Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Buddha's Tooth

I heard a thought-provoking little story today. It came from a Buddhist source but could have just as easily been told from a Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other religious perspective. It went like this:

Once upon a time, a Chinese monk was preparing to make a pilgrimage to India, to see the places where the Buddha was born, had lived, and had died. A very devout elderly woman in the village heard about the monk's impending journey and implored him to bring back a relic from his pilgrimage. Even the most trivial relic of the Buddha would suffice, the woman said, and she would build a shrine around it where she and her friends could worship and pray.

The monk didn't give much credence to the veneration of relics but because of the woman's devout sincerity he told her he would see what he could do.

On his long journey he completely forgot about the woman's request. In fact, he didn't remember it until he was returning and was just a few miles from home. Thereupon he noticed the carcass of a dog laying by the side of the road. He bent over and pulled out one of the dead dog's teeth and wrapped it in a piece of fine silk. When he got to the village he presented the tooth to the old woman, telling her it was a relic--a tooth from the Buddha.

The woman had a shrine built around the tooth, where she and her friends and many others prayed and worshiped daily with humility, gratitude and devotion. Gradually, the enshrined tooth began to glow with an aura of holiness.


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