In the Saddarmapundarika Sutra, Buddha indicated that in future times of degeneration he would take the form of spiritual teachers. At such times these teachers should be respected the same as the Buddhas, for they will be their living representatives.
Master Tony Chew is one such example of what the Buddha had said in the sutra.
A whole-hearted commitment to Master Tony Chew involves both your thoughts and actions, and a total conviction that he is a Buddha . As such, great benefit can be derived in overcoming numerous sufferings we go through in our daily life.
As an accomplished Spiritual Teacher he can only show you the way but if you should doubt his competence and ability to guide you, your practices will be extremely unstable and you will be unable to make any concrete progress. Only with full confidence in him will you be able to gain any benefits from any practice that he has taught you.
The Buddha taught us the middle path and many other teachings as well but then these teachings are not for everyone . And hence the Buddha and the great masters who inherited his teachings devised other teachings intended to develop those who might be overwhelmed ( defeated completely in mind or feeling) by these teachings which serve in the development of an individual only up to a point. The point where he might meet a Master Tony Chew, would bring home to him the ultimate message of the teachings. What is meant by this statement is that it is almost impossible to cultivate by just reading from books on the teachings of Buddhism without the guidance of a Spiritual Teacher or Guru.
Buddhas exert a great positive on the world in the same way as does the sun . But just as a magnifying glass is needed to focus the rays of the sun in order for tinder (combustible material) to catch fire , so too a spiritual teacher is required to focus the Buddhas’ enlightening influence onto a disciple’s mind-stream and inspire him or her to follow a spiritual path.
No sutra, tantra or sastra speaks of any being ever attaining perfect Buddhahood without having followed a spiritual teacher. We can see for ourselves that nobody developed accomplishments, both personal and spiritual, through our own ingenuity (clever, original & inventive) and prowess (superior ability & skill). Indeed, all beings, ourselves included, show particular talent in discovering the wrong paths to take ,while when it comes to following the path leading to liberation (leaving the cycle of birth and death) and omniscience (the capacity to know everything there is to know) we are confused as a blind person wandering alone in a deserted plain.
A spiritual teacher or companion is our true guide to liberation and omniscience, and we must follow him with respect. This is accomplished in three phases:
- firstly, by examining the teacher,
- then by following him,
- and finally by emulating his realization and his actions.
Ordinary people like us are, for the most part, are easily influenced by the people and circumstances around us. That is why we should always follow a teacher, a spiritual friend. Their influence is like an ordinary tree falling in a sandalwood forest. After some years that ordinary wood comes to smell as sweet as the sandal trees around it. In just the same way , if you live and study with a perfect teacher full of good qualities, you will be permeated by the perfume of those qualities and in everything you do will come to resemble him.
As times have degenerated, nowadays it is difficult to find a teacher who has every one of the qualities described in the teachings. However, it is indispensable that the teacher we follow should possess at least the following qualities:
- He should be pure, like never violating any commitments to his vows e.g. Bodhisattva vows.
- He should be learned, and not lacking in the knowledge of the tantras, sutras and sastras.
- Towards the vast multitudes of beings, his heart is so suffused with compassion he loves each one like his only child.
- He should be be well versed in ritual practices i.e. by putting into practice the meaning of the teachings after having made a reality of it himself all the unusually great achievements of riddance (action of getting rid of something troublesome) and realization.
- He should be generous, his language should be pleasant, he should teach each individual according to the person’s needs and he should act in conformity with what he teaches; these four ways of attracting beings enable him to gather fortunate disciples around him.
After examining him carefully and making an unmistaken assessment, from the moment you find that teacher has all the qualities mentioned you should never cease to consider him a Buddha in person. This teacher in whom all the attributes are complete is the embodiment of the compassionate wisdom of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, appearing in the form of a ordinary human simply to benefit beings.
So that such a true teacher may skillfully guide the ordinary people needing his help, he:
- makes his ordinary conduct conform to that of ordinary people. But in reality his wisdom mind is that of a Buddha, so he is utterly different from anyone else.
- Each of his acts is simply the activity of a realized being attuned to the nature of those he needs to benefit. He is therefore uniquely noble.
- Skilled in cutting through hesitation and doubt, he patiently endures all the ingratitude and discouragement of his disciples, like a mother with her only child.
A teacher with all these qualities is :
- like a great ship in which to cross the vast ocean of samsara (continual repetitive cycle of birth and death in the six realms).
- Like a navigator, he unfailingly charts out for us the route to liberation and omniscience.
- Like a downpour of nectar, extinguishes the blaze of negative actions and emotions.
- Like the sun and moon, he radiates the light of Dharma and dispels the thick darkness of ignorance.
- Like the earth, he patiently bears all ingratitude and discouragement, and his view and action are vast in their capacity.
- Like a wish-granting tree, he is source of all help in this life and all happiness in the next.
- Like the perfect vase, he is a treasury of all the inconceivable variety of vehicles ( Theravada,Mahayana and Vajrayana) and doctrines that one could ever need.
- Like a father or mother, he loves each one of all the innumerable living creatures equally, without any attachment to those close to him or hatred for others.
- Like a great river, his compassion is so vast that it includes all beings as infinite as space, and so swift that it can help all who are suffering and lack a protector.
- Like the king of mountains, his joy at others’ happiness is so steadfast that it cannot be shifted by jealousy, or shaken by the winds of belief in the reality of appearances.
- Like rain falling from a cloud,* his impartiality is never disturbed by attachment or aversion. (* Rain fall from a cloud upon whatever lies beneath it, without distinction).
