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Sunday, 03 July 2016

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The Renunciation

Piyathissa looked through the open window. The moon was shining brightly. He felt as if the moon was happily smiling at him. He slowly went to his son's room where he knew his son and grandson slept. He peeped through the curtain and looked in. They were both fast asleep. He tiptoed into the room and kept the folded letter on his son's table.

"This will be the first thing he would see in the morning when he wakes up tomorrow," he thought placing his mug on top of the letter.

He trod softly out of the room and taking the small kit-bag he had kept on the veranda stepped on to the road. He wanted to look back at his house; the house which had given him shelter up till now.

"No, I'd better not," he thought again. "I'm going forward and not backward. I have nothing to complain about the life I spent here, I know. I was as happy as any human being can be in this abode. Looking back might tempt me to go back home."

He walked fast not giving in to the temptation to look back even once, at his home.

"Home, sweet home," he soliloquized. "But not mine anymore."

Piyathissa was an only child. He was a teacher just like his parents had been. He had always been a very pious person and in fact his only wish had been to become a monk, but being the only child in the family it was not easy to do so.

He knew he had duties to perform. What would happen to his parents if he entered monkhood? Who was going to look after them in their old age? He knew that his parents would never consent to him becoming a monk. It was true they had their own house to live in and had enough income to live comfortably, but who was going to look after them if they fell ill?

Feeble

"I would be shunning my duties towards them as their only child if I do not look after them when they are old and feeble." Thus he realized it was futile and not practicable to make his dream come true.

As time went on Piyathissa following his parent's footsteps became a teacher and started his career in a rural area. Later, he returned to his village, married according to his parent's wishes and became a father to a son. However, he led a pious life participating in meritorious deeds as much as he could.

He not only looked after his parents but also his in-laws. Nevertheless, his childhood wish and dream lingered at the back of his mind so much so that on the day he retired from service he was overcome by a feeling of loneliness.

"I should be happy that my life has been a success as a layman," he thought. "I have done my duties towards my parents, my wife and my only son. Now he is also married and leading a happy life. Yet, my life is not complete. Can I be satisfied with the life I am leading?"

He thought about various incidents that had made him happy, sad and sometimes jealous too. One such incident was when his son just managed to scrape through the scholarship examination while his class mates who were actually not as good as he, did better. He felt a little downhearted.

It made him sadder when he saw that his son too was upset. With a happy smile he was able to rekindle the thoughts that came to his mind that day.

Attitude

"Wasn't I feeling sad and a little jealous too? Yes, I was. But wasn't that a good chance for me to become aware of my own attitude towards others? I was able to suppress the bad, immoral feelings trying to raise their head in my heart. Feeling jealous would not make my son's performance better, I realized. That was why I was able to face those who did better than my son with a happy smile and congratulate them with a sincere heart. I made my son too realize how to accept both success and failure alike. I persuaded him to put forth a better effort in the examinations that followed. I made him accept it as a good lesson in his life. I succeeded."

Piyathissa knew it was Lord Buddha's teachings that made him look at life this way. A follower of the Great Lord Buddha should be able to treat equally, the eight worldly conditions. Curbing that jealousy made him a winner that day. It had no effect on his son either. He was able to learn a lesson and go ahead and continue his studies. He did well in the following examinations and passed out as a graduate.

"Setting an example by practising the precepts is better than just knowing the precepts" was what Piyathissa believed in. That was why he followed the five precepts and looked after his parents well.

"How can I advise others if I myself turn away from my duties towards them?" he thought. "It is the best example for my grandchildren too." With all his duties, he still could not forget his dream. His thoughts were either, to become a monk or join a meditation centre in a far away land. Sometimes he expressed his ambition to his wife. However, he was hesitant, as there was no positive response from her. She too was a religious woman, but why she did not entertain his idea was a puzzle to him.

"I am getting older each day. Death is creeping on me," he thought one day. It was the day after the alms giving they had for his birthday. The two grandchildren were playing with their father in the garden.

Harder

"How sweet they are! It is hard to leave them now. But would it not be harder to leave them if I stay on another year?" he thought. "It is better that I take a decision now."

He started writing a letter. It was posted that very day. Every day he would wait at the gate awaiting the postman to bring him the reply.

Then his letter was answered. Piyathissa stepped on to the road as arranged. Only one week more for the Esala Poya. The day Prince Siddhartha left the palace. The great renunciation! It was evening. He was standing on the top of a flight of steps and looking at the shining moon in the sky. The golden rays were shedding through the leaves making lovely patterns on the steps.

"Today is Esala Poya. How calm and serene I am! At last I have made my dream come true. I only hope and wish my family would realize the truth and bear my departure well." There were people climbing the steps. They all wore white. Then, among them he was surprised to see some familiar faces too. He watched them as they ascended. Tears started flowing down their faces as they all rushed up and knelt down before him. The moon was smiling at its best, watching the reunion.

"We are not at all angry with you," said his son. "We are happy for you. Amma told me you have at last realized your dream."

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