This is a story that was given by the Buddha when, a long time ago, he had conducted his last teaching under the sala tree.
After he had taught his disciples about birth (life), old age, sickness, and death, he started telling Mahakassapa the following story:
One day, a very beautiful woman whom no body had ever seen before in that town visited a wealthy man's house.
When the wealthy man saw the woman, he was suspicious and asked her,
"Excuse me, but who are you?"
"My name is Lakshmi."
In addition to her beautiful face, the woman was radiant and wearing necklaces, bracelets, and earrings on her that were made of several kinds of jewels.
The man asked again,
"So, regarding what kind of business have you come to me?"
"To bring you wealth.
Wherever I visit, they will be blessed with treasures such as gold, silver, sapphires, crystals, pearls, corals, and rubies.
Furthermore, even elephants, horses, cars, and servants."
The man was excited to hear that.
"She must be a goddess of wealth. Luck is finally smiling upon me."
He politely welcomed her by scattering the flagrant flowers around, offering her incense, and praying to her.
Then appeared a poor-looking dirty woman standing at the entryway.
He got out and took a look. The woman looked shabby, ugly, and dirty.
"Who the heck are you? What do you want?" He asked.
"My name is Alakshmi. Wherever I go, people will become poor."
After he heard that, he became furiously enraged, raised his sword, and said,
"You are a worthless goddess of poverty. Go away or you will die." But the woman said calmly,
"You are such an idiot. You have no wisdom!"
He pressed her more to drive her away definitely.
"Why do you say that I am an idiot and have no wisdom? Tell me why. If you are lying, I'll kill you."
"I tell you. The woman whom you have welcomed to your house and whom you are taking care of is my older sister.
We are always together and we have never separated.
If you drive me away, she will go away, too.
Do you understand?"
Suspicious with the shabby woman's words, he returned to the room quickly and asked Lakshmi about this.
"Yes, she is my younger sister. I forgot to tell you that we are always together.
I always give fortune and she always gives misfortune.
If you want to take care of me, I'd like you to take care of my sister, too."
His expectation was wrong and he was disappointed.
He felt ashamed for working hard to satisfy Lakshmi to get wealth.
He then said firmly,
"I cannot stand that fortune and misfortune to occur one by one. I do not need both of you. Please leave. Go away now."
After seeing them leave, he cried out for joy.
"Oh, my annoying worries are gone. I feel better."
After being turned away, the sisters entered into a rundown shack.
The miserable owner of the shack, however, asked them to stay after listening to their entire story.
"I welcome both of you, indeed.
As you can see, I am poor. I do not mind having a goddess of poverty.
Rather, I'm glad to have you, a goddess of wealth.
Please stay here and I will take care of your younger sister, too."
It seemed that they were going to live there for a while.
How would others welcome them in their houses?
Mahakassapa nodded with the expression that he had understood the moral behind the Buddha's story. But the other disciples who were not so keen did not understand it.
"Is it really wise to drive away the both sisters?"
Since the older sister (Lakshmi) is more important for us, is it wise to put up with the younger sister (Alakshmi) and serve her? Or should we come up with an idea to drive away the younger sister?"
Then the Buddha kindly explained to them:
"The older sister represents birth (life) and the younger sister represents old age, sickness, and death.
It is inevitable that birth (life) is always accompanied by old age, sickness, and death. But heretics always wish to be given a birth (life) in heaven.
A fool clings to birth (life) without knowing that sufferings of old age, sickness, and death are always with him, and he is greedy like the miserable man in the story.
A Bodhisattva has discarded birth (life) and death, and thus without any attachments.
Therefore, a Bodhisattva is free and has obtained peace like the wealthy man in the story."
Then all the disciples gave affirmative nods.