11 The Brahman Kills His Own Son
Once there was a Brahman who thought himself very knowledgeable, understanding all the skills. Presumptuous and wishing to display his abilities, he went abroad, carrying his son and crying. Someone asked the Brahman, “Why are you crying?”
He replied, “This baby is going to die within seven days. I’m crying because he shall die so young.”
The people said, “It’s difficult t know a person’s fate. Perhaps you calculated wrongly. He may not die at the end of seven days. Why weep in advance?”
The Brahman said, “The sun and moon may grow dark and the stars may fall, but my calculations are never wrong.”
For the sake of fame and gain, and to prove the truth of his saying, he killed his own son when the seven days were up.
When people heard the news of his son’s death after seven days, all praised him saying he was indeed wise and not mistaken. Thus they trusted him and admired him.
This is like Shakamuni Buddha’s four levels of disciples who for the sake of material offerings, pretended to have attained the Path. But some people will undergo limitless sufferings in the future, just like the Brahman who deluded people by killing his own son in order to prove the accuracy of his prediction.
12 Speaking About a Person’s Tendency to Get Angry
In the past, a group of people sat in a house discussing and praising the conduct of a certain foreigner. However, this person had two faults: he liked to get angry, and he acted impulsively.
Right at that time, the man being discussed happened to be passing by the house where the group of people was discussing his qualities. He knew immediately that those inside the house were talking about him. In a rage, he rushed into the house, grabbed the man who was talking about him, and proceeded to rain down blows on him.
Another person asked the foreigner, “For what reason are you beating on him?”
The foreigner replied, “When do I ever lose my temper and act impulsively? This man claims that I often get angry and act impulsively. That’s why I’m hitting him.”
The bystander pointed out, “Your behavior right now reveals your tendency to get angry and to act impulsively. How could you hide it away and act as you are?”
Those who become resentful when their faults are brought out reveal their own foolishness. This is just like an alcoholic who sinks into dissipation from his wild indulgences. When others reprimand him, he grows antagonistic and tries his best to justify himself. Such a person is like the stupid man who dislikes it when others bring up his faults. Such a person will only react with violence.
13 Slaying Their Guide and Offering Him Up as a Sacrifice
Once there was a group of merchants who wanted to go to the sea. To this end they needed a guide, and so they set out in quest for one. After they had found one, they started out on their journey. During their travels, they came upon a temple in the wilderness, where it was required that they sacrifice a person’s life before they were allowed to pass through. The group of merchants talked it over among themselves: “We are all relatives—how could we possibly kill any one of us?” And so they killed the guide and offered him up as a sacrifice. After they had made their sacrifice, they also lost their way. Not knowing their own whereabouts, the entire group endured great anguish and eventually perished.
People of the world are this group of merchants. If they wish to obtain treasures from the depth of the Dharma ocean, they should take the practice of wholesome dharmas as their guide. If they destroy such wholesome practices, they will lost their guide and never be able to find their way out of the wilderness of birth and death. They will undergo prolonged and extensive suffering in the three evil paths. Such people are like the merchants, who, they wished to go to the sea. Once they killed their guide, they lost their way, and eventually became impoverished and died.
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Taking a Boat and Losing a Silver Bowl
Once upon a time a man took a boat across the ocean. During the trip, his silver bowl fell into the water. The man had this thought, “I shall now make a mark on the water and leave it as it is. Later on I will come back and retrieve the bowl.”
After traveling for two months, he arrived in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and then continued on to other countries. Whenever he saw a river, he dove into it and started to look around for his missing bowl. People asked him, “What are you doing? He replied, “I lost my bowl sometime ago. Now I am looking for it.
They asked him, ”Where did you lose it?”
He answered, “I lost it when I first set out at sea.”
They asked him further, “How long ago did you lose it?”
He said, “About two months ago.”
They said, “If you lost it two months ago, why are you looking for the bowl here?”
He said, “At the moment when I lost my bowl, I made a mark on the water. The water which I marked is no different from the water here.”
These people continued questioning him saying, “Although the water here is no different from the water which you marked; nonetheless, you lost your bowl somewhere else. How could you expect to find it here?”
Then the crowd all broke out in laughter.
This man is like those of heterodox sects who do not cultivate proper practices. They undergo extreme toil and deprivation due to their mistaken postulation that their “good practices” will bring them liberation. They are just like the foolish man who lost his silver bowl somewhere and tried to retrieve it at another place.
15 The Physician Prescribes A Drug For The Princess
Once there was a king who had a newborn daughter. He called in a physician and said, “Can you prescribe some drug for the baby so she can grow up immediately?”
The physician said, “Yes, I can administer a fine drug which will make her grow up instantly, but I don’t have the formula right now. I will have to go search for it. However, during the period of search, Your Majesty must not lay eyes on your daughter. After I give her the drug, then I will bring her before Your Majesty.”
Then the physician went to a faraway place to look for the drug. After twelve years had passed he found the drug. He administered it to the princess and brought her before the King. The King took a look at his daughter and was overjoyed. He thought to himself, “What a fine physician! He gave my daughter a drug and caused her to grow up immediately!” Then the King ordered his attendants to reward the physician with treasures and gems.
People laughed at the king for his lack of wisdom. It never occurred to him to add up the number of months and years that had passed since his daughter’s date of birth. On seeing her grown up, he attributed her maturity to be power of the drug.
