve people. You have to use pesticides and cleaning to harm ants, so what should Buddhists do to avoid the crime of killing? From humans to all animals in this world, they exist in a relative cause-and-effect bridge. Those who are wise will minimize killing and live a peaceful and happy life.
    Therefore, aware of the suffering caused by killing, you should learn to practice great compassion to protect the lives of everyone and all species, so that together you will not suffer the retribution of premature death. Parents should advise their children not to intentionally kill, and when they grow up, they must know how to choose the right career so as not to harm humans and animals. On the contrary, you do not kill but often release animals to help people and save animals, expand your compassion, encourage and advise each other to limit the killing of animals and call everyone to be vegetarian, at least a few days each month. Thanks to that, the world will reduce the karma of war and terrorism and live peacefully and happily.
    In short, the Buddha gave the image of four wives to show you that despite thousands of love, when the cause and effect of karma comes, no one can replace you, you do it, you endure it. Bad causes give you the result of suffering and depravity, good causes give you peaceful and happy results. If you kill, you will die prematurely; if you do not kill, you will have a long life. If you are angry a lot, your body will be ugly and your face will be unsightly. If you open your heart to compassion and compassion for all sentient beings, your body will be dignified, your face will be beautiful and cute, etc. If you know how to prepare with good karma, then will reach a good land and live happily and peacefully. If you prepare with evil karma, you will enter the three evil paths and suffer a lot.
              When you don't know how to practice, your body sometimes does good and good things, and sometimes you do bad things and cause many sins. The mouth sometimes says sweet and cute words, sometimes it says cruel, harsh, and rude words. The mind sometimes thinks of holy things, and sometimes it thinks of evil and despicable things. From your thoughts will arise words, from your words will become actions, and from actions will become habits if you repeat them over and over again. Once it becomes a habit, whether bad or good, whether right or wrong, it will become a person's personality. If that habit is good, it will always help many people, and conversely, if that habit is bad, it will harm humanity.
    When you know how to practice, you should stay away from bad and evil deeds, but often do good deeds. When you know how to practice, speak truthfully, cheerfully, gently, speak sympathetically, and never say deceitful words that harm others. Think about what is good, stop what is bad, and do not let it arise. A person who knows how to practice does not do evil in his body, does not say evil words in his mouth, and does not think evil thoughts. Anyone who can do so is called a person with good character and morality.
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