The Story of the Prayer Bead

For once there was a temple and it was famous for having a Prayer Bead that was worn by a Buddha before. Since it is a sacred item, only the Master and his 7 monks knew the hidden place of this precious Prayer Bead.

One day, the Master felt that it was time for him to pass this temple one of his disciples, as he believed that they were all well trained and had solid foundation in Buddhism. As a display of authority change, the Master would transfer this precious prayer bead to that monk. However, that Prayer Bead had gone missing!

Hence, the Master questioned these 7 monks,” So, who has stolen the Prayer Bead? I would not question further as long as the bead has returned to its original place.” All the monks shook their heads though.

7 days later, the Prayer Bead was still missing. The Master asked again,” If one of you acknowledged that you have taken the Prayer Bead, that Prayer Bead would belong to you.” Yet, 7 days after, no one admitted that he stole the precious bead.

The Master was upset. Nevertheless, tomorrow would be the last day before these 7 monks left the temple and preached Buddhism to the public. The Master said,” Whoever has stolen the Prayer Bead, if you like, you can stay in this temple and don’t need to leave.”

At the next day, 6 monks packed up their belongings, left the temple and carried the burden on spreading Buddhism into the society. Yet, 1 monk remained at the temple!

The Master asked this monk,” Where is the Prayer Bead?”

This monk said,” I don’t know. I did not steal it.”

The Master continued,” Then why do you stay? The other monks would treat you as the thief.”

This monk answered,” For the last few weeks, we were suspecting each other. Someone has take the blame, or none of us would be relieved from this incident. Furthermore, even though the precious Prayer Bead has gone missing, Buddha has not gone away. Buddha is still with me!”

When the Master heard his disciple’s explanation, the Master smiled gently and pulled out the precious Prayer Bead from his chest. He passed this Prayer Bead into this monk’s hands, meaning that this monk became the successor of this temple.

The lesson of this story is that everything may not look as it is, especially not everything is a clear cut between black and white. In fact, having the right personality and attitude are far more important.

Willing to accept responsibility, take initiation, solve problems, adapt but not divert from the core of Buddhism, these are what a Buddhist should learn and practise.

You do not need to waste time on explaining things to people who already understand you. For those who don’t understand and don’t want to understand you, there is no point to waste effort on convincing them either.

This is not only a stage of mindset, but also the true big wisdom from Buddhism.

The Story of the Prayer Bead