The 38 Ways to Happiness :- Abstaining from Unwholesomeness (5)

The 38 Ways to Happiness. The Sixth Group of Blessings. Blessing Nineteen :- Abstaining from Unwholesomeness. https://dmc.tv/a11848

Dhamma Articles > Buddhist Teaching
[ Aug 8th, 2011 ] - [ read : 17145 ]
Blessing Nineteen:
Abstaining from Unwholesomeness

 


E. ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES
E.1 Metaphor: Just as we must freshen ourselves up . . .
Just as we have to freshen ourselves up thoroughly before dressing up smart, before we avail ourselves of the higher virtues we have to make sure we are completely free of remaining unwholesomeness.

E.2 Ex. Cakkana and the Rabbit SA.ii.112, MA.i.165, DhsA.103
There is a story of a young man whose mother was ill with a bad back. The doctor said the only way to cure the disease is to treat it with fresh rabbit blood. Because he wanted his mother to be cured he went out hunting for rabbits. He caught a rabbit but when he was about to wring its neck, he saw its sad eyes and couldn’t bring himself to kill it. He let the rabbit go and returned home empty handed.

His brother asked him, “Where’s the rabbit?”
The boy said, he had let the rabbit go so his brother shouted at him, “Do you think the life of a rabbit is worth more than the life of your own mother?”

The boy didn’t say anything but went and bowed at the feet of his mother and said, “Mother I wanted to kill a rabbit to make medicine for you but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought to myself that your illness is only due to the karmic retribution of such killing for many lifetimes. Even if I were to have killed the rabbit, there is no guarantee that its blood would help you to survive. Whether the medicine worked or not, the killing would just make for more unwholesome karma so we would come across the same predicament in future lifetimes.”

The young boy made an act of truth, saying, “May the power of never having killed an animal since I was born cause my mother to be cured”.

Because of the boy’s virtue and sincerity, miraculously the mother was cured. Thus if you keep the Precepts properly, when it comes to situations of hardship, your resolution will also be effective. This is an example of abstinence from unwholesomeness by situational avoidance.

E.3 Ex. The Man and the Python (Maṅgaladīpanī 2/158/129)
There was once a young man who used to go to the temple regularly and request his Precepts from an arahant. He didn’t have any special virtue except for the Precepts he had requested. One day he went to work in the forest. On the way a python captured him and coiled round him with the intention to crush him. Normally, forest travelers will keep a dagger on them for such an eventuality. Every time you breathe out, the python will tighten its coils, but if the victim puts the knife between themselves and the coils normally the snake will release them. The young man immediately pulled out his dagger with the thought to stab the python in the head. Then he thought, it is such a rare opportunity for me to be born at a time when Buddhism is still known and practiced. It is so rare for me to be able to meet an arahant. If I were to die, I don’t know how many more lifetimes it would take before I would have a similar chance again. If I were to kill this snake then there would be no end to the vicious circle of karma. It would also break my Precepts. It is also equivalent to lying to an arahant. He had to think to himself which was more important to him — Precepts or his own life. Finally he decided his Precepts were more important so he threw away his knife and concentrated at the centre of his body. The merit filled his mind. A strange thing happened. The snake, even though it was a humble beast, suddenly felt sorry for the man and let him go. This is an example of abstinence from unwholesomeness by planned avoidance.

E.4 Ex. Kukkuṭamitta the Hunter (DhA.iii.24ff.)
In the time of the Buddha there was a woman who had been going to the temple with her mother since the age of seven. At that time she had already become a stream-enterer. A stream-enterer keeps the Precepts automatically the whole of the time and is unable to break their Precepts. Sense-grasping is still in the mind of a stream-enterer, however. Thus even though she was a stream-enterer, she still had subtle desires. As the daughter of a millionaire she had her own castle and each day she would look down from the castle at the people coming and going in the market place (because she had nothing better to do). One day she saw a hunter coming to sell the animals he had killed in the market place. She fell in love with him on first sight, and in the end eloped with him. Even though she could no longer bring herself to kill, steal, commit adultery, lie or drink alcohol, she could not help herself falling in love. Before long she had seven sons. When they married, she had another seven daughter in-laws. The Buddha saw that the time had come when the family could profit from his teaching so he passed by the home of the hunter. The Buddha spread loving-kindness so that no animals in the area got caught in any of the hunter’s traps. The Buddha sat in the forest and meditated. When the hunter couldn’t catch anything he thought that someone must be stealing the animals out of the traps, so he looked for the culprit. He saw the footprints of the Buddha and followed them to where the Buddha was. The hunter aimed an arrow at the Buddha but was unable to shoot and stuck there at the spot. All the seven sons came out looking for the father, and tried to shoot the Buddha and ended up the same as the father, frozen to the spot. Later in the day, the woman came out looking for the rest of the family along with her daughters- in-law. When the woman saw the Buddha and what her husband was trying to do she called, “That’s my own father. Don’t harm him!” When the sons and father heard their mother’s voice they thought that the Buddha was really her father and so laid down their bows. The Buddha was able to teach them until all of them could attain stream-entry in that family. From that time onwards no-one in the family could kill any more. This is an example of abstinence from unwholesomeness by transcendental avoidance.


 

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