Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Post sayings or stories you find interesting or useful.

Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sun May 10, 2009 4:03 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CULTIVATION (SUKHAVATI / PURE LAND)
When Buddha Sakyamuni was alive, during His many travels, a group of devotees sought to join His order. He assigned two of the most promising to Maha-kasyapa, the highest in wisdom among Arhats. Maha-kasysapa accordingly taught the first disciple the breath-counting meditation (to counter mind-scattering) and assigned to the second disciple the meditation on corpses (to extinguish desire).

A long time elapsed however but despite their best efforts, neither of the two achieved any breakthrough. The Buddha, having learnt of this, met with them and asked the first one: "When you were at home, before you cut your hair, what was your family doing for a living?" "Lord Buddha, my father and my grandfather before him were gate-keepers at our local charnel-ground (cemetery)," came the reply. "And what were you doing for a living?" the Buddha inquired of the other. "Since a young age, I helped my father in his work," came the reply. "I fanned the fire in my father's kiln." The Buddha then and there decided to switch the meditation topics of the disciples based on their previous experiences. The first one was reassigned the meditation on corpses and the second the counting of the breath practice. In a short time, both made significant progress and ultimately achieved liberation.

This story illustrates the crucial role of a good spiritual advisor--as even Maha-kasyapa, the wisest of Arhats, could err. Since Buddha Amitabha and the highest Bodhisattvas themselves are teachers and guides in Sukhavati (the Land of Bliss), the Buddha taught that rebirth in this Pure Land is the safest shortcut to Enlightenment and Buddhahood.

Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon May 11, 2009 6:23 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
HUMAN CONDITION (DARK NIGHT OF SUFFERING)
The Buddha compares the human condition to that of a traveller on a stormy night. Only from time to time does the dark night give way to a flash of lightning. Suffering (dukkha) is like the dark night that surrounds the traveller, while the flashes of lightning are those rare occasions of joy that excite the human mind (birth, marriage, a promotion, etc.).
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Tue May 12, 2009 5:35 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
DELUSION
"The human excrement that we consider fetid and dirty is regarded as fragrant, clean and succulent by animals such as insects and worms--because of their deluded karma. They therefore compete and struggle to gobble it up. The defiled desires of this world are considered by humans as lovely and clean. However, the Gods and Immortals see them as foul-smelling, dirty and unclean, not unlike the way human beings regard insects and worms eating filthy substances. The various desires of sentient beings, defiled and upside down, are generally thus. The practitioner should strive gradually to destroy them."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Wed May 13, 2009 6:48 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
KING BIMBISARA AND PRINCE AJATASATRU
"According to the Parinirvana Sutra, since King Bimbisara had no heir by his wife Vaidehi, he consulted a diviner, who said that there was a hermit presently living in the mountains who, after he died, would be reborn as Bimbisara's son. Bimbisara was so impatient for the birth of an heir that he had the hermit killed. Shortly after, Vaidehi conceived, but the diviner foretold that the child would become the king's enemy.' In fear of this child, the king dropped him from atop a tower [but the child survived the fall]... It is said that as a young man Ajatasatru was persuaded to rebel against his father by Devadatta, who told him the story of his birth...Together with Devadatta, he contrived a double conspiracy: since Devadatta was eager to take over the leadership of the Buddhist order, he was to murder the Buddha, and Ajatasattu was to kill his own father. The plot was discovered. Bimbisara pardoned his son and ceded him the throne. Ajatasattu, nevertheless, did not feel secure with his father still alive and had him incarcerated and starved together with his wife, Queen Vaidehi." (Sham: 3). "After Bimbisara's death, Ajatasatru came to regret his conduct deeply. Tormented by guilt over the death of his father, he broke out in virulent sores during the second month of his fiftieth year, and it was predicted that he would die in the third month. At the advice of his physician and minister Jivaka, he sought out Sakyamuni Buddha who taught him the doctrines of the Parinirvana Sutra, enabling him to eradicate his evil karma and prolong his life."

Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Thu May 14, 2009 6:44 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
DEMONS OF THE MIND
In his Awakening of the Faith Treatise, the Patriarch Asvaghosa (first century) admonished:

"There may be some disciples whose root of merit is not yet mature, whose control of mind is weak and whose power of application is limited -- and yet who are sincere in their purpose to seek enlightenment -- these for a time may be beset and bewildered by maras and evil influences who are seeking to break down their good purpose.

