Translated from the Dhammapada, and from Buddhaghosas comment
While eagerly man culls lifes flowers,
With all his faculties intent,
Of pleasure still insatiate
Death comes and overpowereth him.
WHILE eagerly man culls lifes flowers. This doctrinal instruction was given by The Teacher while dwelling at Svatthi, and it was concerning a woman called Husband-honorer. The affair began in the Heaven of the Suite of the Thirty-three.
They say that a god of that heaven named Garland-wearer went to his pleasure-grounds in company with a thousand celestial nymphs. Five hundred of these goddesses ascended trees and threw down flowers, while five hundred picked up the flowers that were thrown down and decked the god therewith. One of these goddesses, while on the bough of a tree, fell from that existence, her body vanishing like the flame of a lamp.
Then she was conceived in a high-caste family of Svatthi, and was born with a reminiscence of her previous existences. And saying to herself, I am the wife of the god Garland-wearer, she made offerings of perfumes, garlands, and the like, with the prayer that in her next rebirth she might again be with her husband. And when at the age of sixteen years she married into another family, with ticket-food, and fornightly food, she continued to give alms, saying, May this prove efficacious in bringing about my rebirth with my husband.
Husband-honorer continually took care of the hall where the priests sat. She brought forward the drinking water, and spread out the mats to sit on. And when other people were desirous of giving ticket-food and other alms, they would bring it to her, and say, Dear lady, prepare this for the congregation of the priests. And by going to and fro in this manner, she acquired the fifty-six salutary qualities, all at one time.
One day, after she had given alms and offerings, and had listened to the Doctrine, and kept the precepts, she died toward night-fall from a sudden disease, and was reborn into the presence of her husband.
My lord, at the end of ten months I issued from my mothers womb, and at the age of sixteen years I married into another family; and having borne four sons, and having given gifts and done other meritorious deeds with the prayer that I might again be with you, I have been born into your presence.
A hundred of our years make one day and night of the Gods of the Suite of the Thirty-three; thirty such days and nights their month; and twelve such months their year. And the length of their lives is a thousand such celestial years, or in human notation thirtysix million years. Thus for that god not one day has passed; but like a moment had the interval seemed to him. And thus he thought, Recklessness for short-lived men is extremely unsuitable.
When the priests heard this, the unconverted among them, calling to mind her benefactions, were unable to restrain their tears, while those in whom depravity had come to an end had their elements of being agitated.
O priests, it was not this husband she was praying for. She had a husband named Garland-wearer, a God of the Suite of the Thirtythree, and fell from that existence while he was decorating himself with flowers. Now she has returned and been born again at his side.
Assuredly, O priests, said The Teacher, the life of creatures is indeed short. And thus it is that death gets creatures into his power, and drags them away howling and weeping, and still unsated in their senses and lusts.