Stories and anecdotes that can help our Buddhist Practice

#1

I will start with Master Ri-Chang’s metaphor:

你没有这个远大的目标的话,对不起!你眼前的透不过去;反过来,你有了远大的目标,眼前就动摇不了你。所以我们拿一 (p46) 个最简单的譬喻,这个譬喻是常常说的,今天再说一遍。我们如果要能赚钱,哦,小孩子十几岁,现在这个地方到处缺工人,你跑得去马上就可以赚钱了。欸,但是一般的家长稍微有能力、有头脑的,绝对不让那个小孩子马上去赚钱。不但不让他赚钱,还要贴钱,干什么?送到学校里去念书,对不对?拿我们的眼睛观起来:欸,你这个人真颠倒啊!别人要赚钱,你怎么不要钱的?结果呢,欸,他却是真的赚了大钱。
from Master’s Lamrim Commentary Track 82B

This helps me when I start questioning myself:

  • why should I continue practising Buddhism and undergo much suffering when I could be out there indulging in the pleasures this world provides?
  • am I wasting my time on practising Buddhism when I don’t really see much effect?

Master Ri-Chang’s metaphor helps me refocus on the further goal and not be too affected by the current state of things. :muscle:

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#2

北方孩童者,传说北方炒面稀贵,于日日中唯食蔓菁,孩童饥饿欲食炒面,向母索之,母无炒面给以生蔓菁,云我不要此,次给以干蔓菁亦云不要,次给以新煮者又云不要,更给以熟冷者亦云此亦不要,心不喜曰,此都是蔓菁云。

The expression “northern children” is to be understood as follows: in the north, roasted barley flour is scarce, and consequently the inhabitants eat small amounts of turnips. Once, there were some children there who, being hungry and wishing to eat roasted barley flour, asked their mother for food. SInce she had no roasted barley flour, she offered them fresh turnip, which they refused. The she offered them dried turnip, but they did not want that either, so she then give them cooked turnip. But they turned this down as well. Finally she offered them frozen cooked turnip, whereupon they turned away with a great feeling of nausea, exclaiming, “Everything is turnips!”

如是我等,见闻忆念世间安乐,一切皆应作是念云,此是世间,此亦世间,此皆是苦,非可治疗,发呕吐心。

Likewise, with respect to whatever worldly happiness is seen, heard of, or remembered, you must, as the Kadampa teachers have said, generate the same feeling, thinking, “This is the world,” “This also is the world”, “Everything is suffering,” and “I want nothing to do with it”.

Reference: Master Ri-Chang’s Lamrim Commentary Track 82b

#3

Yes, agree with Master Ri-Chang metaphor too :+1:. If we thought that practicing Buddhism is for the purpose of a better current life only, then the attractions of the world will distract us from practice. However, if we understand that the effect of practicing Buddhism is a better life not only for ourselves but we will also be able to help others around us, then not only will we not think practice is a waste of time, in fact, we will feel that we don’t have enough time to practice :laughing:

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#4

众:请问法师,我的小孩不听话、不爱学习怎么办?
星云大师:您影印过文件吗?
众:影印过。
星云大师:如果影印件上面有错字,您是改影印件还是改原稿?
(场内立刻响起雷鸣掌声。后有人答道:改原稿。)
星云大师:应该原稿和影印件同时改,才是最好。父母是原稿,家庭是影印机,孩子是影印件。孩子是父母的未来,父母更是孩子的未来。
(父母是孩子最好的老师,如果你自己不优秀,如何给孩子优秀的教育?如何要求孩子优秀?不如提升自己,同时提高孩子)

The above story is from a public Q&A session with Master Xing Yun. The story always reminded me how I should reflect upon my own behaviour and habits, before I impose my standards on my children or even staff.

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#5

thank you @Jereme for this!

It helps me in a problem I have - expecting a higher standard of my children and people around me while being unaware of my own deficiencies when in fact I should be looking at improving myself first.