Such disciples, seeing seductive sights, attractive girls, strong young men, must constantly remind themselves that all such tempting and alluring things are mind-made, and, if they do this, their tempting power will disappear and they will no longer be annoyed.

Or, if they have visions of heavenly gods and Bodhisattvas and Buddhas surrounded by celestial glories, they should remind themselves that these, too, are mind-made and unreal.

Or, if they should be uplifted and excited by listening to mysterious Dharanis, to lectures upon the paramitas, to elucidations of the great principles of the Mahayana, they must remind themselves that these also are emptiness and mind-made, that in their essence they are Nirvana itself.

Or, if they should have intimations within that they have attained transcendental powers, recalling past lives, or foreseeing future lives, or, reading others' thoughts, or freedom to visit other Buddha-lands, or great powers of eloquence, all of [these] may tempt them to become covetous for worldly power and riches and fame.

Or, they may be tempted by extremes of emotion, at times angry, at other times joyous, or at times very kind-hearted and compassionate, at other times the very opposite, or at times alert and purposeful, at other times indolent and stupid, at times full of faith and zealous in their practice, at other times engrossed in other affairs and negligent.

All of [these] will keep them vacillating, at times experiencing a kind of fictitious samadhi, such as the heretics boast of, but not the true samadhi.

Or later, when they are quite advanced [they] become absorbed in trances for a day, or two, or even seven, not partaking of any food but upheld by inward food of their spirit, being admired by their friends and feeling very comfortable and proud and complacent, and then later becoming very erratic, sometimes eating little, sometimes greedily, the expression of their face constantly changing.

Because of all such strange manifestations and developments in the course of their practices, disciples should be on guard to keep the mind under constant control.

They should neither grasp after nor become attached to the passing and unsubstantial things of the senses or concepts and moods of the mind. If they do this they will be able to keep far away from the hindrances of karma."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sat May 16, 2009 12:52 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
DEMON OF SORROW & SADNESS
"Long ago in China there was a layman who had engaged in meditation for some thirty years. One day, he suddenly attained the faculty of transcendental vision. At the beginning, he would see through walls; later on, he could see things within a few dozen miles as clearly as though they were in front of his eyes. Realizing that he had achieved 'transcendental vision,' he was very astonished and happy! As time went on, he was not only able to 'see' but also 'hear' the voices of human beings and animals from far away. This is transcendental hearing, which develops after transcendental vision. As time went by, he could see and hear things that occurred within a radius of several thousand miles. Still later, he was able to predict future events. Thus, he 'knew' in advance of a war between two neighboring kingdoms and 'witnessed' the pitiful sight of countless dead and dying among the populace. He was so moved that he would weep and lament to whomever he met, 'A great, violent uprising is going to occur. There will be massacres and utter misery. The people deserve pity and compassion. How can they be helped?' At the time, everyone who heard him thought he was insane. Later on, however, war and rebellion did occur as he had predicted. Even when the disturbances were over, he continued to go around lamenting.

A respected Master once commented: 'This is a case of possession by the 'demons of sorrow and sadness.' The cultivator who has reached a certain high level of practice suddenly develops 'transcendental vision.' He should reflect it toward the Self-Nature, not letting Worldly Dusts move and disturb his mind. He should realize that these psychic powers have always been in his possession and should therefore not be unduly happy or astonished or consider them strange and wonderful occurrences.'"
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sun May 17, 2009 2:51 pm

