Why would Buddha say such a thing?

Buddha - Zen Story - Four Wives[Image via Wikipedia]

During the Ching Dynasty, a wealthy sick old man summoned his four wives to his bed-side. He was dying and wanted company on his journey. He wondered, “Will any of my wives accompany me to the next life?”

He asked his first wife, “My dear wife, I loved you day and night, I took care of you throughout my whole life. Now I am about to die, will you please go with me wherever I go after my death?”
The first wife said, “My dear husband, I know you always loved me. You are dying. Now it is time to separate from you. Goodbye, my dear.”

He called his second wife to his sickbed to ask her to follow him in death. “My dear second wife, you know how I loved you. Sometimes I was afraid you might leave me, but I held on to you strongly. My dear, please come with me.”
The second wife answered rather coldly. “Dear husband, how can I follow you? You loved me only for your own selfish sake.”

He asked his third wife to follow him. With tears the third wife also refused, “My dear, I pity you and I feel sad for myself. Therefore I shall accompany you to the graveyard. This is my last duty to you.”

Now he called his fourth wife for whom he didn’t care very much. He had treated her like a slave and had always showed much displeasure with her. She certainly would say no.
But when he asked, she answered, “My dear husband, I will go with you. Whatever happens, I will be with you forever. I cannot be separated from you.”

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