Once upon a time in the deep mountains forest there lived an old monk and a young monk. The old monk was a great practitioner of Buddha-dharma and was frequently in deep meditation. Normally when he started meditation, it could last for half a day or one full day. In addition, during his meditation, he would know what was going to happen in the future.
One day, the old monk meditated again. Suddenly he found out that his little disciple was going to pass away in eight days. Therefore the old monk called the young monk and said,
“My child, I am going to give you an eight-day holiday so that you can go home to see your mother and father.”
“Really? That’s very good, thank you Shifu.”
In fact, lately I have been feeling quite homesick too.”
“However, you must remember to come back here by the eighth day.”
“Okay, Shifu, please take care of yourself. I am leaving now.”
“Go home now!”
Delightedly the young monk went down the mountains, without realizing that in the eyes of the old monk, there was sadness and a sense of reluctance to see him leave. After a long walk, the young monk stopped at the bank of the stream to drink some water as he was getting thirsty. Then he saw there was an ant cave in which countless ants were going into and out of it. He stayed to observe for a while with interest. When he was just about to leave,
“Oh! Why is the water level of the stream is rising? Oh no!! The ants will be drowned!!”
The reason was it had been raining upstream for a few days continuously. Therefore the water level downstream was starting to rise.
He quickly took off his cloth and he put some hard soil in it to make up a protection wall along the cave. Not only did he managed to stop water from covering the cave, but also skilfully diverted the flow of the water to somewhere else.
Hence he saved the lives of countless ants. Eight days passed quickly. The old monk was strolling in the mountains forest sadly. Suddenly from a distance, he saw the little monk coming back up to the mountains cheerfully. Happily, he asked the young monk to recount what he has done in the past eight days while he had been away. When he pondered on this story he finally understood that because the young monk had saved the lives of countless ants this has caused his fated eight-day life expectancy to lengthen into a long and happy life.
This is the merit of cultivating good deeds, however seemingly insignificant they be.