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The Cure of the Mustard Seed

The Cure of the Mustard Seed - Peter Malakoff

Once long ago in the time of Gautama Buddha, when he was speaking with monks and nuns under a Bodhi tree

there was suddenly a disturbance in the back of the small group assembled. 

There appeared a young woman, Kisa Gotami by name.

She was weeping and distressed and carrying a small baby, her only son, in her arms.

She walked directly into the assembly and approached to where the Buddha sat. She said,

"O Lord Buddha, you are considered an Avatar, an incarnation of God, with miraculous powers.

Please, I pray you, help me, a poor woman."

The Buddha, sitting quietly, asked, "What is it that you need help with?"

"My child, this one that I carry in my arms has died,” replied the woman.

“I have heard that you can help me. Please bring him back to life."

A small gasp went through the assembly as the people heard what she had requested.

They had seen many miracles around the Buddha, but his teaching was primarily one of understanding and liberation,

not of miraculous cures and powers.

The Buddha sat quietly for a while and then spoke;

"Bring me some mustard seed from a house in which no one has died.” he said.

Hearing this simple request, she was overjoyed and replied,

"I shall do as you ask", 

and taking her dead child with her, she went immediately off into the village

to seek the mustard seed.

Now in India, mustard seed is one of the most common of grains.

It would be comparable to asking someone to bring some salt or sugar from a home in America today.

Kisagotami went up to the first small hut she saw


bowing at the door to the lady of the house asked,

"Do you have any mustard seed?  Please, do you have any mustard seed?"

The lady of the house noticed the intensity of the young woman's request

and went immediately to fetch some mustard seed .

She brought it back and gave it to the young woman.

"Here my child and may it give you respite from all that ails you."

The young woman hardly thanked her so excited was she to receive the mustard seed.

But as she hurried off back to the Buddha, she remembered the last part of his instructions.

Turning around she went back to the woman who had stood at her doorway watching the young woman.

"Please”, she said, "Has anyone ever died in your house?"

"Only last month my Father died my child. But why?"

"Oh," "I cannot take your mustard seed.” 

and she poured the handful back into the woman’s hands and hurried off to the next house.

Again she begged for some mustard seed and again the mustard seed was brought

and again she asked

'Has anyone has ever died in this house?'

Again and again and again she received similar answers,

for in every household in that village there had been death. 


Kisagotami realized that death comes to everyone

and that just as there was no household without birth,

just so, there was no household without death.

The next day she cremated her child by the river and returned to the Buddha.

She thanked him for his Teaching

and became a practitioner of the Way.

This true event has come to be known as

the ‘Cure of the Mustard Seed’.






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