Heaven of 33
[Chapter 1. Co-operation]
a time, when King Magadha was ruling in the land, there was a
young noble called, 'Magha the Good'. He lived in a remote village
of just 30 families. When he was young, his parents married him
to a girl who had qualities of character similar to his own. They
were very happy together, and she gave birth to several children.
came to respect Magha the Good because he always tried to help
improve the village, for the good of all. Because they respected
him, he was able to teach the five steps of training, to purify
their thoughts, words and deeds.
of teaching was by doing. An example of this happened one day
when the villagers gathered to do handicraft work. Magha the Good
cleaned a place for himself to sit. Before he could sit down though,
someone else sat there. So he patiently cleaned another place.
Again a neighbor sat in his place. This happened over and over
again, until he had patiently cleaned sitting places for all those
present. Only then could he himself sit in the last place.
By using such
examples of patience, Magha the Good taught his fellow villagers
how to cooperate with each other, without quarrelling. Working
together in this way, they constructed several buildings and made
other improvements that benefitted the whole village.
worthwhile results of patience and cooperation, based on following
the gentle ways of the Five Training Steps, all in the village
became calmer and more peaceful. A natural side effect was that
former crimes and wrongdoing completely disappeared!
think this would make everybody happier. However, there was one
man who did not like the new situation at all. He was the head
of the village, the politician who cared only about his own position.
when there were murders and thefts, he handed out punishments.
This increased his position of authority, and caused the villagers
to fear him. When husbands or wives had affairs with others, the
head man collected fines. In the same way, when reputations were
damaged by lies, or contracts were not lived up to, he also collected
fines. He even got tax money from the profits of selling strong
liquor. He did not mind that drunkenness led to many of the crimes.
It is easy
to see why the head man was upset to lose so much respect and
power and money, due to the people living peacefully together.
So he went to the king and said, "My lord, some of the remote
villages are being robbed and looted by bandits. We need your
The king said,
"Bring all these criminals to me."
politician rounded up the heads of all 30 families and brought
them as prisoners to the king. Without questioning them, the king
ordered that they all be trampled to death by elephants.
All 30 were
ordered to lie down in the palace courtyard and the elephants
were brought in. They realized they were about to be trampled
to death. Magha the Good said to them, "Remember and concentrate
on the peacefulness and purity that come from following the Five
Training Steps, so you may feel loving-kindness towards all. In
this way, do not get angry at the unjust king, the lying head
man, or the unfortunate elephants."
elephant was brought in by his mahout. But when he tried to force
him to trample the innocent villagers, the elephant refused. He
trumpeted as he went away. Amazingly, this was repeated with each
of the king's elephants. None would step on them.
complained to the king that this was not their fault. "It
must be," they said, "that these men have some drug
that is confusing the elephants."
had the villagers searched, but they found nothing. Then his advisers
said, "These men must be magicians who have cast an evil
spell on your mighty elephants!"
were asked, "Do you have such a spell?" Magha the Good
said, "Yes we do." This made the king very curious.
So he himself asked Magha, "What is this spell and how does
Good replied, "My lord king, we do not cast the same kinds
of spells that others cast. We cast the spell of loving-kindness
with minds made pure by following the Five Training Steps."
are these Five Training Steps?" asked the king. Magha the
Good said, "All of us have given up the five unwholesome
actions, which are: destroying life, taking what is not given,
doing wrong in sexual ways, speaking falsely, and losing one's
mind from alcohol."
way we have become harmless, so that we can give the gift of fearlessness
to all. Therefore, the elephants lost their fear of the mahouts,
and did not wish to harm us. They departed, trumpeting triumphantly.
This was our protection, which you have called a 'spell'."
the wholesomeness and wisdom of these people, the king questioned
them and learned the truth. He decided to confiscate all the property
of the dishonest village head man and divide it among them.
were then free to do even more good works for the benefit of the
whole village. Soon they began to build a big roadside inn, right
next to the highway crossroads.
This was the
biggest project they had yet undertaken. The men were confident
because they had learned so well how to cooperate with each other
for a common goal. But they had not yet learned how to cooperate
in this work with the women of the village. They seemed to think
it was 'man's work'.
By this time
Magha the Good had four wives. Their names were Good-doer, Beauty,
Happy and Well-born. Of these, the first wife, Good-doer, was
the wisest. She wanted to pave the way for the women to benefit
from cooperating in doing good work. So she gradually became friendly
with the boss in charge of the roadside inn project.
wanted to contribute by helping in a big way, she gave a present
to the boss. She asked him, "Can you think of a way that
I may become the most important contributor to this good work?"
replied, "I know just such a way!" Then he secretly
constructed the most important part of the building, the roof
beam that would hold the roof together. He wrapped it up and hid
it with Good-doer, so it could dry for the time necessary to become
rigid and strong.
the men of the village continued happily in the building project.
At last they got to the point of installing the roof beam. They
began to make one, but the boss interrupted them. He said, "My
friends, we cannot use fresh green wood to make the roof beam.
It will bend and sag. We must have an aged dry roof beam. Go find
searched in the village, they found that Good-doer just happened
to have a perfect roof beam. It was even the right size! When
they asked if they could buy it from her, she said, "It is
not for sale at any price. I wish to contribute the roof beam
for free, but only if you let me participate in building the inn."
The men were
afraid to change their successful ways. So they said, "Women
have never been part of this project. This is impossible."
returned to the construction boss and told him what had happened.
He said, "Why do you keep the women away? Women are part
of everything in this world. Let us be generous and share the
harmony and wholesomeness of this work with the women. Then the
project and our village will be even more successful."
So they accepted
the roof beam from Good-doer, and she helped to finish the building
of the inn. Then Beauty had a wonderful garden built next to the
inn, which she donated. It had all kinds of flowers and fruit
trees. So, too, Happy had a lovely pond dug, and planted beautiful
lotuses in it. But Well-born, being the youngest and a little
spoiled, did nothing for the inn.
In the evenings,
Magha the Good held meetings in the roadside inn. He taught the
people to assist their parents and elders, and to give up harsh
words, accusing others behind their backs, and being stingy.
It is said
that the lowest heaven world contains the gods of the four directions,
North, East, South and West. Because he followed his own teachings,
Magha the Good died with happiness in his heart. He was reborn
as Sakka, king of the second lowest heaven world.
In time, the
heads of all the other families of the village, as well as Good-doer,
Beauty and Happy, also died. They were reborn as gods under King
Sakka. This was known as the "Heaven of 33".