Such a teacher is equal to all the Buddhas in his compassion and his blessings. Those who make a positive connection with him will attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime. Even those who make a negative connection with him will eventually be led out of samsara.
When following a spiritual teacher, a courageous disciple , armoured with the determination never to displease his teacher even at the cost of life, so stable-minded that he is never shaken by immediate circumstances, who serves his teacher without caring about his own health or survival and obeys his every command without sparing himself at all. Such a person will be liberated simply through his devotion to the teacher.
To follow the teacher :
- you should have so much confidence in him that you perceive him as a real Buddha.
- You should have such discrimination and knowledge of the teachings that you can recognize the wisdom underlying his skillful actions and grasp whatever he teaches you .
- You should feel immense loving compassion for all those who are suffering with no one to protect them.
- You should respect the vows and samayas (precepts) that your teacher has told you to keep, and should be peaceful and controlled in your deeds, words and thoughts.
- Your outlook should be so broad that you can accept whatever your teacher and spiritual companions may do.
- You should be so generous that you can give the teacher whatever you possess.
- Your perception of everything should be pure , not always critical or tainted.
- You should restrain yourself from doing anything harmful or negative, for fear of displeasing him.
The Sutra Arranged like a Tree and other texts also tell us that when following a teacher we should be:
- like a perfect horse, acting according to the teacher’s wishes in every situation, skillfully avoiding anything that would displease him and never getting angry or resentful even when he reprimands us severely.
- Like a boat, we should never tire of going back and forth to take messages or do other services for him.
- Like a bridge, there is should be nothing that we cannot bear, however pleasant or unpleasant the tasks he asks us to do.
- Like a blacksmith’s anvil , we should endure, heat, cold and all other difficulties.
- Like a servant, we should obey his every command.
- Like a sweeper, we should never be proud but take the lowest position.
- Like a bull with broken horns, we should abandon arrogance and respect everyone.
There are three ways to please the teacher and serve him.:
- The best way is known as the offering of practice, and consists of putting whatever he teaches into practice with determination, disregarding all hardship.
- The middling way is known as service with body and speech, and involves serving him and doing whatever he needs you to do whether physically, verbally or mentally.
- The lowest way is by material offerings , which means to please your teacher by giving him material goods, food, money and so forth.
However incomprehensibly the teacher may behave , always maintain pure perception (the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses), and recognize his way of doing things as his skillful methods and it is important not to take any of your teacher’s actions in the wrong way. Train yourself to have only pure perception. People who ignore this point, continually misinterpreting and criticizing what their teacher does , would, so it is said, find fault even in the Buddha if they were to live with him long enough.
Whenever you see faults in anything your sublime teacher does, you should feel deeply embarrassed and ashamed of yourself. Reflecting that it is your own mental vision that is impure, and that all his actions are utterly flawless and unerring, strengthen your pure perception of him and increase your faith.
When the teacher seems to be furious with you, do not get angry. Instead, remind yourself that he must have glimpsed some fault in you and seen that this is the moment to correct it with such an outburst. When his anger has abated, go to him, confess your faults and vow not to repeat them.
In the presence of your teacher, stand up at once whenever he does, instead of remaining seated. When he sits down, inquire after his well-being. When you think there might be something he needs, at the right moment bring him whatever would please him.
When walking with him as his attendant,:
- avoid walking in front of him as that would mean turning your back on him.
- Do not walk behind him, however, because you would be treading on his footsteps*( *As the spiritual teacher is Buddha, the place where his trodden is blessed.)
- Nor should you walk to his right, since that would be assuming the place of honour.
- Instead, keep respectfully to his left and slightly behind.
- Should the road ahead be hazardous, it would not the be wrong to ask permission to go ahead.
Also when in your teacher’s presence:
- As for the teacher’s seat, never tread on them.
- Do not open doors violently or slam them shut; handle them gently.
- Abstain from all expressions of vanity or discontent in his presence.
- Also avoid lying, unconsidered or insincere words, laughing and joking , playing the fool, unnecessary or irrelevant chat.
- Learn to act in a controlled manner, treating him with respect and awe, and never drifting into casualness.
Should there be people who criticize or hate your teacher , do not treat them as your friends. If you are capable of changing the attitude of anyone who has no faith in him or disparages him, then you should do so. But if that is impossible , avoid being too open or having familiar conversations with such people.
However much time you have to spend with your teacher’s entourage ( followers and disciples):
- never feel weary or irritated with them; be easy to be with, like a comfortable belt.
- Swallow your self importance and join in with whatever there is to be done , mixing easily like salt in the food.
- When people speak harshly to you or pick quarrels , or when the responsibilities you have to assume are too great, be ready to bear anything, like a pillar.
When you are perfectly versed in how to follow your teacher, do whatever he says without feeling bored or tired , be receptive to your teacher and through your faith and steadfastness make sure that you absorb all his qualities of knowledge , reflection and meditation, like the contents of one perfect vessel being poured into another.
Whenever your sublime teacher accumulates great waves of merit and wisdom through his Bodhisattva activities, your own participation with the least material offerings or effort of body and speech, or even your offerings of joy at the slightest thing he does, will bring you as much merit as springs from his own unsurpassable intention. Specifically, to serve the teacher’s daily needs , to carry messages for him or even to sweep his room are an infallible way to accumulate merit, so try to do such things as much as you can.
