Forty Thousand: A Child’s Life in Settlement of a Debt

Explore the concept of 'Forty Thousand' in various contexts, including karmic debt, parenting, and more.

In the home of Wang Dasi Ma in Xincheng, there was a servant in charge of the accounts. Although he held no official title, the family was wealthy. One day, he suddenly dreamt of a person rushing in and saying, “You owe me forty guan of money, and now you should repay it.” When he asked this person, they didn’t reply and went straight to the inner room. After he woke up, his wife gave birth to a baby boy. He understood in his heart that this was the karmic result of his past life’s wrongdoings. So, he set aside forty guan of money in a room, and all the expenses for the child’s clothing, food, medical care, and medicine were to be taken from there. After three or four years, he checked the money in the room and found that only seven hundred wen remained. At that moment, the wet nurse came in with the child in her arms, playing with the baby by his side. He then called out to the child, saying, “The forty guan of money is almost gone, and you should also leave.” As soon as he said this, the child suddenly furrowed his brows, his face turned pale, his neck drooped, and his eyes stared straight ahead. When he touched the child again, he had already stopped breathing. So, he took out the remaining money, bought burial supplies, and buried the child. This incident can be seen as a warning to debtors.

Once there was an elderly man who had no children. He went to inquire of a venerable monk about the reason for this. The monk said, “You neither owe anything to others, nor do others owe anything to you. How can you have a son then? Perhaps when you give birth to a virtuous son, it’s a way for others to repay your past good deeds. And when you have a wayward son, it’s a means for others to seek repayment of their debts from you. Therefore, those who have sons need not be overly joyful, and those who lose their sons need not be overly sorrowful.”

《四十千》

新城王大司马,有主计仆,家称素封。忽梦一人奔入,曰:“汝欠四十千,今宜还矣。”问之,不答,径入内去。既醒,妻产男。知为夙孽,遂以四十千捆置一室,凡儿衣食病药,皆取给焉。过三四岁,视室中钱,仅存七百。适乳姥抱儿至,调笑于侧。因呼之曰:“四十千将尽,汝宜行矣。”言已,儿忽颜色蹙变,项折目张。再抚之,气已绝矣。乃以馀赀治葬具而瘗之。此可为负欠者戒也。

昔有老而无子者,问诸高僧。僧曰:“汝不欠人者,人又不欠汝者,乌得子?”盖生佳儿,所以报我之缘;生顽儿,所以取我之债。生者勿喜,死者勿悲也。

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