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April 5, 2012 / hendritan

Wishing Game

The Buddha’s chief disciple, Ven. Sariputta, defined nibbāna as the complete ending of sensory desire, ill will, and delusion (SN 38, I). This story of the wishing game illustrates this definition well.

Five children were playing a wishing game. Each would be asked in turn, “If you had a wish, what would it be?” The child with the best wish would win. The first child said, “If I had a wish, I would wish for some chocolate ice cream,” because it was a hot day and he liked ice cream.

The second child said, ”If I had a wish, I would wish for an ice cream factory. Then I can have many ice creams, whenever I want!” The first child sat glumly, regretting that he had wished for only ice cream and thinking how clever the second child was.

The third child said, “My wish is for a billion dollars. With a billion bucks, I can buy my own ice-cream factory, a candy store, and my own fast-food restaurant, then I can have a burger and double fries whenever I want, and my Mom won’t be able to stop me! I’ll also have enough money left over to buy anything else I want, as soon as I think of it.” Now the second child felt stupid, having settled for only an ice-cream factory, while thinking how much smarter this third child was, wishing for a billion dollars.

The fourth child said, “If I had a wish, then I’d wish for three wishes! With my first wish, I’d get my ice-cream factory. With my second wish, I’d get a billion dollars, and for my third wish, I’d ask for three more wishes! That way, I can go on wishing forever.” Even the child who’d wished for a billion dollars now felt beaten. All the first three children looked up to this fourth child as a genius. What could be superior to unlimited wishes?

The fifth child surpassed them all. He said quietly, “If I had a wish, I would wish that I was so content that I would never need any more wishes!”

That last child won the wishing game, just as those who sit perfectly still win the human race. He understood that the highest happiness, nibbāna, is the complete ending of all sensory desire, ill will, and delusion. Nibbāna is contentment at last. It is the ending of craving. Peace. Enlightenment …

Taken from: Happiness through Meditation by Ajahn Brahm

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