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Yasodhara- the Non-human wife

At one time the World Honoured One was invited by the King Suddhodana to attend an offering at the palace where his former wife Yasodhara was staying. After eating the Buddha stood up and took leave. Yasodhara ran up to the second floor to have a better look at the World Honoured One from afar. As her feeling was all mixed up, she jumped down from the balcony. With the strength of the Buddha’s great kindness, Yasodhara was not hurt as the earth suddenly became soft and tender. The bhikshus who witnessed this asked the Buddha,

‘World Honoured One, for what reason the Princess is willing to sacrifice her life for you?’

 The Buddha answered, ‘Not only in this life that she renounces her life. In the past, she also chose to die for me. Long ago in the city of Sarnath, there was a king by the name Brahmandana. One day he went hunting in the jungle. Suddenly his horse became uncontrollable and ran wildly into a deep forest. The king was shocked and tired. He took a rest and suddenly he heard someone singing from afar. He saw a pair of non-human couple who were playing the lute and singing happily together. He was envious of their joy. On top of that he gave rise to greed when he saw the wife who looked so sweet and beautiful. The king took out a poisonous arrow and shot at her husband who died instantly. The king wished to take the wife back to his palace but she said, ‘I will not leave my husband alone here. I will leave when he is properly cremated.’

So the king built a fire to burn the corpse. When the fire was burning fiercely the non-human wife jumped into the fire and sacrificed her life for the love of her beloved husband.

The King Brahmandana witnessed the sacrifice of a virtuous woman and he said the following gatha:

‘For the sake of getting other’s wife,

I killed her husband.

The wife is willing to die for her husband,

Now the woman is dead, what do I get?

My sins are most heavy

The sufferings awaiting me are acute,

All because

 I have taken the lives of a loving couple.’

And in this life, Prince Siddharta also married the Princess Yasodhara after winning the six skills set by her father, the King Wholesome View. The six skills are 1. Languages and Arts 2. Mathematics  3. Jumping and throwing 4. Archery 5. Swords Martial Art 6. Horse Riding

The Prince Siddhartha was well educated in these various fields. He knew many types of languages and was good in art. His mathematics was the highest as he could even count every drop of water in the four great oceans. He was a good horse rider and skilful in sword fighting, jumping and throwing. In the event of Archery he had to fight against Devadatta who was also skilful in bows and arrows. For the prince the bows and arrow they used were only child play. Even the heavy bows and arrows used by the King Wholesome View were still too childish. He demanded the best bows and arrows and finally they took down the bows and arrows which were handed down by the King High Marks Lion Cheeks. The Bows and Arrows were so heavy that no one in the Sakya Clan was able to use them. As such they were treated as the sacred objects which were well kept in the Ancestors Hall. When Prince Siddhartha stretched out the bow and released the arrow it flew up high into the empty space and could not be found anymore. The King Wholesome View at first enjoyed the company of the Prince and now this feeling had been transformed into total respect and admiration.  So he decided to let his daughter Yasodhara marry Prince Siddhartha. After the marriage, the Prince Siddhartha composed the following poems:

‘The disasters of love and desires are too many,

Sufferings and afflictions arise because of them.

The palace is full of happiness and bliss,

But I stay there just as though facing the army of great enemy.

I will go alone into the deep forest,

I could then dwell in deep Samadhi.’

Many people misunderstood the Prince for taking Princess Yasodhara as the wife just because of her beauty. He did see her inner beauty. When the Prince left her to cultivate ascetics in the forest, Princess Yasodhara also brought forth the following vows,

‘From today onwards,

Until the day I see the Prince

I will not sleep on that high and lofty bed.

I will not bathe in scented water,

I will not put on any decoration on my body,

Nor will I polish it.

I will not put on any cosmetics.

I will not wear jewels and beautiful clothes,

No diamonds will be put on me.

I will not wear perfume, fragrant powder

I will not decorate myself with scented flowers and necklaces.

My tongue will not taste delicious food,

I will not eat any tasty food nor drink the wine.

My hair will not be decorated.

Even though I stay in the palace

I will lead an ascetic life just like living in the forest.’

The Prince stayed in the forests for six years doing the ascetics practices and his wife Princess Yasodhara also practises six years of ascetics in the palace.

It was just as she had vowed, ‘Together we will shave our hair, together we will cultivate diligently.’

