Bodhisattva “Never Disparaging”

Once there was a man who had a very hard way to practice Buddhism. Whenever he encountered another person, he would bow to that person and say, “I would never disparage you, for you are practicing the Buddha way and all of you will become Buddhas!”

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Because he said this to people, he was given the name Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. A bodhisattva is a person who practices Buddhism for the sake of others.

And he was called “Never Disparaging” because of what he would say to people. To disparage means to look down on someone, to think ill of that person.

When people heard Bodhisattva Never Disparaging say this to them, some of them realized what a good person he was. Some of them bowed in return and thanked him.

But others yelled at him and cursed him. Some of them said “Who are you to say that to me?” Some of them said “I don’t remember asking anyone to worship me!” Some of them threw rocks and sticks at him.

People often made fun of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. Sometimes he was even beaten. But he never gave up his way of practice. He really believed that each person he met was a potential Buddha. No matter how much people spoke ill of him or hated him, he never doubted this.

And he thought it was only right to tell people about being a Buddha. He thought they should know this.
Before he died, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was able to hear the Lotus Sutra. His behavior throughout his life showed great respect for all people. And, in telling people that they have Buddhahood inside, he saved them from suffering. He was a great Buddhist teacher.

Eventually, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was reborn as Shakyamuni himself.

The Jewel in the Topknot

Once upon a time there was a great king. He was the greatest of kings and was called the Wheel-Rolling King. It was said that he owned a magical wheel of jewels that would spin while he governed.

The king was a fine ruler, and when he found a country that was run by evil people, he would wage war against it. He continually fought such evil countries until he had crushed them all.

The king was very glad to see that some of his soldiers were very brave in war. He rewarded these soldiers with treasures such as gold, silver, shell, agate, coral, and amber. He gave some of them farms, houses, villages, and cities. He also gave elephants, horses, and vehicles to those who were worthy.

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Every time the soldiers were given these gifts from the king, they boasted, saying “I received golden rings and necklaces from the Wheel-Rolling King.”

Or: “He gave me a fabulous elephant and an ox-cart, praising my brave fight in the war.”Or: “It was clothes this time for me. But I’ll get much more next time for my valiant fight.”

Or: “But you’ll not outdo me. I’ll be fighting with all my might, too.”

There was one thing that the king kept for himself: the brilliant gem which he was keeping in his topknot. This gem was the only one of its kind in the world. If he had given it to anyone, his followers would have been shocked.

Finally, one day, the Wheel-Rolling King saw an especially brave soldier and gave him that precious gem.

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Shakymuni’s explanation:

“I, the Buddha, have kept the Lotus Sutra carefully in my heart and have told no one about it. In this way, I am like the Wheel-Rolling King — who gave many treasures to his soldiers, but kept the most valuable gem. I, like the king, have fought many battles and defeated many devils. Many of my disciples also fought along side me. I gave them many treasures of the Law and have brought them closer to enlightenment, but I did not teach them the Lotus Sutra. Why? Because the people were not ready and the time was not right.

“I did not tell my followers about the Lotus Sutra earlier because they would not have understood. In a world that is evil and ignorant, people cannot understand such a profound teaching.

“That’s why it was necessary to wage wars and destroy evil. That way, people can learn more and more about the true state of life. Once their mistaken ideas had been changed, they became more open to understanding the great teaching of the Lotus Sutra.

“One day the Wheel-Rolling King saw an especially brave soldier and gave him that precious gem. I am like that king. The Lotus Sutra is the most excellent teaching. Therefore I am teaching it last — just as the king finally gave the brilliant gem to the one who was his most worthy follower.”

Parable of the Gem in the Robe

A poor man came to visit a wealthy friend. Late into the night, the two friends ate, drank, and talked. When the poor man went to bed, he fell into a deep sleep.

In the middle of the night, a messenger came to inform the rich man that he must go immediately to a distant land far away. Before he left, he wanted to do something for his poor friend to show how much he cared for him. But he did not want to wake his friend from such a deep sleep.

So the wealthy friend sewed a beautiful colored gem inside the hem of his poor friend’s robe. This jewel had the power to satisfy all of one’s desires.

The next morning, the poor man awoke to find himself alone in his wealthy friend’s house. Totally unaware of anything that had taken place while he was sleeping, he wandered off.

The poor man traveled from place to place, looking for work. All the while, he was completely unaware that he possessed a priceless gem in the hem of his robe.

A long time passed until one day, by chance, the wealthy friend came upon the poor man in the street.
Seeing the man’s impoverished condition, the wealthy friend asked him:

“Why have you allowed yourself to become so poor? You could have used the jewel that I gave you to live your life in comfort. You must still have it, yet you are living so miserably. Why don’t you use the gem to get what you need? You can have anything you want!”

