Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby dumb bonbu » Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:10 pm

The True Sound of Truth

An old story speaks about a similar problem. A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student's humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.

A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.

The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself -- but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

"What's wrong?" asked the hermit.

"I don't know what to say. I'm afraid you've wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!"

"Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?"

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

"It's so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies." Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

"Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I've forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?"

"You obviously don't need it," stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.
http://dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning ... e-hung.htm
Although I too am within Amida's grasp,
Passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see him;
Nevertheless, great compassion is untiring and
illumines me always.
- Shinran


Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:13 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
BOILING POT
"An effort to reform society which is not coupled with an equal effort to develop one's spiritual self cannot bring about lasting results.
It is like trying to cool a pot of boiling soup by merely stirring it, while ignoring the blazing fuel underneath."

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

Postby thornbush » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:15 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
BUDDHA RECITATION
In the Awakening of the Faith Treatise after summarizing the essential points of Mahayana doctrine and explaining the path of cultivation, the Patriarch Asvaghosha added:

"'Next, suppose there is a man who learns this teaching for the first time and wishes to seek the correct faith but lacks courage and strength. Because he lives in this world of suffering, he fears that he will not always be able to meet the Buddhas and honor them personally, and that faith being difficult to perfect, he will be inclined to fall back.

He should know that the Tathagathas have an excellent expedient means by which they can protect his faith: that is, through the strength of wholehearted meditation-recitation on the Buddha [Amitabha], he will in fulfillment of his wishes be able to be born in the Buddha-land beyond, to see the Buddha always, and to be forever separated from the evil states of existence.'

It is as the sutra says: 'If a man meditates wholly on Amitabha Buddha in the world of the Western Paradise and wishes to be born in that world, directing all the goodness he has cultivated toward that goal, then he will be born there.' Because he will see the Buddha at all times, he will never fall back ... [If a cultivator follows this path], he will be able to be born there in the end because he abides in the correct samadhi." (Asvaghosha, The Awakening of the Faith, Y. Hakeda, tr., p. 102.)

Note: "Diligent Buddha Recitation is a wonderful expedient to swiftly attain correct samadhi."

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

Postby thornbush » Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:39 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
FORGIVE AND FORGET (AVALOKITESVARA BODHISATTVA)
"During the Ch'ing Dynasty in China, in Yang Chou, there was a person named Ch'eng Pai Lin. One day he had a dream in which Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva told him, 'Tomorrow the Ch'ing army will arrive. Out of the seventeen people in your household, sixteen will survive. But you cannot escape your fate. Tomorrow Wang Ma Tze will kill you, because in a past life you stabbed him twenty-six times and killed him.' Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva added, 'There is still an expedient method that may work. Prepare a fine feast tomorrow, and when he comes, invite him to eat with you. Afterwards, allow him to kill you. Perhaps that will change things.'

The dream was vivid and when Ch'eng Pai Lin awoke the following morning, he went out and bought wine and vegetables, brought them back, and had a feast prepared. Then noontime came, someone knocked at the door. He opened the door and said, 'Are you Wang Ma Tze?' 'How strange,' said the man at the door, 'I'm from the north, how did you know my name?' His host invited him in and said, '... You're welcome; I've prepared a feast for you. Won't you join me?' Then he related the dream he'd had the night before. 'Last life I killed you with twenty-six stabs of a knife, and so this life you have come to kill me. After we've finished this meal, you can do it.' Wang Ma Tze pondered over this and said, 'But if you killed me last life, and I kill you this life, won't you kill me again next life? It will just go on and on. No, I won't kill you.' Then he took his knife and scratched twenty-six marks on his host's back to represent that the debt had been repaid.

Not only did Wang Ma Tze not kill his host, but afterwards they became very good friends. Wang said to his host, 'The Ch'ing army is following en masse. They are not reasonable, so the best would be for you and your family to go to Su Chou. It's safe there.' So that is what Ch'eng Pai Lin did. This is a case of turning grievance into friendship and reversing the retribution that is due one. From this you can see that it's possible to alter one's fate." (Master Hui Seng)

"'He beat me, he robbed me. Look at how he abused and injured me.' Live with those thoughts and you will never stop hating...Abandon such thoughts and your hatred and suffering will cease." (Dhammapada, Anne Bancroft, tr.)
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby dumb bonbu » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:58 am

this one is from memory as i can't remember where i read it initially right now (if anyone knows the source please chip in, thank yee) -

an old granny is walking along the roadside chanting the nembutsu to herself. a zen priest is coming towards her and hears her chanting. deciding to tease her a little he asks 'going to the Pure Land granny?' yes, comes the reply. 'and will Amida be waiting for you when you get there?' the old granny shakes her head vigorously. 'Amida not in his Pure Land?' exclaims the priest. 'then where is he?' the old granny points to her heart and walks off, continuing to chant the nembutsu. the zen priest is impressed and exclaims ' she is truely on her way to the Pure Land!'
Although I too am within Amida's grasp,
Passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see him;
Nevertheless, great compassion is untiring and
illumines me always.
- Shinran


