Dealing with Negative Mind States
The Story of the Rich Widow
This story warns us not to become disturbed by negative mind states even under unsatisfactory circumstances. If we lose our mindfulness to our negative feelings, our nation and government can very easily be overpowered with hate, anger and revenge. Let us all take refuge in the Triple Gem and entrust ourselves to Boundless Compassion. This story is taken from the Buddhist scripture called the Majjhima Nikaya 3:23 and its commentary is from the Kakacupama Sutra.
Once there was a rich widow who had a great reputation for kindness, modesty and courtesy. She had a housemaid who was wise a diligent.
One day the maid thought: "My mistress has a very good reputation; I wonder where she is good by nature, or is good because of her surroundings. I will try her and fin out."
The following morning the maid did not appear before her mistress until nearly noon. The mistress was vexed and scolded her impatiently. The maid replied:
"If I am lazy for only a day or two, you ought not to become impatient." Then the mistress became angry."
The next day the maid got up again. This made the mistress very angry and she struck the maid with a stick. This incident became widely known and the rich widow lost her good reputation.
Many people are like this woman. While their surroundings are satisfactory they are kind, modest and quiet, but it is questionable if they will behave likewise when the conditions change and become unsatisfactory.
It is only when a person maintains a pure and peaceful mind and continues to act with goodness when unpleasant words enter her ears, when others show ill-will toward her or when she lacks sufficient food, clothes and shelter, that we may call her good.
Therefore, those who do good deeds and maintain a peaceful mind only when their surroundings are satisfactory are not really good people. Only those who have received the Buddha's teachings and entrusting faith in Amida, who acknowledge their imperfections and are training their minds and bodies by those teachings can be called truly good, modest and peaceful people.