Bewildered, the poor man fumbled through the inside of his robe and, with the help of his friend, found the gem. Ashamed of his ignorance yet overcome with joy, he realized for the first time the depth of his friend’s compassion. From then on, the poor man was able to live comfortably and happily.

Parable of the Phantom City

A caravan traveled through the desert. The people in the caravan followed their guide on a long and dangerous trip to a treasure land.

Along the way, the people in the caravan became tired, confused, and discouraged. They told the guide that they could not go any further.

If they turned back, all their traveling would be wasted. The guide did not want the people to give up the journey. He knew that a wonderful treasure was at the end of the journey.

When the caravan had traveled more than halfway, a great city appeared. The guide told the people of the caravan that here was an opportunity to rest and be refreshed.

After they rested, the guide made the city disappear. He told the people that the city was nothing more than an illusion he had created to allow them to rest. He told them that their goal, the treasure land, is close.

Refreshed, the travelers continued on their journey.

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Meaning:

The phantom city represents the teachings of the three vehicles the Buddha expounded in order to guide people toward enlightenment. The treasure land represents the one Buddha vehicle toward which people should ultimately aim.

~ From the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 7

The Excellent Physician and His Sick Children

There once was a very wise doctor. He could make medications — medicine that could cure any illness imaginable.

The doctor had many children. One day, he traveled to a distant land. While he was away, his children mistakenly drank poison. They became very sick. Some were in pain, some lost their minds. Some were close to death. Others were only a little bit sick.

When the doctor returned from his long trip, he saw that his children were very sick.

All the children, even though ill with poison, were happy to see their father return. “Welcome home, father!” they said. “We’re so happy to see that you have returned safely. While you were away we were very foolish. We all mistakenly drank some poison. Please save us from this suffering!”

The doctor went to work, grinding, sifting, and mixing various herbs. He made a powerful medicine that had a beautiful color, excellent fragrance, and wonderful taste. This medicine was perfect.

Bringing the medicine to his children, he encouraged them to drink it: “My children, here is a medicine of excellent color, fragrance, and taste. Drink this and your illness will be gone and you will be well.”

Those children who were only slightly ill immediately took the medicine and were quickly cured. The children who had lost their minds refused the medicine. They were confused by the poison in their bodies. They refused to believe that their father’s medicine would help them.

“My poor children,” the father said, “because you have consumed poison, your thinking has become twisted. When you saw me return home, you begged me to cure you. But when I offered you this medicine, you refused it. If you won’t take this good medicine, how can you be cured?”

Although the children’s minds were confused, their father loved them. He had to think of a way to get them to take the medicine. Finally, the doctor said:

“My beloved children, hear me well! I am old and weak, and may die at any time. I will leave this medicine here for you. Even if I should die, your sickness can still be cured with this good medicine. Please don’t doubt that! I must leave now on another trip, so please remember what I have told you.”

The doctor then traveled to another land. He sent a messenger home to tell his children of his death. The children were stunned. They had never expected him to really die! They said: “Our father is dead! Now we have no one to rely on!”

Then, the children remembered the medicine that their father had left for them and his words before leaving. In tears, they each took some of the medicine and were immediately cured of their illness.

Then, to their amazement, their father returned home. For the first time they realized how great his love and mercy was for them.

The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs

The world has many kinds of plants — more kinds than can be named. There are bushes and trees, mosses and ferns, flowers and grains. There are herbs that can be made into medicines.

All over the earth there are plants growing. Different plants grow in different areas: on the tops of mountains and at the bottom of the sea, in the desert and in the jungle.

Clouds also cover the earth. In one moment, a cloud can rain life-giving water onto the plants. The rain nurtures the plants and soaks the soil.

Through the soil, the water soaks down, down, down to the plants’ roots. Some of the roots are woody and big. Some are thin and fine. The water goes to all the millions of kinds of plants.

Each plant uses this water according to what kind of plant it is. Some plants may blossom. Some trees may bear fruit. Some mushrooms may grow. Some vines may grow long. Some herbs may grow to be used for medicine. Each plant uses the water differently.

Although all these plants and trees grow in the same earth and are moistened by the same rain, each has its differences. But all may be nourished.

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Meaning:

When people hear the Buddha’s teaching, no matter who they are, they can receive benefit.

The Parable of the Impoverished Son

Once a boy ran away from home and wandered for many years becoming more and more poor and confused.
The boy’s father loved his son very much, but had no idea where to find him. As time went on, the father became very rich.

