Sakyamuni Buddha was once invited to a meal in a palace by a King. However when he reached the entrance, he refused to take another step forth to cross the threshold. He stood there with his entourage of disciples standing behind him.
The king and his courtiers who were waiting in the palace were perplexed and the king went to find out what was the matter. One of the Buddha’s senior disciple who is an Arhant knew what was wrong and requested the king to remove the white cloth paving the way from the royal threshold to the dinning hall.
While preparing for Buddha’s arrival, the King had ordered his servants to lay rolls of white linen on the floor, carpeting a path from the royal threshold to the dinning hall. Unknown to others, he made a silent wish for this act. He wished that if his queen was to conceive children, then may the Buddha tread on the white linen carpet.
The Buddha who is omniscience was well aware of all this. He also knew that the King and his queen will never have children in that life because of past misdeed in their previous life.
In their previous existence, the king and queen were husband and wife. They were shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. While sourcing for food, they chanced upon a nest of nestlings and roasted them for food. That meal became an addiction as they found it tasty. Consequently, they spent their entire life searching for nestlings to roast and eat for enjoyment. After exhausting much of their bad karma in subsequent rebirths, in that life as human, they were bound to be childless.
After the Buddha had taken his meal, the King enquired why the Buddha did not enter his palace until the white linen carpet was removed. The Buddha asked the king if he had made a wish for children should the Buddha tread on the white carpet. The King acknowledged and the Buddha explained the cause and effect contributing towards the King’s childlessness.
Along with this story, we understand that the principle of cause and effect is infallible. The wisdom and power of the Buddha is beyond all beings in Samsara. Including the Gods. Therefore it is pointless to pray for something if we did not have the karma to produce the desired result of what we pray for.
Using this incident as a reference, as lay follower, we should not be offering food or things to the monastic communities and making silent wishes in our mind that our wishes would come true if our offerings are accepted. If we do that, then our offerings becomes impure and tainted.
Instead, we have to offer without any expectation, with respect and devotion in our mind to make our offering pure. That way, we earn tons of merits and good karma.