41 Pishacha Ghosts
Once there were two pishacha ghosts who jointly owned a suitcase, a cane, and a pair of wooden shoes. The two ghosts fought over these items, each wishing to claim them for his own. They quarreled all day long without ever reaching any kind of settlement. One day an onlooker came by and asked them, “What’s so special about this suitcase, cane, and wooden shoes that causes the two of your to fight over them so bitterly?”
The two ghosts replied, “This suitcase of ours is able to bring forth all manner of provisions such as clothing, food and drink, bedding and mats. This cane is able to subdue all enemies so they don’t dare resist. One who puts on these wooden shoes will be able to fly anywhere without hindrance.”
The man immediately said to the ghosts, “Stand further back, and I will divide these things equally between the two of you.”
The two ghosts moved away. The man quickly snatched the suitcase and the cane, put on the shoes, and flew off. The two ghosts were shocked, and they ended up with nothing. The man said, “I have what you were fighting over. Now there’s no more reason for the two of you to argue.”
The pishacha ghosts are an analogy for demons and heretics. The suitcase is an analogy for giving, for providing all the necessities of life for humans and gods in the five paths of rebirth.
The cane is an analogy for Chan Samadhi, able to vanquish demonic enemies and the thieves of afflictions. The wooden slippers are an analogy for holding precepts, which enable one to ascend to the realm of humans and gods. Demons and heretics fighting over the suitcase is an analogy for those who pursue the rewards of liberation while laboring in the midst of outflows—they will obtain nothing. However, if one is able to practice wholesome deeds, giving, holding precepts, and Chan Samadhi, one will be able to leave suffering and attain the fruit of the Way.
42 The Trader and the Dead Camel
One time there was a trader who went traveling on business. In the middle of his journey, his camel died. The camel was laden with many jewels, fine carpets and other goods. The trader then flayed the dead camel and left it with his two apprentices, saying, “Watch over this camel hide. Do not let it get wet or ruined.”
Later when it began to rain, the two foolish men covered the camel hide with a carpet of superior quality. As a result the carpet was completely ruined. The carpet was much more valuable than the hide, but because of their stupidity, the men covered the camel hide with the carpet.
People of the world act that way, too. The fine carpet is analogous to abstaining from killing. The camel hide is analogous to wealth and treasures. To let the carpet get wet when it is raining is analogous to destroying wholesome deeds through indulgence. To abstain from killing is the most superior, wonderful cause leading to the Buddha’s Dharma body, and yet people do not practice it. Instead they build stupas and temples with their wealth to make offerings to the Sangha. They renounce the roots and grasp the branches, forsaking the basics. As a result they drift along the five paths of rebirth, unable to get out. Therefore, cultivators should intently and sincerely uphold the precept against killing.
43 Grinding a Large Stone
One time a man carved a large stone with great effort. After chipping away at it for days and months, he succeeded in making a small toy cow from the stone. When compared to the strenuous effort that was put into it, the result was trivial.
People of the world are like this, too. Carving the large stone is analogous to diligently pursuing learning. Making the small toy cow is analogous to people mutually deprecating each other because of their wish for fame and recognition. A scholar should intently investigate his learning so that he acquires subtle and all-encompassing knowledge. Furthermore, he should put his learning into practice in order to seek a sublime result. He should not seek fame and in the process become arrogant and haughty. This will only increase his faults and offenses.
44 Eating Half a Cake
Once there was a man who was so hungry, he ate seven pancakes. By the time he had finished eating six and half pancakes, he was full. Remorseful and upset, he slapped his own hand and said, ”Half a pancake filled me up. The other six were wasted. If I had known that this half a pancake could fill me up, I would have eaten it first.”
Worldly people are like this, too. They have never experienced bliss, and yet they convince themselves with their stupid delusion that there is such a thing as bliss, just like that foolish man who was convinced he got full by eating half a pancake. Worldly ignorant people think that wealth and honor are bliss. And yet the pursuit of wealth and honor entails much suffering. To guard them after having obtained them is also suffering. And, having lost them, pining and fretting over them is even more suffering. Throughout those three periods of time, one is never blissful.
This is also like people who delude themselves into thinking that food and clothing are pleasure. Therefore, the Buddhas says, “The three realms have no peace. They are all suffering.” But because they are upside down, ordinary people cling on to their mistaken notions of bliss.
45 The Slave Guarding the Door
Once a man was about to go on a long trip. He instructed his slave, “Watch the door carefully, and keep an eye on the donkey and the rope.”
After the houseowner left, the neighbor started to play music, which attracted the slave. He attached the rope to the door and put it on the donkey’s back, and went over to the neighbor’s to listen to the music. After the slave left, the house was robbed by thieves.
On his return the master asked the slave, “Where is my wealth?” The slave answered, “You entrusted me with the door, donkey, and rope. I know nothing about the rest.”