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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:51 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
BURNING HOUSE
Lotus Sutra (ch. 3):

"A rich man had a very large house. The house had only one entrance, and the timber of which it was made had dried out thoroughly over the years. One day the house caught fire, and the rich man's many children, heedless of the fire, continued to play in the house. Their father called to them from outside that the house was afire and that they would perish in the flames if they did not come out. The children, not knowing the meaning of 'fire' or 'perish,' continued to play as before. The man called out once more, 'Come out children, and I will give you ox-drawn carriages, deer-drawn carriages, and goat-drawn carriages!' Tempted by the desire for new playthings, the children left the burning house, only to find ox-drawn carriages (the best vehicle, that of the Bodhisattvas/Buddhas) awaiting them." Hurv: xi

Note: In this parable, the burning house represents mundane existence; fire, the passions of greed, anger and delusion; the rich man, the Buddha; the children, sentient beings; games the children play, the pleasures of the senses. Just like the children who all received ox-drawn carriages, sincere Buddhist seekers will all receive the ultimate prize: Buddhahood.

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

Postby thornbush » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:29 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
BODHIDHARMA'S ZEN
"After [Bodhidharma's] arrival in what is today the port city of Canton, he traveled at the invitation of the Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty (6th C.) to visit him in Nanking. The first example in the Pi-yen-lu reports the encounter between Bodhidharma and the emperor. Wu-ti was a follower and fosterer of Buddhism and had many Buddhist monasteries built in his realm. Now he asked the master from India what merit and virtues for succeeding lives he had accumulated thereby. Bodhidharma answered curtly, 'no virtues, none' ... The encounter with Emperor Wu of Liang showed Bodhidharma that the time was not yet ripe for the reception of his teaching in China. He crossed the Yangtse -- as the legend tells us, on a reed (this is a favorite subject in Zen painting) -- and traveled on to north China, where he finally settled at Shao-lin Monastery. It is not certain whether he died there or again left the monastery after he had transmitted the patriarchy to Hui-k'o. The form of meditative practice that Bodhidharma taught still owed a great deal to Indian Buddhism. His instructions were to a great extent based on the traditional sutras of Mahayana Buddhism; he especially emphasized the importance of the Lankavatara Sutra."

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

Postby thornbush » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:15 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
DEATH OF HONEN, FOUNDER OF JAPANESE PURE LAND
"At the hour of the serpent (10 a.m.), on the day of his death, his disciples brought him an image of Amida, three feet high, and as they put it on the right side of his bed, asked him if he could see it. With his finger pointing to the sky he said, 'There is another Buddha here besides this one. Do you not see him?' Then he went on to say, 'As a result of the merit of repeating the sacred name, I have, for over ten years past, continually been gazing on the glory of the Pure Land, and the very forms of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but I have kept it secret and said nothing about it. Now, however, as I draw near the end, I disclose it to you.' The disciples then took a piece of cord made of five-colored strands, fastened it to the hand of the Buddha's image, and asked Honen to take hold of it." (Honen, the Buddhist Saint: His Life and Teaching, p.636.)

Note: It is an ancient practice in northern India (and later China and Japan) to exhort a dying person to face west, holding onto a thread attached to the finger of an Amitabha Buddha statue. This practice, which stems from a samadhi ("light") in the Avatamsaka Sutra, is meant to remind the dying of their vow to be reborn in the Pure Land.

"To exhort the dying to remembrance of Buddha, / And show them icons for them to behold,/ Causing them to take refuge in the Buddha,/ Is how this light can be made." (T. Cleary, Flower Ornament Sutra/Avatamsaka Sutra, v.I p.350)

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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:08 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CARNALITY
Surangama Sutra:
"You should teach worldly men who practice Samadhi to cut off their lustful minds at the very start. This is called the Buddha's profound teaching of the first decisive deed. Therefore, Ananda, if carnality is not wiped out, the practice of dhyana (meditation) is like cooking gravel to make rice; even if it is boiled for hundreds and thousands of eons, it will be only gravel. Why? Because instead of rice grains it contains only stones."

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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:40 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CAUSE AND EFFECT (ILLEGITIMATE CHILD)
Once, it is said, Buddha Sakyamuni was falsely accused of fathering a certain woman's child. When the deceit was discovered, the Buddha's followers wanted to beat the culprit to death. The Buddha calmly stopped them, saying: "Oh, Bhikkus, in a previous lifetime when I was a king, I was once in a grove together with my courtiers. At the sight of an ascetic, the ladies of the party surrounded him, turning their backs on me. Jealous and angry, I exclaimed, How do you know that this ascetic is not a fake? How do you know that he does not spend his nights revelling with women? It is because of that slanderous remark that I have now had to endure that woman's deceit. Oh, monks, release her and let her go in peace."

