According to Buddhist scriptures, there were two brothers practising Buddhism. One devoted himself to reciting Buddhist sutras but did not cultivate blessings, do good deeds or practise the act of giving. The other often engaged in cultivating his blessings and helped the poor, but never recited Buddhist sutras. 

After their reincarnation, there was a Buddhist practitioner that went begging for alms with an empty bowl one day. He passed by the king’s garden and saw the king’s favourite pet, an elephant, wearing gold and silver. The truly awakened practitioner approached it and said, “My brother, both of us deviated from the right path during our practice in the previous life. I did not cultivate blessings but simply tried to acquire wisdom, which is why I often return with an empty bowl!  Yet you only cultivated blessings and did not acquire any wisdom, which sent you into the Animal Realm, despite living an abundant and worry-free material life.”

As Buddhist practitioners, we should become enlightened. Some people only practise the act of giving but don’t cultivate their minds; whereas others cultivate their minds sincerely but don’t perform the act of giving; both of which are wrong.

We reap what we sow. When we cultivate the conditions, what awaits us is the corresponding outcome. We Buddhist practitioners must cultivate both blessings and wisdom. We benefit ourselves when we help others. Only by letting go of the “lesser self” can we fulfil the “greater self”.

Inspirational Short Stories: The Two Buddhist Brothers