The Buddha’s bead chain was enshrined in a temple on a high cliff face. There was only one dangerous trail down the shear cliff face for the temple’s monks to get to the nearby village for provisions, and lay people could not get into the temple.
The fact that the bead chain was enshrined in a temple on a high cliff face reflected its preciousness, and the precautions taken to keep it secure.
A senior master who was cultivating himself with a few young monks lived in the temple. All of these monks were expecting to complete their cultivation in this peaceful monastic environment very soon. They cultivated themselves with devotion and dedication. But one day, the master told them that the Buddha’s bead chain had been stolen.
None of the monks could believe it, since they all took turns guarding the trail and the only door to the temple around the clock. It was impossible for any outsiders to get into the temple. The disappearance of the Buddha’s bead chain made quite a stir among the monks, as all of them became suspects.
The senior master told the monks that he was not very concerned, and that as long as the person who stole the bead chain admitted his wrongdoing and cherished the bead chain, he would give it to him. The master gave them seven days for reflection.
The monks used to get along well with one another, but during those days, the atmosphere gradually became more tense. Up until the seventh day, no one admitted to the theft.
After the seventh day had passed, the senior master said: “I am pleased to learn that all of you believe you are innocent. You have cultivated yourselves so well that even the disappearance of the Buddha’s bead chain did not affect you. So you have completed your cultivation and you can leave here tomorrow morning.”
To further demonstrate their innocence, the monks packed their belongings the next morning, and headed down the trail to leave the temple. All except for a blind monk who was chanting Buddhist scriptures in front of the Buddha’s statue. The other monks saw this and felt relieved, because it meant that someone finally admitted to stealing the Buddha’s bead chain.
After bidding farewell to the other monks, the senior master turned to the blind monk and asked: “Why don’t you leave here? Did you take the bead chain?” The blind monk replied: “No, I didn’t.”
“You say you didn’t take the bead chain, so why do you stay here to bear all of the responsibility, and let the others think that you took the bead chain?”
The blind monk replied: “Over the past seven days, the suspicion we all felt toward each other had a tremendous impact on all of us. Not only did it hurt me, but it also hurt the others. We needed someone to bear the responsibility so we could feel at ease.”
After hearing this, the senior monk took the legendary bead chain from his robe and put it around the blind monk’s neck, saying: “The Buddha’s bead chain is still here, and you are the only one who has learned how to bear responsibility.”