Of all the paramount sources of refuge or opportunities for accumulating merit there is none greater than the teacher. Especially while he is giving an empowerment or teaching , the compassion and the blessings of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions pour into his sacred person and he becomes indivisibly one with all the Buddhas. At such a time , therefore, offering him even a mouthful of food is more powerful than hundreds and thousands of offerings at other times.
The final phase, emulating the teacher’s realization and actions, and doing exactly as he does. As the saying goes, “Every action is an imitation; he who imitates best, acts best.” It could be said that the practice of Dharma is to imitate the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the past. As the disciple is learning to be like his teacher, he will need to assimilate truly the latter’s realization and way of behaving. The disciple should make sure he or she acquires qualities identical with, or at least very close to, whatever qualities the teacher has.
Anyone who first examines his teacher skillfully, then follows him skillfully, and finally emulates his realization and actions skillfully will always be on the authentic path, come what may.
It is a serious fault not to follow the teacher with a completely sincere mind, free from deceit . Never perceive his actions negatively. Never even tell him the smallest lie.
In our past lives an inexpressible multitude of Buddhas have already come and also an inconceivable number of spiritual teacher have appeared. But, we have not had the good fortune to enjoy their compassionate care or even to meet them. Now is your chance to meet an authentic teacher and build your affinity with him, if you haven’t already.
Master Tony Chew is who we are talking about prior to this last lines. Make a connection.
( The assessment of Master Tony Chew is based on the writings of Patrul Rinpoche, Asvaghosa & R.F.Thurman which through personal knowledge & experience aptly describes our Master)
Note: Even if a pupil writes like the Master, his words cannot be compared to the words of the Master even though the Master simply writes. The words are different because the Master is on a different level, his is on an enlightened level.
Excerpts of Teachings of Master Tony Chew
If you complain a lot when stuck in a jam, or irritated by the noise, impatient with others on the road, worry about being late for work (scared of getting scolding from the boss). What you should do is to keep calm and go through the whole experience with a calm, sincere, happy manner; treat the noise as music, look at everything as beautiful objects or scenery, never treat anything as a burden (e. g. you can look at the beautiful cars , their colour , the make, number plates, drivers, the people) and turn the whole experience into happy sambodhi. ( Quiet smile means silent discipline)
The enlightened person is always very happy. If people use harsh words with you, become abusive , criticize you, find faults with you , belittle you, scold you, beat you, curse you, give you a cold stare, or even threaten you; accept it as it is your karma of past or present and remain calm through the whole experience as it will help break your karma. Be vigilant, control yourself by not having one bad thought . Practice happy sambodhi. In short, treat everything you hear as music to your ears and everything you see as beautiful sceneries.
Story :Buddhadasa practices Happy Sambodhi
Buddhadasa was walking with his disciples to a village. A man approached him and said that he would like to make a donation. He asked Buddhadasa to follow him to collect a cheque. Upon reaching his house, the man said that he had asked his wife to prepare him a meal while waiting for him to return with the cheque.
In the meantime, the Master waited for an hour but was not ready, so he took a walk to stretch his legs . Another hour passed and it was still not ready. He just smiled and waited another hour. This went on for a total of seven times , still not ready. The Master did not get angry because he has no temper.
The Master was hungry so he went to the kitchen to look for the wife but she was not home. (she used the back door to go to her friend’ s place to play mahjong – there were 3 people waiting there and needed 1 more person). The Master decided to cook his own meal in the kitchen and then ate.
The man returned and apologised and that he forgot the Master because he got caught up at an emergency meeting. The wife also returned at the same time and she too apologised profusely and that she too had forgotten about the Master.
The Master said he also forgot that it was not his place and cooked himself a meal and made himself a cup of coffee. The man then quickly gave him a cheque for $5000.
All the while, the Master (Buddhadasa) never got angry because he practiced and lived in a state of happy sambodhi. He had already conquered his emotions and knows how to use wisdom to help.
THE LADY WHO YEARNED FOR A SON
A lady visited the temple to consult the Venerable Buddhadasa on certain personal issues. She told the Master Buddhadasa that she’s very unhappy. Being childless was the primary cause for her unhappiness and it has now become the chief object of her life. The Master then told her to go home and she will be happy.
That night she dreamt that up in the sky, there was a very bright lone star and it fell into her pocket. When she woke up, she had a vague perception that she might be pregnant. Months later, she gave birth to a baby girl and aptly named the child -‘Star’
One year later, she paid another visit to Venerable Buddhadasa . She again complained to the Master of her unhappiness. A child she craved so much, she has it now, but a son would bring her true happiness. The Master smiled and told her to go home and she will be happy.
Again she had a dream and this time she was with her husband on a romantic boat ride, where out of the blue the bright moon in the sky, fell onto the boat. The moon asked the lady to be her mother and the lady agreed. She had hoped that her second born would be a boy, but instead she had another girl , whom she named -‘Moon’
Another year passed by, and once more she paid a visit to the Venerable Buddhadasa. Once again she complained of her discontentment of not having found true happiness. Having two daughters now, she still very much yearned for a son. The Master smiled and told her to go home and she WILL be very happy this time.
That night she dreamt she was taking a morning stroll, hand in hand with her husband when all of sudden, the sun fell on her husband’s head. The sun then asked permission to be their child. Yet again she agreed and after a succession of two daughters, she delivered another girl whom she named ‘Sun’.
Years later, as always, she was watching her three daughters playing in the garden and realized that all three girls had their own distinct personalities. STAR like her namesake was a bright and talented girl, MOON was a soft spoken, gentle & a caring child. SUN was like a burst of sunshine, cheerful, warmth and loving.
