Story on Recycling: The Generous Queen & The Selfish King
What would you do if you suddenly had a bag full of gold? What would you do with it? Would you keep it, spend it or share it? Here is a story of how a disciple of the Buddha called Ananda taught a King a lesson on the importance of mindful sharing - not only with one's personal wealth, but also of the wealth of the Earth's resources. This is also the classic Buddhist story of "recycling" our blessings in life, of treasuring whatever we have.
Once upon a time in ancient India, there lived a selfish King and his generous Queen. One day, they received news of the Buddha having arrived at one of their kingdom's villages. As the Queen very much wished to seek the advice of the Buddha, she invited Him and His followers to visit the palace.
After spending an entire day listening to the Buddha's wonderful teachings, the Queen felt that she should offer the Buddha's following a worthy gift as a token of her great appreciation. Accepting the offer, the Buddha asked Ananda to receive the Queen's gift, which was a big bag of gold. As joyous and giving as she was, she had much confidence that the wise disciples of the Buddha would put it to good use. However, when the King heard about his wife's gift, he became very suspicious of how it would be handled. Thinking that Ananda must have tricked the Queen into giving him so much gold, he called for Ananda to question him.
The King asked, "What are you going to do with so much money?"
Ananda replied, "I will go to the market and buy all the cloth that we can carry."
"But what'll you do with all the cloth?"
"We'll sew five hundred suits of clothes."
"But what'll you do with the new clothes?"
"We'll give them to the many villagers dressed in rags."
"But what'll you do with their old clothes?"
"We'll make them into new quilts."
"But what'll you do with the old quilts?"
"We'll make them into new pillows."
"But what'll you do with the old pillows?"
"We'll make them into new rugs."
"But what'll you do with the old rugs?"
"We'll make them into new doormats."
"But what'll you do with the old doormats?"
"We'll make them into new brooms."
"But what'll you do with the old brooms?"
"Well, Your Highness, we will take them apart and use them for plastering the walls of our houses - to strengthen them. Praise to the Queen! All these blessings for so many are made possible only with the generosity of Her Highness. In this way, Your Highness, everything that comes to each of us, no matter how great or small it is, should be used thoughtfully and thoroughly with great care and purpose. Nothing is really ours to own forever, since everything we have in the Universe are like temporary gifts lent for our use. Therefore, whenever possible, these gifts should be shared. May all be mindful of this in the passage of life. And may all treasure and share their blessings with each other."
Hearing these thought-provoking words, the King bowed in repentance and reverence, thereby resolving to be a more giving and caring King. - Shen Shi'an (retold)