Even though she stayed in the palace, her faith for the Great Sage’s is unmovable. Her practices were in accord with the practices of the Great Sage. Princess Yasodhara really lives up to the requirements to become the Retinues of a Bodhisattva:

  1. She is young, adorned and she is not proud of her beauty. She is always kind and treats all living beings just like her only son.
  2. She often gives generously.
  3. Even in the dreams she does not harbour evil thoughts.
  4. She is not proud of her wisdom thinking she is better than others.
  5. She is very humble.
  6. She is not attached to tasty food.
  7. She adorns herself with a remorseful and repentant mind, not harbouring any jealousy.
  8. She will not harm others, not speaking falsely or fawningly.
  9. She will not take refuge in the deviant teachers and their teachings.
  10. Her mind is in accord with the Genuine Truth.
  11. She is pure in body, mouth and mind.
  12. She stays away from over sleeping or drowsiness.
  13. All the things she does are good things.
  14. She will not follow and act in accord with her own thinking mind.
  15. She will always act in accord with good conduct.
  16. She treats her father and mother – law like her parents.
  17. She loves those around her like loving herself.
  18. She sleeps after the husband has gone to sleep.
  19. She wakes up before her husband.
  20. She deeply penetrates all kinds of meanings and principles.

notes: non human men is one type of the eight fold division of heavenly dragon. They are also known as kinnara, kijnara, celestial musician and suspicious spirits. They look like human beings but with a horn on their heads.

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Words and sounds are not Real

A Bodhisattva knows that all Dharma is like echoes.

‘When we want to talk,

There is a wind known as Udana

It touches the belly button and travels upward.

This wind touches seven places,

Our neck, gum, teeth, lips

Tongue, pharynx (throat) and chest

Among them sound and words are produced.

Stupid men do not know about this,

In their delusion they get afflicted

And anger arises.

Among them there is a wise man,

He is not deluded.

In accord with the appearance of all kinds of situations,

Straight, crooked, bending and stretching,

Going and coming,

He uses words and sounds to describe them.

Yet no doer is to be found.

Is not it a matter of illusion?

It resembles a puppet, a robot,

Or an apparition in a dream

I am suffocated by the heated air,

Is it real or just an illusion?

Who really knows this matter?

This bony man with the bondage of tendon and tissues,

Is able to produce sounds and words,

It resembles

The throwing of melted gold

Into the water.’

By Nagarjuna Bodhisattva—An extraction from the Shastra of Crossing Over with Great Wisdom

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The Seeds that bear Eternal Fruits

In the past the World Honoured One was staying in Magadha, in a Brahman village by the name Aijianale. During the sowing season, a farmer Poluodou Pozhe had already got ready 500 plough and yoke to do the sowing. One morning, the World Honourd One put on his clothes, carried the alms-bowl and sashes and came to the field where Poludou Pozhe was working. At that time, the farmer was distributing the food. The World Honoured One walked to the place where food was distributed and stood by one side. The farmer Poluodou Pozhe saw the World Honoured One standing there begging for food, he looked and Him and said,

‘Oh, Sramana! I plough the fields, I sow the seedlings, and after ploughing and sowing, I will have food to eat. Sramana! You should plough the fields, you should sow the seeds. After ploughing and sowing, you will have food to eat.’

World Honoured One answered, ‘Oh, Brahman! I plough the fields, I sow the seeds. After ploughing and sowing, I also have food to eat.’

The farmer said, ‘But we do not see the World Honoured One Gautama’s yoke, coulter, plowshare, spurs and cow.’

World Honoured One repeated what he had said, ‘Oh, Brahman! I plough the fields, I sow the seed. After ploughing and sowing, I also have food to eat.’

The farmer said, ‘You call yourself a farmer. But we have not seen you farming. Please tell us about matters on farming so that we know how you do the farming.’

The Buddha said,

‘Faith is the seedlings,  

Ascetic practices are the rain water.

Wisdom is my plough and yoke,

Humility my plough -handle.

Thoughts are my yokes,

My mind and mindfulness are my plowshare and spurs.

 I control my body,

I am careful with my speech.

I control the taking of food and drinks.

True speech is my machete,

Being resilient is my liberation.

Diligence is my cow which carries the yoke,

That brings one to liberation.

It keeps on going forward

And it will never turn back.

It will arrive at a place

Where there is no more sadness.

If one cultivates this way,

It will bear the Eternal fruits.

Those who cultivate in this way will be able

To free themselves

From all sufferings.’

On hearing this the Brahman farmer Poluodou Pozhe took out a big gold bowl and filled it to the brim with milk porridge. He gave it to the World Honoured One,

‘World Honoured One Gautama, please eat the milk porridge! The World Honoured One is a farmer. This is because the World Honoured One Gautama’s farming will bear the Eternal fruits.’