It suddenly dawned on her that she doesn’t need to have a son to be happy. Her bias toward genders, i.e. preference for having a son over having a daughter has been her source of unhappiness for so many years. All is now good, blissful, whole and complete. Having a girl is the same as having a boy and with this new found insight, a wave of real happiness swept through her.
Happiness does not lie in getting the things you want or desire but in the contentment with the things you already have. For, desires are the cause of all conflicts. When you want something and cannot get it you become very frustrated. In general, the stronger the craving, the more bitter the frustration. Learning to be free from desires is learning how to stay peaceful and blissful.
Simple Dharma (Luang Phor Kai)
” When you sit down, what do you feel? You find that your mind is all muddled. Thinking too much about your problems. If you let go , your mind is clear and calm then you will find just sitting there is very comfortable.” It was a very simple and enlightening talk.
Stories of Acharn Mun
This old master was meditating on the mountain top that lasted 14 days and never once getting up. Animals like monkeys monitor lizards, pythons etc. ..all brought fruits for him. Lots of people also came to visit him. On the 15th day, he got up. The visitors asked him who he was and he replied, ” from young to old I am Acharn Mun”.
There was a very rich man who had come to meet Acharn Mun there. He owned many huge buildings and wanted Acharn Mun to check the ‘Feng Shui’ of his buildings. The old master obliged and followed him to the city. He saw cars, trains, motorcycles and many other type of vehicles, including river transport. The whole place was full of activities, people talking, gossiping, bargaining etc..the market was blaring all kinds of loud music..imagine the amount of noise going on.
As they were walking amid the all the noise he mentioned to the rich man he heard a grasshopper fly past them.The rich man refuted saying it was impossible and as they were in the middle of the city and no grasshopper could be seen or found. Acharn Mun said he would prove it to him and they went to a location further down and there in a flower box was a grasshopper and show it to the rich man and let it fly away. Fantastic, thought the rich man he can pick out the sound from the flight of a grasshopper, his sense of hearing must be very sharp from being in the forest.
Then Acharn Mun said that the city people, the hearing is also very good, to demonstrate he threw some coins, and upon hitting the floor brought the attention of the people around, they turned to see where the coin was, some rushing and fighting over the dropped coins. Acharn Mun said, “see city folks, their hearing is just as good”.
He then told the rich man to protect our natural habitats i.e. go for nature, offer our help to save the forests. City people are only only attracted by money. Rich man must learn to be environmentally conscious . Even in those days Acharn Mun had predicted about global warming caused by the deforestation and the melting of the iceberg in the polar regions (Arctic, Antarctica ) which in the future will be a new source of viruses that will affect the future of the people of this world. Rich man never help the forest, only burn down the forest and kill animals. The forest are now getting less and less due to man’s greed. City folks very money minded.
Compassion for animals (Luang Phor Tam)
“He got his powers from the Dharma Protectors because from young to old age he set free birds and animals. He built ponds to keep turtles, tortoises and fishes in the temple grounds. He had the ability to communicate with birds , animals, insects. Once he was able to talk to white ants (termites) to go away and also remove other pests, lizards, frogs, snakes – use his tongue (he spoke to them) to convince them to leave the temple. He dispensed bodhi leaves to his disciples/followers and ask them to chant ‘Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambodassa’ for good luck and also when freeing animals and birds. Before he died, one thousand eagles came down to pay their respects . The King then built a statue of an eagle at his temple. His teachings :
- 1. love animals,
- 2.take care of them,
- 3. take them as your children,
- 4. animals can be your companion when you are lonely,
- 5. they teach you patience,and
- 6. learn to have compassion for them by not eating them”.
Coin , Cobra , Merit, Bowl
A Coin is either a cobra or merit :-
1. A coin is a cobra : Coin can also be referred to as money and can be used for enjoyment, spend lavishly on beautiful things, essentials, wine, woman, and song , and truly have a great time.One day the Buddha was walking in the countryside with Ananda and pointed to the ground. He told Ananda that underneath this ground is full of snakes (cobra).Two farmers heard them talking and were puzzled at what Buddha had told Ananda, as there was no snakes around , and what more underground.The two farmers decided to dig up the ground and they found gold. When all the gold was brought up – greed got the better of them and got into a violent fight and both were badly injured and both of them died from the injuries.
2. A coin is a merit : A rinpoche plants a tree and the tree bears many fruits. He gives the fruits to his disciples and ask them to share among themselves and use the seed from the fruit for replanting. Six months later they have a very good harvest.They sell the fruits and make lots of money – enough to build a temple. That is merit.
3. Bowl – The Buddha’ s begging bowl is a source of merit. One day when the Buddha was going on his rounds, he came across a blind man. The blind man was very clever in singing and playing his guitar. The blind man having heard about the Buddha ( the sermon about the merits of making offerings to the Buddha), so when the Buddha approached him and asked him for his guitar, he gladly gave it as an offering . The Buddha played a tune , light filled both the heavens and earth. A great number of heavenly beings all came down to give their blessings and partake in this meritorious deed. Moments later, the blind man while he was about to leave, all of a sudden fell down and hit his forehead on the ground After that he recovered from the fall and realized he could see. He followed the Buddha for 49 days and became an arahant. This was his merit for making an offering to the Buddha.
Three arahants sat by the river bank chanting for all sentient beings until mermaids about 20 feet tall begin to appear on the surface of the river. They began singing to acknowledge the presence of the holy ones until dragons about 1000 feet long began to also appear with the mermaids to rejoice . A young boy of 10 years watching this spectacle from behind a tree and being overjoyed, wished upon Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to be able to do the same. So he too prayed for all sentient being at the bank of the river. Due to his sincerity mermaids and dragons also appeared at the surface of the river.
