DHARMA IN EVERYDAY LIFE
- FOUR BELOVED WIVES
By Nhat Quan
A wealthy man had four wives. Both parents accepted the
first woman, so she performed a proper wedding ceremony.
When she returned to her husband's house, she was loved and
pampered by the rich man, so she got whatever she wanted.
Whenever it was cold, he made sure to provide her with a
warm mattress and soft blanket. When it was hot, he fanned
her to cool her down. In general, from eating, drinking,
playing, living, and working, to sleeping, he took care of
her fully and took care of everything, every necessary need
without missing anything.
Next to the second wife, she is truly a stunning beauty.
Although she was not as pampered as the first woman, the
second woman was so beautiful, charming, and cute that she
made the wealthy man passionate, fascinated, and numb to the
soul. When she was away from home for a long time, the
wealthy man became sad, worried, and longed for her day and
night like a lost soul.
As for the third wife, although not as passionate as the
previous two wives, over time the love between husband and
wife became richer and deeper, and they lived more and more
meaningfully. Therefore, the wealthy man also showed her
some kindness when needed. At times, she also shared and
supported each other's sufferings and pains, and enjoyed
living together, loving and supporting each other.
The fourth wife, this woman, seemed to have endured many
sorrows, pain, bitterness, and humiliation all her life
because she loved, pampered, and took care of the wealthy
man with all her might. No matter how difficult, arduous,
and tiring the job is, she still tries to take care of
everything. She was always by his side like a shadow, never
taking a step away. Yet he did not pay any attention to his
fourth wife, only caring and thinking about the other three
wives. Many times, the wealthy man even beat, chased, and
scorned her like a servant.
One day, the wealthy man was seriously ill and knew he would
not survive, so he called his four wives to ask if any of
them were faithful and willing to follow him to the
He asked his first wife:
- I love you so much, are you willing to follow me to the
other side of the eternal world?
The First Lady said:
- Please understand and forgive me, I still know and miss
you very much. Thanks to your dedicated care and help, my
life has been comfortable and peaceful for many years. You
are truly a unique ideal husband in this world. That's why I
always love and thank you so much. But please understand and
forgive me, because everyone has different karma and
circumstances. Because of our long-standing love between
husband and wife, if you die, I will see you off to the
house gate, which is very precious and meaningful.
- When the rich man heard the first woman say that, two
tears rolled down the corners of his eyes. He sadly turned
to ask the second wife, what about you? Can you follow me to
the other world?
The second lady was smarter and more intelligent, so she
- Don't worry, you don't have to worry about that anymore,
because we all have our blessings. Normally at that time,
you love, care, and worry about me a lot. I am very grateful
that you have lived such a meaningful life with me. But now
I am still young and beautiful, still pretty, still cute, so
many people like and love you, and my future is still full
of life and hope. If you ever go to the other side, please
sympathize and quietly walk away alone. My future is still
bright, so I need to find a husband to depend on for a long
time and live the rest of my life. Thinking that you have
loved, pampered, and cared for me for many years, I will see
you off to your door, which is already very precious.
The Third Wife
Hearing the second woman say that, the wealthy man felt like
his intestines were broken, and he turned to his third wife
in pain and sadness. What about you? Can you follow me?
Hearing the rich man's question, the third wife cried and
- When you were still healthy, you only cared about your
eldest and second sisters but never cared about, or thought
about me. However, there are still times when you sincerely
love me. Thinking about the long-standing love between
husband and wife, after you return to the other world, I
will take you to the cemetery to take care of your peaceful
grave. After that, I will make a full sacrifice to you, to
repay the gratitude you have shown me for loving and caring
for me while I was alive. As for having to follow you to the
other side, it is impossible. I also have duties and
responsibilities to my family and relatives. Please
understand and sympathize with my sincerity.
Like a thunderclap, all the beautiful dreams that had been
there for so long were now shattered in smoke. The wealthy
man's hands and feet were exhausted, and he was sweating
profusely. He felt extremely miserable and didn't know what
to think anymore, he had to accept and close his eyes and
let his fate be whatever it was.
The Fourth Wife
At this moment, the fourth wife seemed to understand what he
wanted, so she kindly said:
- Honey, you shouldn't worry too much. Don't worry, I will
be the one to follow you throughout your journey, no matter
how far away you go, whether you go to heaven or hell.
Although normally you only care and worry about your eldest
sister, second sister, and third sister, you never know what
to think and think about me. Actually, I am also very sad
and miserable, but anyway, we are still husband and wife,
thinking about the love between husband and wife, I vow to
follow you through the three worlds and six paths. You can
rest assured that you have me by your side, not leaving you
even a step away. Wherever you go, I will follow you there.
Hearing such sweet and gentle words, the rich man seemed
satisfied and immediately closed his eyes and left.
Through the above story, you see that Buddha gave the image
of four wives to refer to the four closest things in your
daily life, but you never pay attention, and just keep
having fun. Immerse yourself in the sea of suffering, the
river of confusion, and let time pass in vain. This is a
metaphorical sutra carrying a profound philosophy, leaving
each person to ponder, contemplate, enlighten, and have the
power to calm down in practice to be able to fully
understand the Buddha's teachings.
