Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Buddha Stories - part one

Inside Out – The path less taken

Dear reader of this stories, You will find stories of Gautama Buddha. I have named them inside out- the path less taken, which means something coming from inner core of your thinking to outside world.
Over last few days, I had been going through Buddhism literatures and it has always been fascinating to read about Buddha. Right from childhood we have been reading the stories of Buddha and let me confess that Initially I found it hard to relate to the enlightened soul but over years passed by I could relate to his teachings. Reader, its not Buddhism that I am unfolding to you, Buddha's stories.

Story 1:state of Mind 

 In common parlance we often hear about heaven and hell. 

As many people think that they are state of mind. Don’t we go in our thoughts to heaven or hells daily? But there are many people in this world who are constantly in heaven. If they are capable of being there, so can we, but the path is less taken…the way to that is our internal enquiry.  

Once upon a time, Buddha and his followers were camping near a village. Buddha has a disciple by name “Purna” he served to Buddha and today is the day he completed his sadhna and was about to leave. 

“Master, I shall take my leave to spread your message to the world that are in need of it”  

Buddha told, “I will permit you O Purna, but I want to ask you, where would you like to go"? 

“Master, in Magad, there is a place called Sukha, I shall head to that direction as till now no Bhikshu been to Sukha and I feel people should know your teachings” 

“No one has been there before O purna…there is a reason behind it. The people over there are very sinful. It may happen they may trouble you, ill treat you and may be disrespectful towards you. What will go in your mind then?” 

“Master, I shall be thankful to them that they only disgraced me but did not beat me up. They could have done that but just disgraced me” 

“It may happen they may beat you up. What will go in your mind then?”

 “Master, then I shall think that they just beat me up, but did not kill me”

 “One last thing I want to know, It may happen that the same people may kill you, when you are nearing death, What goes in your mind?” 

“I will be thankful to them that they relieved from this life, from this body that which could in future may have done mistakes, sins, I shall thank them for this opportunity O Master” 

Buddha smiled and told, “O Purna, now you can go anywhere, your path on this earth is without obstacles. Wherever you go, whatever place you go, is a family to you, is heaven to you, as any bhikshu who has your state of mind, there are no thorns in the way”

Story 2: Compassion

Once it happened that a man came to Buddha and in fit of rage spit on Buddha’s face. 

He was burning with so much anger that he literally spit on his face. For some moments it was such a shocking incident to everyone present, that people stood still and numb. 

Gautama Buddha gently wipes the spit from his face and smiled at the person who spit and he asked the angry man “Anything else you want to tell me brother?”

Anand, a Bhikshu near Buddha told “Master this is the limit of how people can ill treat you, give me permission so that I can fix this person in rage”

That person who spat on Buddha ran away. Buddha smiled and told Anand, “he actually wants to say something Ananda…but he has no capable language…anger is bursting so much in his veins that he is unable to express in words, hence this action”

When all the disciples felt utterly shocked, insignificant and humiliated Buddha had the rare insight of human nature and its workings. He knows that when people are in anger their action speaks more then their words. Such was his compassion.

That evening before his sleep Buddha told Ananda. “Men are weak that they are not able to express their emotions…Ananda he wanted to express something for sure…wonder what he wanted to say so much”
The very night the man who spit on Buddha felt guilty and he could not sleep entire night. The very next day he went to Buddha and fell on his feet and started to cry like a baby…he wanted to apologies for his actions.
“Do you see that Ananda…language is poor, even now he wants to say something but language is poor, unable to express it just like yesterday as what he wanted to do so”

The man was weeping and Buddha told him “Life is short and if we don’t have compassion, then neither we understood the path nor the life” The same man spit on Buddha and the very next day became his disciple. Don’t we see that actions do have positive results even in our life? How else suddenly we like to touch someone’s hand, or feel the need to hug them and our eyes gets closed. We are incapable of language when we are too emotional filled with either too much anger or too much love.

Story 3: Tell me your goal
It so happened that Gautama Buddha made a makeshift stay at a village and use to give disclosures. A man came and asked,
“You tell us everyday that every person can attain moksha, but why can’t they get it?”

Buddha replied “My dear friend, do one thing. In the evening go around this little village and ask the folks what they really want and when they tell you, you keep a record of their names and their wish as what is it that they want.”

This was a village with less population and the man went to every house and every person to record their goals. The next day he came to Buddha quite perplexed and dizzy. He handed over the list to Buddha.

“How many want Moksha?” asked Buddha. Not a single person wanted moksha.
“Everyone can attain moksha, yes I told that but every one will get it, I never told”.
People have the capacity to attain truth. Almost all the people but very few will take the path to attain it. The man understood what Buddha meant and how he asked him that question.
“If you want to attain moksha then there is hope for you, if you really are thirsty for it then no power on this planet can stop your quest for ultimate truth but if you are not thirsty, then the opposite is true, as all the power of this earth may not give you the inspiration you need. You should be ready for transformation.”
Story 4: The man who wanted to murder Buddha
Friends, all amongst you knows the last of the story or chances are that you have already heard about this story. 

As this story is popular in India and Asian countries but for others, let me tell you this deals with a word called “Transformation”  

When we look at criminals and sinners one among many matters psychologist make is that they had power of negative energy in their beings. Pity that they could not get guidance. If a positive contact were established, they would change their course of mind. They would become responsible. 

