The Story Of Sonā Theri

The Story Of Sonā Theri

An inspirational Short story

During the time of the Buddha there lived a very rich lady who owned a large estate. When she became old she decided to split and distribute the estate and wealth amongst her children, giving them a chance to benefit from the money while still having the energy of youth.

After receiving the money the children didn’t care much about their mother anymore, they had what they wanted. And as so poor Sonā Theri was not treated well in the houses of her sons and daughters, and became somewhat distressed.

When Sonā Theri was around 90 years old her poverty and suffering had become so great that some kindly neighbours had her ordained as a nun at the local Buddhist monastery. At least this way she would be looked after.

It was customary for the nuns in this monastery to go out early every morning on their alms round collecting food from the local villagers. Every nun went, all except for poor Sonā Theri, she was considered to old and weak to accompany the others nuns, instead she was tasked with filling all the water pots with drinking water and hot water for washing hands and feet, ready for the nuns return.

But Sonā Theri was so old and weak, too carry the water she had to use a small pot and walk from the water well, collect the water, then walk back to the kitchen, pour the water into a pot and repeat. As she worked she got very tired, but she didn’t rest. She forced herself to do as was asked of her and kept going, until finally her body collapsed with complete exhaustion.

She wasn’t pretending she really was finished and unable to get up. Sonā Theri lay thinking to herself, there is more water to be carried and I haven’t prepared the hot water yet, but I can’t get up, what to do. She had been given the teachings of the Buddha and decided that she would take up an object of meditation and began following her breath. She fixed her attention firmly and unshakable on her breath, as she lay there with great concentration she penetrated the illusions of mind and made an end to her suffering.

As she lay there full of peace, bliss and equanimity, the other nuns returned from their alms round but couldn’t find Sonā Theri anywhere. Eventually she was found lying between the water pots, the other nuns gathered to scold her.

“she’s not filled the water or hot water yet, she is so lazy she just lays down to sleep”

Sonā Theri just lay there in complete bliss, the nuns who were scolding were of course still unenlightened with there blaming minds. For Sonā Theri she had attained to Arahantship, right there while she was unable to get up, due to her one pointed concentration, she attained the path to liberation.

With one last immense surge energy and concentration Sonā Theri rose and finished her task, in complete bliss and harmony, she bowed to the nuns and went and sat under the Bodhi tree in meditation and prepared to pass away.

she was found dead the next morning, still in her meditation position, it was only then did the other nuns realised there mistake, a stupa was built to house her remains, an honour only bestowed on enlightened masters.

Moral of story

It was Sonā Theri’s attitude and determination to stay with her chosen meditative object, her breath, never wavering and never faulting, she knew her body was finished and so she gave everything she had of her mind.

We have all learnt meditation and some of us practiced very hard, but I ask you to tell me truthfully have you practiced with such determination as Sonā Theri, have you put into practice what you have learnt with such gusto and steadfast determination that you have managed a whole 24hrs of mindful awareness?

Sonā Theri was an old lady on her last legs, how long do you think it would take you, half her age and being fit and healthy to fulfil spiritual awakening? I know if you gave it your all you too could also find your way out of suffering.

Kind and Warmest Regards

Dhamma Tapasa* (Andrew Hallas)

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Published by 4enlightenment

Dhamma Tāpasā is the spiritual name given to Andrew Hallas a fully trained and former Buddhist Monk who now Teaches & coaches the Art of Positive Thinking to Transform Your Mind.

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