In the Buddhist world view, nothing happens without cause. To transcend suffering, we must stop causing further suffering. Acting otherwise is no different than trying to escape one's shadow by running in the blazing sun!.

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

Postby thornbush » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:59 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CHARITY OF THE DESTITUTE
"During the lifetime of a certain transhistorical Buddha there was a couple so destitute that husband and wife had but one robe between them. When the husband would leave their shack to seek work, his wife had to shut the door and stay home, nude, and vice versa. However, upon hearing wandering monks teach that charity would extinguish the sufferings of poverty and want, husband and wife discussed the matter between themselves. They decided to donate their only piece of cloth by passing it through the window, determined to remain in the shack, completely without clothing, resigned to death. This resolute good action came to the attention of the local ruler, who then showered them with garments and riches. From that time on, through each succeeding lifetime, they never again were in want for the necessities of life, and ultimately attained complete liberation. Thus, although it may be difficult to practice charity when we are destitute ourselves, we should understand that the cause of such poverty and want is our own past stinginess. If we are determined to endure deprivation and suffering, charity is something that can still be accomplished."

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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:01 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CHIKO MANDALA
The story of this Japanese mandala, which is based on an eighth century legend, is as follows.
"Thee monks Chiko and Raiko of Gango-ji shared a room in which they had practiced religious austerities from the time of their youth. At one year's end, Raiko ceased speaking, never replying to any of Chiko's questions. Several years later, Raiko died. Worried about Raiko's future existence, Chiko prayed that he might learn what had happened to his friend. One night in a dream he met Raiko. The setting was an ethereal, splendid place, and when Chiko asked where they were, Raiko replied that it was the Pure Land. He went on to explain that from his earliest days he had studied the sutras and holy scriptures and had longed for birth in Paradise, knowing all the while that this was no easy feat to achieve. He had stopped talking in order to focus his inner vision exclusively on the countenance of Amida and on the magnificence of the Pure Land. As a result, he had finally attained birth in Paradise. But, continued Raiko, Chiko was still disordered in mind and body and his good deeds were few. Since it seemed impossible for him to be born there as well, he should return home straightaway.

Chiko began to lament, begging to know how it might be possible for someone like him to achieve birth in the Western Paradise, whereupon Raiko, replying that Chiko should ask that question of the Buddha himself, guided Chiko to Amida. Amida told Chiko that it was necessary to devote one's full attention to an inner visualization of the extraordinary excellences of the Buddha (Amida) and the sublimity of the Pure Land in order to attain birth there. When Chiko confessed that he could not hold in his mind's eye the mysterious and limitless vision of the Western Paradise-- that this was a feat beyond the capabilities of ordinary men-- Amida held out his right hand and revealed a miniature Paradise in his palm.

Immediately upon waking from the dream, Chiko went to an artist and had him paint the vision of the Pure Land as it had appeared in the dream. The monk devoted the rest of his life to a contemplation of this mandala and finally achieved rebirth in the Western Paradise."

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

Postby thornbush » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:56 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
COMPASSION (ANIMAL SANCTUARY)
From Patriarch Hsuan-tsang's Records of the Western Regions:
"The lord of Varanasi once hunted and killed many deer on this land. The deer king implored him to stop the unnecessary killing and promised that each day he himself would give the lord the number of deer which he required. One day, he was faced with the necessity of sending a pregnant deer. Rather than sacrifice her with her unborn child, the deer king went to the lord to offer his own flesh instead. The lord was so moved by the deer king's compassion that he stopped the daily killing and gave it the land. Hence it was named the Deer Park."

Note: The Deer King was Buddha Sakyamuni in a previous life. His great act of compassion was met by an equally lofty act which resulted in the creation of an animal sanctuary and a pilgrimage site.

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

Postby thornbush » Sun May 03, 2009 8:39 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
COMPASSION (THE HIMALAYAN PARROT)
"In a thicket at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains there once lived a parrot together with many other animals and birds. One day a fire started in the thicket from the friction of bamboos in a strong wind and the birds and animals were in frightened confusion. The parrot, feeling compassion for their fright and suffering, and [remembering] 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 [for all the animals in the thicket]. This spirit of compassion 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 cannot be accomplished by the spirit of compassion 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 they together extinguished the fire." (The Teaching of the Buddha)

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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Mon May 04, 2009 2:21 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CULTIVATION
"The ancients used to say, by way of comparison: Practicing other methods is as difficult and laborious as an ant climbing a high mountain; reciting the Buddha's name seeking rebirth in the Pure Land is as swift and easy as a boat sailing downstream in the direction of the blowing wind.

