Heaven of 33 [Chapter 3. Merit]
returned victoriously to his palace in the Heaven of 33. Next
to it stood the mansion of his first wife, the reborn Good-doer.
Outside the mansion was the garden of his second wife, the reborn
Beauty. And there was the heavenly pond of his third wife, the
had died and been reborn as a slender crane in the forest. Since
he missed her, Sakka found her and brought her up to the Heaven
of 33 for a visit. He showed her the mansion and the garden and
the pond of his three wives. He told her that, by doing good work,
the other three had gained merit. This merit had brought them
happiness, both in their previous lives and in their rebirths.
He said. "You,
my dear crane, in your previous life as Well-born, did no such
good work. So you did not gain either merit or happiness, and
were reborn as a forest crane. I advise you to begin on the path
of purity by following the Five Training Steps." After being
taught the five steps, the lovely crane decided to follow them.
Then she returned to the forest.
Not long afterwards, King Sakka was curious about how the crane
was doing. So he took the shape of a fish and lay down in front
of her. The crane picked him up by the head. She was just about
to swallow the King of the Heaven of 33, when the fish wiggled
the crane thought, "This fish must be alive!" Remembering
the first training step, she released the living fish back into
the stream. Rising from the water, King Sakka returned to his
godly form and said, "It is very good, my dear crane, that
you are able to follow the Five Training Steps." Then he
returned to the second heaven world.
In the fullness
of time, the crane died. Following the Five Training Steps had
brought her both merit and a peaceful mind. So she was reborn
in the wonderful state of mankind, into a potter's family in Benares,
in northern India.
Sakka was interested in finding out where the one who had been
Well-born, and then the crane, was now reborn. He found her in
the potter's family, and wanted to help her in gaining merit and
So he disguised
himself as an old man and created a cart full of golden cucumbers.
He went into Benares and shouted, "Cucumbers! Cucumbers!
I have cucumbers!"
came to buy these amazing cucumbers, he said, "These golden
cucumbers are not for sale. I will give them away, but only to
one who is wholesome, that is, one who follows the Five Training
said, "We never heard of the Five Training Steps. But we
will buy your golden cucumbers. Name your price!" He repeated,
"My cucumbers are not for sale. I have brought them to give
to any person who practices the Five Training Steps." The
people said, "This man has come here only to play tricks
on us." So they left him alone.
heard about this unusual man. Even though she had been reborn,
she still had the habit of following the Five Training Steps.
So she thought, "This man must have come to find me."
She went to
him and asked for the golden cucumbers. He said, "Do you
follow the Five Training Steps? Have you given up destroying life,
taking what is not given, doing wrong in sexual ways, speaking
falsely, and losing your mind from alcohol?" She answered,
"Yes sir, I do follow these steps, and I am peaceful and
Then the old
man said, "I brought these cucumbers especially for you,
to encourage you to gain more merit and future happiness."
So he left the cart of golden cucumbers with her, and returned
to the Heaven of 33.
Throughout the rest of her life, the woman was very generous with
all this gold. Spreading her happiness to others, she gained merit.
After she died, she was reborn as the daughter of the King of
the Asuras. She grew up to be a goddess of great beauty. To the
Asuras this seemed like a miracle, since the rest of them were
the ugliest of all the gods.
king was pleased with his daughter's goodness, as well as her
famous beauty. He gathered all the Asuras together and gave her
the freedom to choose a husband.
of the Heaven of 33, knew of the latest rebirth of the one who
had been his wife Well-born, then a crane, and then a potter's
daughter. So he came down to the lower heaven world and took the
shape of an ordinary ugly Asura. He thought, "If Well-born
chooses a husband whose inner qualities of wholesomeness are the
same as hers, we will be reunited at last!"
her past associations with Magha the Good, reborn as King Sakka,
now disguised as an ordinary Asura, the beautiful princess was
drawn to him. So she picked him from among all the Asuras.
took her to the Heaven of 33, made her his fourth wife, and they
lived happily ever after.
moral is: The Five Training Steps are the
beginning of wholesomeness. Wholesomeness is the beginning of
peace and happiness.