Part 9 -  Seven Parables (III)

7.5 Parable of the Sewing Pearl

7.5.1 Original Text in the Sutra
7.5.2 Precis of the Parable
7.5.3 Analogies
7.5.4 The Five Shields
7.5.5 Eradicating the Five Shields
7.5.6 Conclusion

7.6 Parable of Offering Pearl

7.6.1 Original Text in the Sutra
7.6.2 Precis of the Parable
7.6.3 Analogies
7.6.4 The Four Demons
7.6.5 Conquering the Four Demons
7.6.6 Conclusion


7.5 PARABLE OF THE SEWING PEARL

This parable is spoken for the people who have good roots of the Great Vehicle, but do not know how to practice meditation and do not remember how to cultivate wholesome merits. They may continue to pursue the Small Vehicle, but cannot attain Buddhahood.

7.5.1 Original Text in the Sutra

Please click to read the extract in Chapter 8.

7.5.2 Precis of the Parable

A person got drunk in his close friend’s house. His friend, who was about to leave on business trip sew a priceless pearl inside his clothing as a gift, then left away. That person woke up and found his friend had gone. He then continued to travel for the sake of clothing and food. Later, his close friend happened to meet him again. This friend was surprised of that person’s poor living, and reminded him of the priceless pearl in his clothing. Not until that the person did not know of the pearl and he has been suffering from poverty in his life so far.

7.5.3 Analogies

  1. Meeting his friend – his friend is certainly a kind person who leads him to Buddhahood.
  2. The pearl – it represents a good seed, which will yield good fruit after cultivation. It is a seed leading to Buddhahood.
  3. Unawareness of the pearl – we have many good seeds with us, but we do not know and make use of them, thus we suffer all the time in this world
  4. Meeting his friend again – Reminding him to break the shields/obstacles to study Buddhism in this life.

7.5.4 Five Shields

There are Five Shields that may cover our good seeds, so as to stop them from growing to form good fruits.

They are:

  1. Greed – Most people are greedy. They have strong desire in money, fame, sensational happiness. As they are never satisfied, they become insane.
  2. Hatred – They also lose their temper. Do something that they should not do. It is said that when one thought of hatred arises, eighty thousand evil doors are open. Be aware of that hatred burning off all the merits and virtues that we accumulate.
  3. Sleeping – If we are tired, we have to sleep. However, we should not cling to sleeping, otherwise we have weaken our sense of awareness, and no pure mind. Don’t be lazy
  4. Unsteadiness – If we cannot concentrate we are not able to study Buddhism. People may be discontented or regretted, so that they never settle and work steadily. Seeds cannot grow up overnight.
  5. Suspicion – We should have strong faith in studying Buddhism. If we always suspect, our good seeds can never germinate.

7.5.5 Eradicating the Five Shields

We have to eradicate the Five Shields, so as to reveal our clear and pure mind.

  1. Eradicating "greed" – It is better to liberate ourselves from sensuous and materialistic desires. Lesser the desires, more we are satisfied and contented. We can consider food for curing our body, clothing for keeping us warmth, sleeping for restoring energy to work. Man can change material world, but not the other way round .
  2. Eradicating "hatred" – Be calm and peaceful. If we always forgive, give thanks and appreciate others, we are the happiest persons in the world. Don’t blame or criticize others as we may be hurt ourselves eventually.
  3. Eradicating "sleeping" – Sometimes we feel sleeping as we eat too much. We can use our clean and bright mind to deal with drowsiness.
  4. Eradicating "unsteadiness" – If we are unsteady, we can try to focus our mind to one object, one phrase in sutra, or one image by meditation.
  5. Eradicating "suspicion" – Be patient and brave. Wise people always have good faith, as they understand what happens. The seed of the Great Vehicle can then germinate if suspicion is eliminated.

7.5.6 Conclusion

"Whoever reciting Buddha’s name once can achieve the Buddhist Way". As we have had the wholesome seed yielding Buddhahood, we have to let it fumigate by practicing Bodhisattva’s conduct.

