I read a story that Buddhists tell each other about a Tibetan mother who was a devout buddhist, and who had a son who traveled to India regularly on business.

Before a trip the son was going to take to India, his mother asked him to please bring her back something that she could use as a symbol of devotion, to help her progress in her spiritual practice. India was the place, after all, where the Buddha himself had lived, and many bodhisattvas and sages had lived and taught there.

The son went to India and forgot to get her anything. He told her so when he returned.

So before the next trip she asked him again. And again he went, and forgot to bring her anything.

When he was about to go to India again, his mother came to him and said that if he does not bring her something back from India, that it will kill her. She told her son that he will watch his own mother die right before his own eyes if he fails to bring her something from India that she could use to help her develop her own practice on her spiritual path.

While ending his trip to India, the son was about to leave when he remembered what his mother asked of him, and so he quickly looked around for something that he could give her. He saw a dead dog, rotting by the side of the road. He went up to the rotting dog carcass, swatted the flies away, and pulled out a tooth from the dead dog’s mouth. He washed it off in a nearby mud puddle.

When he returned from India, his mother approached him. He pulled out the tooth and showed it to her, saying that he was very fortunate to have been able to get her a tooth from the body of the Buddha himself. She took the tooth and placed it in a place of worship, filled with deep and sincere reverence for what her son had given her.

She was able to generate so much love, devotion, and compassion because of her belief in the Buddha’s tooth that she achieved enlightenment in one lifetime.