Once upon a time in ancient Bihar there lived a ferocious dacoit by name “Angulimal” he was once son of a king and a very wise disciple but due to jealousy of other disciples he was thrown out of school and then took on to be highway robber. He then use to rob travelers and the legend has it that he would cut finger of each person he has killed and put it as garland on his neck. He use to smear his body with blood and he vowed that he would kill one thousand people and keep their fingers as garland. Now he just needed one man and with that killing he would kill 1000 people.
If anyone in a village came to know that Angulimal might attack, that village would become isolated. Even the king of the then Bihar, Prasnajeet was afraid of this dacoit as his warriors could neither capture angulimal nor kill him but got killed in return.
Gautama Buddha, the Tathata was passing one village near the mountain where the villagers feared that Angulimal is nearby and were escaping. Buddha came to know about Angulimal and wants to proceed to the place forbidden. 

“No! Please don’t go further O Tathata” pleaded the folks to Buddha 
“O wise one, you are a bhikshu, unarmed don’t go, Angulimal will slain you”
“The path that I choose, I stick to that, I don’t change my path because of anybody else,” said Buddha.
The villagers were quite puzzled. “Now it is for you to see if Angulimal kills Buddha or Buddha kills Angulimal”  
“O wise man, its crazy of you to say this, you are unarmed, how are you going to kill him? He is a demon with sword and stink of human flesh and blood smeared on his body”
“It is great fortune on this path in meeting Angulimal, it is indeed an opportunity for me to meet him” saying this Buddha proceeded.
On a hill top Angulimal was waiting and saw someone passing by. He smiled to himself as his thousand victim was here. He from the hill followed Buddha almost running but Buddha was steadfast in his gracious walk. Angulimal saw a monk quite majestic, walking with utmost grace and then he thought he is a sanyasi a person who left the world and in solicitude…and also unarmed.

“Look here, don’t come near. Just telling you this because you are a sanyasi…go back I feel pity for you merely looking at your walk…go back or you meet you death. Don’t come near”
Buddha was smiling and yet walking.
“Don’t come near, because I will kill you. I normally never pity anyone”

Buddha replies, “Neither me, I too don’t pity anyone, in fact I have no habit of that and I don’t like someone else pity me and I won’t go back”

Angulimal wanted to scare him so he came in open to show himself and sword in hand.

Buddha told, “Whenever there is a challenge how do you expect a sanyasi to go back? You know I am coming near you, I want you to come near me too”

Now Angulimal never met anyone like that, bit worried he thought this person must be crazy. He took his sword and down he went toward Buddha.

“You are nearing your death with your own hands” smilingly Buddha told Angulimal. 

“Before you kill me do me a little favor. You see the tree there? Just pluck four leafs please”

Angulimal looked at the tree and with one gentle thrust with his sword he cut the whole branch of tree. 

“You wanted four leafs, now look! You have thousands”

“One last thing. Just this one before you kill me…all you have to do is to rejoin what you have destroyed”
Angulimal tells Buddha “This is difficult”

“Even a small kid can destroy, but a real man is one who can join it and I can clearly see in you that you are very timid and weak man. You just know destruction, so now you forget the thought that you are powerful, as you cant even join a single leaf” 

Angulimal looked at Buddha’s smiling face. All he could see was radiance…something in Angulimal changed, a transformation was taking place in his being. He thought deeply about his past life as a good disciple days in his school and then asked Buddha

“Is there a way where I can join a leaf?”

“Sure there is a way and I always travel on this way for I do not know any other way”  

For the first time guilt knocked angulimal soul’s door. For first time he felt how mundane his wove was. How monotones his life was, his existence was. For first time he felt something speaking in him. Angulimal could not comp rend the feeling of transformation taking place but he know that something had happen to him. Even a weak person can destroy and kill and he thought to himself that he is not weak what should he do then.

“What do I do?”
“Follow Me,” told Buddha

Angulimal then became his disciple and Bhikshu. Buddha became his master and he served Tathata. 

Later he went for alms in village and people pelted stones on him, he was hit by stones and blood came out of his body. Buddha was watching this and yet Angulimal did not shout, he did not utter a single word. Angulimal was now bearing the pain that he gave to others. His body was on ground oozing blood.

Buddha went to him and put his hand on his head and told

“Angulimal…stand up now Bhramin Angulimal today you are strong and not weak, when they hit you with stones I observed that you did not had any ill feeling towards them, even when blood came out, you did not had any remorse. Stand O Bhramin you have attained the Bhraminhood.  

Later King Raja Prashnajit came to know about the incident and went to Buddha
“I heard through my counsel that now Angulimal is transformed? May I have darshan, may I have his audience please O Tathata” Buddha told the kind

“ Rajan, the person who is sitting to my left side is Angulimal” The same king feared Angulimal, as even his army could not capture this person who was once a ferocious dacoit. Fear gripped king’s face and Angulimal spoke
“Don’t fear O king, that Angulimal is long dead and now transformed, the negative power that reside in me is transformed O king, now even if you kill me I shall not have any ill feeling towards you.
When king and most of the people wanted to know how such a sinner changed so drastically Buddha had this to say
“It is not a question of sinner or saint or vices or virtues, rather it’s the transformation of negative power to positive one” This is the story of Angulimal who became bhikshu and served Buddha. People are either good or bad but on which direction they channelize their power is what counts. We all have unlimited capacity in self. We need to tap it and channelize in positive way. Later the same Angulimal became a great literary giant, a wise man and a wise poet and his fame spread to many many countries.
Om Shanti Om Shanti Om Shanti