The Moral of the story:” If you are sincere, you will be same as the enlightened beings. You will be able to do what they do. Use your eyes to see not only ears to listen.”
Master Tony Chew was very good at it. He and his Master were to compete to see who was able to make a better carving. During auctions see who could sell the doll carvings at a higher price.
1st Auction: Master Tony’s doll sold at $2o; his Master’s doll sold at $10. His Master advised that in Master Tony’s carving – the eyes were not compassionate enough.
2nd Auction : Master Tony’s carving sold at $50, His Master’s carving sold again at $10. His Master advised that in Master Tony’s carving – the nose shape does not bring out the smile.
3rd Auction : Master Tony sold his carving at $100, while his Master’s carving still sold at $10. His Master advised that in Master Tony’s carving – the mouth does not express look of being approachable.
4th Auction: Master Tony’s piece sold at $1000, His Master’s piece sold once more at $10.
The moral of the story: “Master was able to improve his carvings at every moment and so was able to fetch a better price. His Master’s always remained at $10 because he could not improve anymore. One will always improve if one willingly accepts criticism from one’s Master/Teacher.
Quote by Master Tony-” If I am gold, I wish my disciples to be diamonds”
is beautiful and smells sweet, nice to look at, and just like the smell of perfume , the fragrance when released is cool and wonderful. In the eyes of a lover it is a gift, a present, which is used to please the heart of a woman. Receiving a flower from a man is more powerful than receiving $1000 in cash because the flower is the heart of the man. She gets the sense of security and feels more protected than usual. She also feels that she can control the man just like having to tame a dragon or tame a lion. A room which is plain , bare , painted grey, things would look very ordinary but by putting a flower in the room you offer light, beauty, bring energy to the room, and make the room active.
In the eyes of an arahant the flower will pass away as he thinks of the impermanent nature of all phenomena. Like a flower, the body is impermanent going through the aging process of old age and death. The mind becomes slow, there is sickness and then there is suffering.
The bodhisattva thinks : from a seed , the soil in which the seed is planted, and further providing the ingredients for its growth ; one cannot leave it unprotected : one must provide sunshine , water, oxygen, care, vitamins and through these caring elements, the seed becomes a flower.The bodhisattva sees the flower in this same manner as he sees all sentient beings: that they must be cared for until they reach enlightenment. Like a handicapped person , we got to help to teach them to be independent and are now standing on their own two feet. The same process of nurturing a seed to become a flower, all sentient beings will also need our help. We cannot leave them on their own and it is more important to help them as they are all future Buddhas . They maybe like demons at the moment but once all their delusions and afflictions are cleared off , they are pure, because all sentient beings have the Buddha nature.
Ananda offers a flower to the Buddha , a lotus – a symbol of Pure Land. The Buddha is a lotus that grew out of mud , full of filth, excrement, muddy water and dirt. We sentient beings can all be this lotus that springs from this mud and achieve enlightenment. This is when a flower is no longer a flower. This is when we are a Buddha.
A Story : Buddha’s first five disciples
The Buddha’s first 5 disciples were also his servants. When the Buddha left home, he practiced the extreme paths ,e.g. He went 49 days without having food and only drank a little water. He had come to realize that going into extremes will not achieve his goal , so he settled for the middle path, i.e going back to eating normally. His 5 servants on seeing the Buddha leave the extreme path , left him.
After the Buddha became enlightened he returned to the 5 servants. They wanting to embarrass him but only ended up embarrassing themselves. When the Buddha walked towards them lotuses began sprouting from the ground. They began to feel small and started to pay their respects because the Buddha looked like a person full of knowledge , had the eyes of compassion, which caused them to begin to raise questions.
The Buddha explained that he had become an enlightened person. Three times he turned the Wheel of Dharma (Dharma Chakra). He taught that :you must be quick in both mind and body; you must take the chance; let go of anger, greed, selfishness , being revengeful, and turn the Dharma Cakra.
They all became arahants after the first discourses of the Buddha.
(Note: The five disciples were Bhaddiya, Wappa, Mahanama, Assaji & Anna Kondanna. Anna Kondanna was the first to gain arahantship, the others in due course after the second sermon “Anatta Lakkhara”.
There was this old monk who was passing through a village around midnight and needed a place to rest. He passed by a house and the occupant of the house was a widow whose age was around the thirties. She was a very attractive person and lived alone. Upon seeing the old monk, she invited him into the house , to the living room. She served him biscuits, tea and water. The old monk then asked the young widow to pray along with him. As they prayed, the house became brighter and brighter .They could hear the sound of heavenly drums. Then, two angels came through the window. The angels were originally two hundred feet tall, but to suit their hosts appeared as only six feet tall and looked like any normal person. They were both very handsome and their reason for coming was to pay their respects to the old monk and take part in the prayer. Their bodies gave off a very fragrant smell . After the prayers was over they left behind some fruit as an offering to the old monk.
When morning came the old monk had to leave and the young widow saw him to the front door. Another young monk who lived at the nearby temple had seen the old monk coming out of the house. He started spreading rumors that the old monk was having an illicit affair ( sex) with the young widow . The old monk was already on his way but sent his voice to the young monk to tell him that he needs facts and evidence before he accuses him, as he was only doing meditation together with prayers with the young widow. He asked him not to do it anymore i.e. spreading false rumors.
