A Buddhist Parable

Blog Post #14



A king, who had four wives, fell deathly ill. Not wanting to be alone in the afterlife, he said to his fourth wife: “I have loved you the most, adorned you with the finest clothing, showered riches upon you, taken great care of you. Will you come with me to the afterlife?” “No!” she quickly replied and walked away without another word.

The king said to his third wife: “I have loved you all my life, always praising you to other people. Now that I’m dying, will you come with me to the afterlife?” “No!” she replied. “Life is too good! I will remarry once you are gone.”

He then said to his second wife: “You have always been kind and trustworthy, always there for me when I needed you. Will you come with me to the afterlife?” “I am so sorry,” she said, “I cannot go with you to the afterlife. But I will prepare your funeral and send you off with due respect.”

The king, now in the final moments life, heard a voice: “I will follow you wherever you go, even to the afterlife.” It was the king’s first wife. Her love for him was indeed deep, loyal and devoted. Ashamed by how undernourished and neglected she was, the king said, “I should have taken better care of you when I had the chance.”



The 4th wife represents the body. No matter how much time and effort is lavish on the body, it will leave us when we die.

The 3rd wife represents possessions and wealth. They will be divided up and taken (remarried) by others after death occurs.

The 2nd wife represents family and friends. They support and love us but cannot follow us into the afterlife.

The 1st wife represents the soul. Neglected in pursuit of worldly wealth, power and pleasure, the soul – the source of all life and love – follows us wherever we go, even the afterlife.



Take care to keep the body healthy. Enjoy possessions without being possessed by them. Cherish the love of family and friends. Nourish the soul in spiritual pursuits – in silence, in prayer, in meditation, in activity that brings goodness into the world – and your most faithful friend and lover will be known to you wherever you go.



Hidden within the beauty of the pysanky is the secret of an ancient talismanic writing.


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