The master further questioned him, “The whole purpose of your watching the door was to watch over my property. Now that the property is stolen, of what use is the door?”
Foolish people undergoing birth and death, acting as slaves to love, are the same way. The Thus Come One teaches them to always guard the gates of their sense faculties, not to become distracted by the six defiling objects, and to watch over the donkey of ignorance and the rope of love. And yet the Bhikshus do not follow the Buddha’s instructions. Greedy for benefit and offerings, they feign the appearance of purity as they sit in meditation, and yet their minds are racing greedily after the five desires. They are confused by sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Ignorance covers over their minds and they are fettered by the rope of love. As a result, the wealth of proper mindfulness, thoughts of enlightenment and the shares of the Path are all lost.
46 Stealing a Yak
Once upon a time, the people of a certain village together stole a yak and ate it. The owner of the yak traced their tracks and came to that village. He called out to the villagers saying, “Do you live in this village?”
The villagers said, “We know of no village.”
The owner further asked, “There is a pond in your village. Did you eat the yak together on the side of the pond?”
The villagers replies, “We know of no pond.”
The owner again asked, “Is there a tree near the pond?”
“No, we know of no tree, “answered the villagers.
“Were you on the east side of the village when you stole my yak?”
“We know of no eastern direction.”
“Wasn’t it at noon that you stole my yak?”
“Although it is possible that there is no village and no tree,” said the owner, “How could it be possible that there is no direction and no time in all the world? This proves you have been lying and that I can’t believe you at all. Did you steal my yak and eat it?”
The villagers finally admitted; “We ate your yak.”
Those who break the precepts are this way, too. They cover up their offenses and refuse to admit them. Upon death they enter the hells. Under the scrutiny of the good spirits and gods, these people are unable to conceal their offenses, just like the villagers who could not but admit that they stole the yak for food.
47 The Poor Man Who Feigned the Crow of a Mandarin Duck
Once upon a time, in a certain foreign country, the people were celebrating one of their special holidays. All the women wore blue lotus flowers on their hair as ornaments. A woman said to her husband, a poor man, “If you can find me a blue lotus, I will remain your wife. Otherwise, I will leave you.”
The husband was skilled at crowing like a mandarin duck. He then went to the king’s pond and started to crow like a mandarin duck, intending to steal a blue lotus. He was caught by the warden of the pond, who asked him, “Who are you?”
With a slip of the tongue, the poor man answered, “I’m a duck.” Thereupon he was arrested and brought before the king. On his way the poor man again crowed like a duck. The warden said to him, “You didn’t crow properly before. What’s the use of crowing now?”
Stupid people of the world are like this, too. Throughout their lives they cruelly harm others with many evil deeds, refusing to regulate their minds to do good. Only at the end of their lives do they claim, “I wish to cultivate good acts.” But the guardians of the hells will take them before King Yama. Even if they wish to cultivate good they are too late, just like that foolish man who crowed like a duck when he was on his way to see the king.
48 The Jackal Hit by a Snapped Twig
Once a jackal stood beneath a tree. When the wind blew, a twig fell and hit the jackal’s back. He then closed his eyes, not wishing to see the tree. Afterwards he went to an open place and would not return even when nighttime fell. From afar he could see the wind blowing the large tree until its branches were moving up and down. Then he said, “That must be the tree calling out to me.”
Ignorant disciples are this way, too. Having set forth from the home-life they are able to draw near a teacher, but they run away at the slightest remonstration. Afterwards they encounter evil friends who get them into a lot of trouble. Only then do they begin to think of returning to their teacher. It is stupid of them to come and go like this.
49 Two Young Boys’ Argument over Feathers
Once two boys were diving in a river and found a bunch of feathers at the bottom of the river. One boy said it was the beard of an immortal, while the other insisted that it was bear’s fur. An immortal happened to be by the river’s shores, and so the two boys went to him asking for a settlement of their debate. The immortal took some rice and sesame seeds into his mouth and chewed them for a while, then he spat them into his hand and told the boys, “What I have here seems to be peacock droppings.”
It is clear from his reply that the immortal did not answer the question that was put to him. Ignorant people of the world are like this, too. When discussing Dharma, they bring up idle theories and do not answer questions with proper principles. They are like the immortal whose answer made him the laughing stock of all people. The same idea applies to those who engage in empty, frivolous discussions.
50 Curing a Hunchback
Once a man who suddenly became a hunchback went to a doctor for treatment. The doctor treated him with some kind of ointment, and then squeezed the hunchback in between two pieces of wooden planks. He squeezed so hard that the hunchback’s eyes popped out.
Stupid people of the world are like this, too. Wishing to make money, they engage in many trades and professions, not stopping at any kind of illegal method. The profit they gain will not make up for the injuries they create. In the future they will fall into the hells and be like the hunchback whose eyes popped out..