Why did the Buddha not use another image as an example, but
instead used the image of four wives?
Because this image is always close to your daily life, in
order to destroy the attachment due to ignorance and greed,
it makes you realize that mistakes are not in accordance
with the truth about the fate of a human life.
The metaphor of the first wife
- The image of the first wife, the Buddha exemplifies each
person's body, because you mistake this body for me, as
mine, so you love and pamper it, become infatuated with it,
and have excessive attachment to this body. So do everything
to serve me and mine. From that place of ego, you have my
property, my wife, my children, and my relatives. That's why
even though your body is ugly, if someone praises you for
being beautiful, you will be extremely happy and proud, that
is your attachment to me and mine. But if anyone asks you:
What am I, you don't know. If you don't know what the self
is, this life becomes meaningless and has no practical
Buddha taught that this body is only fake, it is illusory so
it is not real, but for a long time, you have mistakenly
accepted it, then tried to preserve and protect it. If
anyone touches it, you are ready to react. A wise person
immediately realizes that this body is not really me, not
really mine. What is real is always the same and does not
change. Although the false body is impermanent and not real,
you must know how to protect it as a means of practice, like
a person crossing a river needs a raft.
Yet that rich man, when he was alive, only loved, and
pampered in his body, doing everything for this body.
Because of that misconception, the cause-and-effect hatred
never ends. That's why the world always has wars, massacres,
and killings of each other, just to protect and take care of
this body. But in reality, no matter how much you protect
this body, the day you leave, your body leaves the house
gate and sends it to the field. That is the image of the
Buddha's first wife as an example of the illusory body.
Therefore, as a true Buddhist, you must be wise and
discerning, regularly examine and observe the body, thus
knowing that this body is impermanent, temporary, not real,
and less susceptible to contamination and confusion. That
way you will cause less harm to people and animals. Although
you know that the body is impermanent and illusory, you
should not destroy it, but you must know how to use this
body as a means of practice, to benefit yourself and others.
The metaphor of the second wife
- In life, everyone needs money and possessions to feed
themselves and their family. If you have plenty of money,
you can live a satisfied life with all the comforts and
That's why many people, in need of a lot of money to cover
themselves and their families, resort to tricks:
- If you are an official, you are corrupt and exploit people
without power. Rich wants to be richer
- If it's trading. When purchasing, weigh the full amount.
But when selling, take less, but still charge the full
- Some people specialize in defrauding relatives and
That means using every trick to cheat and rob to fill your
greedy pockets. But even if you create all kinds of scams,
make a lot of money, and get rich in the suffering of
others. But the day you go to the other side of the world,
your body leaves the door of your house and you have nothing
left. That is the image of Buddha's second wife as an
example of money and property.
Therefore, according to the Buddha's teachings, Buddhists
also have the right to get rich to improve their lives in
addition to fulfilling their responsibilities and
obligations to family and society. A meaningful and valuable
life is a life that knows how to share joys and sorrows, so
it is less affected by depression and suffering. But money
can't really buy happiness and true love. Money is not the
decisive factor to bring you true happiness. On the
contrary, sometimes there are more worries, but it is clear
that if there is a serious lack of money, heavy debt, and
having to worry about food every meal, then it is really
miserable and extremely worrying. Therefore, you need to
work diligently to have money to support yourself and your
family. According to Buddha's teachings, lay people have the
right to make money with their own sweat and tears, which
means being diligent with their hands and minds to create a
prosperous and happy life.
The ultimate goal of your life is not primarily to have a
lot of money but to know how to use that money. One thing is
that you need to be happy when you spend some money at the
right time and when necessary, to do something that really
benefits many people. People who do not cultivate merit and
virtue will lack first and last, and family life will be
difficult in all aspects. Therefore, you are often sad,
worried, resent heaven, blame the earth, blame this, blame
that... Your life is truly happy when you know how to make
enough money to feed yourself and your family, in addition
to that, if you have a little extra, save it for when
needed, and furthermore, do good deeds.
To make money honestly, you need to avoid professions that
harm humanity. Therefore, lay people must be wise and choose
an honest and good profession to cultivate merit. And when
there is a predestined relationship, you are ready to share
joys and sufferings with a little material and a lot of
heart with everyone. The purpose of life is not to be rich
or have a lot of money to be happy, but you must know how to
be content with the present, knowing enough is the true
morality that always helps you not fall into a deadlock.
The metaphor of the third wife:
The image of the third wife, Buddha exemplified by the
grandparents, parents, and relatives of both husband and
wife. The third wife represents career, family, relatives,
and titles. When bringing the dead man's coffin to the
grave, they recite a eulogy about his merits, then lower the
grave to bury him. So it is said to bring him to the grave.
