Buddha taught in many different ways. To simple people and to childrenhe taught by telling stories. To those of high intelligence he gave detailedexplanations of the path. To others he taught without speaking any wordsat all. But, perhaps, his most powerful teaching was his own example, thevery way he lived his life. He always acted with kindness and love. Hewas patient with everyone, even the most ignorant and foolish.
Very soon, many people were attracted to him and became his followers.If someone had a problem, he or she would go to Buddha and ask his advice.There was one woman, named Gotami, whose child had just died. She was sosad that she became crazy. She went everywhere trying to bring her childback to life. Her friends felt sorry for her and said, "Gotami, you shouldgo and see the Buddha. Perhaps he can help you."
She went before Buddha still holding her child in her arms. "Please bringhim back to life for me," she cried. Very gently Buddha answered her, "Ican help you, Gotami, but first you must bring me something. I need onesmall mustard seed. However, it must come from a house where no one hasever died."
Gotami quickly went out in search of a mustard seed. She asked at one homeand the woman there answered, "Of course you can have a mustard seed. Youcan have whatever you want. . . . But you should know that last year myhusband died."
"Oh," Gatomi replied, "then I must search elsewhere" and ran off to thenext house.
But everywhere she went, the same thing happened. Everyone wanted to helpher, but someone had died in every family she visited. One person toldher, "Three years ago I lost my daughter." Another said, "My brother diedhere yesterday." It was always the same.
At the end of the day she returned to the Buddha. "What have you found,Gotami?" he asked. "Where is your mustard seed? And where is your son?You are not carrying him any longer."
She answered, "O Buddha, today I have discovered that I am not the onlyone who has lost a loved one. Everywhere people have died. I see how foolishI was to think I could have my son back. I have accepted his death, andthis afternoon I buried him. Now I have returned to you to hear your teachings.I am ready to listen."
Then Buddha said, "Gotami, you have learned a great deal today. Death mustcome to everyone sooner or later. But if you learn the truth you can liveand die in happiness. Come, I shall teach you." And so he taught her, andsoon she found more peace and happiness than she had ever known before.