The Good for Nothing Son – text for week 3

Here’s the text for the third Dharma talk. I don’t want to go into this one too much right here, but there are a couple of such good points in this one!

audio – From the audiobook version of “My Heart is a Golden Buddha”

The Good for Nothing Son

Once upon a time, there was an old man who lived with his only son. Unfortunately, his son was the source of every kind of heartache and frustration.

He was always getting drunk and gambling away their money; he often stole from people, and was constantly starting fights. Sometimes he’d scream and rant in the streets, and at other times he’d pass out in a stranger’s yard.

His behavior became so outrageous that the old man didn’t dare show his face in town.

Not only did the son not take care of his elderly father, one day he even stole the deed to their house. He sold it and spent all the money in a single night on women and alcohol.

Finally the old man exploded: “Get out! Go crawl off and die! Never come back! May the typhus get you for all I care!” Indeed, before long, his son really did catch typhus, and died soon after.

The old man had spoken without thinking, out of deep frustration, but he hadn’t really wanted his son to die; it felt as if his sadness and regret would tear his heart into little pieces.

One day a sunim was passing by and saw him sitting in front of his little hut, so sad that no more tears would come.

Seeing the old man’s pain, the sunim looked deep inside of the old man. At last he spoke:

“The principles that guide this world function very precisely. They function without even the tiniest error, and nothing happens outside of them. We receive things exactly as we have done them.

“In your last life you wasted all of your family’s money on gambling and having fun, and you even sold your own wife. You caused your parents every kind of frustration and heartache, and eventually your father’s anger killed him.

“It was this connection that caused him to be reborn as your son. So, who else can you blame for all of this? Your karma from that life was just about to expire, and your son would have straightened out and become an upstanding person. Unfortunately, you couldn’t endure this long enough.

“However, losing yourself in sadness won’t help either you or your son. If you truly love your son, if you truly want to move past this suffering, then you have to return all of your regrets, anger, and sadness to your foundation. Let go and let go of those.

“Keep doing this, and eventually they will quiet down. It’s not easy, but this is the only way forward; this is the only way you can help your son.

“We all share a foundation, our true essence, which is inherently pure and can transform all evil karma and suffering. Through this foundation, we are connected to every animate and inanimate life and object throughout the universe.

“Thus, if you work on returning everything to your foundation, you can also help lift the darkness that is covering your son’s mind. So don’t be too sad, and don’t hate yourself. Let go of all of the bad karma between the two of you, and let go of all the stupid and harmful things that were done.

“When you can let go of those, they will melt down and disappear, helping your son be reborn in a good place.” The sunim then said a prayer for the old man’s son, and left.

Not a single thing in this world remains the same. Everything is ceaselessly flowing and changing.

Even though you or the ones you love suffer from the karma you have created through your words or actions, that suffering can change in an instant, depending upon how well you are able to return thoughts to your foundation, and depending upon the thoughts you give rise to now.

Suppose someone in your family did something truly bad; even in that case, you should unconditionally entrust everything to your foundation. Through it, the minds of parents and children, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters are all connected as one. So entrust everything to your foundation, Juingong, knowing, “You’re the one that can take care of all of this.”

For example, if your child runs away and later returns home, don’t start yelling at him or her. Instead, embrace them with a warm and gentle heart. Ask them if they are hungry, ask if they were safe.

At first, your child will probably respond in a cold and distant manner, but gradually, as they begin to feel the warmth and love of home, they’ll stop wandering around. As you entrust all of your love and concern to your foundation, through their foundation your child will sense those things. In this way, your family will come to share love and happiness together.

This kind of harmony is the source of all good fortune, grace, and virtue.

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