#6

From Master Ri-Chang’s Lamrim Commentary Track 84B:

佛在世的时候都已经有人诤论,已经有人诤论了。所以佛那时候告诉我们,说得很清楚,这个问题不是说戒本身有问题。佛所说的是法药,对治我们的心病,你的病不一样,药当然不同了。拿我们外行人看起来,说:“咦!你吃这个药白的,我吃的药怎么黄的呢?你吃这个药是这个样,我吃这个药……”当然嘛!你伤风嘛吃伤风药,我拉肚子吃拉肚子的药,这个怎么可以混在一块儿呢?就这样嘛,这是我们要了解的。所以我们现在还没有学透之前,千万不要随随便便拿我们的眼光去看哪!

This analogy that different people have different sicknesses and will need different types of medicine helps me to be less dogmatic and more receptive to other ways of practice.

#7

Here is a story on the rescue of the Thai boys from the cave that comes with a Buddhist angle:

As more news came out of Thailand, it turns out the coach, Ekkapol Chanthawong, had trained as a Buddhist monk for 12 years.
“He could meditate up to an hour,” Ekkapol’s aunt, Tham Chanthawong, said. “It has definitely helped him and probably helps the boys to stay calm.”

#8

Master Ri-Chang uses some metaphors to impress upon us the priceless nature of Bodhicitta (菩提心) in his Lamrim Commentary Track 90A:

你要净除罪障,做一点点小事情,因为跟菩提心相应,所以这个力量大得不得了地大,大得不得了地大!

譬如说你欠人家钱,十块钱也好,一百块钱、一万块、一千万也好,但是现在呢,一旦如果你把握住这个重点的话,哪怕做一点点,那就是无量无边的价值。譬如我们现在常常说你赚钱,哎呀,你就拼命去赚钱。然后譬如说,我们到山上去打柴,打了一百斤,换了十块钱,哎呀,你拼命地打,把那个山上的柴统统弄下来了,哇,赚它嘛几千块钱,只是如此。现在我不忙,换另外一条路─去寻宝,这个宝很难寻。你要打柴,遍地都是啊!所以你眼前到处都是柴,你拼命去忙,忙得个一天到晚,你还觉得忙得满头是汗,可是忙了完了半天,你换下来的,换到一百块钱。现在我不忙这个,我去找宝,然后呢吃尽了千辛万苦。你看佛陀因地当中,结果找到了如意宝,欸,把那个宝一来的话,那整个三千大千世界那七宝就充满了!你打柴呀,你怎么打也打不到,这不是很明白吗?

所以经上面很多,譬如说像那个牛头栴檀,这个牛头栴檀啊,乃至于很少的一点点,它那个价值超过我们全部的南阎浮提。而现在我们真正重要的,就是要了解真正中心在什么地方。你把握住,哪怕一点点,对不起,你要净罪,什么罪都净除掉了;要集资,什么资粮都很快集起来了。就像治病一样,这个牛头栴檀,有很多这种妙药啊,一拿它到,什 (p47) 么样的病啊,一下子就完全拔除掉了。现在你找了好多的药,弄了个半天,这个药就是不生效。所以我们做任何一件事情,没有一个例外的,要有方便善巧。现在有太多人大家都说:“哎呀,这个要忙、这个忙啊、这个要忙啊……。”是的呀,是要忙,但是你要了解怎么个忙法呀,怎么个忙法呀!这个一点在这个地方啊,大家值得我们再三多学习、思惟、观察。

#9

Master Ri-Chang gives examples of when 净信心 happens.

以我们现在来说,譬如说:你听见了佛觉得好,好是好,对不起,好他的,你心里上面没有这个感受。然后人家告诉你念佛,欸,到念佛了以后啊,你就得到这个念佛的殊胜的功德,或者有什么感应,或者什么啊,居然一个病怎么弄也弄不好,医生说:“你那个绝症!”结果你念佛念好了。啊!自己觉得,这个信心,就是这样。或者你听懂那个道理,觉得它能够净除你的烦恼,你照着去做,欸,这个烦恼居然抵销,把它净除掉了。啊!那个时候你对这个道理啊─能够净化你内心烦恼,跟这个法相应的,这种叫净信(p62) 心,这样。
taken from Lamrim Commentary Track 90B

My take is that when one experiences the benefits of following Buddha’s teachings, one’s faith in the teachings will naturally strengthen and eventually become unshakeable.