‘The food which is obtained by reciting the Gatha should not be eaten by me. Oh, Brahman! It is improper for a wise one to do this. All the Buddha will not eat the food which is obtained by the recitation of Gatha. Oh, Brahman! As long as the Proper Dharma dwells in the world, this is the guideline.’   

‘For a Great Celestial Being who has put afflictions to still extinction, who have renounced all bad habits, you should provide another type of food and drinks. This is because he is the Ground of Blessings for those who desire to seek merits and virtues.’

‘So, Gautama, to whom should I give away this milk porridge?’

‘Oh,Brahman, in the spiritual worlds, in the worlds of Mara and Brahman Heavens, among the Sramana, brahmans, spirits and people, I do not see any one who can drink and digest this milk porridge, except the Thus Come One, or the Thus Come One’s disciples. So Brahman! You may pour the milk porridge on a plain ground with no grass, or water with no life forms.’

So, the farmer Poluodou Pozhe poured the milk porridge into the water with no life forms. The milk porridge entered the water and produced the burning sound, and thick smoke arose from it. It looked like the plough which was under the hot sun for the whole day and when it was placed into water, it produced the burning sound and thick smoke arose. This is the same for the milk porridge which produced the burning sound and thick smoke. The farmer Poluodou Pozhe was most frightened on witnessing this as he sweated with pores bristling, hair all standing on ends. He walked to the Buddha and bowed at His feet.

He said, ‘Most wonderful, Gautama! Most wonderful, Gautama! Just like a man who holds on to something which is going to topple and makes it upright again, to reveal what is covered up, to point the road to those who lose the path, to hold the lighted lamp up in darkness, so that all with eyes can see. The World Honoured One Gautama uses all kinds of methods to teach the Dharma. I want to take refuge in the World Honoured One Gautama, to take refuge in the Dharma, to take refuge in the Sangha Assembly. I want to leave the home life before the World Honoured One Gautama. I want to be replete with the full precepts.’

So, the farmer Poluodou Pozhe really left the home life before the Buddha. He took the full precepts before the Buddha. After that the Venerable Poluodou Pozhe stayed alone to practise the Dharma, dwelt in deep concentration and cultivated diligently. Not long after that he was replete with great wisdom and in this life he attained the highest Brahman Conduct. This is the ultimate aim for all Good Men who leave the home life properly. He witnessed that he was living in still extinction and had perfected the Brahman Conduct. This was the only duty he should do. There was no other thing for him to do in this world. So in this way the Venerable Poluodou Pozhe became an Aranhant.

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What can a man do to save himself?

When the Buddha was dwelling in the world, there were these merchants who earned their money by cheating and bullying the people. Some of them became so rich and they planned to carry their jewels to another place by boat to make more money. They brought along their servants, maids and even the slaves to serve them on this journey. They spent their time eating meat, drinking wines and listening to music and songs. They were dreaming to earn a lot of money on this trip. Suddenly in the great sea, dark cloud gathered and a storm broke out. The boat was shaking violently, travelling up and down along with the gigantic waves. All the people on board were crying and screaming as they felt the boat might capsize. On this boat there was a servant who had already taken the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts. He was honest and pious in his practice of the Buddha Dharma. In this chaotic situation he was calm and unmoving. He knew it was a terrible storm. If the boat were to capsize many people would be drowned. So he bent his knees on the deck and started to recite the Three Refuges of the Great Vehicle,

‘I take refuge in the Buddha. I wish that all the living beings will understand the great path and bring forth the Unsurpassed Bodhi Mind.

I take refuge in the Dharma. I wish that all living beings will enter the profound Dharma Store and be endowed with sea-like wisdom.

I take refuge in the Sangha. I wish that all living beings will have no obstruction in guiding and teaching the great assembly.’

He continued with the five precepts,

‘I, the disciple of the Buddha by this name …..will abstain from killing throughout my life. I the disciple of the Buddha will abstain from stealing throughout my life. I the disciple of the Buddha will abstain from sexual misconduct throughout my life. I the disciple of the Buddha will abstain from false speech throughout my life. I the disciple of the Buddha will abstain from partaking intoxicants throughout my life.’

While he was kneeling there making all these vows, he advised those around him to join him if they had some faith in the Buddha. Instead, they scolded him.

‘You are very funny! The boat is sinking now and what are you doing there, saying all these nonsense? Do something positive to save this boat, please.’