Seven days later, the young monk was still at it (spreading rumors) and again the old monk warned him carrying his message once again using his voice, telling him once more that bad mouthing people is no good. But he did not stop. That night the young monk had a dream. He saw an image of the Buddha with eyes closed. Suddenly, the Buddha opened his eyes and told him to go for repentance and then the Buddha closed his eyes again. All of a sudden the young monk’s body began to develop rashes and his body began to weaken and then fell down and had fractures all over his body and looked really ugly ( like the devil ).
The old monk was Luang Phor Thot. He told the young monk that it was his karma for bad mouthing him. Then Luang Phor Thot got hold of some water and prayed over it and sprinkled the holy water and prayed over him for one hour. Soon, all his rashes were gone and he recovered to his normal self. Luang Phor Thot looked after him and also taught him Dharma. After 30 years the young monk became an arahant. The young monk was Luang Phor Sai whose image can be seen at Wat Trimeet.
Prisoners of our Karma
Prisoner A , imprisoned for the last 10 years, was solitary confined in a small cell with only a very tiny grille window in it. One night he heard someone called out his name. It was an Angel. The Angel told him that if he could give her a satisfactory answer to her question, not only will she get him out of prison, she will also reward him with wealth and properties.
She asked him; in all the 10 years that he has been imprisoned, what did he see from that one window in his cell? He lamented that one can hardly see anything through the thick metal bars over that small opening, let alone to describe any sightings at all. As for the cell, it’s dark even at midday, the air is dank and smelt of sewage and a plank of wood on legs served as the bed. He has no idea how much time had passed or even if it was night or day. He went on and on about how disorienting the cell can be until the Angel told him, “Hmm in that case , please continue to stay put”.
She then went to the next cell, where Prisoner B has also been imprisoned for the last 10 years. She put forth the same question with the same offer of rewards if Prisoner B could give her a satisfactory answer.
Prisoner B cheerfully described some of the most wonderful sights that he encountered daily from the small hole known as a window.
He recounted the following: In the morning , the sun comes up bringing warmth to the whole place as the cell gets very cold in the night; At dusk the sun settled down displaying shades of red and orange on everything it touches; In the night ,the moon appeared bringing along the stars and he even saw fairies dancing, playing and romancing; On a hot day, the cool breeze will slide through the window grille bringing relief from the heat; Rainbow appears after a rain; Birds chirping happily, flying here and there , playfully trying to catch each other; People bringing good food and drinks (prison food).
The next thing you know , Prisoner B was transported from the prison cell to a huge bungalow in the country.
Moral of the story: If you already imprisoned , you make the best out of it. In reality, we are all prisoners of our karma, imprisoned in this world. Therefore, we should always give praises and be positive in our outlook , then our world will be a beautiful world and our pitiful life will pass on much more happily and easily.
The man, the donkey and the Arahant : (even animals have the Buddha nature)
A man owned a donkey which fell sick from carrying heavy loads of goods on its back . Suffering from the illness, the donkey stood its ground and refused to take another step. Out of anger and not knowing that the donkey was sick, the man started to beat it with a stick . The donkey, stubborn as it is, refused to budged.
By then, the man finally realized that the donkey was ill. He tried to put medicine into its mouth but the donkey refused to take in the medicine. Once again the man got angry and repeatedly beat up the donkey while dragging it towards the market. He yelled at it and said that he was going to have it killed and make some money out of its meat.
An Arahant was observing the whole incident and he admonished the man and told him that the donkey became stubborn and bad tempered because it was not feeling well. He advised that since the donkey loved to eat carrot, to make a groove in the carrot and place the medicine that has been premixed with sugar into the groove. True enough, the donkey ate up all the medicine and got better..
The Arahant taught the man, that to tame a stubborn animal one should not use violence but instead one should show kindness and affection. A soft approach will yield better results. The man having learnt from this incident decided to give the donkey to the Arahant who then used the donkey to transport sutras.
Being a constant companion to the Arahant, listening to the Arahant’s daily chanting and reciting of the sutras as well as carrying the sutras on its back , the donkey before his demise , attained enlightenment.
The Buddha and the wild boars.:(Making offerings)
The Buddha , unable to to cross a flooded river decided to take a break and meditated under a nearby tree . Meantime 600 wild boars ( wild pigs) happened to pass by and saw the Buddha in all his splendor and brightness and out of great respect, each wild boar place an offering of fruits for the Buddha.
Thereafter they continued their journey by crossing the river but unfortunately all of them were drowned. However, due to their respectful offerings, all were reborn as devas in the heavenly realms. They then descended from heaven to collect their own carcass so as to give it a proper burial .
The Buddha in one of his dharma talk, retold this incident to his disciples and taught that even wild pigs can become Buddhas, all the more, we human beings. Therefore do not underestimate oneself .
My Girlfriend is a Mermaid
A young man , holding gifts of clothing , a ring, a stalk of flower , a card filled with loving words which were to be given to his girlfriend. Their rendezvous (meeting place) was to be on an abandoned ship by the seaside. From darkness to dawn he waited for his girlfriend to no avail.
While the sun was about to break through the sky, he saw in the water, something that resembled a big fish which was trying very hard to swim closer to the ship. Try as hard as it could, the fish was unable to get any closer . From afar, the young man, could see teardrops falling from the fish’s eyes. To move closer to the fish, he jumped into the water and saw that it’s tail was dragged down by a chain and it was surrounded by semi-beasts resembling hugh prawns, lobsters, octopus etc…They looked so fierce and scary that he quickly swam back to the ship.
