A long time ago, an arhat received a novice. One day while meditating, the arhat foresaw that the novice had only seven days left to live. In compassion, the arhat told the novice to go home, see his parents and return in seven days.
The novice thereupon bade his master farewell, prepared some simple luggage and went down the mountain. On the way home, the novice saw a large number of ants floating on the surface of the roadside brook, in imminent danger of drowning. Out of kindness, the novice took off his robe and used it to carry mud in order to block the water. He also moved the ants to higher grounds, where it was dry. In this way, all of the ants were saved.
Seven days later, the novice returned to the monastery in good spirits. When the master saw him he was surprised, saying to himself, “It was clear the novice only had seven days to live, but now he has returned, safe and sound! I wonder what happened?”
The master again entered deep meditation. He saw with clairvoyance that because of his kindness in helping the ants, the novice had increased his blessing and gained long life.
From the earliest times people have sought the elixir of life but never found it. The question is: how could the novice increase his blessing and gain long life so easily?
It is impossible to separate cause and effect; you reap what you sow. If you do nothing but only hope for success, you will certainly be disappointed.