But he continued to recite the Three Refuges, the Five Precepts piously. Strange enough, the storm subsided and the sea was calm again. The danger was over and the servant stood up and returned to do his chores.

The other merchants were still feeling giddy. The captain of the boat lied on his bed, feeling horrible. And when he fell asleep he saw an old man in white travelled towards him, walking on the surface of the water, with tiny waves flowing around his toes. He had white hair, white moustache and his body was enveloped in a pool of white light. He walked closed to the window and stared at the captain. Calmly he said,

‘So your boat cannot move and it gets stuck here?’

The captain said, ‘Yes, what to do? Who are you?’

The old man said,

‘Your boat cannot move all because of that young man, that servant on the boat.’

After saying that, he turned and left.

The captain woke up and told his merchant friends about his dream. By then, everyone on the boat knew who that servant was. He was supposed to leave the boat. Even the servant heard about the dream and he consoled them,

‘Do not worry. If it is because of me that the boat stays stagnant here, then I will leave. Just give me some bamboo and rope. I will leave on the raft with a paddle.’

Some expressed their unwillingness to let him go but at the same time, they were preparing for him the bamboo sticks and rope already. The servant tied up a small raft and with the paddle in his hands he jumped into the sea, waving good bye to them as he paddled his way to the shore.

That night a thunder storm broke out. Thousands and millions of white fish, black fish and peculiar sea monsters, small and big appeared around the boat when they pushed at the boat until it was overturned. All the people on board were drowned.

These people had committed lots of killing and evil karmas in harming living beings. With their shared karma they had to die together except the servant who was not in their group. Even though he was unable to save others with his practice of the precept, at least he was able to save himself.

By upholding the Five Precepts we are able to maintain a human body. In addition if we are able to cultivate the ten wholesome deeds we will be born in the heaven. If we are able to cultivate the Six Paramitas, we will be in the realm of Bodhisattvas.

A man who upholds the precepts will always be in accord with the dharma of purity, the dharma of no doing. What is meant by the dharma of no doing? Wherever he goes, he does not find faults with others, he does not do or say things to confuse others, he does not get himself all entangled with others, he does not purposely create an issue of arguments, he does not try to please people with his words and actions, trying to seek some self-benefits. Such a man will gradually live in peace, with a calm mind, a mind of wisdom. These are the consequences for a cultivator who abides by the rules of precepts. But if he often transgresses the precepts or does not abide by the precepts, the effect will be witnessed by him also. For example, his mind is in havoc. Even a minor matter will anger him. And even if he tries to sit in meditation, he will find pain here and there, the whole body aching and sweating. His mind is in agitation.

A wise man should listen to the teaching of the Buddha and abide by his precepts so as to leave sufferings.

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He is You!

Complaints and hatred arises when our mind is not calm.

Why is it not calm?

It is because of other people.

Where do these people come from?

They are here because of me.

When there is the feeling of I there is selfishness.

Selfishness and I is the same thing.

When the thought of I arises, selfishness follows closely behind.

When we are selfish, there will be many complaints and hatred.

Why is this so?

It is all because of this I.

We use our six roots to contemplate the six dusts.

We realize this body is me.

The mind that is thinking is me.

The eyes that can see belong to me.

I can look at things.

Whatever that is outside me is others,

The external states

Because of the existence of external states,

And because of the solid feeling of I

Consciousness arises.

 As long as the six roots keep on get in touch with the six dusts,

 Absorbing the six dusts, the six roots will become very active.

The six consciousness aware and function satisfactorily.

The feeling of “I” is gets stronger and stronger,

That it cannot even contain the sky.

It cannot tolerate any one,

It can only live alone.

The problem is other people do not simply disappear.

What to do?

When other people just touch us accidentally,

We get angry.

 We do not bother to listen to any excuses which are given by them.

This happens to a cultivator too.

He says, ‘I do not like to hear his talk.

I don’t like his coughing,

I don’t like his footsteps.

One thing that makes me really happy is

While others are working, I don’t have to do anything.

While eating, it is the best if I can have all the delicacies.’

Hoarding this type of mentality,

Complaints and hatred erupts.

Because of the continual expansion of this ‘I’

And the absorption of the six dusts

The sun is the sun the moon is the moon,

The space, space

My body is me

Is it right to think this way?

Why is there the existence of me?

Some say that because there is the external state.

What are these external states?

Once a thought arises, all the external states arise.

That is why the Buddha says,

‘You do not know your mind.

