Clear-sighted the Great, King of the World (Impermanence)
It is said that there are two ways to practice religion. One is to live apart from the ordinary everyday world as a monk, a nun or a holy one. Those who are sincere in this way have as their highest goal the direct experience of complete Truth – full Enlightenment.
The other way to practice religion is within the ordinary world. Those who are sincere in this way have as their highest goal the harmony of an undivided world, living peacefully under a perfectly wholesome ruler – a ‘King of the World’.
Once upon a time the Enlightenment Being was born and given the name ‘Clear-sighted’. As he grew up he developed ten rules of good government: absence of hidden ill will. absence of open hostility, harmlessness, self-control, patience, gentleness, charity, generosity, straightforwardness and goodness.
The people of the world began to notice the wholesomeness and fairness of Clear-sighted, who lived strictly according to these rules. Gradually those in his vicinity volunteered to live under his authority as king, rather than under the dishonest politicians of the time.
As his reputation spread, every king in the world came to Clear-sighted and said, “Come, oh lord. You are welcome. My kingdom is your kingdom. Advise me how to rule in your name.”
Then Clear-sighted said, “Do not destroy life. Do not take what is not given. Do not behave wrongly in sexual desires. Do not speak falsely. Do not take alcohol that clouds the mind. My commands to the world are only these five. As long as these five are obeyed, my sixth rule is freedom for all to follow local customs and religions.”
After all the people on earth had come to live under his peaceful rule, he became known as Clear-sighted the Great, King of the World. His royal city, the capital of the whole world, was called Kusavati. It was a beautiful and prosperous city with four magnificent gates – one golden, one silver, one jade and one crystal.
Outside the gates, Kusavati was surrounded by seven rows of palm trees – a row with golden trunks and silver leaves and fruits; a row with silver trunks and golden leaves and fruits; a row with cat’s-eye trunks and crystal leaves and fruits; a row with crystal trunks and cat’s-eye leaves and fruits; a row with agate trunks and coral leaves and fruits; a row with coral trunks and agate leaves and fruits; and finally a row with trunks and leaves and fruits of every kind of jewel found in the world!
When breezes blew through these marvelous palms the sweet sounds of gentle music were heard throughout the city. This music was so enticing and pleasant that some of the citizens were enchanted into stopping their work and dancing for joy!
Clear-sighted the Great, King of the World, had a couch encrusted with jewels from the wonderful palms. After a long, righteous and peaceful reign, he lay on the rich couch for the last time. He knew that his end was near.
Of all his 84,000 queens, the one who loved him most was called, ‘Most-pleasant’. Sensing the state of his mind she said, “You rule over all the cities of the world, including this beautiful Kusavati with its four magnificent gates and seven rows of marvelous palms. Think about this and be happy!”
The King of the World said, “No, my dear queen. don’t say that. Instead you should advise me to give up attachment to the cities of the world and all they contain.” Surprised. she asked, “Why do you say this, my lord?” “Because today I will die,” he said.
Then Queen Most-pleasant started to cry, wiping away the tears as they flowed. And all the other 84,000 queens also broke into tears. And the king’s ministers and his whole court, both men and women, could not keep from weeping and sobbing. All eyes overflowed with tears.
But King Clear-sighted the Great said, “Your tears are useless. Be at peace.” Hearing this the wailing subsided and his subjects became silent. Then he said to Queen Most-pleasant, “Oh my queen, do not cry, do not lament. Anything that comes into being, whether it be a kingdom including the whole world, or just a tiny sesame seed – it cannot last forever. Anyone who comes into being, whether it be the King of the World, or the poorest petty thief – all must decay and die. Whatever is built up, falls apart. Whatever becomes, decays. The only true happiness is in the moment when becoming and decaying are not.”
In this way the Enlightenment Being got them to think about what most people don’t want to think about – that all things come to an end. He advised them to be generous and wholesome. Then the King of the World, like everyone else, died. He was reborn as a god in a heaven world, where in time, like everyone else, he died.