#10

I observe that in many instances we tend to conflate many issues into a big, complex problem and then get frustrated that there is no solution available.

Master Ri-Chang talks about the importance of thinking and planning the steps before we do anything - 次第. This is in contrast to rushing into the problem and ending up frustrated and agitated that we are getting nowhere.

A reminder to us on our Buddhist Practice and equally applicable in our daily life.

Here is the anecdote as taken from Master Ri-Chang’s Lamrim Commentary Track 90B:

平常我们现在讨论问题,一口气把那些问题像杂碎一大堆在那个地方。欸,有一天想起来有一个很有意思,有一个同学跑得来问我一个问题,他一口气问了很多问题,最后我叫他停止。他谈到那个问题,他又牵扯到那里,谈到那里又牵扯到那里,我就没办法。我 (p67) 就问他说:“你假定烧饭的时候啊,你一股脑儿烧一个大锅菜行不行?”我想,我先代他回答,我说:“当然可以。可是我要首先说明哦,你就算烧大锅菜,你第一步什么啊?拿出来分得清楚,洗洗干净,次第一步一步来,对不对?”说:“对。”“假定你不能这样做,一股脑儿菜啊、油啊、盐啊、米啊,那个菜上面的根哪,什么泥啊,什么农药啊,什么……然后乒铃乓啷一起摆在那个锅子里,行吗?”他笑起来了。我想我们谁碰到了这个问题,都会这样。他现在这个地方就是啊,就算你烧大锅菜,对不起,你还是分得清清楚楚、明明白白的,对吧?这个地方的主要意思就在这地方

所以我们现在在这里第一步进来的时候,就是每一个地方,它有非常明晰的界限,齐此为止─到这个地方你做,然后呢进一步这样,再进一步这样。我们走路也是一样嘛,你做任何一件事情,你就这么一步一跨、一步一跨,这样。你别看那个非常复杂的机器喔!那个非常复杂的机器,每一样东西它就担负一个功能,然后呢,它因为彼此之间有最严密的组合,所以把无量无边的东西摆在一块儿,一个地方一动,下面紧跟着“嘎儿……”,一下,整个解决了!现在我们也学这个法门。否则的话,你在开头的时候你忙这个,忙完了,下面一步怎么办呢,你又不知道。然后啊再去弄,等到你忙完了,这个又不知道,发现到弄错了又重来,永远在这个地方弄、弄,乱了半天,一团糟!

我想我举一个实际的例子,我在那二十年以前,有过一次这个经验。那时候啊出家未久,那么有一次有一点事情,就大概要出门一趟。出门一趟啊时间很逼急、很逼切,有很多东西待着整理。我就觉得:那个要整理、这个要整理……一大堆东西。然后呢,又要带些什么书,又要带些什么衣服,我就先想把那个书啊、衣服啊,就搬在那个地方。哎呀!结果时间一共只有三天,我弄了一天哪,是越弄越慌、越弄越慌,饭也吃不下,那个东西摆在那里,不晓得怎么是好。啊,这个书、这个书,一下要、一下又要那个。

然后啊,这个有一个人跑得来:“你在干什么啊?等了你半天哪!”我说:“哎呀,我实在忙得个不得了!”“哎,我来帮你忙!”“喔,你帮不上忙。”“为什么?”我就告诉他这个事情,他进来一看哪,这个满屋子摊得乱。欸!这个人非常精采,他说:“某人哪,你这样做不行耶!”唉!我说:“你还来打我闲岔!”他说:“我正在帮忙你解决你的闲岔。”“怎么样?”说:“你安下心来,坐下来。喏,你先计划一下,你要做些什么事情?在没有去之前,什么东西留在这里,怎么准备?去应该带些什么东西……。”先我心里面哪,心里实在是宁静不下来,后来他用种种方法告诉我。想了半天,没道理,没错啊!那我就跟他坐下来,他也帮着我忙画了以后,然后呢第二天哪,我想慢慢地,宁愿地,心一乱宁愿不作。嘿,结果第二天哪,半天就理出一个头目来了,到了晚上就弄好 (p69)了。哎呀,我后来一想啊,真是一点都没有错,一点都没错!

