Buddha and disciple’s robe

Value- Right conduct
Sub value- Avoid wastage, Thrift
A disciple of Buddha, said, “Oh Master! I have a request to make.”
Buddha: “What is it; tell me?”
Disciple: “My robe is worn out. It is no longer decent enough to wear.Please, may I have a new one?”
Buddha looked at the disciple’s attire and found that the garment was absolutely in tatters and really needed replacement. So he asked the store-keeper to give a new robe to this disciple.
The disciple offered obeisance to the great master and left the room.
Buddha kept thinking about the incident and felt that he had perhaps missed an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson to the disciple. So he went to the disciple’s quarters to talk to him.
Buddha: Are you comfortable in your new robe? Do you need anything else?
Disciple: Thank you Master. I am very comfortable and do not need anything else.
Buddha: Now that you have a new one, what have you done with the old one?
Disciple: I have used it to replace my worn out bedspread.
Buddha: What did you do with the old bedspread?
Disciple: Master, I am using it as a curtain on my window.
Buddha: Did you discard your old window curtain?
Disciple: Master, I tore it into four pieces and am using them as napkins to handle the hot pots and pans in the kitchen.
Buddha: What about the old kitchen napkins?
Disciple: We are using them as mops to wash and wipe the floor.
Buddha: Where is the old mop?
Disciple: Lord, the old mop was so tattered that the best we could do was to take all the threads apart and make wicks for your oil lamp. One of them is presently lit in your room.”
Buddha was content. He was happy that His disciples realized that nothing is useless. We can find a use for everything, if only we want to! Nothing should be wasted; not even time!
Learning
If all of us were to practice the habit of thrift, we can preserve the non renewable resources for our children, our grandchildren and our great grand children as our forefathers so thoughtfully did for us.
The real measure of a man’s wealth is what he has invested in eternity.
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Buddha’s story on Karma

Value- Right conduct

Sub value- Positive thoughts

 

Buddha was sitting with his disciples. One of them asked him “What is Karma?”

Buddha said, “Let me tell you a story…”

A king was touring his kingdom on his elephant. Suddenly he stopped in front of a shop in the market and said to his minister, “I don’t know why, but I want to hang the owner of this shop.” The minister was shocked. But before he could ask the king why, the king had moved on.

The next day, the minister went to that shop dressed as one of the locals to see the shopkeeper. He casually asked him how his business was faring. The shopkeeper, a sandalwood merchant, reported sadly that he had hardly any customer. People would come to his shop, smell the sandalwood and then go away. They would even praise the quality of the sandalwood but rarely buy anything. His only hope was that the king would die soon. Then there would be a huge demand for sandalwood for performing his last rites. As he was the only sandalwood merchant around, he was sure the king’s death would mean a windfall.

The minister now understood why the king had stopped in front of this shop and expressed a desire to kill the shopkeeper. Perhaps, the shopkeeper’s negative thought vibration had subtly affected the king, who had, in turn, felt the same kind of negative thought arising within.

The minister; a nobleman, pondered over the matter for a while. Without revealing who he was or what had happened the day before, he expressed a desire to buy some sandalwood. The shopkeeper was pleased. He wrapped the sandalwood and handed it over to the minister.

When the minister returned to the palace, he went straight to the court where the king was seated and reported that the sandalwood merchant had a gift for him. The king was surprised. When he opened the package, he was pleasantly surprised by the fine golden color of the sandalwood and its agreeable fragrance. Pleased, he sent some gold coins to the sandalwood merchant. The king also felt sorry in his heart that he had harbored unbecoming thoughts of killing the shopkeeper.

When the shopkeeper received the gold coins from the king, he was astounded. He began to proclaim the virtues of the king who had, through the gold coins, saved him from the brink of poverty. After some time, he recalled the morbid thoughts he had felt towards the king and repented for having entertained such negative thoughts for his own personal goal.

If we have a good and kind thought for another person, that positive thought will come back to us in a favorable way. But if we harbor evil thoughts, those thoughts will come back to us as retribution.

“What is Karma?” asked Buddha

Many replied, “our words, our deeds, our feelings, our actions……”

Buddha shook his head and said

“Your thoughts are your Karma!”

