"There was an old woman in Lhasa whose son was a trader. Once a year he went to India to do business. His mother was a very devout Buddhist. She said to her son on numerous occasions, as he was setting off on his trips, 'You know, you're going to the land of India, which is the most holy country on earth as far as Buddhists are concerned, because the Lord Buddha appeared there and first presented the teachings of the Buddhadharma in that country. Do your old mother a favor and bring back some relic or some holy article or object from India that I can use as an object of worship on my shrine. I'll place it on my shrine and do prostrations to it, pray to it, make offerings to it as a way to develop my faith and merit.'

"Every time the son would say ,'Yes, mother,' but he would become so involved in his business that he would completely forget about it, because to him it was a very trivial thing. When he would return, his mother would ask, 'Well, did you bring me my relic?' And he would tell her he'd forgotten. This was repeated many times.

"As she got older, the woman became a little desperate and she finally said to her son, 'This may be the last journey you will make in my lifetime. This is your last chance to bring me a holy relic from India. If you fail this old mother of yours is going to kill herself in your presence.' Realizing that she was serious, he tried his best to remember, but again he became involved in traveling, trading, and making profits.

"On his return journey, he sat by the side of the road to brew up a cup of tea. Suddenly, he remembered his promise to his mother and in his desperation, saw the bones of a dog that had died by the side of the road. He had an inspiration and broke off one of the teeth from the jawbone of the dog, wrapped it up in a very fine silk of different colors, and carried it home.

"When his mother said, 'Did you remember?' he said, 'I remembered.' He unwrapped the gift and said, 'This is the Buddha's tooth. I brought this back from India just for you, Mother, because you wanted something very holy. It is a very, very blessed and holy object.' His mother was overjoyed. She took it and put it up on her shrine. She would spend the whole day doing prostrations to it, making offerings to it, and praying to the Buddha in the presence of what she felt was the tooth of the Buddha. The remarkable thing was that relics started to emerge from this dog's tooth. Not only did these benefit a large number of people, but the old woman was enveloped in a rainbow of light as she died and a shower of blossoms rained down from the sky as an indication that she had definitely made a significant step forward on the path to liberation.

"So even in situations where the object of one's faith seems to be quite ordinary, one should never exclude the possibility that one's faith and confidence in that situation will open one to a great deal of blessing and benefit. This in fact was the basis for the proverb in Tibet that says, 'Even a dog's tooth can give off relics.' ”