以后我到了美国了,我看那个,看见好几个人。那个时候在美国佛教会,我看那个沈居士,那个人做事情真有脑筋啊!平常我们出门哪,往往出门─好,出去再说,很多不会想得很周到的。那时候我们去接那个印顺导师,印老到美国去,这样。然后呢我们平常嘛去了就去了,到达飞机场啊……。他事前跑得来说:“欸,我们现在有几个人要去,那么开几部车,你们法师们派什么人来接,从什么地方,居士们如何去法……。”然后他怎么走法,然后到那个地方,迎接的时候如何。他也派一个人,因为他老人家身体不好啊,从飞机上接洽,用一个什么车到飞机下面,进来的时候如何。我想这么一件小事情,那个次第安排得这么好!啊,那个时候我心里想:“哦!原来他所以成就的原因在这个地方。”这样。

几次经验以后,以后我在纽约,这样,凡是出门,没有出门之前哪,一定先坐在那里想一想,今天我到哪里去,走什么路,这样。然后因为那个公路网不像我们这里一条高速公路,那个高速公路很多啊,你走哪一条,哪一个出口出去、哪一个出口出去;不但如此,万一这个出口有了问题了,怎么办?我每次事前都想好了,都做好了,那到了时候就满好。

(p70) 有一次我发现:啊!这个重要啊,真是重要!在美国绝对不是你先认得了路,然后去开车的,你晓得要到哪里去,然后呢你买了地图照着那个地图去摸索,都是这个样。那一天我也是从那个长岛的菩提精舍到城里面去,这条熟路,但是尽管熟路,我这个计划图老早已经计划好了,万一这个出口有问题怎么办,跑了几趟向来一直没问题。那天居然跑到那个出口,那个出口在修理,“哦,不行,你从下面一个出口。”然后呢下面还有几个出口,那么旁边再有一个很小的出口,我那个图上都注意得很明白。如果事先我那一天不写这个出口的话,你就没办法过那个大桥。你们没去过不知道,过那个华盛顿大桥,一走啊要在这个高速公路上面,一个出口错掉了以后,跑出去跑得很远哪!过那个华盛顿大桥还要付钱,还要转回来,还要来,至少要跑掉两个钟头,钱丢掉不算。可是我因为事前已经有准备了,晓得那个地方还有个什么小关口,所以那地方不行的话,我不急着走,我马上停下来,把那个图一看,对,跑出去!

啊!那时候我才想到,原来他们为什么做事情能够这样的。所以诸葛亮成功,人家赞叹他,他怎么说啊?“诸葛一生唯谨慎。”看喔!“谨慎”两个字。然后呢人家赞叹爱迪生,爱迪生说:“我啊,聪明是成功的因素,但是只有一分,努力是九十九分。”为什么要这样说,你们懂吗?所以我们现在做样样事都大而化之。

#11

this was shared in my Lamrim class, a short clip from one of Master Hai Tao’s (海濤法師) discourse:

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#12

shared by my Lamrim class 班长, a story of love for one’s mother:

I am not sure whether it is based on a true story.
However, there are many learnings one can get.
Chief among them for me is how a parent can best teach the next generation by setting a good example.
what is your learning from watching the video?

#13

I like this story that Master Ri-Chang brought up.
The gist of which is:
There was a hungry ghost beating a corpse. When asked why, the ghost replied that the corpse was his previous life and he had busied himself keeping it well fed and taken care of and all it resulted in was sending himself to hell.
There was then a heavenly being prostrating himself to another corpse that was thin and shrivelled. When asked why, the heavenly being replied that the corpse was his previous life and that he is thankful to the hard work and labour put in then that resulted in him rising to heaven.

The story reminds me to focus on what is important in my life and not to be caught up in busyness for nothing.