 External states including the mountains, rivers, the great earth

The sun, the moon and all the stars

They are things in your mind.’

They are basically illusive states.

But we insist they are real.

That is why we become so angry, full of grudges and resentments

Thinking there are these hateful people!

With the attachment to a self, the expansion of I,

We become so unhappy.

The self and unhappiness come at the same time

We put the blame on the existence of external states.

We forgot the unhappiness and the external states arise from our mind.

That is why we are cheated by our mind.

We say, ‘This is a terrible man.

That man has many bad habits.

His snoring is sickening.

That man says dirty words.

This man talks nicely.’

 And all kinds of good and evil opinions we propound.

They come forth from the movement of the mind,

The changes in the mind

All the external states appear because of the arising of thoughts in the mind.

Where on earth can we find the REAL external states?

They are the revelation of the self.

In fact all the external states are the revelation of faults in our mind.

But we make a mistake, thinking that other people’s states enter, interfering our way of life.

Indeed, we have committed the greatest mistake.

Thinking the external states are other people.

I am I, he is he

With this type of reasoning, we are afflicted.

These complaints of good and bad

Are the consequences when there is a ‘me’,

This feeling of ‘Me’ will naturally bring on all kinds of changes.

That is why the Buddha says all the states arise from the mind.

Why are we angry?

It is because the seed of anger is with us all the time.

Once a state arises, not to our liking our seed of anger explodes

Let us take the analogy of a piece of bread.

When we are hungry, it tastes so delicious.

Once we are full, the bread will lose its attraction.

In this way, the feeling for a piece of bread also undergo all kinds of transformation

In accord with the change of time, the change of place and the change of the need of people

The Buddha says, ‘All dharma has the mark of emptiness.’

The problem with us is we do not realize the empty mark of all dharma, the emptiness in all matters.

Originally nothing real can be found.

But why do we find it so real, why do we feel so real?

This is known as our solid false thoughts.

But we do not believe it is empty.

We insist it is real.

Because we remember clearly how he talks,

We remember his face.

We can even hear his voice!

He is so real, we insist.

We do not know,

He is you.

Other than you there is no one else.

It’s because originally all dharma is empty of marks.

You argue, ‘No, no, you are not right.You say one is me, two are also me.   How can there be so many people in me?’

 In fact, you do not know, living beings as many as Ganges Sands are you.

 We do not recognize this Truth.

 We only realize that the small one is me, the big one not me.

 Our mind is too shallow to admit this, to shoulder this Truth.

 We get caught in this attachment, ‘I was born a minor being. I have just  started practising a little Dharma,

 So, my conclusion: this cannot me.’

 We are like the beggar. When our father the rich Landlord tells us all the property belongs to us

  We are shocked.

  We answer, ‘It can’t be me. I am a beggar. I beg for food every day.’

  This is the state we are in.

  But when we get in touch with the Landlord for some time

  We gradually recognize our father

  We are this beggar.

  We finally admit that is our property.

  When the Buddha gives us the property,

  We do not recognize our inheritance.

  We are like the son who left the home to become a beggar.

  Now our father the Landlord takes us home, and we stay together.

  Gradually we will inherit his property.

  Our problem is we are being half-witted, witless.

  Hence all kinds of illusion appear.

  The Zen sect says, ‘Dwelling in the present moment.’

  What is this dwelling in the present moment?

  It means:

  At the present moment you must recognize you yourself.

  At the present moment you must take over the responsibility.

  Our problem is that we do not dare to take over the responsibility.

 We say, ‘No way! This property can’t be mine!’

‘Don’t joke please. The good one is not mine. How can I have such a big property? I am just a mundane man, just left the home life. They belong to others. It could be my Master’s. He shares a little with me.’

That is why the Buddha knows we do not have the courage to accept the Truth.

It’s because we are so use to running after the false self.

That is why we are always fighting against oneself.

When we hear people talking, we do not know it is we who are talking.

When we hear people snoring, we do not know it is we who are snoring.

We do not recognize this revelation of our karmic strength.

When the karma appears before us, we give rise to all kinds of differentiation.

We are angry.

And we say it is others’ fault. They make me angry.

We complain, ‘They disturb my cultivation. They make me unhappy.’

Even my happiness is bestowed by others!

We do not realize complains and hatred arise from our mind.

Why don’t we see this?

In fact no one can make you angry.

The seed of anger is in our mind.

It sprouts when it encounters a state.

We make a mistake, feeling that it is he who makes me angry.

The external state is only the revelation of our karmic force.