The next night and every night from there on, the young man bearing the same gifts and a fresh stalk of rose flower, could be seen at the seaside waiting for his love. And, each morning he would throw the stalk of rose flower into the water and leave the beach with tears of disappointment and heartache.
This went on for 6 years. until one fine evening the the same big fish suddenly appeared on the shore. The fish bears an uncanny resemblance to his girlfriend and it dawned on him that ” HIS GIRLFRIEND WAS A MERMAID” !!! .
Surrounding her were all the same semi-beasts of before. They were so moved by the young man’s faithfulness, loyalty, sincerity and unchanging love that they removed the spell that bind the mermaid and turned her into a complete human being, one that would eventually succumb to death.
A chest that was filled with gold and pearls floated up to the shore for the young man. Apparently, all the years of teardrops that fell into water and all the flowers that was thrown into the ocean had turned to pearl drops and gold respectively.
Moral of the story: If one is faithful, loyal and sincere, one can change the impossible. Your wishes will bear results.
Timing is everything: ( Say the right things at the right time)
A hunter on his way to lay some traps, accidentally fell into a trap which was meant for lions. The hole was just too deep for him to get himself out. Sometime later, lions surrounded the hole and the lion king told the hunter that the last chapter of his life is now happening. The hunter pleaded with words of apologies , being sorry for his actions and intentions and persuaded the lion king to let him go , saying that he will never hunt again.
The Lion king said. “ No.. no…no.. as a hunter you have killed so many animals, some of them my relatives. Therefore, you deserved to be killed in return. With that closing statement, the lion king jumped into the hole and killed the hunter.
On another day, a female politician with a suitcase, fell into the same trap. Again, she was surrounded by lions and the lion king told her that the last chapter of her life is now staring right in front of her . She pleaded for her life and said that being a woman politician she has done so much for women. She had successfully fought for women’s rights, and now women and men have equal rights ..blah blah..blah..!!!
The lion king roared with anger; saying “no wonder, nowadays my wife and daughters are so disobedient. When I tell them to sit, they run. When I tell them to stand, they frolic about, and its all because of you, telling women all over the world that they are better and stronger then men”. In the next moment, she was pounced on and became history.
Lastly, an advertising man fell into the same trap. As before, the lions came and the lion king delivered the same “last chapter” message. The man, being in the field of advertising for many years, had already established the gift of the gap. Using his talent for speech, he first introduced himself and informed the lion king that his job was to sell advertisements. He went on to say that he could make a frog to look like a prince by the power of makeover and by the power of media, so much so that women will fight to kiss the frog.
He continued “ but you being the lion king with distinguishable and impressive manes, you are fast and furious, you exude strength, power & courage. These attributes makes you so masculine , so macho …, a make over is unnecessary. But, there is a need to make you go INTERNATIONAL, a source to be recognized and a force to be reckoned with. That’s where I come in. I will make you from one lion into one thousand compassionate bodhisattvas . I will splash your picture of strength, power & courage worldwide and when people see the posters, everyone will heap praises upon you.”
The lion king was very pleased and happy to let the man go. The lion even heaped rewards onto the man by giving him a rabbit (which was caught in the trap), the hunter’s gun and finally the politician’s suitcase that was brimming with cash.
Moral of the story: Talk at the right time at the right place
Words are magical. Words are powerful . They can move us to act with great love or great cruelty. (The Buddha’s teaching on “Right speech” in the eight noble path is powerful, useful and a timely message for modern society.)
THE GOD OF FORTUNE
A young Chinese boy who was about nine years old was reading a book which revealed that up above in heaven there exists a “God of Fortune / God of Wealth”. The Chinese addressed him as “Choy Sun Yeah”. The book says that the God of Fortune will descend to earth to distribute wealth and good fortune to the people, especially the treasures of the earth, and in the same process bring fortune and happiness to those who invite him into their homes.
On the eve of Chinese New Year, his mother then made known to him that its a day of opportunity to receive the God of Fortune’s treasures . She told him to to write out on a piece of red paper, the Chinese character of “FOOK ” ( Good Fortune) and have it pasted on the front door of the main entrance. Besides that, he has to be on a vegetarian diet for the day and most importantly, to stay up until past midnight to receive and welcome the God of Fortune into their house.
He did everything that was told by his mother except to keep himself awake for the rightful time, the auspicious time to usher in the God of Fortune. Of all time he slept through way past midnight. Disappointed at having lost the prospect to receive fortune, wealth & economic opportunities, he opened the main door to his house to get some fresh air and there sitting on the steps of the front entrance was a beggar.
The beggar quickly got up on his feet, grinned and put his hands out to asked for some food and drink. Grouchy with frustration, the boy told the beggar that he has nothing to offer as he himself has been waiting for the God of Fortune to bestow wealth upon him.
As time went by, the young boy is now a teenager of fifteen years old. He was rushing to get to school and nearly fell over a beggar who was squatting by the roadside. The beggar stopped the boy, flashed a smile, put out his hands and asked for food and drink. The young boy scolded the beggar for begging from a mere schoolboy who himself could not afford to spare a dime.
Many years went by, the teenager has grown up to be a man of 30 years old , trying hard build up his career in sales. Whilst getting to work , his car broke down (a sign of bad luck , poor fortune). So he left the car behind and took a train. At the station, a beggar was about to pick up a half eaten steam bun (Pau) but left it as he spotted the young man. The beggar ran to the young man and with a smile, flashed out his hands to asked the young man for money so he could have a good, hearty meal at McDonalds.
The young man, pushed the beggar away and retorted that he was in a hurry to catch the train. For him time is of the essence, as every minute spent is a prospect to make money. He told the beggar that he has nothing to give him as he himself is still waiting for the God of Fortune to bestow wealth upon him. The beggar just gave another broad toothy smile while the young man turned his back on him.
Still many years passed on and the young man is now a middle aged elderly man. Success in career had evaded him even though he worked very hard and at the ripe old age of 50 years old, he ended up just being a mere clerk in a big firm.
One evening, walking around aimlessly, he bumped into the beggar whom he now recognized as the same beggar he met from the time he was a young boy of 9 years old .The beggar was someone, who somehow never aged and whose looks seemed to be caught in a time warp.
They struck up a conversation and the man went on to tell the beggar that he had spend his entire life waiting for the God of Fortune but to no avail. The beggar gave a broad grin and introduce himself “ I Am the God of Fortune whom you are looking for . Tsk…Tsk…tsk…. from a young boy then, to an old man now, you have missed every single opportunity to become prosperous. You never gave nor performed any charitable deeds”.
The beggar handed him a note and told him that the secret to good fortune is in the letter. It read as:
“To have or to acquire wealth is to first give out wealth. The more you give the more you get in return . So from today onwards, every week give to the Old Folks Home and every year continue to write the word “Fook” meaning good fortune and paste it on your front door”.
He did exactly as advised, giving to the Old Folks Home and also to Orphanages. Three years passed and he had the good fortune to meet a wealthy printer who paved a way for him to obtain a business opportunity, by which he made his first three million dollars.
In a nutshell:. We cannot simply wish for wealth. If we wish for wealth we should first plant the karmic seeds of wealth by “giving alms”. Besides giving of money and material goods, alms- giving embraces the giving of our time, our loving kindness and compassion, of which all of us have the means and ability to do so. Giving generously is a means of spiritual cultivation in Buddhism and also the first principle in the Six Paramitas on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. The other five are : Morality, Patience, Vigour, Meditation, and Wisdom.
FENG SHUI Versus A GOOD HEART
A Feng Shui master was on his way to view a supposedly auspicious piece of land . Walking through a very mountainous terrain route, he took a short break as he was very tired, hot, hungry and thirsty. He saw an old lady and ask for some water . She gave him a bow of water with some raw green beans and soy beans in it*.
Looking suspiciously at the bowl of water, he thought the old lady must be playing a joke on him or she must have purposely left the beans in the water so that he would choke on the beans. Nevertheless, overwhelmed with thirst, he put this thought out of his mind and gulped down the water. Hungrily he ask the old lady for some food and she brought out a small black loaf of bread**. Offended by the thoughts that she gave him a stale bread, he still gobbled up the bread as he was famished.
The old lady then asked him what is he doing in this remote place. He told her that he is a Feng Shui master. His client, a military General commissioned him to view the overall feng shui of the immediate area. To thank her for the water and bread he gave her feng shui tip. He pointed to a close by hill and told her that should anyone of her family members die, she should bury their remains on that auspicious piece of land . He told her to keep this the information to herself.
Still simmering with anger from the ordeal of having to drink the water mixed with the beans and eating stale bread, to exact sweet revenge , he lied and gave her the wrong advice on the piece of burial land.
Ten years later, the Feng Shui Master made a return journey. He wanted to check up on the area and was stupefied by the immense changes that has taken place. Where before there were small little clusters of wooden houses, they now boasted huge, modern, concrete bungalows. But the most surprisingly impressive sight of all was, the supposedly inauspicious and bad positioning of the small hill has now flourished with big houses, quality fruit trees and around it a hive of positive activities. The place showed signs of great industries swarming with busy occupants. From being inauspicious it has now changed to an excellent piece of good Feng Shui land.
He caught sight of the old lady who was busy doing what she did ten years earlier, that is, sitting on a small stool and distributing drinks to passersby . She recognized and remembered him as the feng shui master who advised her to purchase the hilly piece of land but she did not do so as she thought that good things should be left for more needy people. Moreover, she could not afford to purchase even a small piece of it. Instead of keeping the information private, she felt that it was better to let someone else have it; someone that is going through a rough patch in life and needed a boost to stand up again.
The Feng Shui Master felt embarrassed and ashamed that he had lied out of spite. This unbelievable observation taught him that a bad feng shui can be changed to good, just by a person’s good thoughts and good deeds.
Good feng shui cannot be compared to a Good Heart. The power of goodness of the heart overshadows Feng shui. If one is surrounded by good feng but indulges in evil deeds, no matter how perfect the feng shui is, it will not work out.
Often people with good karma live in land with good qi.
*Raw beans were put in the bowl to prevent a thirsty person from gulping the water too fast and thus quench his thirst easily.
**The bread was charcoal bread to prevent indigestion from eating, especially after extreme hunger.
(If it is a good feng shui site, it would enhance good feng shui to its descendants, bestowing good health, wealth, prosperity, fame as well as filial piety amongst descendants to the family. If the site is with bad feng shui, the family would be adversely affected. The descendants would suffer great mishaps and calamities such as disease, and cannot flourish, swept with scandal, face widowhood, have troubled descendants, endure loss of descendants, barren spouses, giving birth to all females with no son to carry on the family name, face great financial problems, feuds or sorrow in the family.)
Sup Leen Hoi Tung (ten years the sea turns eastwards)
Sup Leen Hoi Sai ( ten years sea the turns westwards)
Fung Sui loon low chuen ( Feng Shui takes turns to turn around)