Here is the Master Ri-Chang’s words:

所以佛经上面有这个故事,叫这个一个饿鬼鞭尸记,以及一个天人礼尸记。啊,有一个饿鬼在那里打一个死尸,有人看见了说:“哎呀,这个已经死尸了,你还打他干什么!”“唉,你不知道,这就是我的前身。我前身一直为它忙,忙了个半天,结果我,我忙了半天啊,把我送下地狱去了。我现在是越想越恨、痛苦不堪,都是为了它,而它躺在那里,躺在那里,我还饶不过它!”这样。那个尸体啊是又肥、又胖、又好,这样。另外呢 (p39) 瘦瘦垮垮的,一个天人在那里向它磕头。“欸,奇怪,那个骷髅怎么长得枯枯瘦瘦的,你这样磕头,磕头干什么?”“啊,那个前身就是我!它呀,辛苦了半天,然后让我生了天堂。我想想,我所以生天堂啊,就是亏了它呀!所以现在来感谢它。”你看,就是这样的,对不对?所以我们趁早,嗯,赶快你早一点换啊!早一点换,你能够帮助别人的话,少一点嘛生到天堂,好一点嘛到极乐世界,最好一点成佛。所以现在趁这个机会早一点换啊,你一换啊,就好啰!现在我们继续下去。

Taken from:
https://bwmonastery.org.sg/lr98a

#14

Many a times, one will read about 童子 in the scriptures.
Literal translation of 童子 means “a boy”.

If you are wondering to yourself why there are so many enlightened children mentioned in the scriptures, Master Ri-Chang provides his explanation.

它很多地方讲童子、童子,譬如说《华严经》叫善财童子,这个童子不是叫一个小孩子,这个童子啊有一个特别、特别的地方。他“正增长”第一个,第二个呢心纯洁,第三个呢心里面没有啊这种各式各样歪歪曲曲的坏习气,这个。然后呢勇猛、坚强、精进,这个都是呀他所谓特质。所以平常我们说青年、青年,就是代表这种心理状态。所以菩萨现的相啊,你看,哪一个菩萨现的相都是十六童子妙龄之相, (p12) 就是盛壮之年,发育到最完整的时候一直保持这个相,一直到成佛。这是我们要了解的,指我们的心理行相。实际上呢假定你心里真的做到了,那个行相就是这么个行相,就是这么个行相。
https://bwmonastery.org.sg/lr105a

Thus, the term 童子 refers to the attitude rather than literally “boys”.

#15

I find this anecdote interesting:

以前的祖师的所有的大德都说得清清楚楚,记得马祖大师当年这段公案吗?他在那儿坐定,坐得很好,他的老师跑得来,说:“你在这儿干什么啊?”“我在这儿学佛。”“嗯?”这样。这个老师妙咧!让他坐在那个地方,他自己拿了个砖头跟它跟它磨。然后那马祖:奇怪,这个人跑得来磨这个砖头?问他:“欸,磨砖头干什么呀?”“我做镜子。”“什么?你磨砖头做镜子,哪有这样的道理啊?”你说要造那个镜子,用砖头来磨,磨得成功吗?当然磨不成功,这个人怎么这么荒唐!马祖就说:“你要做镜子怎么磨砖头啊?”他老师怎么讲?“嘿,是的呀!做镜子,是不可以磨砖头的;成佛啊,不是坐在那里不动的。”大家还记得吧?欸,然后呢给他开示,他就马上就开悟,马上就开悟。From Master Ri-Chang Lamrim Commentary Track 105b https://bwmonastery.org.sg/lr105b

The parallel here is that just as one can’t grind a brick into a mirror, one does not gain Buddha-hood just by sitting there.
:pray:

#16

This video made me more aware of the suffering that we are going through now - that of impermanence (无常).

#17

Read how a Thai abbott and the volunteers work to protect their temple. Rejoice at their perseverance in the face of adversity.

