Education

The fragrance of virtue

Update: 12/09/2015
Once, Bhagavan was staying at Vesàli when Ananda came and prostrated himself before the Buddha then told him:
 

The fragrance of virtue

 

"World Honoured One. There are three types of tress whose scent spreads only in the direction of the wind. What are three types? They are trees whose fragrance comes from roots, cores and flowers”.


The Buddha then told him: “Ananda, in fact, there are some plants whose scent spreads in the direction of the wind, against that of the wind and  both of the above.”


 "World Honoured One. What is the name of that tree?


Here, Ananda, that tree is implied a man or a woman who takes refuges in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and he/she renounces killing, stealing, an evil life, telling lies, drinking and preserving  morality, maintaining a virtuous character, practicing almsgiving and staying away from avarice… That kind of person is of course praised by the Recluses and Brahmins everywhere.


 â€œAnanda, in reality, there is no flower’s fragrance that moves against the wind even Sandal-wood, Tagara or Mallika flowers. Only the virtuous ones can move against the wind in all directions.”


 (Vietnamese Tripitaka, Anguttara I, Chapter 3, Ananda, the Flowers, published by the Vietnamese Buddhist Research Institute in 1996, page 408)


Discussion:


Maybe that was a beautiful day and Venerable Ananda could smell the scent of pure grass by the wind.  The words of acknowledgement burst form him for the gift.


 But when he shared that experience with the Buddha, he was extremely surprised because the perception of the Master was too exquisite. The Buddha introduced an image of a tree of super fragrance which spreads out to the heaven and the earth, turns most of us into ecstasy, moves everywhere without depending on the directions of wind, fading with the time and diluting in the space.

 It turns out to be the scent of virtue. Fame, good reputation of a true Buddhist are always praised and spread out. When a person who vows to come back to take refuges in the Three Jewels, keeping five precepts, practicing good behaviors, staying away from bad things and showing compassion towards others, his/her scent of virtue spreads  in all directions.


 This fame has always been praised by the Recluses, fellow cultivators and his name has extensively been mentioned. The story of Anathapindika, a devout Buddhist, is a typical example of the time (He is known  for his enthusiastically supporting the loners, underprivileged people), so his fragrance of virtue spreads its scent not only within India but also throughout the world and it has certainly spread up till now and  many years later.


 While this fragrance of virtue spreads to every corner of the earth, disrepute also spreads as fast as fragrance. A proverb says “A tiger leaves its skin after death. A person leaves behind his/her reputation after he/she passes away”. No matter what kinds of reputation they get (good or ill repute) , they  quickly spread everywhere. Therefore, the Buddhists have to try our best to improve ourselves so that our fragrance of virtues spreads. Moreover, we should direct our mind sincerely towards and take refuges in the Three Jewels in order to be guided by Buddha’s teachings and to avoid evil, immoral deeds, dishonoring ourselves in today and tomorrow’s life.


 Another proverb is “A stele will wear out in one hundred years. A posthumous ill fame will remain in thousand years.” 

So, every Buddhist needs to improve the virtue to be fragrant forever in life.


Quang Tanh.

Translated into English by Le Thien An

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