The Beggar Wants An Eye – From Jataka Tale #2

At this time the Buddha was a wealthy, benevolent king whose generosity knew no bounds.  His joy in giving was limitless, so supplicants were not denied requests.  Gold, silver, precious gems, all were granted, whatever the desire.

One day a poor, blind beggar asked the king for one of his eyes. With great joy to give more than gold and jewels the king replied, “I will give you both my eyes so that people may see and be amazed.”

The king’s ministers begged him to reconsider.  But the king said that his only concern was to help people and that the blind beggar’s effort should not go to waste. To the wonder of all, the beggar’s sight was restored when he received the king’s eyes.

This beggar, of course, was no ordinary being, but one sent to test the limits of the king’s generosity.  Having excelled beyond expectation, the king was bestowed with the divine power of limitless vision, to better see and attend to the needs of living beings.

“There is no better means for advancement than charity born of compassion for others. Therefore, make your wealth meaningful by using it for the benefit of others.”


– Since the beggar said, “I have a special mission”, then the king said, “Okay, then, from my side I have no attachment to these things. If I can help you, if I can fulfill your request, surely I will do it.” He promised that. At that point the king’s ministers and attendants felt so horrible. They thought, “So far our king was doing very well. He practiced generosity, giving things away. But this seems like a waste. Now he is ready to give away his own eyes. What happened?” and they asked him, “Please don’t do that. We need your eyes. Don’t do silly things for just one person, this beggar. Please be concerned about us.” This looked very reasonable, but the king was seeing farther than that. The king’s attendants were seeing as far as this life, but the king was seeing Buddhahood. To become a buddha you have to perfect all the practices. If you are stuck with small practices of generosity you cannot get enlightenment and you will be no such great person as a buddha.

That’s why the king was currently concerned about a beggar, but his further concern was helping all sentient beings.


– Demo Rinpoche, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, Jataka Tales February 14, 2021

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