12
Jan

Sona Theri: The Disappointed Mother


In the city of Savatthi, there was a housewife who had ten children. After giving birth to each child, she spent her days nursing, raising, educating and eventually arranging marriages for them. Her children were her whole life and she was known as “Sona with many children.” Sona’s husband was a lay disciple of the Buddha. After practicing as a layperson for many years, he decided he wanted to ordain before he died. It was not easy for Sona to accept this. However, instead of spending her time in sorrow, she decided to pursue a more religiously dedicated life. She called all ten of her children to bring their spouses and children, and turned over her considerable wealth to them. She did so with the condition that they support her basic needs. For a while, everything was fine. She spent her time deepening her practice and participating in religious activities. But soon, the old woman came to be seen as a burden to her children. When they needed her money, they felt happy to take care of her. But now that the money was theirs, they forgot where it came from and became annoyed by their mother’s religious practice. They could not understand why their parents had not indulged in the pleasures that their wealth could provide. Sona’s children’s increasing disdain was the source of great pain for her. She felt bitter as her mind played and replayed her children’s various accusations and reproaches. Through contemplation and introspection, she realized that she had always seen her children as an investment, and as an insurance against loneliness in her old age. She expected that they would appreciate all of her hard work, love and care and return the favor by caring for later in life. She realized that she was setting expectations that
were not met. So she was the real cause of her suffering,
not her children. These realizations led her to enter the Order of Bhikkhunis, the Order of Nuns. She sought to develop the qualities of true selfless love and virtue. Sona was disillusioned with home life and
saw ordained life as a bright and happy path she could follow. However, when she ordained, she unwittingly brought her old personality with her. She wanted to do things her way. She wanted to rest when she was tired, and she only wanted to do things that
she found pleasing. However, the ordained life is not a life of freedom. There are many rules and practices that need to be followed in order to train oneself. Sona was criticized by many of
the more senior bhikkhunis for doing things slowly or in the wrong way. This was especially hard for her to accept, since she was old but was considered a new nun. Other nuns were her senior, or more practiced in the Dhamma, and were often much younger than her. Being so old, Sona was strongly set in her ways. However, she realized that she had nowhere else to go. So instead of feeling sorry for herself, she focused her energy on trying to attain liberation through the Dhamma. She realized that her limitations were
a great burden and a weakness. They prevented her from progressing in her practice of the Dhamma. Sona realized that her time was running out and she had to make great effort to overcome many years of defending her weak qualities She decided to develop her virtues of
energy and wisdom. It became clear to her that she had to be courageous in overcoming her old personality. She practiced diligently and contemplated all the suffering that her traits had led to in life. She realized the downside of maintaining those traits so she trained her mind to focus on the upside of training her energy and determination. She even practiced during the nights when all other bhikkhunis were resting. She would reach out to feel the pillars in the dark so she would not run into them while doing her walking contemplations. On one particular day, the bhikkhunis were leaving to go to an engagement. A senior nun reminded Sona to make sure that the water was boiled
when they returned. Sona rushed to fill the cauldron with water and set it on the fire. As the water was boiling, Sona resumed her other duties: replacing old flowers, candles and
incense with new ones. As often as she could, Sona used various objects as
subjects for contemplation. She did this so often that it became
second nature for her. So as she was changing out flowers, candles,
and incense, she didn’t even have to tell herself to contemplate what was in front of her. It happened naturally. Because her mind had been trained to search for impermanence, suffering and
lack of control she automatically applied these
powerful Dhamma concepts. While working, her mind was focused and she began to contemplate the truth of the flowers. All things would grow old, wither, and die. Then new things that are young and fresh will take their place and those too will eventually grow and die. This is a never-ending cycle and anyone who wishes to prevent this from happening will experience suffering. She then asked herself, “what about me? Am I different from these flowers or candles?” The old dying flowers, the burned out candles, and the incense represented her old body. Could time be reversed? Could she return to a younger, stronger version
of herself? She couldn’t. Her aging was inevitable and so was her death. All things are subject to change, deterioration and eventually death. Should she continue to remain foolish and feel possessive of this dying body? Or should she release her hopes of
resisting nature’s course? When questioned, her mind responded by releasing all attachments which resulted in her complete enlightenment as an Arahant. Sona felt bliss and a sense of freedom She did not know existed in this world. She stood there, basking in the new awareness and awakening. After all these lives and rebirths, she was free. While she was contemplating, the fire had gone out. Just then, the nuns returned and the bhikkhuni who asked Sona to heat the water saw her standing there smiling and assumed she was being lazy again. The younger, yet senior, bhikkhuni scolded Sona for failing to complete the simple task in
a timely manner. Sona, now free from attachments, realized that she also had supernatural abilities and with the mere focus of her mind, caused the fire to light and the cold water to be instantly heated. The young bhikkhuni would not have believed it had she not seen it with her own two eyes. The nuns immediately brought her to the Buddha, who confirmed that Sona was now an Arahant. All of Sona’s sister bhikkhunis had previously believed that Sona was a hopeless case, and that she was too old and stuck in her ways to have a chance to achieve anything. They had been her most severe critics. But now they sincerely apologized and endeavored to follow her good example. The Buddha praised Sona as being one who was foremost in energetic courage. What do you think the moral of the story is? We hope you enjoy the video. Click LIKE if you did and click SUBSCRIBE if you want to see our uploads.

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