The supporting condition arises, the states arise.

We cannot recognize this Truth

So we become so angry.

Just like a mundane man who hits his right hand with his left hand.

We are like this. We are continually cheated by our karma.

We become unhappy, fighting by one-self.

If we see an external state next time,

Turn around and contemplate it as we ourselves.

We know, ‘I am angry now.’

We will be able to catch it on the spot. We know it is the mind that gets angry.It does not have any connections with others.

Externally there is no mark of a man, no mark of a self, no mark of living beings, no mark of a length of time.

All these do not exist.

Who are we to complain? It is no body’s business.

It is our solid false thought that makes us feel as though they exist, and we become unhappy.

This is the Buddha Dharma

It is different from the worldly dharma.

If you recognize this Truth,

You would have managed to break down your anger.

The conditions for anger to arise are as follows:

‘The external states bring about my anger. These people make me angry. Their existence affects me.’

By thinking in this manner, our anger can even explode the sky.

When you calm down, you will know all these excuses do not exist.

In the Heart Sutra, isn’t the Buddha says clearly,

‘A bodhisattva who practises the deep and profound Prajna Paramita illumines the five skandhas as empty and crosses over all kinds of suffering and disaster,Shariputra. …….In emptiness, there is no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, nobody and no mind, no colours, no sounds, no fragrance, no tastes, no touch and  no dharma, and ……’

Our problem is we only memorise the Sutra without knowing how to put it into practice in daily life!

—Dharma Teaching by Venerable Master Shi Miao Xiang, the Abbot of Da Bei Templein Liao Ning, China

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Soft and Pliant

The practice of the dharma is to subdue our mind so that it is soft and pliant. The main difference in a sage and a mundane man can be seen in the following situations.

  1. With a soft and pliant mind, we treat the respect of others, their sincere offerings, their angry disposition, their scolding and blows as equal with no differences.
  2. With a soft and pliant mind, we look at jewellery, tiles and stones as equal.
  3. An Arahant is not tainted by defiled desires. He is not angry in adversities and not deluded in confused situations as he wisely takes good care of his six emotions.

A mundane man is unable to take good care of his six emotions because he has not severed his mind of desires, anger, delusion, arrogance and suspicion. He resembles a bad wild horse which is difficult to rein. His mind is neither soft nor pliant.

On the great earth, an Arahant resembles an elephant which is replete with the greatest strength.

‘A cleverly subdued Elephant King is able to breakdown a great army when it travels into them without any fear. It is not afraid of knives and sticks. It is not frightened of fire or water. It enters the army without retreating even if death is awaiting it.’

So with the practice of concentration, wisdom arises in an Arahant. He is able to subdue the army of Mara, the thieves of afflictions. He is not frightened of hitting, scolding, old age and death.

An Arahant is described as a powerful dragon which dwells in the great ocean.

‘Take the analogy of a Great Dragon King. When it comes out from the great ocean, it creates a big cloud that pervasively covers the empty space. In the striking of lightning, the illumination lights up the great earth. The rain pours in torrential, moisturizing all life forms on earth.’

In the great ocean of meditation and wisdom, an Arahant arises from the ocean and creates a cloud of kindness and compassion.He reveals the great illumination to cross over those who have affinities with him with all kinds of transformation. He speaks the genuine dharma to moisturize the mind of his disciples so that their wholesome roots will flourish.

Why does the Buddha say that when the defilement of desire leaves us, our mind is liberated?

All our afflictions can be categorized into love and views.

It is because love is a great force which binds up our mind. With the severance of loving desire, the residue afflictions are severed too. For instance, when we say that the King arrives, we know that he is followed by the generals, the soldiers. Or when we hold on to one corner of the handkerchief, the other corners will follow. It is the same for the defilement of loving desire.

The afflictions of love cover up our mind. The afflictions of views cover up our wisdom.

When loving desire is renounced, the afflictions of love will leave too. The liberation of mind is attained.

In the same way when ignorance is renounced, the afflictions of views will leave too. The liberation of wisdom is attained.

When the mind is liberated, the wisdom of liberation is attained, an Arahant will arrive at the position of no-retreating.

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Are you free from the bondage of Mara?

All kinds of attachment to the worldly realm are known as the Mara matters. In the Shastra of Crossing over with Great Wisdom, the following explanations are given:

The first kind of Mara matters refer to our playful jokes, playful words, singing and dancing, looking at people evilly. These activities arise from a mind of greed.