Moreover, once reborn there, living in an auspicious and peaceful environment, always in the company of Buddha Amitabha and the Bodhisattvas, the practitioner will swiftly achieve success in whatever Dharma method he chooses. He is like a log rolling down a high mountain, which just keeps going and never stops, even for a moment."

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

Postby thornbush » Tue May 05, 2009 12:39 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CULTIVATION (METAPHYSICAL SPECULATIONS)
"It is as if a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and kinsmen were to get a surgeon to heal him, and he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know by what man I was wounded, whether he is of the warrior caste, or a brahmin, or of the agricultural, or the lowest caste. Or if he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know of what name or family the man is -- or whether he is tall, or short, or of middle height ...Before knowing all this, that man would die. Similarly, it is not on the view that the world is eternal, that it is finite, that body and soul are distinct, or that the Buddha exists after death that a religious life depends.


Whether these views or their opposites are held, there is still rebirth, there is old age, there is death, and grief, lamentation, suffering, sorrow, and despair...I have not spoken to these views because they do not conduce to an absence of passion, to tranquility, and Nirvana. And what have I explained?

'Suffering have I explained, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the path that leads to the destruction of suffering have I explained. For this is useful.'"

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

Postby thornbush » Wed May 06, 2009 3:23 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CULTIVATION (MIND AND BODY)
"The Buddha said:
'There was once someone who, plagued by ceaseless sexual desire, wished to castrate himself. The Buddha said to him, 'To cut off your sexual organs would not be as good as to 'cut off' your mind. Your mind is like a supervisor: if the supervisor stops, his employees will also quit. If the deviant mind is not stopped, what good does it do to cut off the organs?'"

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

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed May 06, 2009 7:07 pm

I've always liked the story of The Monkey Bodhisattva for some reason.

Clickety click

monkey.jpg
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Re: Reflections from Buddhist Parables/Stories

Postby thornbush » Thu May 07, 2009 6:02 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CULTIVATION (MIND EMPTY & STILL)
Once upon a time there was a Zen monk who practiced in a deserted mountain area.

"Lonely and isolated, he had a deluded thought, wishing to have some fellow monks practicing along with him to make life more bearable. Immediately, an old woman appeared from nowhere, leading two beautiful young girls by the hand, who, she said, lived in the village down in the valley. They had come to seek guidance in the Way. The monk, unsuspicious, immediately gave a Dharma talk to the group. One day, after many such visits over a period of time, the old woman respectfully requested that the two girls be allowed to become attendants to the monk and relieve him of his daily chores. The monk, hearing this, became suspicious. He reprimanded the old woman severely and refused the offer. The three women left, looking angry and ashamed.

The monk, intrigued, followed them discreetly until they disappeared around a bend in the road. When he reached the spot, he found it was a dead end with no habitation or anything else around, except for three very old trees, one big tree and two smaller ones. He thought it over and realized that he had been 'tested.' A fleeting thought occurred to him, that he should cut down the trees, start a bonfire, and burn them to the ground. At that moment, the three women reappeared, repentant, begging him to forgive them and spare their lives.

Therefore, the cultivator should remember: when the mind is still, all realms are calm; when delusion arises, demons are born."

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

Postby thornbush » Fri May 08, 2009 2:21 am

http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
CULTIVATION (MONKS AND KINGS)
Once the Chinese Emperor Mu Chung of the Tang dynasty, impressed by the level of cultivation of National Master Wu Yeh invited him to come for an audience. To just about any subject, this would have been an overwhelming honor. However, the master kept refusing because he did not want to be disturbed by worldly matters. So the emperor told his envoy, "If you cannot persuade Master Wu Yeh to come, you will have to forfeit your life." The envoy sought out the master and tearfully asked for his cooperation.

The monk, unable to refuse the request at this point, said, "All right, I will go." So he gathered the whole assembly and asked his followers, "Who would like to join me for an audience with the emperor?" When a disciple raised his hand, the master asked, "How many miles can you travel in one day?" The disciple answered, "Fifty." The monk said, "That's not good enough". A second disciple was asked the same question and said, "Sixty-five," to which the monk replied again, "That's not good enough." A third disciple said, "Seventy miles," and for the third time, the monk said, "That's not good enough."

Then a young monk raised his hand and said, "I will go wherever you go, Master." So the Master did his ablutions, then went back and sat on his elevated seat, entered Samadhi and expired on the spot, in a seated position. The young monk, seeing that, said, "Oh, Master, you have gone. Let me go too." And he expired standing.

This anecdote illustrates that truly accomplished monks are free of mundane preoccupations --beyond Birth and Death.

Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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