A story about an ancient King’s repentance and good deeds

There once was a king in India, named YueShi.  During times of war, he fought on the battlefields and killed many people. One day, he suddenly reflected inwardly and realized, “I have created so much offensive karma, I will certainly suffer the retribution of hell.” He became fearful, made sincere repentance and resolved to never again create such bad karma. He even resolved to uphold the precepts, practice charity, build shelter for the Sangha, and offer food, medicine, clothing and the other necessities of life to the Sangha so that they could focus on their practice without worries.

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The King’s ministers became wary and questioned the King, “Your majesty, you previously did a lot of killing and committed many offenses. Do you think that the good deeds you have done recently can truly remedy your previous offences?”

When the King heard this he immediately ordered one of his ministers to fill a big pot with water and boil it nonstop for seven days and seven nights.  The King then threw a ring into the boiling pot.  He asked his ministers to retrieve the ring. The ministers were alarmed and said, “Please, sentence us to death! If the King wants us to retrieve the ring from the boiling water, it would be like a death sentence.”

The King asked them, “Is it true that there is no way to retrieve the ring without being burned to death?”

At that moment, a wise minister said, “You only have to extinguish the fire beneath the pot and pour cold water from above. Then you can retrieve the ring safely.”

The King told his ministers, “My previous offences are like adding fire to the pot.  Now that I have come to a realization, I have made repentance, I no longer create evil karma, and I cultivate all kinds of good deeds to expel all offensive karma.  This is like extinguishing the fire beneath the pot and pouring cold water from above. The ring can easily be taken out. “

A proverb says, “The sea of suffering is boundless and dark; turn your head around and you will see the shore.” “Head” means thought. “Turn your head around” is to change our thoughts. “The shore” is the place of illumination and liberation, in contrast to the darkness of the sea of suffering. Sentient beings are bound by their karma. If they can raise their awareness and reflect inwardly, truly examine and recognize the evil karma which they have created, change evil thoughts to good thoughts, and sincerely make repentance, the karmic force will be dispelled by the pure and sincere mind. They will then be freed from the bondage of evil karma, expel disasters and offenses, and the luminous shore will emerge.