Learning

We will receive what we give. Everything is about reaction and reflection. Good thought, deeds and actions will get back the same.

 

Parable of the Zither- Middle Path

Value- Right conduct

Sub value- Moderation in everything one does

Sona was a young disciple of the Buddha. Born into an affluent family, he was diligent, astute, and cheerful.

Ever since renouncing his secular life, he was highly motivated and more assiduous in his meditation practice. As the days went by, he found himself mired in melancholy which gave way to frustration, befuddlement, and agony. Before long, he became so emaciated and haggard-looking.

Exasperated over his lack of spiritual progress, he went to the Buddha to seek guidance.

The Buddha said: “Tell me Sona, in earlier days, were you not skilled in playing the stringed music of the zither ( stringed instrument)?”

“Yes tuneful and easily playable?”

“Certainly not, O Lord.”

“And when the strings on the zither were too loose, was then your lute tuneful and easily playable?”

“Certainly not, O Lord.”

“But when, Sona, the strings of your lute were neither too taut nor too loose, and adjusted to an even pitch, did your zither have a wonderful sound, and then was it easily playable?”

“Certainly, O Lord.”

“Similarly, Sona, in the practice of the way, if energy is applied too strongly, it will lead to strain and restlessness; if energy is too lax, it will lead to lassitude. Therefore, Sona, keep your energy in balance and you will then be able to focus your attention on the spiritual cultivation.”

Learning

Practicing Middle way is the key to happiness. One must do everything in moderation exercise, diet, sleep, work and we then be able to have a balanced lifestyle brimming with joy.

 

Kallu Ram and Guru Nanak

Value- Truth

Sub value- Awakening, Realisation

A poor man named Kallu Ram invited Guru Nanak to dine at his house. Guru Nanak accepted the invitation.

A day was fixed, Guru Nanak went to the house of the poor man. The door was closed. Guru Nanak knocked at the door, but it was sometime before the door was opened. The poor man came out and said, “Revered Sir, I did not open the door in time. Pardon me.” Guru Nanak asked, “My dear brother, what were you doing?” The poor man answered; “Guruji! I was driving nails into the wall”. Guru Nanak said; “Driving nails into the wall? Follow me.” The poor man replied; “I will obey thy commands. I will follow thee.”

The poor man left all his possessions and followed Guru Nanak. He practised the spiritual instructions of the Guru and became Guru Nanak’s beloved disciple.

Learning

The sweet merciful voice of the Guru comes to us and asks; what are we doing? Driving nails into the wall? Still hopelessly sunk in the quagmire of samsara? Still wasting the life in eating, drinking, smoking, playing cards and merry making? Still forgetful of the purpose of life and glory of Atma and Self realisation? Let us pray to the Lord to guide us; to send us a merciful Master who will lead us from ignorance to wisdom and light.

Courtesy: Philosophical Stories- Swami Sivananda

King Rantideva

 

Value- Right Conduct

Sub value- Charity

King Rantideva was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and saw the Lord in everyone. He worshipped Lord Vishnu by helping and caring  for all the people of his kingdom with great love. He was always ready to provide whatever was needed by his people and never showed any difference in his generosity between the poor and the rich. King Rantideva distributed his wealth that he had in plenty to the poor and the needy as he was never greedy for wealth, He showed pleasure in serving his people and thought it was a way to spread the blessings of Lord Vishnu.

rantideva

People lived happily and prosperously in his country. Then one day the unseasonal rains and winds destroyed many crops, caused death of animals in his country which lead to scarcity of food. The common man ran to seek help from their kind hearted king. Without a second thought, Rantideva distributed his wealth and treasure to his people and prayed  to Lord Vishnu to bless him with strength to protect them.

However, the  condition became more worse as days passed due to continuous failure of the crops resulting in famine throughout the region. People starved without food and water and were homeless. This  drought was a horrible disaster faced by the king who himself did not have any food. Whenever he and his family had little food, they would first distribute them to the people who came with hungry.

As time passed, the drought got more severe and the king was left with nothing for his starving poor people. He felt very miserable but had a strong faith on Lord Vishnu and prayed him with devotion. Though there never came a good time for his country and the famine continued.

