"Who is the one who, being asleep, is called
the awakened one, and, being awake, is called the sleeping one?" The answer
is: - It is the one who is under training for Enlightenment. He is awake when
compared with those who are not interested in Enlightenment; he is asleep when
compared with those who already attained Enlightenment. "How can you weigh
a large elephant?" "Load it on a boat and draw a line to mark how
deep the boat sinks into the water. Then take out the elephant and load the
boat with stones until it sinks to the same depth, and then weigh the stones."
What is the meaning of the saying, "A cupful of water is more than the
water of an ocean?" This is the answer: "A cupful of water given in
a pure and compassionate spirit to one's parents or to a sick person has an
eternal merit, but the water of an ocean will some day come to an end."
Next the god made a starving man, reduced to skin and bones, complain, "Is
there anyone in this world more hungry than I?" "The man who is so
selfish and greedy that he does not believe in the Three Treasures of the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Sangha, and who does not make offerings to his parents and
teachers, is not only more hungry, but he will fall into the world of hungry
demons and there he will suffer from hunger forever." "Here is a plank
of Chandana wood; which end was the bottom of the tree?" "Float the
plank in water; the end that sinks a little deeper was the end nearest the root."
"Here are two horses apparently of the same size and form; how can you
tell the mother from the son?" "Feed them some hay; the mother horse
will push the hay toward the son." Every answer to these difficult questions
pleased the god as well as the king. The king was grateful to find out that
the answers had come from the aged father whom the minister had hidden in the
cave, and he withdrew the law of abandoning aged people in the mountains and
ordered that they were to be treated kindly.
Queen of Videha in India once dreamed of a white elephant that had six ivory tusks. She coveted the tusks and besought the king to get them for her. Although the task seemed an impossible one, the king who loved the queen very much offered a reward to any hunter who would report if he found such an elephant. It happened that there was just such an elephant with six tusks in the Himalayan Mountains who was training for Buddhahood. The elephant once had saved a hunter's life in an emergency in the depths of the mountains and the hunter could go back safely to his country. The hunter, however, blinded by the great reward and forgetting the kindness the elephant had shown him, returned to the mountains to kill the elephant. The hunter, knowing that the elephant was seeking Buddhahood, disguised himself in the robe of a Buddhist monk and, thus catching the elephant off guard, shot it with a poisoned arrow. The elephant, knowing that its end was near and that the hunter had been overcome by the worldly desire for the reward, had compassion upon him and sheltered him in its limbs to protect the hunter from the fury of the other revengeful elephants. Then the elephant asked the hunter why he had done such a foolish thing. The hunter told of the reward and confessed that he coveted its six tusks. The elephant immediately broke off the tusks by hitting them against a tree and gave them to the hunter saying: - "By this offering I have completed my training for Buddhahood and will be reborn in the Pure Land. When I become a Buddha, I will help you to get rid of your three poisonous arrows of greed, anger and foolishness."
In a thicket at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains there once lived a par- rot together with many other animals and birds. One day a fire started in the thicket from the friction of bamboo in a strong wind and the birds and animals were in frightened confusion. The parrot, feeling compassion for their fright and suffering, and wishing to repay the kindness he had received in the bamboo thicket where he could shelter himself, tried to do all he could to save them. He dipped himself in a pond nearby and flew over the fire and shook off the drops of water to extinguish the fire. He repeated this diligently with a heart of compassion out of gratitude to the thicket. This spirit of kindness and self-sacrifice was noticed by a heavenly god who came down from the sky and said to the parrot: "You have a gallant mind, but what good do you expect to accomplish by a few drops of water against this great fire?" The parrot answered: "There is nothing that can not be accomplished by the spirit of gratitude and self-sacrifice. I will try over and over again and then over in the next life." The great god was impressed by the parrot's spirit and together they extinguished the fire.
At one time, there lived in the Himalayas a bird with one body and two heads. Once, one of the heads noticed the other head eating some sweet fruit and felt jealous and said to itself: "I will then eat poison fruit." So it ate poi- son and the whole bird died.
At one time, the tail and the head of a snake quarreled as to which should be the front. The tail said to the head: "You are always taking the lead; it is not fair, you ought to let me lead sometimes." The head answered: "It is the law of our nature that I should be the head; I can not change places with you." But the quarrel went on and one day the tail fastened itself to a tree and thus prevented the head from proceeding. When the head became tired with the struggle, the tail had its own way, with the result that the snake fell into a pit of fire and perished. In the world of nature, there always exists an appropriate order and everything has its own function. If this order is disturbed, the functioning is interrupted and the whole order will go to ruin.
There was a man who easily angered. One day two men were talking in front of the house about the man who lived there. One said to the other: "He is a nice man but is very impatient; he has a hot temper and gets angry quickly." The man overheard the remark, rushed out of the house and attacked the two men, striking and kick- ing and wounding them. When a wise man is advised of his errors, he will reflect on them and improve his con- duct. When his misconduct is pointed out, a foolish man will not only disregard the advice but rather repeat the same error.
Once there was a wealthy but foolish man. When he saw the beautiful three-storied house of another man, he en- vied it and made up his mind to have one built just like it, thinking he was himself just as wealthy. He called a carpenter and ordered him to build it. The carpenter consented and immediately began to construct the foundation, the first story, the second story, and then the third story. The wealthy man noticed this with irritation and said: "I don't want a foundation or a first story or a second story; I just want the beautiful third story. Build it quickly." A foolish man always thinks only of the results, and is impatient without the effort that is necessary to get good results. No good can be attained without proper effort, just as there can be no third story without the foundation and the first and the second stories.