  1. Giving – by helping others as much as we can so as to establish good relationship with them.
  2. Taking precepts – by observing all moral codes and responsibilities, so as to stop doing anything evil.
  3. Being patient – to forgive others, and endure any setback that may encounter.
  4. Being vigorous – to participate in communities and co-operate with others with full effort.
  5. Meditating – to purify and cultivate our mind by clearing all false thoughts and upgrading our personalities.
  6. Being wise – we act or do not act wisely. Wisdom is directional to all the above five aspects in Bodhisattva’s conducts.

The above is called the Six Paramitas, which are the practices of Bodhisattvas.

7.6 THE PARABLE OF OFFERING PEARL

The parable is spoken for those who practice mediation and cultivate wholesome merits, but pursue the fruition and reward of the Small Vehicles, not of the Buddhahood..

7.6.1 Original Text in the Sutra

Click to read the extract in Chapter 14.

7.6.2 The Precis of the Parable

A powerful wheel-turning sage king conquered the lesser kings in other countries by force. Traditionally his troops were given fields, houses, villages, cities, counties, treasures, horses, elephants, etc., as the rewards. However, he did not give away the one and only one, the most precious pearl on his cowl. If he did, his retinue would be surprised. However, seeing that his troops had been greatly successful, he was overjoyed and at last gave them the pearl, which he would never casually give away.

7.6.3 Analogies

  1. A wheel-turning safe king conquered the other countries. As the people are entangled by the demons, such as greed, hatred and illusion, in other countries. The Buddha is as powerful as the king, who subdues all the afflictions (like the demons) in the Three Realms. The Buddha is also called the King of Dharmas
  2. The troops were rewarded with the worldly treasures - those who study and practice Buddhism in Small Vehicle are benefited in their daily lives physically and mentally.
  3. The one and only one precious pearl – this means the doctrines expounded by the Lotus Sutra of which The Buddha spoke lastly.

7.6.4 The Four Demons

The lesser kings do not follow the sage king’s commands, so they are conquered. Sentient beings are also entangled by the lesser kings, which are known as the Four Demons.

  1. Demons in heaven – they are heretics, who do not follow the Buddha, as they believe they can go to heavens and live forever.
  2. Demons of afflictions – it means the Three Poisons, i.e. greed, hatred and illusions.
  3. Demons of ‘self’ – it means the Five Skandhas, which was misunderstood to be the self by the sentient beings. If we cling to the "self" or hold the respective view of "self and others", we do not succeed in practicing Bodhisattva.
  4. Demons of birth/death – the demons lead us to the cycle of birth and death. If we really wish to be truly liberated, we must not attach to be reborn in the Three Realms.

7.6.5 Conquering the Four Demons

  1. To conquer the demons in heaven – To be born in heavens is not ultimate, as they are subjected to Five Decaying Forms, i.e. we have to contemplate that all "outflowing" virtues and merits lead to suffering
  2. To conquer the demons of afflictions – by contemplating that all phenomena are impermanent, we understand the rising and extinguishing of all matters and phenomena are originally dependent on conditions, so nothing is permanent, including, success and failure, happiness and suffering, etc.
  3. To conquer the demons of ‘self’ – by contemplating that there is no self in its own entity. Our body is made of the Four Great Elements, i.e. Earth (Solid), Water (liquid), Fire (energy) and Wind (gas) and our mind is made of the Five Skandhas, i.e. mater, feeling, perception, behavior and consciousness. Our existence changes with the conditions influenced by our karma. There is no independent and permanent "self".
  4. To conquer the demons of birth/death - the ultimate goal of Buddhism is Nirvana, which is also the third of the Three Seals. Nirvana can be interpreted as no-birth-nor-no-death, which is the state of quiescence.

7.6.6 Conclusion

Seeing the army of the worthy ones and sages doing battles with the demons of the Five Skandhas, the demons of afflictions, and the demons of birth/death, and being greatly successful in extinguishing the Three Poisons, escaping from the Three Realms, the Buddha speaks of the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra is the foremost and most profound among the Buddha’s teachings, as endorsed by Shakyamuni Buddha at the end of this parable.