The following story reminds us to always honor our
promises. Should we fail to do so, we will create a lot of trouble
for ourselves. Sometimes, when we have vowed to do this or that,
we should do it precisely. Otherwise, our faith will weaken, our
prayers will receive no response, and we will not be able to accomplish
anything we do.
There are times when we might cheat God. We promise
that we will do certain things, but never do them. Thinking that
no one hears us, or God does not need it, we ignore it and fail
to keep our promise. I have told you several times, for instance,
about when some refugees were escaping on the sea, they vowed to
the Quan Yin Bodhisattva (the Goddess of Mercy): "If we can
reach a third country smoothly, we will definitely keep a vegetarian
diet for two years." But, they didn't fulfill their promise
afterwards and postponed the two-year vegetarian diet for a very
long time. They should have eaten vegetarian every day for two years,
but later they could not do it or just forgot about it. Therefore,
they said, "Oh! Never mind. I will eat vegetarian once a week
or once a month." In the end, the two-year duration was extended
to last very long.
This is a similar story. One day, a child had a
high fever. He was seriously ill and his parent was anxious. After
seeing the child, the doctor declared that his illness was incurable.
Therefore, the parent prayed to a goddess named Durga (the first
manifestation of goddess-energy in the Indian pantheon, her main
task being to punish the wicked). She is a very famous goddess in
India, and many people pray to her for help. Perhaps she was an
Enlightened Master in the past.
Indian people worship many deities, who must have
been Enlightened Masters and who were famous in different places
in the past. Perhaps they were very efficacious when they were alive,
so everyone worshipped them. Therefore, when we say that Indian
people worship many gods, it is both correct and incorrect. Actually,
they are worshipping past Masters. Similarly, the goddess that the
Chinese call "Matsu" was most probably a famous Master
in ancient times. At that time, anyone who prayed to her received
a response, so everyone did that and it became a tradition that
is still practiced today. It doesn't matter that she may not be
efficacious, because it has become a custom to pray to her.
Quan Yin Bodhisattva was also a living Master in the past. When
she was alive, anyone praying to her would get a response. Suppose
her disciples kept praying like this and the neighbors of the disciples
also did the same and also got a response. Later, their children
prayed, and people continue to do so today. The Quan Yin Bodhisattva
departed a long time ago, yet people are still praying to her because
it has become a custom. They do not know that it is more efficacious
to pray to a living Master.
Well, in this story, the man went to pray at a
temple of the goddess Durga. Most probably, at that time, this goddess
had not left the world for long, so she was still efficacious. His
prayer was: "My child is sick. Can you save him? If he is cured,
I will bring him here to worship you. I will also make an offering
of a hundred rupees to you." Perhaps a hundred rupees was a
lot of money then, perhaps equivalent to a hundred or even a thousand
U.S. dollars today. Money was more valuable at that time.