A Question From a Seven-year-old – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Six Worthy Ways]
[Atthasadvāra-Jātaka]
The Buddha told this story while living in Jetavana
temple with regard to a boy who was very wise and
understanding.
When the boy was seven years old he came to his
father, who was a wealthy man of Sāvatthi, and asked his
father what were the doors to spiritual well being. His father
did not know the answer, but knew that the Buddha would.
So, taking perfumes and flowers, he went to the Buddha,
kneeled down before him and related to the Buddha the boy’s
question. The Buddha replied that he had answered the very
same question from his son in former days. But due to re-
becoming [puna-bbhava], the answer has become clouded
over in his mind. And at the father’s request, the Buddha
told this story of the past:
Once upon a time there was a rich man living in
Benares, in northern India. He had a son who was intelligent,
curious and eager to learn. Even though he was only seven
years old, he was determined to find out what is really
valuable.
One day the little boy asked his father, “What are the
ways to gain the most valuable things in life?”
His father said, “Only worthy ways lead to worthwhile
goals. These are the six worthy ways [atthasa-dvāra-s]:
– keep yourself healthy and fit;
– be wholesome in every way;
– listen to those with more experience;
– learn from those with more knowledge;
– live according to Truth [Dhamma];
– act with sincerity, not just energy.”
The boy paid close attention to his father’s words. He
tried hard to practice these ways from then on. As he grew up
and became wise, he realized that the six worthy ways, and
the most valuable things in life, could not be separated.
The Buddha then identified the births, saying:
“This child was the same as the little boy in those days.
And I, myself, was the father.”
The moral: “‘A serious question deserves a serious answer.’”