Fifty years passed. One day, the son showed up at his father’s estate. He did not know whose grand home this was, but wondered if he could find a job there. The father recognized his son, and set messengers to greet him. The father was overjoyed that his son had returned.

But the son misunderstood. He thought the messengers were trying to arrest him for doing something wrong.
The father saw his son’s fear and confusion. He realized his son was not ready to accept the truth, so he told the messengers to leave his son alone.

Later the father had some of his servants dress in rags. He had these servants go to his son and offer him a job shoveling excrement. The son had been living so poorly for so long, he saw this job as a wonderful opportunity.

Over the years, the father showed an interest in his son. He praised him, increasing his pay, and gave him better jobs. But he never told him his true identity.

After twenty years, the father was old and near death. By then the son was in charge of all of the wealthy man’s business. The son had become a responsible but humble man.

Finally, just before his death, the father gathered all of his friends and all the powerful people of the city to his bedside. He revealed then the true identity of his son. The son inherited all of the fortune.

~ From the Lotus Sutra Chapter 4, Belief and Understanding

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Questions:

Why didn’t the father tell the son right away?
Was not telling him the truth the same as lying to him?
How does this story apply today?

The Three Carts and the Burning House

One day, a fire brokes out in the house of a wealthy man who had many children. The wealthy man shouts at his children inside the burning house to flee. But, the children are absorbed in their games and cannot understand his warning, though the house is being consumed by flames.

Then, the wealthy man devises a practical way to lure the children from the burning house. Knowing that the children are fond of interesting playthings, he calls out to them, “Listen! Outside the gate are the carts that you have always wanted: carts pulled by goats, carts pulled by deer, and carts pulled by oxen. Why don’t you come out and play with them?”

The wealthy man knows that these things will be irresistible to his children.

The children immediately race out to get into the carts. In this way, the wealthy man is able to get his children safely away from the burning house.

Once outside, the children demand the carts they have been promised. Instead, the wealthy man gives them a much finer and larger cart — one that runs as swiftly as the wind — adorned with many jewels and drawn by a great white ox. This cart is called the Great White Ox Cart.

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Explanation:

The wealthy man can be compared to the Buddha, and the children to the people. The burning house indicates the real world where sufferings abound. The goat, deer, and ox carts represent the early teachings of Buddhism. In those previous teachings the goal was to attain the levels of Learning, Realization, or Bodhisattva.

Once those levels were reached, the Buddha’s followers were then ready to hear about the highest teaching, the Lotus Sutra. The Great White Ox Cart is compared to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, which opens the direct way to Buddhahood.

~ From the Hiyu chapter (Chapter 3) of the Lotus Sutra

Intelligence

One afternoon, some people saw an old woman looking for something outside of her hut. “What’s going on? What are you looking for?” the people would ask her. “I lost a needle,” she said. All of the people present started to look for the needle with the old woman.

After some time, someone commented: “The street is very long and a needle is very small, why don’t you tell us exactly where you dropped it?” “Inside of my house,” said the old woman.

“Have you gone mad? If you dropped the needle inside of your house, why are you looking for it out here?” the people asked her. “Because there’s sunlight out here, but there’s none inside my house,” she said matter of factly.

The fourth Buddhist tale reminds us that many times, out of convenience, we seek for things on the outside that are actually found on the inside. Why do we seek happiness outside of ourselves? Did we lose it there?

Two Buddhist Monks and a Beautiful Woman

Two Buddhist monks, one old and one young, were strolling outside of the monastery, near a river that had flooded its surroundings. A beautiful woman came up to the monks and asked them for help crossing the river.

The young monk was horrified at the idea of taking her into his arms, but the old monk picked her up very naturally and carried her across. Then, the two monks continued on their stroll.

The young man couldn’t stop thinking about the incident and finally exclaimed: “Master! You know that we have taken a vow of abstinence. We aren’t allowed to touch a woman like that. How could you take the beautiful woman into your arms, let her put her arms around your neck, her breasts against your chest, and carry her across the river like that?” The old man answered: “Child of mine, you’re still carrying her!”

The third of these Buddhist tales helps us understand that sometimes we carry the past, with emotions of guilt or resentment, and we make it even more heavy than it really was. By accepting that the incident doesn’t form a part of our present, we can take a great deal of emotional weight off of ourselves.

The gift

Buddha was transmitting his teachings to a group of disciples when a man came up and insulted him, with the intent of attacking him. Under the gaze of everyone present, Buddha reacted with utmost tranquility, remaining totally still and silent.

When the man left, one of his disciples, enraged by such behavior, asked Buddha why he had let that stranger abuse him in such a way.