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
THE DHARMA IS PRICELESS
Parinirvana Sutra:
"At that time Sessen Doji (a previous incarnation of Buddha Sakyamuni) had mastered the Brahman and other non-Buddhist teachings but had not yet heard of Buddhism.
The god Indra decided to test his resolve.
He appeared before Sessen Doji in the form of a hungry demon and recited half a verse from a Buddhist teaching: 'All is changeable, nothing is constant.
This is the law of Birth and Death.' Hearing this, Sessen Doji begged the demon to tell him the second half. The demon agreed but demanded his flesh and blood in payment.
Sessen Doji gladly consented and the demon taught him the latter half of the verse: 'Extinguishing the cycle of Birth and Death, one enters the joy of Nirvana.'
Sessen Doji scrawled this teaching on the rocks and trees for the sake of others who might pass by, and then jumped from a tall tree into the demon's mouth.
Just at that moment the Demon changed back into the god Indra and caught him before he fell.
He praised Sessen Doji's willingness to give his life for the Dharma and predicted that he would certainly attain Buddhahood." Sokk: 374
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon May 18, 2009 2:26 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
DHARMAKARA/ THE FUTURE AMITABHA BUDDHA
"In the sacred Buddhist texts of [Asia], the Longer Amitabha Sutra concerns Amitabha Buddha and his Pure Land.
On a certain occasion, Sakyamuni Buddha (the Buddha of our present age) was on Vulture Peak, surrounded by his disciples.
Ananda, the Buddha's personal attendant, noticed the radiant beauty of Buddha and inquired about the cause of the Buddha's joy.
Sakyamuni related the following story: In an infinite time in the past, Bhiksu Dharmakara observed the misery of all sentient beings, and moved by compassion, vowed to establish a pure and perfect land where all could be liberated from their suffering.
He then made forty-eight Vows in which he promised to establish this land or else he would not attain Enlightenment.
The Sutra states that Bhiksu Dharmakara practiced for many eons until he accomplished all his vows.
Since he has achieved his aims, he is the Buddha of that land--The Buddha of Infinite Light and Life."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Tue May 19, 2009 8:23 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
(OF) DREAMS AND ILLUSIONS
"There was once a monk who spent a good deal of effort and money hiring stonecutters, carpenters and masons to build a large temple complex on top of a mountain. As soon as the temple was completed, the monk, by then completely exhausted, became gravely ill. Before passing away, he requested his disciples to carry him around the temple on a hammock, as he touched each and every stone, weeping and lamenting!"
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Wed May 20, 2009 9:51 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
ELEPHANT AND BLIND MEN
"It is said that a group of blind men, each touching a different part of an elephant, argued among themselves as to what its shape was".
To most people the blind men were indeed wrong; yet in another sense, they were also right because what each felt and described was indeed an aspect of the elephant.
On the higher level of noumenon, since "all is one and one is all" (Avatamsaka sutra), each aspect in fact represents the whole and therefore the blind men, although wrong, were also right.
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Thu May 21, 2009 8:29 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
IMPERMANENCE (THE ETERNAL POTTER)
"Deeply grieved over the death of his old grandmother, King Kosala approached Buddha and said that he would have given everything within his means to save his grandmother who had been as a mother to him.
The Buddha consoled him, saying:
'All beings are mortal; they end with death, they have death in prospect.
All the vessels wrought by the potter, whether they are baked or unbaked,
are breakable; they finish broken, they have breakage in prospect.'" (Narada Maha Thera)
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Fri May 22, 2009 12:32 pm

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
ETERNITY
A simile, used in a discourse of Buddha, is as follows:
"Suppose, O monks, there was a huge rock of one solid mass, one mile long, one mile wide, one mile high, without split or flaw. And at the end of every 100 years a fairy should come and rub against it with a silken cloth.
Then that huge rock would wear off and disappear quicker than a Kalpa [eon].' Of such world-periods, according to Buddha, there have been many hundred thousands.
In the Buddhist view of things, there is no limitation to the process of world-dissolution, chaos, world-formation and world-continuation, nor to the number of Buddhas who will appear in the course of this process."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sat May 23, 2009 1:21 pm

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
EXPEDIENT TEACHINGS
"In one birth long ago, as told in the Dummedha Jataka, the Buddha, a prince of Benares, was appalled by the sacrificial massacre of sheep, goats, pigs, and other animals, in accordance with Vedic ritual.
Each year, until the death of his father, he performed his own rituals--without killing animals to the spirit of a special banyan tree.
After the death of his father, he ascended the throne and revealed to his subjects the nature of his worship at the tree, announcing that he had promised to offer to the tree the lives of one thousand humans who violated the precept of nonviolence.
Once this proclamation had been made, all the townfolk forever renounced the practice of animal sacrifice.
Thus, without harming a single one of his subjects, the Bodhisattva made them observe the precepts."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sun May 24, 2009 8:50 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
TRUTH (EYES OF THE BEHOLDER)
"One leisurely evening, a king asked a certain courtier, 'You appear to be a man of integrity. Why is it that you are the target of so much criticism, slander and hatred?'