Rantideva starved for days long yet meditated and prayed to Lord Vishnu. He became very weak with lack of food and was hardly able to move. On one fine day, unexpectedly the king and his family were offered food by a stranger. As they saw the food Rantideva and his family were delighted ; just as they were about to partake the food, a poor hungry Brahmin came seeking for food. The king received him respectfully and offered a part of his food.; the Brahmin ate happily, greatly pleased with  the king’s  generosity. As soon as he left, they were about to eat  but then there came a hungry beggar to their doorstep. Rantideva graciously  offered the hungry beggar too some part of the food and  the beggar left satisfied. No sooner than the beggar departed,  there came a man with his dogs to seek food and told about starving for many days now. The king offered them with the remaining food. The man  and his dogs ate  all the food and Rantideva was left only with water to drink.

The king was about to drink the water to appease the hunger , when a Chandala came by , his throat was  parched with thirst and he requested the king to offer him some water. The king without any hesitation gave him the water and prayed to the Lord to give him strength to feel the pain of others rather than wealth and power.

As the man drank the water, his eye sparkled brightly and was full of energy that made the king fulfilled and refreshed. Lo and behold!! there appeared Lord Vishnu and all his attendants. Vishnu conveyed to the king that he was very pleased with his devotion and love to his people. He told that all his sufferings will end and he will be rendered with all wealth and riches only if he continued to worship him. Instead, Rantideva told that he had no desire to worldly pleasures but rather he was completely absorbed in Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu blessed his devotee Rantideva who attained moksha and became one of the great yogis involved in meditation.

Learning

Service to man is service to God. Serving the needy and giving charity to the one who needs the most pleases the Lord. Love all, serve all. One should be blessed to get an opportunity to help others by seeing the Lord in all. One who selflessly serves and helps other attains all the best in his/her life.

Story adapted from Apnisanskriti.com

 

A dear devotee

kashi

Value- Love

Sub value- Yearning for the Lord

One day in the sacred shrine of lord Viswanath at Kasi, all the devotees and temple priests were immersed in singing hymns and reciting chants. All of a sudden, they heard a metallic sound. When they turned their heads in that direction they saw a shining gold plate on the floor of the shrine. It must have fallen through an open space in the center of the hall from the sky leading to the sanctum sanctorum. All of them gathered around in wonder, as the chief temple priest went close to examine it. He found the following words inscribed on it,”This belongs to my dear devotee” and read the inscription loudly. Soon   the temple priests vied with one another to snatch the plate with the feeling, “Who could be a greater devotee than myself. I spend my time, talent and strength only to offer worship to the Lord Viswanath of Kasi.” But the plate changed into an earthen one the moment they touched it one after another.

News spread like wild fire about the golden plate. Several scholars, singers, poets and preachers came and tried their luck but in vain. Days, weeks and months rolled on but the plate remained there without a claimant.

One day, a stranger came to the temple. As he  stood at the entrance,  tears gathered in his eyes when he saw beggars, blind, dumb and lame piteously pleading for alms. He felt ashamed of his inability to relieve them of their hunger and agony. He wanted to pray to the Lord and so stepped into the temple. He saw people gathered round and discussing something. He tried to squeeze himself into the crowd to find out why they were standing there.

He saw a golden plate in the center of that enclosure. He inquired and was told about the episode of the golden plate. He was rather surprised and sad at the attitude of the people and the priests. Instead of praying to the Lord of the Universe and trying to earn His grace, they were eager to possess the golden plate. Observing his nonchalant attitude, the high priest requested him to try his hand. The stranger replied: “Oh Revered one! I do not care for either gold or silver, what I long for is God’s Grace.” The priest’s esteem for that man increased. So he once again requested him, “At least to satisfy us, please try your hand.” The stranger touched the plate without a trace of attachment. Lo! It shone forth with redoubled effulgence.

