Buddha and the Mustard Seed Story

While driving from Jaipur to Delhi, I passed many fields of glorious yellow mustard plants which reminded me of a well known story of the mustard seed.

My teacher and spiritual guide in Varanasi, Jai, retold the story under a tree in Sarnath, the place where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining Nirvana.

"The reputation of Buddha Shakyamuni had spread far and wide. Not only was he renowned as a great, compassionate and fully enlightened human being, but also as a skilled teacher and a miraculous healer who could even bring the dead back to life.

One day, a woman approached him after a teaching begging that he do something to restore her dead child to her. The Buddha listened patiently to her plea and saw how great was her despair. He said to her, "Mother, if you bring me just one mustard seed from any household in which no person has died, then I shall revive your child."

The woman was greatly encouraged by the Teacher's words. She traveled from door to door throughout her own village, but could not find even a single residence in which no one had died. She went out of town, wandering to this hamlet and that in search of the tiny seed that the Buddha had requested. Days later, muddy and footsore, she returned to the place where the Buddha and his followers were passing the rainy season.

She was ushered into the Teacher's presence worn out, but not discouraged. "Master, try as I might, I could not locate the token you requested as an offering. But I have come to understand that death visits every household and eventually, every single one of us."

Shore of the Ganges River, Varanasi © 2010