A Lesson in Vigilance: The Legend of the Hawk
(Clearwisdom.net) The following is a story I heard during my childhood:
Once upon a time there was a very kindhearted elderly woman. She spent her life doing a lot of charitable deeds. Although she was virtuous, strictly speaking she was not a cultivator as she had no concept of cultivation practice.
After she died, the King of Hell told her, "I have reviewed the history of your life. It appears that you have been very kind and have done a lot of charitable deeds. You didn't have any attachment to fame or self-interest either. We have reported your deeds to the Jade King of Heaven and he has decided to make you a deity. Would you like that?"
The elderly woman replied, "Of course I would love to become a deity! However, I have a nest of chicks in the human realm that I would like to get. Could I bring them with me?" The King of Hell told her, "In that case, you may return to the human realm to fetch your chicks." Next he had his men push her down to the human realm. When she came to, she had already become a hawk, who, by nature, hunts for chicks all day long.
It is an unimaginable honor to ascend to godhood, but she missed the precious opportunity on account of her attachment to a nest of chicks. Imagine how regretful she must have been.
Any trivial attachment can serve as an obstacle standing in the way of a cultivator's final attainment. How could a cultivator not be vigilant about removing attachments?