King With One Gray Hair
very very long time ago, there were people who lived
much longer than they do today. They lived many
thousand years. At that time, the Enlightenment Being
was born as a baby named Makhadeva. He lived 84,000
years as a child and crown prince. At the time of our
story, he had been a young king for 80,000 years.
One day, Makhadeva told the royal barber, "If you
see any gray hair on my head, you must tell me
immediately!" Of course, the barber promised to
4,000 years passed, until Makhadeva had been a young
king for 84,000 years. Then one day, while he was
cutting the king's hair, the royal barber saw just one
little gray hair on all the king's head. So he said,
"Oh my lord, I see one gray hair on your
head." The king said, "If this be so, pull
it out and put it in my hand." The barber got his
golden tweezers, plucked out the single little gray
hair, and put it in the king's hand.
At that time, the king still had at least another
84,000 years left to live as an old king! Looking at
the one gray hair in his hand, he became very afraid
of dying. He felt like death was closing in on him, as
if he were trapped in a burning house. He was so
afraid, that the sweat rolled down his back, and he
Makhadeva thought, "Oh foolish king, you have
wasted all this long life and now you are near death.
You have made no attempt to destroy your greed and
envy, to live without hating, and to get rid of your
ignorance by learning the truth and becoming
As he thought this, his body burned and the sweat kept
rolling down. Then he decided once and for all,
"It is time to give up the kingship, be ordained
as a monk, and practice meditation!" Thinking so,
he granted the income of a whole town to the barber.
It amounted to one-hundred-thousand per year.
the king called his oldest son to him and said,
"My son, I have seen a gray hair. I have become
old. I have enjoyed the worldly pleasures of great
wealth and power. When I die, I want to be reborn in a
heaven world, to enjoy the pleasures of the gods. So I
will be ordained as a monk. You must now take the
responsibility of ruling the country. I will live the
life of a monk in the forest."
of this, the royal ministers and the rest of the court
rushed to the king and said, "Our lord, why do
you suddenly want to be ordained?"
The king held up the gray hair in his hand and said,
"My ministers and subjects, I have realized that
this gray hair shows that the three stages of life:
youth, middle age and old age; are coming to an end.
This first gray hair was the messenger of death
sitting on my head. Gray hairs are like angels sent by
the god of death. Therefore, this very day is the time
for me to be ordained."
The people wept at the news of his departure. King
Makhadeva gave up his royal life, went into the forest
and was ordained as a monk. There he practiced what
holy men call the 'Four Heavenly States of Mind'.
First is loving-kindness, tender affection for all.
Second is feeling sympathy and pity for all those who
suffer. Third is feeling happiness for all those who
are joyful. And the fourth state is balance and calm,
even in the face of difficulties or troubles.
84,000 years of great effort meditating and practicing
these states as a humble forest monk, the Bodhisatta
died. He was reborn in a high heaven world, to live a
life a million years long!
"Even a long life is too short to waste."