The official replied, 'Your Majesty, when the torrential rains of spring arrive, farmers are elated because their fields are well-irrigated. Pedestrians, on the other hand, are unhappy because the streets are muddy and slippery. When the summer moon is as clear and bright as a mirror, poets and writers rejoice at the opportunity to travel and compose couplets and poems, while thieves and felons are distressed at the brightness of the moonlight! If even the impartial heaven and earth are the object of blame and resentment, love and hate, how can this subject of yours, imperfect and full of blemishes, escape denigration and criticism?

'Thus, I venture to think, we should remain calm in the face of praise or criticism, think it over, and not rush to believe it. If a king believes gossip, his subjects lose their lives; if parents believe gossip, their children are hurt; if brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, believe words of gossip, they experience separation; if relatives, friends and neighbors believe gossip, they sever relations with one another. Fault-finding is really more noxious than snakes and serpents, sharper than swords and knives, killing without spilling a single drop of blood.'

According to the judgement of history, this courtier was a disloyal official; however, his answer was sound and reasonable, and a worthy example for later generations. It is therefore still quoted today."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon May 25, 2009 6:50 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
PURE LAND (FAITH / VOWS / PRACTICE)
"During the Later Lê dynasty in Vietnam, there was a certain monk at the Temple of Light who diligently practiced Buddha Recitation, but had not vowed in earnest to achieve rebirth in the Pure Land.
After his death, so the story goes, he was reborn as a prince in Ch'ing dynasty China.
At his birth, he had certain red spots on his shoulders pointing to his previous incarnation.
A hermit summoned to the palace prophesized that these spots would disappear only if they were washed away with water taken from a well at the Temple.
Years later, while scrubbing the red spots with water taken from the well, the prince was moved to compose a poem with the following lines:

'I was originally a disciple of Amitabha Buddha in the West, Why have I now strayed into a royal household?'

Although the prince was aware of his previous life as a novice practicing Buddha Recitation at the Temple of Light, in his high royal position, enjoying countless blessings and pleasures, he could not, in the end, pursue his cultivation. Such are the unhappy results of reciting the Buddha's name while lacking Faith and Vows!"
namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Wed May 27, 2009 6:16 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
FATAL WORDS
"The Kokalika Jataka tells that many years ago in Benares, the king had a bad habit of talking too much. A wise and valued minister decided to teach the king a lesson. A cuckoo, rather than rearing her own young, had laid an egg in a crow's nest. The mother crow, thinking the egg to be one of her own, watched over the egg until it hatched and then fed the young infant bird. Unfortunately, one day, while not yet grown, the small intruder uttered the distinct call of the cuckoo. The mother crow grew alarmed, pecked the young cuckoo with her beak, and tossed it from her nest. It landed at the feet of the king, who turned to his minister. 'What is the meaning of this?' he asked. The wise minister (the future Buddha) replied that: 'They that with speech inopportune offend/Like the young cuckoo meet untimely end./No deadly poison, nor sharp-whetted sword/Is half so fatal as ill-spoken word.'

The king, having learned his lesson, tempered his speech, and avoided a possible overthrow of his rule. In his commentary, the Buddha notes that he was the wise minister and the talkative king one of his garrulous monks, Kokalika."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sat May 30, 2009 3:56 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
FAULT-FINDING (GOOD SPIRITUAL ADVISOR)
According to the Brahma Net and Avatamsaka Sutras, we should ignore appearances and external forms when seeking a good teacher. For example, we should disregard such traits as youth, poverty, low status or lack of education, unattractive appearance or incomplete features, but should simply seek someone conversant with the Dharma, who can be of benefit to us. Nor should we find fault with good spiritual advisors for acting in certain ways, as it may be due to a number of reasons, such as pursuing a hidden cultivation practice or following an expedient teaching. Or else, they may act the way they do because while their achievements may be high, their residual bad habits have not been extinguished. If we grasp at forms and look for faults, we will forfeit benefits on the path of cultivation.

'Thus, when Buddha Sakyamuni was still alive, the Bhikshu Kalodayin was in the habit of moving his jaws like a buffalo; a certain Bhikshuni used to look at herself in the mirror and adorn herself; another Bhikshu liked to climb trees and jump from one branch to another; still another always addressed others in a loud voice, with condescending terms and appellations.


In truth, however, all four had reached the stage of Arhatship. It is just that one of them was a buffalo in a previous life, another was a courtesan, another was a monkey, and still another belonged to the Brahman class. They were accustomed to these circumstances throughout many lifetimes, so that even when they had attained the fruits of Arhatship, their residual habits still lingered.


