Inevitability of Death

Kisa Gotami's only son died. Though grief-stricken, she carried the dead child to all her neighbours, asking for medicine, and the people said, "She has lost her senses. The boy is dead."

At last Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request, "I cannot give you medicine for your child, but I know a physician who can."

The woman said, "Pray tell me, Sir, who is it?" and the man replied, "Go to Sakyamuni the Buddha."

She then approached the Buddha with all hope and confidence and cried, "Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will make my boy come to life."

The Buddha promised to help her provided she would bring a handful of mustard seeds. The woman was extremely happy at this condition and was hastening to procure what he wanted. But the Buddha added a rider,...

1. What was the rider to the Buddha's condition?
2. Was the woman able to fulfill it?
3. What is the implication of this story?

***Check with our answers only after you have tried to come up with your own.

1. Lord Buddha said, "The mustard seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent or friend."
2. Kisa Gotami went from house to house, and the people pitied her and said, "Here is mustard seed; take it! But when she asked, "Has a son or a daughter, a father or a mother, ever died in your family?” They answered her, "Alas! The living are few, but the dead are many. Do not remind us of our lost ones." And there was no house where some beloved one had not died.
3. To the desolate woman the realization came that a lamp lives when men flicker up and gets extinguished again. She considered the fate of men, and thought to herself, "How selfish am I in my grief" Death is common to all; yet for one who has surrendered all acts of selfishness, there is a path that leads him to immortality.