Story about a Mercury Scale

PureInsight | January 2, 2006

[] This is a story my grandfather told me about when I was little.

There was a merchant in our village. He used a scale filled with mercury to shortchange and cheat his customers. It was because of this mercury scale that he made quite a bit of money. Then he got married and had three sons. His wife died very young, leaving him to look after his three sons alone. Unfortunately, the oldest two sons died before they reached adulthood. Losing three family members devastated him. To make matters worse, his only remaining son died while his daughter-in-law was expecting their first child. One day he summoned his daughter-in-law and snapped the scale to expose the mercury inside. He made a confession about his dishonest business dealings and swore that he would never do anything that would compromise his fortune, luck or the life span of his family members.

When his daughter-in-law went into labor, she experienced a complicated birth. The old man became very worried. Just then an elderly Buddhist monk knocked on his door to solicit elms. The old man thought of asking a servant to give him some food and send him on his way, but the monk spoke first, "I don't want any rice or noodles from you. I know everything that has happened to your household." Upon hearing those words, the merchant invited the monk in.

The monk explained to him the cause and effect of the tragic deaths in his household. It turned out that his three sons had died in their previous lives because of the merchant's dishonest dealings using the mercury scale. In this life they were reincarnated to be his sons to settle the karmic debts. They died early so that the merchant would experience the agony of watching his children die before him and living the rest of his life without any children looking after him. But because the merchant had faced up to his mistakes after his sons passed away and destroyed the mercury scale, Heaven granted him a grandson to look after him for the remainder of his days. The elderly monk produced some medicine for the merchant's daughter-in-law. After a while, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

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