Buddha answered serenely: “If I give you a horse as a gift, but you don’t accept it, whose horse is it?” The student, after a moment’s hesitation, answered: “If I don’t accept it, it would continue being yours.”

Buddha nodded and explained that, although some people may decide to waste their time giving us insults, we can choose whether we want to accept them or not, just as we would with any other gift. “If you take it, you’re accepting it. And if not, he who insults you is simply left with an insult in their hands.”

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We can’t blame the person that hurts us, because it is our decision to accept their words instead of leaving them on the very lips they came out of.

Dog’s Tooth

This story is about a lady in Eastern Tibet who was very devoted. And she always wanted to have a tooth of the Buddha which is quite ambitious. I think there are only two or three of Buddha’s teeth, but she was very devoted and very naïve too. So she has a son who goes to Lhasa, a holy city in the center of Tibet.

Lhasa is considered to be a holy city where you have all the monasteries, temples, all the lamas. So she told her son to bring back Buddha’s tooth as a gift when we comes back from his tour to Lhasa. So he was someone who commuted between Lhasa and Eastern Tibet often, and every time he went there, he would forget to bring back a present.

So the next time he went off, his mother said: “If you don’t bring back Buddha’s tooth this time, I’m going to jump off a cliff and kill myself.”

So he said “Ok, don’t worry, this time I will make sure to bring back Buddha’s tooth for your altar.”

He went to Lhasa and he forgot again to look for Buddha’s tooth. So when he returned, as he was nearing his village, he realized that he hadn’t brought anything for his mother. He got very nervous, remembering what his mother had said. So he looked around, and found a dog’s corpse. He took a tooth from the dog’s corpse, and wrapped it in a very beautiful, fancy, silk kaza.

The next day he arrived at his village. He presented the gift to his mother and said “This is Buddha’s tooth. Please cherish it. Take care of it. Put it on your altar.”

And the mother was so happy, completely overjoyed. She put that tooth on her altar, and sat every day and did meditation and prayer. When she died, she obtained rainbow body, she became an enlightened one. This is a very good story.

So it really happens that the dog’s tooth was not Buddha’s tooth; it was a dog’s tooth, obviously, no way to mistake that. But somehow she was able to experience her own pure perception of faith in relation to her Buddha nature, by opening her heart, by having faith in that object as Buddha’s tooth.

Better to Help Than to Blame

Blaming someone is an unjustified simplification of a complex human situation. We may disapprove of the actions or the behavior of someone, but that person himself is not “useless” or “evil.” No one is intrinsically “this” or “that” within their being. The fundamental nature of consciousness or pure awareness is neither “good” nor “bad”: it is simply conscious. The content of the mind is what colors the mind and this content depends on many factors.

The way people think and behave is the result of a web of causes and conditions that are changing naturally. This can be changed further through specific interventions. People are just more or less confused, more or less “sick,” in their mind. We need to approach people with the understanding that they are human beings who have gone through countless experiences under the influence of countless circumstances, which have conditioned their way of thinking.

Blame often rises from arrogance and lack of compassion. A physician does not blame his patients, even if they behave in ways that harm their health. Instead, he tries to find ways to cure them, or skillfully helps them change their habits. When someone harms others, he should be prevented from doing so with appropriate and measured means and also helped to change his harmful behavior.

Wholesale blame of a person or a group can lead to contempt, prejudice, and eventually hatred.
So, instead of engraving our judgments about people in stone, we should view them–and ourselves as well–as flowing, dynamics streams that always have the genuine potential for change and goodness.

The world has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from jail. When asked how he could make friends with his jailers during his 27 years in detention, he answered: ”By bringing out their good qualities.”

And when asked whether he thought that all people had some good within them, he answered: ”There is no doubt whatsoever, provided you are able to arouse the inherent goodness.

~ Told by Matthieu Ricard

The Starfish Story

Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf’s edge and and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was stuck by the the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

As he came up to the person he said, “You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, “It sure made a difference to that one!”

Nothing Truely Exists

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another.
Eventually he called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said,
“This mind,the Buddha, and all sentient beings, after all, do not exist.
The true nature of all phenomena is emptiness.
There is no realization, no delusion, no sage wisdom, and no mediocrity.
There is no thing to be given and nothing to be received.”

Dokuon, who was smoking , lstened quietly but saying nothing. Then he montioned Yamaoka to approach him.
When the student approached he suddenly hit Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe.
This made the youth quite angry, and he raised his hand to strike Dokuon.
“Stop!”, yelled Dokuon, “If nothing really exists as you say, then where does your anger come from?”