A king was touring his kingdom on his elephant. Suddenly he stopped in front of a shop in the market and said to his minister, "I don't know why, but I want to hang the owner of this shop." The minister was shocked. But before he could ask the king why, the king had moved on. The next day, the minister went to that shop dressed as one of the locals to see the shopkeeper. He casually asked him how his business was faring. The shopkeeper, a sandalwood merchant, reported sadly that he had hardly any customer. People would come to his shop, smell the sandalwood and then go away. They would even praise the quality of the sandalwood but rarely buy anything. His only hope was that the king would die soon. Then there would be a huge demand for sandalwood for performing his last rites. As he was the only sandalwood merchant around, he was sure the king's death would mean a windfall.

The minister now understood why the king had stopped in front of this shop and expressed a desire to kill the shopkeeper. Perhaps, the shopkeeper's negative thought vibration had subtly affected the king, who had, in turn, felt the same kind of negative thought arising within.

The minister; a noble man, pondered over the matter for a while. Without revealing who he was or what had happened the day before, he expressed a desire to buy some sandalwood. The shopkeeper was pleased. He wrapped the sandalwood and handed it over to the minister.

When the minister returned to the palace, he went straight to the court where the king was seated and reported that the sandalwood merchant had a gift for him. The king was surprised. When he opened the package, he was pleasantly surprised by the fine golden color of the sandalwood and its agreeable fragrance. Pleased, he sent some gold coins to the sandalwood merchant. The king also felt sorry in his heart that he had harboured unbecoming thoughts of killing the shopkeeper.

When the shopkeeper received the gold coins from the king, he was astounded. He began to proclaim the virtues of the king who had, through the gold coins, saved him from the brink of poverty. After some time, he recalled the morbid thoughts he had felt towards the king, and repented for having entertained such negative thoughts for his own personal goal.

This story shows us how powerful the human mind is. If we have a good and kind thought for another person, that positive thought will come back to us in a favorable way But if we harbor evil thoughts, those thoughts will come back to us as retribution.

Amma also tells a story that teaches us the importance of having loving thoughts about others. Indra, the king of the gods, once hosted a grand feast. The devas [celestial beings] and asuras [demons] were invited for the function which was held in a celestial ballroom. All the devas and asuras were eager to attend the feast, for they knew they would get the best food and drink there.

As soon as they entered the celestial ballroom, their hands became stiff, and they found that they could not bend them at the elbows. How would they eat when they couldn't bend their arms?

The devas sat down at the table assigned to them. The asuras did likewise. When the food was brought to the tables, both the devas and asuras looked on with longing. The sight of the sumptuous array of dishes made the mouths of the devas and asuras water. Without thinking, the asuras stretched out their hands and grabbed as much food as they could get. But when they tried to bring their palms to their mouths, they found that they couldn't. All the food they grabbed got lobbed off to the side and fell to the floor.

Seeing this, the devas thought deeply. After some time, one deva reached out to grab some food. As he could not bend his hand, he swiveled around in order to bring the food in his hand to the mouth of the deva sitting next to him. That deva was pleasantly surprised and eagerly ate the food offered to him. Realizing what a brilliant idea that was, all the devas started taking the food and offering to their neighbors. In this way, all the devas enjoyed the feast.

This story shows that if we think about the well-being of others and act without selfish interests, our own well-being will automatically be taken care of. Such is the law of nature. Om.

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