I came cross a story while reading the book ‘ The Monkey Theory ‘ and it really made me think and ponder about life. I just wanted to share it with you. The story stresses the value of good emotions, good memories, good karma and good thought processes. It talks about how these are the only things that matter. Everything else is temporary. But the unfortunate truth is that what’s most important is the most ignored too! Now let’s begin …..
In ancient times, it was very common for men to have more than one wife. An old man, who had four wives, lay on his deathbed. Knowing he was going to die soon, he called his fourth wife, whom he loved very much, to his bedside. For many years, he had indulged this wife the most. He had got her the best jewellery, the most expensive clothes and had given her the best of everything. He loved her, she loved him and they were always together.
He called her and asked, I want you to accompany me after I die. Will you come with me?
She replied, ‘What?! What are you saying? I love you very much, but I can’t come with you. I am sorry.
His heart broke. He couldn’t believe her words. He thought to himself. ‘I gave her the best of everything, but she ditched me in the end!
In grief and despair he sent word to his third wife. She was second in his affections and he had done a great deal for her too.
‘I want you to accompany me after I die. Will you come with me?” he asked.
She replied, ‘How can you expect that I can’t come along and in any case, I have decided that after you die, I…I am…going to marry someone else! Sorry!
This shocked him again. He had given her considerable attention, had indulged her and yet here she was, betraying him in his hour of need.
Now, he sent word to his second wife and asked her the same question. He had shared all personal matters with her and she was very close to him. To his dismay, she too gave him a similar reply. She said she could come with him up to the cemetery, but not beyond.
Finally, the man’s last hope was his first wife. He had always misbehaved with her, had never given her any importance, or valued her and hadn’t done anything special for her. He had always taken her for granted. She had always been his last priority. He felt ashamed and guilty to even ask her to accompany him. But he did so anyway.
Guiltily, he asked her, I am almost dying and leaving this world. I don’t want to go alone. Will you accompany me?
She said, ‘Of course, I will come with you, my dear. I will be there with you forever.
Tears welled up in the old man’s eyes. He couldn’t believe how much she cared for him.
He said, ‘ My dear. I have always ignored you. You looked poor and miserable in front of the other three. I never realised that it was only you who loved me truly and selflessly. I wish I had taken more care of you.’
This beautiful analogy of the four wives was explained thus by Lord Buddha:
Every person has four wives/husbands.
• The fourth wife symbolises our body and its cravings. We work on our body and its beauty and do almost everything to keep it beautiful, but it leaves us the moment we die!
• The third wife symbolises our material wealth (money, property, jewellery etc.), that will go to someone else after we die
• The second wife symbolises our relationships that can’t accompany us beyond the grave.
• The first wife symbolises our mind, deeds and actions. Always with us, but remains unnoticed. It is the most important one, but is ignored and something that one often realises only towards the end of one’s life.
Now, the question that struck me was, ‘If the mind is so important, why don’t we spend time with it? Why don’t we nourish and develop it? Most of us find it really difficult to handle the mind. We find it difficult to handle our own emotions. Sometimes, our own emotions make our life miserable. I am sure this happens to all of us. The mind can be our best friend or our worst foe. A lot depends on how we handle it!