A long time ago, there was a mountain called the Dark Mountain, where many saints, sages, and monks lived. Once, some elders led a group of people up the mountain on a pilgrimage.
At that time, there lived a poor beggar woman. She saw the pilgrims heading up the mountain and thought: “They must have done good deeds in their past lives to deserve such a good life today. They haven’t become lost in their good fortune in this life either; despite their privileges, they’re still diligently trying to benefit others.”
The woman began to consider her own situation and thought that she must not have done enough good deeds in her past lives. “If I do not do any good deeds in this life, my future life will be even more difficult,” she thought. She then suddenly remembered that she had two coins stored away. She had found them in a pile of manure and had kept them safe.
The beggar woman decided to give the coins to the pilgrims, whom she felt a deep respect for.
An abbot came out of the crowd and blessed the woman, as was the custom of the Dark Mountain monks for believers who donate in charity. For a moment, the pilgrims became lively, chatting among themselves.
The abbot then gave the beggar woman half of his vegetarian meal. Seeing the courtesy and respect the abbot had for the woman, everyone followed suit. That day, the woman left with a lot of food. She rested under a big tree and quickly fell asleep.
Meanwhile, the queen of the country had recently passed away. Worried that the nation couldn’t survive without a queen, the king sent a messenger to find a woman with enough virtue who was worthy of replacing her.
“There will be a sage under a yellow cloud,” advised the royal fortune teller, as he journeyed with the messenger. They then came across the beggar woman who was still asleep under the tree. The fortune teller said quietly: “This woman is the new queen.”
The messenger asked a maid to bathe the woman and dress her in the queen’s clothes. The king felt joy and respect upon seeing the woman, as he could sense that she was someone with great virtue.
“The Dark Mountain’s abbot has given me so much,” thought the woman. She asked the king for permission to repay the monks and the king was very happy to accommodate her wish.
The queen set out for the Dark Mountain with the court waiter and a group of carriages filled with vegetarian food and treasures.
This time, the abbot did not greet the woman, but asked a monk to give blessings instead. The queen was confused. “I only gave two small coins before and you personally wished me good fortune. Now, I am offering much more. Why will you not see me in person?” she asked the abbot.
“In the Dharma, a pure heart is placed at a place much higher than treasures; it is priceless. Your Majesty, when you gave your two small coins, your kindness was exceptionally pure. Now, with the treasures, your heart is clouded with expectation and pursuit,” replied the abbot.
The beggar woman’s pure heart was a catalyst that ended her never-ending sorrow and had allowed her to gain the virtue to become a queen overnight. What had truly freed her was not her new found wealth, but her true kindness.
Translated by Judy Yang and edited by Emiko Kingswell