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Long ago, Kulapati in his old age had two sons. Laid low by a chronic sickness, he enjoined his eldest son, “Your younger brother is still young. You must look after him and make sure he comes to no harm.” After Kulapati’s death, the brothers, following their father’s wishes, lived together in peace. In time, however, the elder brother’s wife started to complain to her husband, “When your younger brother comes of age he’s sure to want some of the family’s possessions. Isn’t it better to turn him out of the house now, so that we can avoid this?” At first, the elder brother did not pay heed, but eventually, worn down by the nagging of his wife, he forgot his father’s deathbed adjuration and decided to kill his younger brother.

One day, the two brothers walking together came to a quiet graveyard outside the city. When his younger brother was not looking, the elder brother seized him and bound him with rope to a cypress tree. Originally intending to kill him, the elder brother thought of their relationship as brothers, and didn’t have the heart to do it. Instead, he decided to abandon the young man right there, so that tigers or wolves, or perhaps ghosts would dispose of him. Finally, the elder man played a trick on the younger, “You’ve been very bad lately, so you can stay the night here as punishment. Please reflect on your wrongdoing. I’ll come back early tomorrow morning and take you home.” The elder brother left without looking back.

Under a pitch black sky, with the birds and beasts of the night screeching and howling, the young man cried out, “I’m finished! Who can help me now? Who can comfort me now?” At that moment, the Buddha in meditation saw the young man. Suddenly, the sky became bright and the ropes became loose. The Buddha came face to face with the young man and asked, “What is your wish?” The young man knew that it was the Buddha who had freed him, so he said, “May I follow the Bodhisattva Way, and attain Buddhahood in the future, and so I may  liberate all sentient beings from suffering and give them true joy.” At once, the Buddha preached the Dharma and showed him the right path. After receiving the blessing of the teaching, the young man said, “Although my brother had evil in his heart and broke our father’s injunction, being ready to harm me, yet because of this, I have been able to see the Buddha and hear the Dharma, and to make vow to end the cycle of suffering. Now I should go back and repay my brother for his kindness!”

When the young man went home, his elder brother and sister-in-law were so ashamed of their wickedness that they could not face him. The young man told his elder brother, “Even though you listened to your wife’s evil words and left me to die, yet in the end you enabled me to hear the Buddha and cast off suffering. For this you have my eternal thanks.” From that time on, the younger brother began to teach the Dharma to his elder brother and sister-in-law, and they lived together in peace and harmony.

 

Reflection

Forgiveness can dissipate all resentment, and a thankful heart can foster tolerance. Tolerance is the glue of society, and the origin of peace. It is the author of all virtue for oneself and for everybody else.