Learning to listen
Buddha and the Abusive Brahmin
Journeying in Kosala, the Buddha was warned not to pass through a certain forest,
in the deep recesses of the jungle, was the den of a famous robber chief, Angulimala.
He was the terror of the whole country-side,
for he lived by plundering unwary travellers and had committed many murders.
He feared no one, and from the very palace of the king the cries of his victims had been heard many a time.
All attempts to capture this desperate man had failed.
So he continued his ravages unpunished.
The people of Kosala now besought the Buddha not to expose himself to the dangers of the robber’s territory.
But Gautama knew no fear and heedless of all warnings,
he made his way straight to the den of the robber.
Angulimala, enraged at this boldness, deter- mined to slay the intruder.
But when he saw the Buddha, calm and self-possessed, and heard his words of kindness, the robber hesitated.
His arm uplifted to kill, hung helpless by his side and his wrath cooled like the embers of a dying fire.
As the Buddha reasoned with him, he changed his purpose and, before long, had confessed all his sins and declared his faith in the Doctrine.
When the people saw the new disciple following his Master, they were amazed and could scarcely believe that this was the same man who had been the terror of their land for so many years.
Angulimala became a monk and was renowned for his holiness.
The Sacrifice of the Brahmin
certain Brahmin had made preparations for a great sacrifice in honour of one of the ancient gods of the Hindus.
Whole herds of sheep and goats had been driven together,
ready to be slaughtered when the day of sacrifice should arrive.
Now, it came to pass that the Buddha visited this Brahmin,
and as they sat together, discussing many things,
the Buddha spoke of the sacredness of all life, whether of men or animals,
of the pure heart and upright ways
which are of far higher value than a sacrifice necessitating the shedding of blood.
For nothing but his own unbroken efforts after right doing and right thinking can avail a man;
he cannot rid himself of his sins and delusions by making innocent creatures suffer.
As the Brahmin listened; the Buddha’s words sank deep into his soul.
He was convinced of their truth.
Determined to spare the lives of all those animals that had been driven together for the day of sacrifice,
the Brahmin ordered that they should be given their freedom.
So instead of being slaughtered, they were turned loose on the hill-side where they could roam at will,
choose their own pasture,
drink the clear water of the mountain streams
and scent the cool and refreshing breezes that blew on the upland.
The Buddha and the Wealthy
One day a wealthy Brahmin was holding his harvest-home, when the Buddha came and stood by with the begging bowl in his hands. The Brahmin got very angry and said, “I plough and sow, and having ploughed and sown, I eat. It would be better if you were in like manner to plough and to sow, and then you would have food enough to eat without begging.” “O Brahmin, do not get incensed at my begging,” the Buddha answered, “I too, plough and sow, and having ploughed and sown, I eat.” “You say, you are a husbandman, but I see no signs of it,” replied the Brahmin, “Where are your bullocks and the seed and the plough?” Then the Buddha answered, “Faith is the seed I sow and good works are the rain that fertilises it. Wisdom and good works are the parts of the plough, and my mind is the guiding rein. I lay hold of the handle of the Law; earnestness is the goad I use and diligence is my daughter. Thus my ploughing is done, destroying the weeds of delusion. The harvest that it yields is the ambrosia-fruit of Nirvana, and by this ploughing all sorrow ends.”
The wild geese
One day, as Prince Siddhartha was going through the royal gardens on his way to the river, a flock of wild geese, beautifully out lined against the sky, passed overhead. Devadatta, the Prince’s cousin, seeing the geese, shot an arrow into their midst and one of them fell, wounded, just in front of Siddhartha. He felt a tender compassion for the poor bird that lay bleeding at his feet. Lifting it up, he drew out the arrow very carefully, bound up the wound and took the bird with Him. Presently a messenger came to claim the bird, sent by Devadatta, but Siddhartha refused to give it up saying that it belonged to him who had saved its life, not to him who had tried to kill it.