English Dharma Talk series – text for week 1 – “A Greedy Daughter-in-law”

The Spring series of English Dharma talks is starting up on Thursday, March 14th! [We’ll meet at the 2nd floor Dharma hall at 8pm, at the Anyang Hanmaum Seon Center. It will be every Thursday, for six weeks.]

The text for this series will by the book “My Heart is a Golden Buddha.” I’ll post in advance each week’s story, as a link to the audio book version.
In the week after the talk, I’ll try to put up an English-only version of the talk.

Week 1: The Greedy Daughter-in-law
This is a fun, slightly weird story!
(Audio file)

Here are the links for the entire audiobook:

buy_button (1)

(direct from us, via Gumroad)
 also available at Audible.com and iTunes



A Greedy Daughter-in-law
 
 
Deep in the mountains of Korea, there lived a young man and his elderly mother. They were very poor, and the son was always working at some job or another in order to take care of his mother.

One day, as the village elders sat around chatting, the conversation turned to the young man. They all admired how hard he worked to take care of his mother, and as they talked, they realized that the young man had no other family to arrange a marriage for him. Then and there, the village elders decided that they would find him a wife.


They searched throughout the district, looking for a woman of good character willing to marry a poor farmer. At last they found a woman who seemed like a good match for the young man. She appeared gentle and caring, and like him was from a poor family. The elders made the arrangements, and the two of them were soon married.


Not long after the wedding, the young man began to realize that his new wife wasn’t quite as kind and selfless as everyone had thought.
She was never satisfied with the money he earned, and to make matters worse, when he was out working in the fields, she treated his mother harshly and often wouldn’t prepare proper meals for her. With each passing week, his mother was becoming thinner and weaker.


As the young man thought about his wife’s behavior and struggled with his anger, he tried to think about the situation from his wife’s perspective.
“Well, it can’t be easy being the wife of a poor farmer, trying to make do when there’s never enough. At the temple they say that our basic nature is inherently good and compassionate, so if I treat her with compassion and caring, maybe I can draw forth those things from within her. Then, perhaps she’ll behave better towards my mother.”


He tried this approach, but instead of getting better, his wife’s behavior only seemed to worsen. Finally, he realized that he couldn’t wait for his wife to change her behavior; he would have to do something himself. He reflected deeply upon the situation for several days, until at last an idea occurred to him.


The end of the harvest season was approaching, and with it his yearly trip to the district capital to sell their grain. Normally, it took him over two weeks to make the round trip, but this time he hurried home, arriving a week earlier than expected.


He rushed into their courtyard, shouting for his wife. When she came out, he looked around to see if anyone else was listening and lowered his voice:
“You won’t believe what I saw in the city! I stumbled into a side alley off the big market, and found a street where people were buying and selling grandmothers. The plump ones were going for a thousand strings of copper coins! Let’s sell my mother there! A thousand strings of coins, as easy as snapping your fingers!”


“Do you think we could get that much for her? She’s kind of scrawny….”
“Hmm, you’re right. We’ll have to fatten her up first. But not a word to anyone. If other people start selling their mothers, we won’t get a good price.”


A thousand strings of coins was a huge amount of money, and the wife wanted it all. Late into the night all she could think about were ways to make her mother-in-law plump and healthy-looking. As the days went by, she experimented with different foods and medicines reputed to be good for the elderly. Eventually, she became obsessed with her mother-in-law’s health.


With this kind of care, her mother-in-law began to recover. One day, as she took her grandson for a walk, she met some old friends and spoke with amazement about how well her daughter-in-law was taking care of her.
Over the next months, stories about how well the wife looked after her mother-in-law spread throughout the surrounding villages, and even reached the ears of the district governor.


Impressed, he ordered a stone monument to be erected, commemorating her behavior and holding it forth as a model of virtue for others.


The wife had started with the intention of getting rich, but as she spent day after day thinking about someone other than herself, her own greed and selfishness had begun to melt away. Seeing the stone monument was the final straw; she broke down into tears, determined to truly become the person described there.
 

