The Two Sisters

Toshikazu Arai

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There is an interesting story in the Nirvana Sutra. One day a young lady of otherworldly beauty visited a rich merchant’s house. She was so attractive that the head of the house asked her if she was a heavenly being. She said she was called Heavenly Maiden of Virtue. Whoever was visited by her obtained anything he wanted, such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, pearls, elephants, horses, servants, and so on. The rich merchant joyfully invited her into the house. After a while another woman, who was extremely ugly, thin, and poor-looking, came to the house. She wore dirty rags and looked so emaciated that here and there flesh and bone were visible. She said she was called Darkness and whoever was visited by her lost their possessions. The head of the house found her so repulsive that he told her to get out. She told him that it was silly to say that because she and the Heavenly Maiden of Virtue were sisters and that they always went together.

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