The Legend of the Cooked Golden Eggplant
Once upon a time an old couple had burned incense and prayed to the Buddha every day of their life. As they grew older they collected all the ashes from the incense they had burned into a big sack.
Once upon a time an old couple had burned incense and prayed to the Buddha every day of their life. As they grew older they collected all the ashes from the incense they had burned into a big sack. They decided to see the Buddha with the sack of ashes and said, “With the sincerity of our hearts, we should be able to see the Buddha with this sack of ashes.” And so they packed up and set off.
On their way to the West, they met a butcher who was slaughtering a pig. They told him that it is not good for him to slaughter animals as it would make him accumulate Karma. The butcher asked, “Who are you, and where are you going with such a big sack?”
The old couple answered, “We are disciples of the Buddha, and we have burned incense for the Buddha all our lives. Now we are going to see the Buddha with the ashes we burned for him.”
The butcher was so moved by what he heard that he immediately threw down the knife he was holding and saluted the old couple saying, “Oh, you are so lucky as you will be able to see the Buddha; please take me with you. I also want to see the Buddha too.”
The old couple answered, “You may want to see the Buddha, but the Buddha will not want to see you because you are a butcher.” The butcher entreated, “I will not slaughter anymore. I just want to see the Buddha. I am very strong and can bear hardships. I can help you carry the ashes. I can do whatever you want me to do as long as you take me with you.”
The old couple said, “Alright, you can help to carry the ashes and go with us, but don’t blame us if the Buddha doesn’t want to see you.”
The butcher said, “Now I want to be good. You have been good people and served the Buddha all your life, so I’m sure if I walk with you the Buddha would see me when he sees you.”
So the three people kept on walking to the West. When they had walked to the end of the road, a big river blocked their way.
It was said that the other side of the river is a paradise, and they would be able to see the Buddha and the Bodhisattva once they walked across the river. But the river was very wide — They were lost as how to walk across it.
The three of them knelt down and began to pray to the Buddha and the Bodhisattva to escort them across the river. After a long time, the Bodhisattva appeared in the glow of colorful clouds. She said, ”The Buddha knows that you are serving the Buddha with all of your heart.”
She waved a hand, and a golden eggplant appeared in front of them. She continued, “I will escort anyone who can cook this eggplant to paradise, and that person will be there forever.”
The Bodhisattva then disappeared, but the old couple were very disappointed. When they saw the golden eggplant, they said, “This eggplant is a golden one; how can we cook it? Even though the gold might be very precious, but how can it be cooked? And if we can’t cook it, then we can’t see the Buddha. We people who did good deeds and burned incense for the Buddha all our lives are so unlucky. We walked such a long way to get here and were only awarded with a golden eggplant?” But the butcher comforted them saying, “Don’t cry, don’t cry! Since it was the Bodhisattva who asked us to cook the eggplant, for sure we would be able to cook it. Let us prepare firewood to cook the eggplant.”
The old couple calmed down and began to look for firewood.
Three days passed, but nothing happened to the eggplant. The old couple became disappointed again and complained, “We have believed in the Buddha for such a long time. If the Buddha doesn’t want to see us, he should send us home. Why would he tease us? How can we cook a golden eggplant?” and told the butcher, “We don’t think this eggplant can be cooked, and we are too tired to work anymore. We are going to have a short rest and return to our home.”
The butcher kept adding firewood and said, “It will be cooked! It might be ready if we keep on working.”
The old couple sneered, “Then you cook it by yourself. We have never seen a golden eggplant cooked in all our lives. If you cooked it, then you can see the Buddha. But we can’t. Do you really think that we, good people, who burned a whole bunch of incense to fill a sack of ashes for the Buddha, are still not as good as you, who are merely a butcher? Do you really think that if we can’t cook it, then you would be able to cook it?” The butcher was unmoved and said, “The Bodhisattva said it could be cooked, then it will be cooked. I would add more firewood to cook it.”
The old couple went to sleep while the butcher kept on working. At dawn, the butcher’s excited voice awakened the old couple.
“Look, look, the eggplant is cooked! Now we would be able to see the Buddha.”
The old couple became very jealous to see that the golden eggplant was soft and well cooked. They grabbed the eggplant and angrily threw it into the river, then said, “How can it be that we can’t see the Buddha with a whole sack of ashes, but you who killed so many animals, can? Now the eggplant is in the water; can you still see the Buddha?”
Seeing this the butcher shouted, “Hurry up, I will catch the eggplant,” and jumped into the water.
The old couple was shocked to see that the butcher could even give up his life for the sake of a gold eggplant.
They were sure that the butcher had drowned after having not seen him for quite a long time. Suddenly, they heard the sound of divine music, accompanied by the appearance of the Bodhisattva who pointed to the river, which immediately became divided. The butcher, in the blink of an eye, changed into a solemn, big Arhat. He followed the Bodhisattva and was carried away by the clouds to the other side of the river.
Translated by Ying Ma
Source From KanZhongGuo