Khun Mae had delivered the following talk many years ago at a monastery in Johor at the request of the abbot there (she delivered in Thai while the abbot translated to Mandarin). This is the second out of the two talks:
During the Buddha’s time, a generous donor by the name of Anandapidassa used to observe 8 precepts on Buddha days. In the ancient times in India, workers are not paid money but given clothes, board and food in exchange for their labor.
One day, a worker came to the house and saw nobody in the kitchen. He wondered why no one was eating. He met a female helper who told him that the entire household followed their boss and observe the 8 precept on certain days. He did not know what it was and asked for further clarification. The lady taught him what it meant by taking refuge in the Triple Gem and chanting, and she explained each precepts and its significance to him.
The man said that he did not know about this earlier, as such, can he just follow for the second half of the day (he did not follow during the first half of the day). She said of course he could. So the man went back to his room.
From the day the man was born till then, he had never knew how it felt like to be completely full. The amount of food that he was given was only sufficient for him just to survive. Because he had skipped the meal, he was really really hungry. His first thought was to go and get some food to fill his hungry stomach.
Then he thought to himself, if what the Buddha taught was followed faithfully by his boss who was a very rich and successful man, there must be some value and benefit in it. He reflected what a wretched existence that he was born into in this life. He never had enough to eat, had such dark complexion and such a hard life. It must be due to the fact that he had not done any good things in his past life.
With that, he made the decision even though he would be hungry, he would endure it. If he dies, so be it. He kept chanting and taking refuge in the Triple Gem.
But the wind in his stomach as the result of no food was too severe. That night, he died but his heart took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
As the result, he was reborned in the Catumaharajika realm (heaven realm) with nice clothes and lots of devis attending to him. He was delighted and wanted to recall his previous life. He went back and saw his dead body- dark and black, scawny and wretched- having died of hunger.
He recalled the merits that brought him to the current fortunate rebirth. He was happy and when the Buddha gave a discourse to his disciples, he went and listen.
Khun Mae said that this story is found in the Tipitaka. With a pure mind firmly taking refuge in the Triple Gem, one could go from a wretched existence to a heavenly realm.