All the priests gathered round and queried: “Sir, where do you come from? What are your qualifications? What are the branches of learning you have mastered? How many years did you do penance?” The stranger replied calmly: “I don’t belong to any place. I just manage to earn my bread by hard labor. The only sadhana I do is Namasmaran [repeating the name of the Lord]. This has perhaps rendered my heart pure and filled it with love and compassion. It has enabled me to control my mind and the senses. I have not read any book or mastered any science. The only art I know of is chanting the Name Divine. The only act I do is to be kind to the poor.”

Learning

The only qualification to become dear to the Lord is to acquire a compassionate heart and sense control. These two can be acquired through Namasmaran (chanting the name of the Lord) with full faith, love and devotion.

Adapted from Chinnakatha by Sri Sathya Sai baba

Krishna and Arjuna-On the imperishable soul

 

Value- Truth

Sub value- Wisdom

The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is about  Arjuna the great warrior who is leading the Pandava army to fight against Kauravas  which included his cousins brothers, uncles and other relatives, teachers, guru and other respected elders, kings, allies with whom he had close relationships. His  own army  includes  his own brothers, cousins, uncles and other kings. Lord Krishna is his friend , charioteer who is giving guidance and is the support of Arjuna. The war is about to commence in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

krishna arjuna 01

Arjuna asks Lord Krishna to drive his chariot into the center of the battlefield so he can see whom he is facing in battle.  As he recognizes so many familiar faces, his feelings get the best of him, his whole body reacts and he is overcome with sorrow.

He loses his will to fight, saying even if they wish to kill him, he does not wish to kill them. He sees no point in the battle – if it is gaining ruler ship of the earth, it is not worth it and if it is to gain glory in heaven – it is also not worth killing his own kinsman.  Arjuna becomes confused, discouraged and lays down his weapons saying he will not fight.

krishna arjuna 02

Having spoken thus, Arjuna throws aside his arrows and his bow in the midst of the battlefield.  He sits down on the seat of the chariot benumbed  and despondent and on the verge of  psychological breakdown.

Krishna tells Arjuna that in times of such danger, it is not befitting for him to throw down his weapons.  This will be seen as cowardice and will bring disgrace  to him and his lineage,  thereby urging him to stand up and fight.  Unable to  reconcile himself to bloodstain on his  hands even if he is victorious in battle;  Arjuna falls into a  state of benumbed  mental collapse or utter delusion.

It is at this point that Lord Krishna delivers his first teaching on life and death and outlines the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and the central themes of its teachings.  He teaches what true wisdom is, the nature of the Atman, the futility of grieving over the inevitable, the difference between knowledge and experience,  the importance of following one’s dharma and the philosophy of Karma Yoga.  Krishna teaches Arjuna to use his discrimination and tries to guide him out of his spiritual confusion, which Arjuna mistakenly takes for compassion.

Even though Arjuna’s words seem wise, the truly wise mourn neither for the living or the dead.  True wisdom is able to discern between the real and unreal. Life is continuous – there is never a time when anyone ceases to exist.  Human beings live through a cycle of birth into the body, they age, die and then take new bodies.  True wisdom is not deceived by the appearances of the cycle.  Human life in this world of duality is made up of the opposites: pain and pleasure, heat and cold which are impermanent and Lord Krishna’s advice to Arjuna is that he must endure these. Whatever is unreal can never come into existence and whatever is real cannot cease to be.  The Imperishable pervades everything and everyone.  The real Self is embodied in these bodies but does not die when the body dies.  Lord Krishna compares the changing of bodies to the changing of clothes.  The wise are not deceived by the illusion of death.

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Learning

For most of us, the battlefield is not a physical war, but symbolic of the challenges of living one’s life.  We are, in a way, on a battlefield, where we are faced with our positive ambitions and desires, duties and obligations to self, family and society and poised against us, are negative characteristics and temptations. We are overwhelmed by the array of problems standing against us.  We get confused, paralyzed when we have to make decisions, weighing our own interests, those of others whom we love, our duties, possible outcomes, possible consequences of our actions or the actions of others with whom we have struggles. Then we look out for help and if we have the grace like Arjuna, an enlightened Master comes to guide us and help us understand the difference between real and unreal.

Courtesy- http://bhagavadgitamodernlife.blogspot.sg/p/chapter-2-yoga-of-knowledge.html

 

 

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