Secondly, the Mara matters involved the tying up of living being, beating them in questioning, poking them, cutting them up, chopping them and torturing them cruelly. All these arise from an angry mind.

Thirdly, self -mortification such as burning the bodyor lying on ice, starving, pulling off one’s hair, entering the fire, cliffjumping or jumping into an abyss. All of these actions arise from a deluded mind.

The four types of Maras refer to

  1. The Mara of afflictions
  2. The Mara of skandhas
  3. The Mara of death
  4. The Heavenly Mara from the Heaven of Ease in transforming others’ bliss

  All the desires, bondages are known as the Mara.

A cultivator who arrives at the practice of the Bodhisattva Path will be able to break down the Mara of Affliction.

A cultivator who attains the Dharma Nature Body will break down the Mara of Skandhas.

A cultivator who attains the path and the Dharma Nature Body will break down the Mara of death.

A cultivator who often dwells in a single-minded state, who has no attachment or who arrives at the Unmoving Samadhi will see through the Heavenly Mara from the Heaven of Ease in transforming others’ bliss.

In the Mixed Stores Sutra, the Buddha explains in details on the Mara of desire.

A question was put forward to the Buddha, ‘What is meant by Mara?’

The Buddha answered, ‘He is able to rob you of your wisdom life. He breaks down you merits and virtues in cultivating the path so that you will have no more goodness.’

And the Buddha spoke in verses to explain the armies of the Mara. He said to the Mara King,

‘Desire is your first army.

Worries and anxiety the second army,

The third army is hunger and thirst,

The fourth army is loving desire.

Sleeping is your fifth army

And terror and fear the sixth army.

The seventh army is suspicion

While the poisonous content the eighth army.

The ninth army is money and benefits,

And the attachment to false names and fame.

The tenth army is arrogance

Who loves to slight on others.

These are your armies.

All the worldly men,

And all the heavenly beings

Are unable to destroy them

I equip myself with the arrow of wisdom

Cultivating concentration and the wisdom strength

I am able to destroy your Mara armies.

Just the way a broken vase is unable to hold any water.

I single-minded cultivate wisdom,

So as to cross over all living beings

My disciples are hardworking and diligent

Even though you do not wish to let go of them

They are able to arrive at a state

Which is unattainable by you.’

On listening to this, the Mara King was filled with worries and anxieties. He left quickly. His retinues also subside and disappear.

Poisonous snake, Ananda, Evil poisonous snake, World Honoured One

Once I heard of the Buddha and Ananda were walking in a remote area in the wild. By the side of the rice fields they saw a hidden treasury. The Buddha said to Ananda,

‘This is a great poisonous snake.’

Ananda said to the World Honoured One, ‘It is an evil poisonous snake.’

At that time there was a farmer standing in the field. On hearing the Buddha’s and Ananda’s talks on the poisonous snake, he thinks,

‘I should go and take a look. What is meant by an evil poisonous snake for a monk?’

When he arrived at the spot he found some pure gold hidden in the grass. He talks to himself,

‘So this is the evil poisonous snake for the monks. Gosh it is pure gold!’

 He immediately carried the gold and kept them at his house. This man was formerly poor with a lack in food and clothes. Now as he had become so rich he was able to sustain a luxurious life with abundant food and clothes. The King was suspicious of his sudden richness and brought him to the jail to question. He finished spending all the money to try to free him-self from the punishment but in vain. He was sentenced to death. Out of great despair, he sang out loudly, ‘Poisonous snake, Ananda, evil poisonous snake, World Honoured One.’ He kept on repeating these few words he had heard from the monks.

Those jailers heard his singing and reported to the King. The King questioned personally, ‘Why are you singing poisonous snake, Ananda, evil poisonous snake, World Honoured One?’

The prisoner told the King,

‘I was planting the field and I heard the Buddha and Ananda said, “Poisonous snake! It is evil poisonous snake!” Only now do I awaken and realize it is truly the poisonous snake.’

And he spoke in verses,

‘All the Buddha speaks in the same way.

They say it is the great poisonous snake.

Ananda agreed with the World Honoured One,

‘Truly it is the evil poisonous snake.’

The strength of this evil poisonous snake

Only now can I understand its meaning.

My faith increases, my respect for the Buddha,

The World Honoured One is greatly magnified.

Now my life is at stake,

That is why I recite the Buddha’s words.

The poisonous snake not only bites me,

It has even bitten my wife, my relatives, my children,

My servants, maids and others

Will be there no more for me

Everyone undergoes great suffering, afflictions.

