A young man asked a Zen master, “Some people call me a genius and some call me a fool. What do you think of me, master?”

The master answered, “It all depends on how you would like to look at yourself. For example, the value of a kilogram of rice differs according to different people.”

The young man said: “Master, please enlighten me.”

The master continued: “In the eyes of a housewife, a kilo of rice can only make a few bowls of rice; If you ask a farmer, a kilo of rice is only worth one or two Chinese yuan at most; For those who sell Zongzi (Chinese sticky rice dumpling), they can turn it into dumplings and sell them for three yuan; In the baker’s eyes, it can be made into cookies and sold for five yuan;  In a food additive factory owner’s perspective, a kilo of rice can be refined into monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sold for eight yuan, while to a wine merchant, it can be brewed into wine for 40 yuan.

“In fact, it is the same kilogram of rice. Some people give you compliments while others belittle you, however, you are still you. Your accomplishments in life depend on how you perceive yourself, not what others think.”

For a Buddhist practitioner who wishes to attain enlightenment in this life, his level of wisdom and potential for enlightenment are both important. Wisdom is intangible and is like a key. When encountering problems overseas, why are some people able to find solutions while others feel helpless and cry at home?

Wisdom is the key that spares us from karmic obstacles caused by impermanence. Live a life free from attachments, and let nature take its course. We should recognise that we all start taking responsibility for our behaviour from the moment we are born. We need to seize the day to generate positive karma and eliminate negative karma.

Inspirational Short Stories: The Value of Rice