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True Love – A Zen Buddhist Spiritual Story

The Bodhisattva came back once as the God of Birds, Garuda. He changed his form to a handsome young man and often played dice with the king of Benaras who had a beautiful queen called Sussondi. Once, while playing dice, Garuda saw Sussondi and fell for her beauty. “I need to have this beautiful lady as my wife,” thought Garuda and decided to marry her.

With his supernatural powers, Garuda raised a storm in the city and covered it with dark clouds. Under the cover of darkness, he carried Sussondi with him. The king was full of grief for his queen and called his most trusted minister Sagga, unaware that his friend Garuda had carried away his wife. “O, wise friend. Please help me find my beloved queen. Search in every nook and corner and bring her back to me,” the king requested Sagga. So Sagga along with a few soldiers went looking for the queen.

Meanwhile, Garuda kept coming to play dice with the king, so he was never suspected. Sailing for days together, Sagga at last came to the island where Garuda had kept Sussondi. Garuda was away playing dice and Sagga took advantage of his absence. He secretly climbed into the queen’s chamber and called out, “Your Highness, the king is heartbroken without you. His majesty has sent me to take you back to him safely.” He then carried back the queen to the king. The king embraced his queen with tears of joy and seeing their love, Garuda realized his mistake.

The author of this story is unknown and greatly appreciated!

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What is the Meaning / Moral of the “True Love” Story?

One of the profound spiritual lessons we can draw from this story is the power of temptation and desire. Garuda, in his form as the God of Birds, becomes ensnared by the allure of Sussondi's beauty. His desire for her leads him to make decisions that ultimately cause suffering for himself and others. This serves as a reminder of the importance of discernment and self-control in navigating the temptations and desires that arise in our lives.

Another spiritual moral embedded in this tale is the theme of deception and illusion. Garuda, in his pursuit of Sussondi, creates a storm to obscure his actions and carries her away under the cover of darkness. Similarly, he continues to visit the king, playing dice with him while concealing his true identity and intentions. This highlights the dangers of deception and the consequences it can have on relationships and trust. It reminds us of the importance of honesty and transparency in our interactions with others.

The story also illuminates the theme of loyalty and friendship. Despite Garuda's betrayal, the king's minister Sagga remains loyal to his friend, the king, and goes to great lengths to locate and rescue the queen. His unwavering dedication to his duty and friendship serves as an example of the strength and nobility of character that can emerge in times of adversity. It encourages us to cultivate qualities of loyalty and integrity in our own relationships and interactions with others.

Furthermore, the narrative emphasizes the power of love and forgiveness to transcend betrayal and wrongdoing. Despite the pain and heartache caused by Garuda's actions, the king ultimately forgives him upon reuniting with his queen. This act of forgiveness symbolizes the transformative power of love to heal wounds and restore harmony. It invites us to reflect on our own capacity to forgive and to seek reconciliation in the face of hurt and betrayal.

Additionally, the story underscores the importance of humility and self-awareness in the journey of spiritual growth. Garuda, upon witnessing the genuine love between the king and queen, recognizes the error of his ways and experiences a profound moment of awakening. This moment of humility opens the door to self-reflection and transformation, leading Garuda to acknowledge his mistake and seek redemption. It serves as a reminder of the inherent capacity within each of us to learn and grow from our mistakes, ultimately leading to greater wisdom and insight.

Moreover, the narrative highlights the interconnectedness of all beings and the ripple effects of our actions. Garuda's decision to act on his desires sets off a chain of events that reverberate throughout the lives of others, causing pain and suffering. This interconnectedness underscores the importance of acting with mindfulness and compassion, recognizing that our choices have consequences that extend beyond ourselves. It calls us to cultivate a deeper awareness of our interconnectedness and to act in ways that promote the well-being and flourishing of all beings.

In conclusion, the story of Garuda and Sussondi offers rich spiritual insights that invite us to reflect on the complexities of human nature and the journey of the soul. Through themes of temptation, deception, loyalty, love, forgiveness, humility, and interconnectedness, it invites us to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with others. Ultimately, it reminds us of the transformative power of love and wisdom to guide us on the path of spiritual awakening and liberation.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. As you reflect on Garuda's actions in pursuit of Sussondi, consider moments in your own life when desire has led you to make choices that may have caused harm or suffering to yourself or others. What insights can you draw from these experiences about the nature of desire and its impact on your life?
  2. The story highlights the theme of loyalty and betrayal through the actions of Garuda and Sagga. Reflect on a time when you were faced with a similar choice between loyalty to a friend and doing what you believed to be right. How did you navigate this situation, and what did you learn about the complexities of friendship and loyalty?
  3. Consider the role of deception in the story, as Garuda disguises his true intentions and deceives both the king and Sussondi. Reflect on instances in your own life where you may have been deceived or where you may have deceived others. What insights can you gain from these reflections about the nature of honesty and trust in relationships?
  4. Explore the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation as depicted in the story, particularly in the king's embrace of Sussondi upon her return. Reflect on a time when you experienced forgiveness or extended forgiveness to someone else. How did this experience shape your understanding of forgiveness and its power to heal and restore relationships?
  5. Consider the significance of Sagga's role in rescuing Sussondi and restoring her to the king. Reflect on the qualities of courage, loyalty, and selflessness that Sagga demonstrates in his actions. How can you cultivate these qualities in your own life and relationships?
  6. Reflect on the consequences of Garuda's actions and the ripple effects they have on the lives of others, particularly the king and Sussondi. Consider the interconnectedness of all beings and the ways in which our choices can impact those around us. How can you cultivate greater awareness of your interconnectedness with others and act with greater mindfulness and compassion?
  7. Explore the theme of self-awareness and redemption as Garuda comes to realize the error of his ways upon witnessing the love between the king and Sussondi. Reflect on moments of self-awareness and growth in your own life, particularly in times of difficulty or adversity. What insights can you draw from these experiences about the journey of self-discovery and transformation?
  8. Consider the power dynamics at play in the story, as Garuda, in his form as the God of Birds, uses his supernatural powers to manipulate and control Sussondi. Reflect on instances in your own life where power dynamics have influenced your relationships and interactions with others. How can you strive to create more equitable and respectful relationships based on mutual understanding and consent?
  9. Reflect on the theme of love and its transformative power, as depicted in the king's unwavering love for Sussondi and his joy upon her return. Consider moments of love and connection in your own life that have brought meaning and fulfillment. How can you cultivate a deeper sense of love and compassion in your relationships with yourself and others?
  10. As you contemplate the story of Garuda, Sussondi, and the king, consider the deeper spiritual truths and universal themes it illuminates about the human experience. What insights or revelations have you gained from this reflection, and how can you apply them to cultivate greater wisdom, compassion, and integrity in your own life journey?