Articles about Buddha

Buddha with various Dharma practice

Update: 04/05/2007
In order to guide varied disciples of various levels at best, Buddha had flexibly uses lively, feasible and practical examples in his teachings. Following are some stories for reference for readers who are deeply concerned in learning about and applying Buddha’s marvelous and profound teaching and effective methods into life.

1. Purification of mind is like the work of goldsmiths’

O Bhikkhus, there are impurities mixed in gold nuggets such as dirt, sand, grit…. The gold processor has to soak them in the water, then rinse them several times. After this step, the dirty mixture gets cleaner with just small-sized impurities left. After the next steps of cleaning, there are only dirt and fine sand left in the nuggets and after the final step, he can get clean gold nuggets.

Now it’s time the goldsmith pour them into the furnace and heat until they are melt, and try to keep them from overflowing the furnace mouth. Next, he patiently keeps heatingthe items until they become pure and ready for processing of gold bars. At this stage, these gold bars can be easily made into fine jewelry such as golden anklets, earrings, bracelets or rings as the jeweller’s wish.

Likewise, O Bhikkhus, while practicing to promote your mindfulness, you should try your best to cleanse yourselves of evils left in your actions, words and ideas, and prevent them from re-arising.

After the basic step, you ought to enter the middle level removing cravings, hatred and ill wish with even more efforts.

Upon the completion of this step, you should try the higher stage removing the subtle impurities of “self”suchas​​your relatives, home country and reputation , until it absolutely and forever disappears. When the mind is pure , it is easy for you to achieve the supernatural abilities such aspsychic travel (ability to be anywhere to do anything at will.), Divine hearing (ability to hear any soundanywhere, even in the heaven) and so on ... (Sutra Angutara Nikaya I, chapter 3, Section of The Refinement of the Mind,P.459-61).

2. Practice is like horse training

Venerable Bhaddali was not determined enough to control his craving desires yet. To teach him how totamehismind, the Buddha showed him the horse training method:

- Bhaddali, as a skillful horse coach, when getting a potential good horse, he first trains the horse to getused to the reins. While training, if it struggles by, jumping up and down, resist being tamed due to unfamiliarity tonewregulation, the coach had better consistently keep on practicing to make the horse acquainted with the reins. In the next step, he should make the horse familiar with the saddle. After overcoming all its struggle and resistance reaction and mastering the know-how in the first stage of training, the tamer will next teach it skills of how to parade, walk around, gallop full-speed, neigh etc...Finally, the horse will have to go through the lesson to get accustomed with accessories such as rattles, garlands, ornaments, etc...Bhaddali, after successfully passing such hard training courses, the horse becomes a noble steed, an excellent horse, a royal treasure.Similarly,Bhaddali, a monk with full-fledged dignity and Noble EightFold Path achievement, deserves great respect, worshiping and offering. He is considered a field of blessings for those who desire to sow merits on.

(Majjhima NikàyaIII, of Bhaddli 65, pp. 231-34)

3. Proper practice is like tuning musical instrument

One time, the Bhagavat stayed at the Mount Grdhrakuta (Vulture’s Peak), near Rajgir, while venerable Sona was in the nearby Sita woods. Due to lack of mindfulness, and being affected by disturbance,Sona wanted to give up monkhood and return to secular life sowing good deeds and enjoying happinessjust like other ordinary people. Knowing his thoughts by divine mind (ability to know the thoughts of others), the Bhagavat immediately appeared in front of Sona to confirm what he thought and gave him some advice. After the “yes” answer from Sona, Buddha asked him how to play pipa –Sona’s favourite musical instrument . In order to encouragehis diligent practice, Buddha raised another question:

- Sona, according to your opinion, is it good to tune the strings of a pipatootight?

- No, venerable sir.

- How about loosening strings, Sona?

- Not good, either,World Honoured One.

- How about a middle way in which the strings are neither tootightnor too loose? Does it sound beautifully then?

- Of course, World Honoured One.

- Sona, likewise, your mind should not be either too stressful that may lead to restlessnessor too passive that may lead to laziness. You need to practice with balance in mind, then it will work.

- Yes, Lord.

After Buddha’s teaching, Venerable Sonasoundlylives a life in solitude, calm place without dissolution, attempts practicing with balance. Thanks to those, hecan getgreat achievements that all Bhikkhus desire: Supreme finality of dignity and attain the Nirvana mood within this life. (Anguttara Nikaya., Episode 3, Chapter 6 Justice, the VI Meeting, (I) Sona, tr.155-58).

4.Practicing dignity is like ploughing work

One day, in the morning, Bhagavat in his robe, took a bowl to seek alms across Brahmin Bhàradvaja’s farm. Seeing Bhagavat, the Brahmin said:

- “Dear recluse, I plow and sow rice. After that, I enjoy the harvest .You should plough and sow, tooso that you can enjoy theharvest.”

- “O Brahmin, I do plow and sow, too; and now I am enjoying the harvest”, replied the Buddha.

The Brahmin kept on arguing: “But I cannot see your yoke, wasps, plowshares, whips or the oxen though you say: "I am enjoying the harvest because I have plowed and sowed already."