You all treasure this body, because you think it is you,
truly mine, so you keep running after fame and fortune, to
have lots of money, wealth, and material prosperity,
complete, abundant. From the place of clinging and worrying
about this body, you seek to take and exploit as much for
yourself as possible. Once you take care of yourself, then
your wife, your children, your parents, your relatives, your
As a Buddhist, in addition to taking care of your
responsibilities and obligations to your family and
relatives, you need to arrange time to practice to build a
better and more complete next life. Currently, you must know
how to sow good karma while you are still healthy. When you
are about to die, your thoughts must be good to be sure of
going to a good world. If you normally create good karma but
when you are about to die, you create bad karma, it is not
guaranteed that you will go to a happy and good world. And
if at the moment you don't know how to practice and
accidentally create a lot of bad karma, when you are about
to die, if you know how to change your mind, you can also
convert some of your previous bad karma, because karma is
The metaphor of the fourth wife
The image of the fourth wife, the Buddha's example for your
actions, has been repeated many times from your body, mouth,
and mind, from beginningless eons until now, also known as
habits or karma. Therefore, the fourth wife symbolizes good
or bad karma that always follows you like a picture and
shadow. Wherever you are, it will follow without leaving
even half a step, that's why she is willing to die as well.
Karma, to put it simply, is karma's retribution, which means
that when you have caused a cause, there will be a
corresponding result. And the results come sooner or later
when the causes and conditions are met.
Karma is the energy, the action that comes from thoughts and
then comes out with intentional words, is repeated many
times, and over time becomes a habit. That habit has the
power to dominate and attract you to follow it. Talking
about karma is talking about your complete decision-making
power. No one can bless or harm you, decide or arrange it,
but you are the owner of the disasters or blessings.
You are the one who creates the karma, and you are also the
one who receives the retribution. You acknowledge that karma
is created by you, is born from karma, and is bound back by
karma. Because karma is an action, a habit, as long as you
try, make an effort, and persevere, you can change it.
The image of the fourth wife represents each person's
personal karma. Usually, in life in the world, few people
care about this issue. You only want to beautify yourself,
nourish your body, and make a lot of money, so you don't
care about any tricks as long as it benefits you, and your
loved ones, and protects your near and far relatives. You
worry about how to have a lot of money and find every way to
protect your loved ones, forgetting that what you are doing
until you die cannot take anything with you, even a button
on your shirt will be cut off.
Thus, if you know that each person has their own karma, you
must have a very harmonious attitude towards life, without
questioning or blaming difficult situations and problems
that the person involved cannot resolve decisively because
of their own karma. Therefore, karma follows you like a
shadow and a picture from life to life, until your debt to
each other is gone.
Lay Buddhists should be wise and discerning, choosing a true
career so as not to harm all living beings. First, do not
kill people, then minimize the killing of animals, until it
is completely intact.
In life, it is difficult to avoid accidental killing, such
as farming and growing crops to provide and serve people.
You have to use pesticides and cleaning to harm ants, so
what should Buddhists do to avoid the crime of killing? From
humans to all animals in this world, they exist in a
relative cause-and-effect bridge. Those who are wise will
minimize killing and live a peaceful and happy life.
Therefore, aware of the suffering caused by killing, you
should learn to practice great compassion to protect the
lives of everyone and all species, so that together you will
not suffer the retribution of premature death. Parents
should advise their children not to intentionally kill, and
when they grow up, they must know how to choose the right
career so as not to harm humans and animals. On the
contrary, you do not kill but often release animals to help
people and save animals, expand your compassion, encourage
and advise each other to limit the killing of animals and
call everyone to be vegetarian, at least a few days each
month. Thanks to that, the world will reduce the karma of
war and terrorism and live peacefully and happily.
In short, the Buddha gave the image of four wives to show
you that despite thousands of love, when the cause and
effect of karma comes, no one can replace you, you do it,
you endure it. Bad causes give you the result of suffering
and depravity, good causes give you peaceful and happy
results. If you kill, you will die prematurely; if you do
not kill, you will have a long life. If you are angry a lot,
your body will be ugly and your face will be unsightly. If
you open your heart to compassion and compassion for all
sentient beings, your body will be dignified, your face will
be beautiful and cute, etc. If you know how to prepare with
good karma, then will reach a good land and live happily and
peacefully. If you prepare with evil karma, you will enter
the three evil paths and suffer a lot.
When you don't know how to practice, your body sometimes
does good and good things, and sometimes you do bad things
and cause many sins. The mouth sometimes says sweet and cute
words, sometimes it says cruel, harsh, and rude words. The
mind sometimes thinks of holy things, and sometimes it
thinks of evil and despicable things. From your thoughts
will arise words, from your words will become actions, and
from actions will become habits if you repeat them over and
over again. Once it becomes a habit, whether bad or good,
whether right or wrong, it will become a person's
personality. If that habit is good, it will always help many
people, and conversely, if that habit is bad, it will harm
When you know how to practice, you should stay away from bad
and evil deeds, but often do good deeds. When you know how
to practice, speak truthfully, cheerfully, gently, speak
sympathetically, and never say deceitful words that harm
others. Think about what is good, stop what is bad, and do
not let it arise. A person who knows how to practice does
not do evil in his body, does not say evil words in his
mouth, and does not think evil thoughts. Anyone who can do
so is called a person with good character and morality.
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