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THE MERCHANT WHO OVERCAME ALL OBSTACLES
ONCE upon a time the Buddha (to be) was born in a merchant's family;
and when he grew up he went about trafficking with five hundred
One day he arrived at a sandy desert twenty leagues across.
The sand in that desert was so fine that when taken in the
closed fist it could not be kept in the hand. After the sun
had risen it became as hot as a mass of charcoal, so that no
man could walk on it. Those, therefore, who had to travel over
it took wood and water and oil and rice in their carts, and
traveled during the night. And at daybreak they formed an
encampment, and spread an awning over it, and, taking their
meals early, they passed the day sitting in the shade. At
sunset they supped; and when the ground had become cool, they
yoked their oxen and went on. The traveling was like a voyage
over the sea: a so-called land-pilot had to be chosen, and he
brought the caravan safe to the other side by his knowledge of
On this occasion the merchant of our story traversed the
desert in that way. And when he had passed over fifty-nine
leagues, he thought: "Now in one more night we shall get
out of the sand." And after supper he directed the wood
and water to be thrown away, and the wagons to be yoked,
and so set out. The pilot had cushions arranged on the
foremost cart, and lay down looking at the stars, and
directing them where to drive. But, worn out by want of
rest during the long march, he fell asleep, and did not
perceive that the oxen turned around and taken the same
road by which they had come.
The oxen went on the whole night through. Towards dawn
the pilot woke up, and, observing the stars, called out:
"Stop the wagons! Stop the wagons!" The day broke just as
they had stopped, and were drawing up the carts in a line.
Then the men cried out: "Why, this is the very encampment
we left yesterday! Our wood and water is all gone! We are
lost!" And unyoking the oxen, and spreading the canopy
over their heads, they lay down in despondency, each one
under his wagon.
But the Bodisat, saying to himself, "If I
lose heart, all these will perish," walked about
while the morning was yet cool. And on seeing a tuft of
Kusa grass, he thought: "This must have grown by attracting
some water which there must be beneath it."
And he made them bring a hoe and dig in that spot.
And they dug sixty cubits deep. And when they had
got thus far, the spade of the diggers struck
on a rock, and as soon as it struck, they all gave up
But the Bodisat thought, "There must be water under
that rock," and, stooping down, applied his ear to it
and tested the sound ofit. And he heard the sound of
water gurgling beneath. And he got out and called his page.
"My lad, if you give up now, we shall all be lost. Don't you
lose heart. Take this iron hammer, and go down into the
pit and give the rock a good blow.
The lad obeyed, and though they all stood
by in despair, he went down full of determination,
and struck at the stone. And the rock split in two
and fell below, and no longer blocked up the stream.
And water rose till its brim was the height of a palm-tree
in the well. And they all drank of the water, and bathed in
it. Then they split up their extra yokes and axles, and
cooked rice and ate it, and fed their oxen with it. And
when the sun set, they put up a flag by the well and went
to the place appointed. There they sold their merchandise
at double and treble profit, and returned to their own home,
and lived to a good old age, and then passed away according
to their deeds. And the Bodisat gave gifts, and did other
virtuous acts, and passed away according to his deeds.