Then Bhagavan replied in verses:

“Faith is the seed,

Austerity is the rain.

Wisdom is my yoke and plough,

Modesty is my pole;

Mind is the strap,

And I have mindfulness for ploughshare.

I am guarded in act and words,

Self-controlled in eating.

I clear the weeds of evil.

And I have attained deliverance.

... Such ploughing produces the fruit of immortality”.

(Samyutta Nikàya Volume I, Chapter VII, II. Discourse to Bharadvaja,The Farmer, P.213)

5. Protecting senses as turtle protecting itself from wolf’s attack

Buddha told the monks a story: "O Bhikkhus, one evening, a tortoise and a wolf went out for food. Seeing the wolf from afar, immediately the tortoise retracted its feet and head into the shell, lying silently and immovably. Coming closer, the wolf thought: "When this tortoise pops out, I'll catch, break, and then eat it." But the tortoisekeptonlyingstill until the wolf had to leave in frustration and tiredness.

Likewise, O Bhikkhus, the evil always watches on you on the thought: "I may steal this Bhikkhu’s peace upon his lack of vigilance about his six sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, body and mind"

Hence, you should always be wide awake to protect your senses from the evils: Don’t be indulged in sensual pleasures which may drive you in an uncontrollable manner. In order to protect senses from effects of six sense objects you must keep your mind completely pure, otherwise craving, suffering, and attachment may arise. It is important that we try to remove the causes of cravings, affliction, evil thoughts, ignorance and delusion by practicing mindfulness.

O Bhikkhus, only when you live in vigilance in which your senses are well-guarded, the evils will wait in vain and after all have to walk off in frustration as the wolf in the above story". (Sutra Samyutta, Volume IV, section 4, chapter 4: Snakes, Paragraph III: tortoise, P.184).

6. Fire can be made from only dried stick

One day, the Buddha met Aggivessana, a follower of Jainas religion, Buddha taught him how to start a fire from wood:

- O Aggivessana, in case a person wants to light a fire from a wet and sappy stick thinking: "I will light a fire on this stick to produce heat". Can he succeed?

- No, Venerable Gotama. It is impossible because the stick is sappy and wet.

- In the same way, dear Aggivessana, those recluses, Brahmins who are full of attachment, cravings, lust, desires,hatred cannot attain Supreme Enlightenment. And if those still feel painful due to their striving for awakening they cannot obtain knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-awakening, either.

Aggivessana, in case a man wants to make fire from a wet and sappy stick, can he succeed?

- No, Venerable Gotama. Because the stick is wet, he will try in vain in weariness and disappointment.

- O Aggivessana, like wet and sappy sticks that cannot start fire, the recluses, Brahmins full of desires, lust and cravings cannot obtain knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-awakening, either.

O Aggivessana, can a man start fire from a dry and sapless stick?

- Of course, Venerable Gotama since that stick is dry and sapless.

- Similarly, Aggivessana, those recluses, Brahmins who absolutely release desires, lusts, craving canobtain knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-awakening and so can the ones who feel painful due to their striving. (Majjhima Nikàya, Episode 1 of 36: Saccaka, tr.528-31).

7. The practitioner is like a log flowing downstream

One day, the Bhagavat was staying in Kosambi, on the bank of the Ganges, when he saw a log drifting downstream, he told his disciples:

- Dear Bhikkhus, if that log neither drifts towards both sides of the river banks nor sinks deep in the river, nor gets stuck on sand dunes, nor be picked up from the river by humans and nonhuman beings, nor gets caught up in the whirlpool, nor becomes rotten inside, it will flow downstream towards the sea. Why? Because the Ganges flows downstream and washes it away towards the sea on the journey.

Likewise, O Bhikkhus, if you are not washed ashore during your way ..., you will be directed toward Nirvana.

- O Bhagavat, please explain the meaning of those metaphors.

- Dear disciples, this side of the river means 6 internal sense bases while the other side of the river bankmeans 6 external sense bases -They are: eyes (seeing), ears (hearing) , nose (smelling), tongue (tasting), body (touching) and mind (thinking).

“Sinking deep in midstream” – It is a designation for lust and getting stuck in sand dunes – a designation for conceit.

“Getting stuck in, a whirlpool” –It is a designation for 5 cords of sensual pleasure

“Getting caught by humans” means your practice is affected andclosely associated with lay people. Furthermore, you involve yourself in their affairs heavily.

“Getting caught by non-human beings means your target of practice of austere and holy life is to become a Deva or one among the Devas

“Becoming rotten inside” means you are spoiled by impurities, evils, dubious actions, adopting non-monastic and corrupted lifestyles full of inner sense pleasures and desires.

O Bhikkhus, those are the meanings of the above-mentioned metaphors. (Samyutta, Volume IV, chapter 4, paragraph 4: logs, Page185-187).

In conclusion, these are 7 examples of practicing methods that Buddha taught and thoroughly explained to his disciples.

On the occasion of Vesak, I suggest you should spend time studying and sharing them with others . They are not only joyful, profound but also subtle and It is advisable that you, yourself apply them into your daily lives to improve yourselves and help others improve themselves, too. They are actually the best and meaningful offerings to Buddha on this Vesak Day.

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