#18

Master Ri-Chang story related to the saying

要听治命,不要听乱命

I roughly interpret it as follow sensible orders, do not follow irrational orders.
I will say that Buddhism helps us discern the sensible orders from the irrational ones.

here is the except from Master Ri-Chang’s Lamrim commentary Track 113a

所以我们古人有一句话:“要听治命,不要听乱命。”这话怎么讲呢?说古人有的人哪,这个生前就是遗言──遗嘱啦,相当于现在的──将来啊我身后这件事情该怎么办,那是他正常状态当中所说下来的遗命。到后来或者是临终,或者受了特别的影响,神经错乱的时候,他改变了他的原来正确的想法,这个叫作“乱命”。大家晓得不晓得?所以啊,他不听,他不听。

这个中国古代有一个“结草衔环”的故事,不晓得你们知道不知道?这个在春秋战国时代,有一个好像是魏文侯啊是哪一个,我忘记掉了。那么他自己有一个非常得宠的一个宫妃,那么换句话说,这个诸侯天子都有很多女的啦,非常得宠,那么他很欢喜她。所以平常的时候,都立下遗嘱了,将来他身后嘛怎么排遣,就是怎么安排那些,这样。后来他到以后老了,生病了,他自己心里面放不下,他就又重新订立一个,怎么说啊?他说我死 (p12) 了以后,我很欢喜的那个,要她殉葬,就是我死了以后,把那个活的,我欢喜的,活活地把她葬在我的坟墓当中去。后来嘛没多久死了。

死了以后,他当然──这个真正的这种大官,那个春秋的魏文侯,实际上就是诸侯了,那个时候的各小国的国君。那么这个后来他那个儿子嗣位的时候,看他的父亲说临终的遗命是如此;但是以前他父亲立下的遗嘱,说告诉他,他身后如何安排,所以这个叫“治命”,治啊,这个治理的治;那么还有那个乱命。这虽然是同样的──一个是治命,一个是乱命,虽然同样的命令,可是他这个儿子脑筋很清楚,说:“欸,他后来他这个乱命,不要听。”所以把他父亲的那个后宫,把她如理安排了。

以后他跟人家打仗,打仗了以后,打败了。唉呀!非常紧难的状态当中,那个敌人追他的时候,欸,忽然之间看见那个敌人的马前,有一个老人在那个地上啊,那个不是在荒野当中打嘛,那个马前面有一个老人在那个敌人的马前面,把那个草打了个结,所以把那个马蹄绑住了。那个敌人的马就跌了个筋斗,所以那个敌人就没追上来,他就是救了他一命,救了他一命。到后来,这个老人在梦当中就告诉他:我呀!就是某人的父亲──就是这个女的──因为你生前听从你父亲的治命,没有乱命,所以救了我女儿一命,这是非常正确的,你有这个德行,然后我也来报你这个答。

(p13) 世间的事情尚且如此,所以在佛法也是如此。所以没关系,现在世间人都是发了神经了──不是发神经啊,无始以来为无明所缚,我现在觉醒了。你现在呢,的的确确觉醒了以后,你去侍候他们,虽然他们不听,你做对了,没错!

#19

Venerable Ru Jun retells stories from Master Zhen-Ru and Master Ri-Chang:

A good teacher charging fees of 105 dollars versus 5 dollars learning the same thing
Guess which student is charged the higher fee: the student that has already learnt on his own or the student that is starting from scratch?
From 3:12 min to 3:45 min

The answer will be the student that has learnt on his own will be charged the higher fee of 105 dollars. This is because the teacher will have lots to do to help the student unlearn the misconceptions and bad habits that he picked up before the teacher can start his actual teaching.

Who will be able to build a house faster? The one that gets busy with work straightaway, or the one that plans first before starting work

From 3:45 min to 4:42 min

Most of us will be aware that the one that plans first will be able to build the house faster.
In fact, if we rush to do things, we will likely make mistakes and have to do re-work or worse start again.

However, my observation is that even after knowing the above logic, I am still more likely to rush into doing rather than thinking and planning ahead.
This stems from both impatience and laziness. Why laziness? I think the feeling of doing something straightaway gives one a sense of instant gratification while the thought of having to plan and think makes me tired even before I start.

Food for thought. :pray: