Part 8 -  Seven Parables (II)

7.3 Parable of the Rain over Medicinal Herb

7.3.1 Original Text in the Sutra
7.3.2 Precis of the Parable
7.3.3 Analogies
7.3.4 Expedient Dharma
7.3.5 The Conditions of Being a Man
7.3.6 Conclusion

7.4 Parable of the Transformed City

7.4.1 Original Text in the Sutra
7.4.2 Precis of the Parable
7.4.3 Analogies
7.4.4 Cultivating our Mind
7.4.5 Conclusion


7.3 PARABLE OF THE RAIN OVER MEDICINAL HERB

It is spoken for people who practice Bodhisattva only, but look down upon those in small vehicle.

7.3.1 Original Text in the Sutra

Please click to read the extract in Chapter 5.

7.3.2 Precis of the Parable

A thick cloud spreads out covering the whole world and raining on all kinds of plants with different sizes, as well as medicinal herbs. From the rain of the one simple cloud, each plant grows, blossoms and bears fruit according to its nature. Although they grow from the same ground and are moistened by the same rain, all the grasses and trees remain different from each other.

7.3.3 Analogies

  1. All being moistened by the rain from one great cloud – The Buddha manifests in the world like a great cloud covering the world with its gods, humans and Asuras, just like different kinds of plants in the three thousand great thousand world. The Buddha speaks of the Dharma equally for all, whoever is intelligent or stupid, noble or lowly.
  2. All being benefited as moistened by the same rain – The Buddha contemplates the sharpness and dullness of the faculties of the living beings, their vigor or laxness, according to their capacity, speaks the Dharma for their sakes in limitless varieties, causing them all to rejoice and quickly attain good benefits. The purpose of speaking Dharma to others is, of course, to let the audiences understand it. Thus, the Buddha does not speak what he certified during enlightenment, but what the audiences can understand and accept, so as to lead them to the Buddhist Way according to their capacity. The speaker must know clearly the thoughts and reacts accurately to the responses of the audiences.

We are dumb if we do not speak what we should speak. We are blind if we speak what we should not speak. In speaking Dharma, it does not mean that the deeper is the better. The value of a talk depends on how far the audiences can understand.

The Buddha is regarded as the King of Dharma, as what he speaks is convincing and beneficial to all sentient beings.

7.3.4 Expedient Dharma

The Buddha speaks of the expedient Dharmas for the benefit of different kinds of people.

  1. To cultivate diligently in upholding the precepts, meditation wisdom, and to eradicate greed, hatred and delusion – We have to study Buddhism step by step. The Three Studies is the basic one, i.e. to uphold the precepts, to meditate and to attain wisdom. For precepts, they are generally the rules for the human beings to observe and uphold in our daily lives. Before we become Buddha, we have to be good human beings first. Thus, we have to uphold the precepts for the human beings. Beings a good person, we have to love ourselves before we love others.
  2. We always ignore ourselves as a lovely person, thus our human relationship with others is not very good. We have to behave ourselves, and care others, then we will be respected and loved. We cannot hurt ourselves both physically and mentally.

  3. To liberate ourselves as well as others, we should educate ourselves and break off all afflictions, including greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance and suspiciousness. Moreover our afflictions can be easily infected to others. The incident that we are offended by others, may be very short in time, however, it may leave a vexed impression in our mind for a very long time. So, it is better to accept and forgive others, just as we accept and forgive ourselves. How can we free from trouble? We have to understand the Principle of Causality and Effect. Our mind must be board without caring the gain or loss. No one can be successful and fortunate all the times. Don’t be angry if we lose. Don’t be excited if we win. To worry for material life is like to dig the grave for ourselves!