 
Our fundamental mind, our Buddha-nature, contains infinite wisdom. However, this isn’t something you can find without making an effort.
Like the young man, you have to diligently reflect inwardly and return your questions inwardly, while searching for a solution that will benefit everyone. If you do this, then the wisdom of your Buddha-nature can come forth.


However, no matter how great the wisdom, you won’t see any results from it without ceaseless effort and strong faith. If you want to achieve something in your life, throw away self-centeredness and greed, and then, with faith, entrust everything to your foundation.


While continuing to observe and being patient, use both your body and mind to put your understanding into practice. If you can make this kind of effort, you will certainly find the best way forward for a woman of good character willing to marry a poor farmer. At last they found a woman who seemed like a good match for the young man. She appeared gentle and caring, and like him was from a poor family. The elders made the arrangements, and the two of them were soon married.


Not long after the wedding, the young man began to realize that his new wife wasn’t quite as kind and selfless as everyone had thought.
She was never satisfied with the money he earned, and to make matters worse, when he was out working in the fields, she treated his mother harshly and often wouldn’t prepare proper meals for her. With each passing week, his mother was becoming thinner and weaker.


As the young man thought about his wife’s behavior and struggled with his anger, he tried to think about the situation from his wife’s perspective.
“Well, it can’t be easy being the wife of a poor farmer, trying to make do when there’s never enough. At the temple they say that our basic nature is inherently good and compassionate, so if I treat her with compassion and caring, maybe I can draw forth those things from within her. Then, perhaps she’ll behave better towards my mother.”


He tried this approach, but instead of getting better, his wife’s behavior only seemed to worsen. Finally, he realized that he couldn’t wait for his wife to change her behavior; he would have to do something himself. He reflected deeply upon the situation for several days, until at last an idea occurred to him.


The end of the harvest season was approaching, and with it his yearly trip to the district capital to sell their grain. Normally, it took him over two weeks to make the round trip, but this time he hurried home, arriving a week earlier than expected.


He rushed into their courtyard, shouting for his wife. When she came out, he looked around to see if anyone else was listening and lowered his voice:
“You won’t believe what I saw in the city! I stumbled into a side alley off the big market, and found a street where people were buying and selling grandmothers. The plump ones were going for a thousand strings of copper coins! Let’s sell my mother there! A thousand strings of coins, as easy as snapping your fingers!”


“Do you think we could get that much for her? She’s kind of scrawny….”
“Hmm, you’re right. We’ll have to fatten her up first. But not a word to anyone. If other people start selling their mothers, we won’t get a good price.”


A thousand strings of coins was a huge amount of money, and the wife wanted it all. Late into the night all she could think about were ways to make her mother-in-law plump and healthy-looking. As the days went by, she experimented with different foods and medicines reputed to be good for the elderly. Eventually, she became obsessed with her mother-in-law’s health.


With this kind of care, her mother-in-law began to recover. One day, as she took her grandson for a walk, she met some old friends and spoke with amazement about how well her daughter-in-law was taking care of her.
Over the next months, stories about how well the wife looked after her mother-in-law spread throughout the surrounding villages, and even reached the ears of the district governor.


Impressed, he ordered a stone monument to be erected, commemorating her behavior and holding it forth as a model of virtue for others.
The wife had started with the intention of getting rich, but as she spent day after day thinking about someone other than herself, her own greed and selfishness had begun to melt away. Seeing the stone monument was the final straw; she broke down into tears, determined to truly become the person described there.
 

 
Our fundamental mind, our Buddha-nature, contains infinite wisdom. However, this isn’t something you can find without making an effort.
Like the young man, you have to diligently reflect inwardly and return your questions inwardly, while searching for a solution that will benefit everyone. If you do this, then the wisdom of your Buddha-nature can come forth.


However, no matter how great the wisdom, you won’t see any results from it without ceaseless effort and strong faith. If you want to achieve something in your life, throw away self-centeredness and greed, and then, with faith, entrust everything to your foundation.


While continuing to observe and being patient, use both your body and mind to put your understanding into practice. If you can make this kind of effort, you will certainly find the best way forward

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