A foolish man was once boiling honey. His friend suddenly appeared and the foolish man wanted to offer him some honey, but it was too hot, and so without removing it from the fire he fanned it to make it cool. In like manner, it is impossible to get the honey of cool wisdom without first removing it from the fire of worldly passions.
Once there were two demons who spent a whole day arguing and quarreling about a box, a cane and a pair of shoes. A man, passing by, inquired, "Why are you arguing abut these things? What magical power have they that you should be quarreling about possessing them?" The demons explained to him that from the box they could get anything they desired food, clothing or treasure; with the cane they could subdue all their enemies; and with the pair of shoes they could travel through the air. Upon hearing this, the man said: "Why quarrel? If you will go away for a few minutes, I can think of a fair division of the things between you." So the two demons retired and as soon as they were gone, the man put on the shoes, seized the box and the cane, and was off through the air.
The "demons" represent men of heathen
beliefs. "A box" means the gifts that are made in charity; they do
not realize how many treasures can be produced from charity. "A cane"
means the practice of concentration of the mind. Men do not realize that by
the practice of spiritual concentration of mind, they can subdue all worldly
desires. "A pair of shoes" means the pure disciplines of thought and
conduct, that will carry them beyond all desires and arguments. Without knowing
these, they quarrel and argue about a box, a cane and a pair of shoes.
Once a beautiful and well-dressed woman visited a house. The master of the house ask- ed her who she was; and she replied that she was the goddess of wealth. The master of the house was delighted and so treated her nicely. Soon after, another woman appeared who was ugly looking and poorly dressed. The master asked who she was and the woman replied that she was the goddess of poverty. The master was frightened and tried to drive her out of the house, but the woman refused to depart, saying, "The goddess of wealth is my sister. There is an agreement between us that we are never to live separately; if you chase me out, she is to go with me." Sure enough, as soon as the ugly woman went out, the other woman disappeared. Birth goes with death. For- tune goes with misfortune. Bad things follow good things. Men should realize this. Foolish people dread misforune and strive after good fortune, but those who seek Enlightenment must transcend both of them and be free of worldly attachments.
Once there lived a poor artist who left his home, leaving his wife, to seek his fortune. After three years of hard struggles, he had saved three hundred pieces of gold and decided to return to his home. On his way he came to a great temple in which a grand ceremony of offering was in progress. He was greatly impressed by it and thought to himself: "Hitherto, I have thought only of the present; I have never considered my future happiness. It is a part of my good fortune that I have come to this place; I must take advantage of it to plant seeds of merit." Thinking thus, he gratefully donated all his savings to the temple and returned to his home penniless. When he reached home, his wife reproached him for not bringing her some money for her support. The poor artist replied that he had earned some money but had put it where it would be safe. When she pressed him to tell where he had hidden it, he confessed that he had given it to the monks at a certain temple. This made the wife angry and she scolded her husband and finally carried the matter to the local judge. When the judge asked the artist for his defense, the artist said that he had not acted foolishly, for he had earned the money during long and hard struggles and wanted to use it as seed for future good fortune. When he came to the temple, it seemed to him that there was the field where he should plant his gold as seed for good fortune. Then he added: "When I gave the monks the gold, it seemed that I was throwing away all greed and stinginess from my mind, and I have realized that real wealth is not gold but mind." The judge praised the artist's spirit, and those who heard of this, manifested their approval by helping him in various ways. Thus, the artist and his wife entered into permanent good fortune. A man living near a cemetery heard one night a voice calling him from a grave. He was too timid to investigate it himself, but the next day he mentioned it to a brave friend, who made up his mind to trace the place whence the voice came the previous night. While the timid man was trembling with fear, his friend went to the cemetery and, sure enough, the same voice was heard coming from a grave. The friend asked who it was and what it wanted. The voice from under the ground replied: "I am a hidden treasure that has decided to give myself to someone. I offered it to a man last night, but he was too timid to come after it, so I will give it to you who are worthy of it. To- morrow morning I will come to your house with my seven followers." The friend said: "I will be waiting for you, but please tell me how I am to treat you." The voice replied: "We will come in monk's robes. Have a room ready for us with water; wash your body and clean the room, and have seats for us and eight bowls of rice-porridge. After the meal, you are to lead us, one by one, into a closed room in which we will transform ourselves into crocks of gold." The next morning this man washed his body and cleaned the room just as he had been told and waited for the eight monks to appear. In due time they appeared and he received them courteously. After they had eaten the food, he led them one by one into the closed room, where each monk turned himself into a crock of gold. There was a very greedy man in the same village who learned of the incident and wanted the crocks of gold. He invited eight monks to his house. After their meal he led them into a closed room, but instead of turning themselves into crocks of gold, they became angry and rough and reported the greedy man to the police who eventually arrested him. As for the timid man, when he heard that the voice from the grave had brought wealth to the brave man, he went to the house of the brave man and greedily demanded the gold, insisting that it was his, because the voice first addressed him. When the timid man tried to take the crocks away, he found lots of snakes inside raising their heads ready to attack him. The king heard about this and ruled that the crocks belonged to the brave man and uttered the following observation: "Everything in the world goes like this. Foolish people are avaricious for good results only, but are too timid to go after them and, therefore, are continually failing. They have neither faith nor courage to face the internal struggles of the mind by which alone true peace and harmony can be attained."