7.3.5 The Conditions of being a Man

  1. Be compassionate – In Buddhism, compassion is unconditional, while worldly love is conditional and selfish.
  2. Be justice – treat people equally without any bias, and do not take advantage of others. We are responsible to ourselves ethically.
  3. Be moderate – we have the physical desires and the mental habits, which must be controlled. We should overcome our emotion by asking ourselves. Is it harmful to ourselves and others? Does it violate with the perfection of our personalities? Is there any adverse effect etc.? Is it worthwhile to have momentary pleasure which may lead us to a life time vex? We scold others in a few seconds, however, it may hurt them for the whole life. Is there any anything more constructive as a substitution?
  4. Be careful in speech – speech is used to express our mind, which can please others, but also hurt others, so be careful!

7.3.6 Conclusion

The Buddha speaks the Dharma to all sentient beings equally. He knows their capacity, their thoughts and their habits, so that he teaches them with corresponding Dharmas of different forms, nature and functions, so that they can benefit.

7.4 PARABLE OF THE TRANSFORMED CITY

The parable is spoken for the people who practice Dhanya, i.e. meditation. They enjoy in the state of quiscence and regard it to be Nirvana in pursuing the Buddhist Way. Generally, they have good "seed" of the Great Vehicle in their past lives, but cannot "germinate" in the present life.

7.4.1 Original Text in the Sutra

Please click to read the extract in Chapter 7.

7.4.2 Precis of the Parable

A wise guide led a group of people, who wished to travel along a long, steep and dangerous road to reach the jewels cache. In the midway, some people were tired and afraid, thus wanted to turn back. The guide, through his power of expedient devices, transformed a city in the centre of the dangerous road. Then, he said to the group that they could stay in the city for happiness and peace, or they could proceed to the jewel cache after a while. The group entered the city thinking that they had already been saved at peace. Then, the guide made the city disappear, and told the group that the jewel cache was near, and the city was just transformed for them to take a rest.

7.4.3 Analogies

  1. The wise great guide on the road. He is the Buddha, who knows the living beings should leave and cross over the evil road of the torments of birth and death which is so steep, difficult and long .
  2. The group was slackened and frightened – We sentient beings have strong desires to pursue in material life. When we are urged to proceed with studying Buddhism, we are scared and then slackened.
  3. The guide transformed a city – The Buddha knows that the sentient beings may not be patient enough in cultivating Buddhahood. In order to lead them and encourage them, he establishes different vehicles, so that they can enjoy the benefits in their daily lives during different stages of cultivation.
  4. The transformed city vanished – The people enjoyed their lives in trouble-free transformed city. However, understanding that the benefits from those vehicles are not ultimate and permanent, so the Buddha extinguished the transformed city and encouraged to proceed with the Buddhist Way.

7.4.4 Cultivating our mind

All our thoughts are originated from our past experiences and impressions and from our expectation to grasp and the desires to do something in future, thus we have attachments and worries. If we ignore these false thoughts and suppress our desires, they will vanish in a moment. If we chase after them and allow our desires to intensify, we will sink into the sea of suffering, and cannot liberate ourselves from the cycle of birth and death.

In order not to be deluded and vexed, we have to cultivate our mind. Our mind will bring us in peace and calmness and enlighten us with wisdom. To cultivate the way, we must meditate. Meditation is not merely sitting without thinking. Wisdom is not merely studying sutra. It should be both, i.e. cultivating our mind to purify it, and studying Buddhist sutras to understand its truth.

There are generally two processes in meditating (1) to stop the upcoming of any thought (2) to contemplate the truth and reality. Though the false thoughts will come in our mind automatically in the beginning stage of meditation, they will fade out after a certain period of training in mediation. Then, by contemplation we learn that life is just like a dream and an illusion, as it is not permanent. We gradually visualize the fundamental substance and its nature. Nature is inconceivable. That can be conceived is out false thought.

7.4.5 Conclusion

In the parable, the Buddha advises us to certify and realize the Arhatship (to reach the transformed city), and to liberate ourselves from birth and death. However, we should not cling to the joy of comfort and freedom, but continue to proceed with the journey towards Buddhahood. We should give up the Arhatship, and practice to be Bodhisattvas. First of all, we must be kind and compassionate to all sentient beings. We should get close to the sentient beings and understand them. We should share our experience to liberate them. The ultimate way to liberate ourselves is to liberate others.