The wealth is eaten by the evil poisonous snake,

It finished eating my family, my relatives.

Now I see the money, the jewel,

The closed relatives

Are just like the evil poisonous snake.

When a man gets angry,

He should quickly stay away from it.

To live in the renunciation of the evil poisonous snake,

One should quickly leave the home life

And enter the forests, the mountain.

Where on earth can you find a wise man?

On listening and seeing this happening

Will still be attached to the money?

If so, his mind should be closed up with all the afflictions.

I thought I was greatly benefitted,

In reality I have to face this despair!’

On hearing the verses, the King knew that this man has given rise to great faith in the Buddha words.

The King said,

‘Now that you can have the genuine faith

In the compassionate great Celestial Being

His words are always true.

There is no doubt.

The money that you found the other day,

Will all be returned to you.

Besides, I will also make all kinds of offerings

Of money and jewels to you.

It is because of your great faith and genuine respect

In the genuine words

Of the One Who Subdues, the Well Gone One

The Great Brahman, the Bali Asura,

The Heavenly Kings and the Sakya Indra,

All the kings and I

All the wealthy ones in town

The Brahman, the Kshatriyas

The Honoured man, the wise men with right views

Everyone has good faith in the Buddha’s words.

As your faith is the same as mine

Now you are receiving an immediate reward.

By dwelling in good faith,

You should be able to attain the First Fruition.’

On hearing a good advice, one should think about it. One will surely be benefitted.

That is why a wise man will always listen to the wonderful and wholesome Dharma.

Written by The Bodhisattva Asvaghosa–The Great Adornment Shastra Sutra Chapter 34

Five Wise Reflections of a Bodhisattva to keep Anger at Bay

 ‘With the adornment of all the Buddha Dharma,

Wisdom, precepts and concentration,

He is able to benefit all living beings.

This is Bodhi.

His mind is not moving,

He can endure matters pertaining to the attainment of the Buddha path,

His mind is neither severed nor broken down

Such a mind is called Sattva.’

Bodhi is the Buddha Path, sattva refers to living beings or a great mind.

A bodhisattva wishes to accomplish the merits and virtues of the Buddha Path. His mind can neither be severed nor broken down.His great mind resembles the Vajra Mountain.

 A Bodhisattva is replete with the various Dharani Samadhi, patience, all merits and virtues.

 A Bodhisattva with Dharani is able to uphold all kinds of wholesome dharma so that they will always be with him, not dispersed nor lost.

A Bodhisattva with Dharani is able to obstruct the evils and unwholesome roots from growing in his mind. He has the strength to stop the growth of evils, sinful actions and unkind thoughts.

A Bodhisattva with Dharani will be able to remember all the dharma he has heard with the strength of mindfulness.

The Dharani will always follow a Bodhisattva and not to leave him just the same when a ghost gets attached to man and refuses to leave.

The upholding of the Dharani enables the Bodhisattva not to fall on the ground of the two vehicles, namely Sound Hearers and Pratyeka Buddha. It is like a kind father who loves his son. When the father sees the son is on the verge of falling into a pit, he will quickly stretch out his hands to stabilize him so that he will not fall down.

With the strength of Dharani, all the Mara Kings, Mara citizens, Maras are unable to move him, break him down. They are unable to win him over. It resembles the Mount Sumeru which is unable to be blown apart with the strength of a mundane man.

All Kinds of Dharani

  1.  Listening and Upholding Dharani – A bodhisattva will not forget whatever that he has heard, all kinds of languages, all kinds of dharma.
  2. Knowing and Differentiating Dharani – A bodhisattva is able to know and differentiate all kinds of living beings, all kinds of dharma, big or small, pretty or ugly.
  3. Entering the Sound Dharani– A bodhisattva will not get angry or happy on listening to all kinds of words and sounds.

Even though he has not put his afflictions to extinction, a bodhisattva with Dharani will not get angry when all living beings scold and criticize him throughout Ganges Sands of Kalpas.

 He reflects wisely in the following manners:

 When he hears the evil sounds,critics, scolding, accusation etc. he reflects,

1.    ‘If one does not have differentiation, where is the angry man?’

2.  ‘If the ears do not go to the dust of sound, where is the angry sound?’

3.  ‘Words and sounds arise atone instant and become extinct the next instant. They do not dwell before this or after that. They have no fixed dwelling so they are empty.’

4.  ‘The words and sounds carry different meanings at different places and their meanings are not fixed.’

5.  ‘All dharma are neither born nor extinct. They resemble the dreams, the illusions.’