'We also have the example of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen. Realizing that the cultivators of his day were attached to a literal reading of the sutras and did not immediately recognize their Buddha Nature, he took the form of an ignorant and illiterate person selling wood in the marketplace. Or else, take the case of a famous Zen Master who, wishing to avoid external conditions and concentrate on his cultivation, took the expedient appearance of a ragged lunatic, raving and ranting. As a result, both distinguished Masters were criticized during their lifetimes. The Sixth Patriarch was faulted for his ignorance, while the Zen monk was called insane and berserk. Therefore, finding a good spiritual advisor is a difficult task indeed."
Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:26 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
FIXED KARMA (MONK AND KILLER)
"There was an Elder Master who practiced assiduously. Thanks to such diligence, auspicious signs would appear wherever he went. One day, a vagrant appeared, requesting permission to stay overnight at the temple. The monk, being endowed with spiritual penetration, glanced at the man and told his young assistant, 'This man is a criminal; let him eat his fill and tell him to go elsewhere.' However, the novice, being compassionate, was swayed by the man's repeated supplications and did not have the heart to follow his Master's instructions. Sure enough, a few days later, the man slipped furtively into the master's room in the middle of the night, broke his arms and legs and killed him. He then stole a few things from the temple and disappeared. The ancients have commented that such occurrences are the result of 'fixed karma' and are virtually unavoidable."

Note: "The doctrine of karma repudiates any notion of 'fate' or 'fixed destiny,' inasmuch as these circumstances and our response to them are constantly changing. Clearly, then, everyone has the potential at each moment to alter the course of his future karma. Within the period of a single lifetime, however, every being has in addition to his mutable karma a particular 'fixed karma,' as for example the species and race into which he is born. These karmic traits, though set for life, are then recast at the next rebirth in accordance with the individual's ever-ripening past actions" (P.Kapleau). Negating the impact of such fixed karma requires extremely diligent practice, which is practically beyond the capacity of most people. Thus, the need for reliance on both self-power and Other-power, the assistance of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
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Is That So?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:40 am

Is That So?

Hakuin was a famous Zen master in Japan. He lived in a remote village and was often praised by his neighbours as a man of pure living.

Once, a beautiful, unwedded girl in the village was found pregnant. Being a very conservative village, the family was furious. The girl refused to confess who the man was, but after much beating and harasssment by her parents, she finally named the master Hakuin.

In great anger, the girl's family confronted the master, but all he would do was calmly say, "Is that so?".

After the baby was born, it was brought to Hakuin and he took very good care of the child. He begged for milk and other things the little one needed from his neighbours. By this time, Hakuin's reputation was completely destroyed, but that didn't trouble him. He was often scorned by the villagers, but that didn't bother him, either.

A year later, the girl-mother finally broke down and confessed the truth. The baby's father was not Hakuin, but a young man who worked nearby. The girl's parents went to Hakuin at once and begged profusely for his forgiveness, and to get the baby back.

Hakuin willingly gave back the baby and all he said was, "Don't worry about it. Go home".
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Re: Is That So?

Postby sraddha » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:16 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:Is That So?

Hakuin was a famous Zen master in Japan. He lived in a remote village and was often praised by his neighbours as a man of pure living.

Once, a beautiful, unwedded girl in the village was found pregnant. Being a very conservative village, the family was furious. The girl refused to confess who the man was, but after much beating and harasssment by her parents, she finally named the master Hakuin.

In great anger, the girl's family confronted the master, but all he would do was calmly say, "Is that so?".

After the baby was born, it was brought to Hakuin and he took very good care of the child. He begged for milk and other things the little one needed from his neighbours. By this time, Hakuin's reputation was completely destroyed, but that didn't trouble him. He was often scorned by the villagers, but that didn't bother him, either.

A year later, the girl-mother finally broke down and confessed the truth. The baby's father was not Hakuin, but a young man who worked nearby. The girl's parents went to Hakuin at once and begged profusely for his forgiveness, and to get the baby back.

Hakuin willingly gave back the baby and all he said was, "Don't worry about it. Go home".


I liked that story very much. I have been lucky enough to experience the culmination of things with not reacting to others and letting things take a natural course. Eventually, those who stay focused and calm seem to outlast those who are trying to humiliate or hurt them...and the truth always emerges.
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