A woman came to Buddha crying, weeping, carrying the dead body of her only son. People had told her that if she goes to the Buddha, he is such a compassionate man, he may do some miracle. Buddha asked the woman, “You do one thing: you go into town — bring some mustard seeds. One condition has to be fulfilled: they should be brought from a house where nobody has ever died.”

The woman was very happy; this was not a problem because their whole village was growing mustard seeds. So every house was full of mustard seeds. She rushed from one house to another, but in her excitement that her son is going to be revived again she forgot completely that the condition is impossible, it cannot be fulfilled.

By the evening she had knocked on all the doors, and everybody said, “We can give you as many mustard seeds as you want, but they will not help because we cannot fulfill the condition: somebody has died in our family — not only one but many persons really. My father died, my father's father died… and thousands of others before.” Somebody's wife has died, somebody's mother, somebody's brother, sister, somebody's son…. She could not find a single family where nobody had ever died.

By the evening when she came she was a totally different woman — she came laughing. In the morning she had come crying and weeping; she was almost mad because the only son had died. Buddha asked her, “Why are you smiling?”

She said, “Now I know — you tricked me, you befooled me, but I could not see the point at that time. Everybody has to die, so it is not a question now that my son has died. He had to die one day or other. And it is good, in a way, that he has died before me: if I had died before him, he would have suffered. It is better for me to suffer than for him to suffer. So it is good, perfectly good.

“Now I have come for initiation. Initiate me into sannyas, because I would like to know: is there anything beyond death or not? Is death all or does something survive? I am no longer interested in the son.”

Buddha said, “That was the purpose of sending you, so that you can be awakened.”

The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol-3, Chapter-3