Rev Katsu’s Weekly Message – October 26

Learning from Buddhist Stories No. 7

 Buddhist stories are good reading materials for children as well as adults to learn important Buddhist principles and values such as compassion, wisdom, kindness, view, joy, and happiness. I express my appreciation to Rev. Satoko Fujii who allowed me to translate her original articles and use her “Kirie” art (art made of cut paper pieces).

An extremely poor woman was living alone in a town. In order to live, she went through town every day begging for alms. One day, people living in the town were excited to learn that Shakymauni Buddha was coming to visit soon.  They prepared many offerings for him. The woman also wanted to offer something for Shakyamuni Buddha, but she was too poor to prepare anything. But through her begging, she was able to scrape enough money to buy a very small lantern. She lit the very plain lantern and offered it, from the bottom of her heart as a welcome to Shakyamuni Buddha.

Other townspeople offered very large and fancy lanterns which made the poor woman feel inadequate that her gift was so plain and small.  The town was lit up in a warm glow as the light from the hundreds of lanterns lit up the sky to welcome the Buddha.  As the night progressed, some lanterns ran out of lamp oil and others were blown out by strong winds. Surprisingly only the small lantern offered by the woman stayed lit until next morning. A disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha wondered and asked Shakyamuni Buddha why only the small tiny lantern stayed lit. Shakyamuni said, “Value (or virtue) of Dana is not based on its quantity. Dana is a practice of selfless giving and receiving without any calculation. When giving, what is most important is to nurture the spirit of Dana in one’s heart and mind.”

The holiday season is coming upon us soon. What is in your heart when you give a gift to someone? We may give something that is rare or a valuable.  We may give a gift just to satisfy our ego and make us feel like we are a good person because we are giving. Let us take this opportunity to reflect what is in our hearts when we give a gift.  Do we give with a sincere heart and mind?  Also when we receive a gift, how do we receive it?  Do we receive it with a sincere and grateful heart and mind? It is a good opportunity to practice Dana and think how we send and receive a gift.


<切絵でみる仏教説話 No.7>







(文・画 藤井智子先生)