With the four walls of (re)birth, ageing, sickness and death
ever closing upon us,
realising the Dharma is the only way to escape.
One of the Buddha’s great royal patrons, King Bimbisara, was now gone. His successor, Ajatashatru, was greedy for territory and continually warring with the great Koshala or the smaller republics. But King Prasenajit of Koshala, who was the same age as the Buddha, became more and more devoted to the Tathagata as time on. Since the Blessed One spent a large part of every year in Shravasti, King Prasenajit would come to see him often. On one of his visits, he complained to the Blessed One that he was growing ever so weary of the affairs of state.
Then the Blessed One asked him, ‘What if, great king, one of your trusted men came to you and told you a huge mountain of earth, immense and unstoppable, was advancing toward you rapidly from the east, crushing everything in its path? Then suppose that other trusted men came from each of the other three directions and reported to you that there was such a huge mountain of earth coming from each of those directions too, crushing everything before it. What would you do?’
‘What else would there be to do at such a moment but follow the Dharma, cultivate what is wholesome, and accumulate merit?’ replied the old king. ‘In just the same way as those mountains of earth, old age and death are closing in on us right now,’ the Buddha continued, ‘so what else can we do but follow the Dharma, cultivate what is wholesome, and accumulate merit?’
A Life of the Buddha
Sherab Chodzin Kohn
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