There was a woman named Kisa who was much devoted to the Tathagata (Buddha) and liked to sit at his feet to listen to his preaching. Kisa had given birth to a baby daughter not many months before. But, as fate would have it, the child had fallen ill, and now lay dead in her arms. Nearly mad with grief she came to Buddha carrying the baby, and weeping loudly she fell at his feet.
"Lord," she wailed, "you have divine power and can bring my daughter back to life. You are full of mercy and I know that you will honor my request. I am sure you have some remedy." Buddha looked down at her and his heart burned with her sadness and misery. "Bring me," he said slowly, "a handful of mustard seed; but it must come from a house where no one has lost a loved one."
Now Kisa, thinking this to be part of a charm that might restore her baby, wiped her tears and, full of hope, set off on her quest. From house to house she walked. At the door of every one she heard: "Alas, not here. We lost our grandfather here." "Last year my mother died." "A beloved cousin was staying with us and she fell to a fatal disease."
At last the light dawned upon Kisa that what had happened to her is what all beings are caught in, the ancient pair, life and death -- the chain of becoming, in which all are bound. She gave last rites to her child, and came back to her Master. She was ready now for "entering the stream", which means starting, with Buddha's guidance, on the Eight Step Path to Enlightenment.