People of the world are like this king. They come to a Good Knowing Advisor and say, “I wish to seek the Way. I wish to meet someone who can teach me to gain transcendent wisdom in meditation.” The teacher uses skill-in-means to instruct his followers to sit in meditation and contemplate the twelve causes and conditions, and to accumulate myriad myriad virtues, until they eventually realize the fruit of Arhatship. At that point, the people are doubly pleased. They exclaim, “How fast this has been! This great teacher has quickly led us to the certification to the most wonderful Dharma!”
16 Watering with Sugar
Once there were two people who cooperated in plating a crop of sugar cane. They made a pact with each other: “The one who comes up with the better crop will be rewarded, while the one who doesn’t do as good a job will be severely punished.”
At that time, one of the two thought to himself, “Sugar cane is extremely sweet. If I crush the sugar cane and obtain juice and irrigate the plants with sugar-cane juice, then the sweetness of this crop will certainly excel that of my partner’s.”
Thereupon, he crushed his sugar cane and used their juice to irrigate his own plants, hoping that they will become even more succulent and sweet-tasting. But, instead he damaged the seeds and lost his entire crop.
People of the world are like this farmer. Wishing to pursue wholesome blessings, they rely on their own wealth and influence to oppress the people and usurp and confiscate others’ wealth and possessions. They conduct themselves in this way in their pursuit of blessings, hoping for riches and wholesome rewards. They fail to realize that. They will reap a terrible retribution. They are like the man who squeezed sugar cane juice on his sugar cane plants and ended up losing both the juice and the plants.
17 The half-Cent Debt
In bygone times a certain merchant loaned out a half cent and for a long time didn’t get it back. Finally, he decided to visit his debtor and demand repayment of the loan. On his way, he came upon a great river and had to pay two cents ferry fare to get across. When he reached his debtor’s house, he found out that he wasn’t there. On his return home, this man had to cross the river again, and he paid another two cents for the ferry fare.
And so, for a “half a cent” debt, he ended up losing four cents, not to speak of the extreme tiredness he felt from his journey. The debt was small; the loss was significant.
People of the world are also like this. For the sake of a little fame or gain, they think nothing of ruining their great conduct. They care only for the survival of their own persons and disregard what is righteous and proper. In this present life they earn a bad name; in the future they will reap a bitter retribution.
18 Boiled Molasses
Once upon a time, a stupid man was boiling molasses. When a rich man came to his house, he wanted to give some of the molasses to the rich man. He poured a bit of water into the pot of molasses and put it over a fire, and then he used a fan to fan the molasses, trying to cool it. A bystander asked him, “If you don’t put out the fire below, how could the molasses cool down even if you keep on fanning it?” People began to laugh at this man. This is just like externalists who do not bother to extinguish the fire of afflictions. They delve into ascetic practices such as lying down on thorns and brambles, or scorching the five parts of their bodies in hope of attaining the path of clear coolness and quiescence. They will never get anywhere. They are laughed at by the wise, who think them strange. In their present lives, they undergo suffering; in the future, they still have to undergo the pain of revolving in the wheel.
19 Sharpening the Knife Upstairs
Once there was a poor man who worked for the king. After months had passed, his body became thin and emaciated. Out of pity for him, the king gave him a dead camel. The poor man immediately started to flay the camel. Finding his knife too blunt, he went about looking for a whetsone to grind it. He found one upstairs. After he had sharpened his knife, he came downstairs to skin the camel. This he did repeatedly, running up and down the stairs, to sharpen his knife. The process became so toilsome that he couldn’t manage to go up and down the stairs any more. He ended up dragging the entire carcass of the camel up the stairs, so he could sharpen his knife next to it. Everybody laughed at him.
This person’s behavior is like that of deluded people who break the precepts, and who expend plenty of money to cultivate blessings in hope of being reborn in the heaven. These people are like the man, who, because he liked to sharpen his knife, dragged the entire camel upstairs. The effort was tedious; but the results were minimal.
20 The King Was Said to Have Been Recklessly Cruel
In the past, when a certain person was talking about the king’s faults, he remarked, “The king is despotic and unreasonable!” When those words got back to the king’s ears, he was beside himself with rage. Without finding out exactly who had said it, he believed in the words of a deceitful attendant and put a worthy minister under arrest. He issued an order to have the minister’s back flayed and a hundred ounces of his flesh hacked from his body.
Shortly thereafter, someone testified to the minister’s innocence. Then the king, feeling remorseful, sent the minister a thousand ounces of flesh to make up for what was cut off from his body. But the minister was wracked with pain and cried out in the night.
The king heard his moans and asked him, “What’s wrong with you? I took a hundred ounces of your flesh, but gave you back ten times the amount. Aren’t you satisfied? Why are you still groaning?”
A bystander observed, “Your Majesty, if you were to cut off the head of your own son, even if you were to make up for the loss with a thousand heads, still, your son could not escape the way of death. Although this minister has been given back ten times the flesh he has lost, still, he cannot be spared from pain.”
A stupid person is the same way. Having no fear of future lives, he greedily craves pleasures of the present. He torments the people around him and extorts much wealth from the citizens, hoping in this way to eradicate his own sins and reap blessings and rewards. This is like the king who flayed the minister’s back, cut off his flesh, and then tried to make it up to him by giving him back some flesh It is impossible to allay the pain in this way.