The Patient Immortal
FROM A LECTURE DELIVERED BY
Translated by Disciple
Bhiksu Heng Shou
Once a disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha was walking along the road with the Tathagata. They were just taking a vacation, and as their journey continued they passed through a place where there were no people for over a hundred miles. Curious, the disciple soon proposed a question to Sakyamuni Buddha.
“World Honored One,” he asked, “Why are there no people in this place?”
“Ahhh...” Sakyamuni Buddha sighed, “Aieeah. To speak of such a situation is too painful to the mind!”
His interest aroused, the disciple promptly asked again, “Well, why is that? What is it? I...I think I’d like to hear about it!”
The Buddha then began: Some time ago, there was an old cultivator in this country who really had Way virtue. For more than a hundred years he had not become angry as he persisted in the cultivation of patience. He practiced in this very place! At that time, the Emperor of this country had a minister, who, although he had committed no offense, was found no longer believable. Consequently, he asked him to resign his position as minister and assume once again the lot of a common citizen. The minister’s addiction to officialdom, however, hadn’t yet been cured, He still longed for his post. He wished only to be a minister; he had leadership desire.
Having this desire, he thought, “What now?!? How can I become a minister again? Heh?! I have an old friend, a cultivator of patience, a patient immortal. Ahhh, he will know a way. I’ll go ask him!”
So he went to visit his friend, the old cultivator, and explained, “I have just been released by the Emperor. He doesn’t want me to be a minister. What can I do? Isn’t there some way to regain my position?”
This patient immortal replied, “Ahh...that is really easy! Ahhh...your fortune is inauspicious, but you can transfer this inauspicious energy which jinxes your path to me, and you will again be a minister.”
“How can I pass it on to you?” asked the minister.
The immortal replied, “There is a way. Scoop up a handful of mud and splatter it on my head. That will transfer your inauspicious energy, the energy which troubles your path. Then you will again be able to be a minister.”
The minister did as he was told, and later, the very day he returned, the Emperor sent for him and said, “previously, when I told you I didn’t want you to be a minister, I was mistaken. Now, you must return once again and help by being my advisor.”
When the Emperor invited him to return, the minister thought, this old cultivator really is efficacious! He truly has magical abilities!” Then, he returned to the minister’s post.
Shortly thereafter, the concubine of the Western Palace, no longer wanted by the Emperor, was banished. He sent her off to a cooling palace where she could no longer see him. Having been sent to the cooler, the concubine of the Western Palace thought, “Heighh...the minister deposed by the Emperor has now regained his post. He probably has a method, since the Emperor employs him once again. I’ll seek the aid of this minister.” Accordingly, she requested the minister to come and queried him, saying, “Previously, the Emperor banished you from officialdom. How is it that now you are again employed? Tell me, how did you do it?
The minister said, “Ohhh, it’s not a method of mine. I know an old cultivator who said my luck was not good, and took the energy of my inauspicious fortune upon himself so that I am again in the Emperor’s employ.”
concubine of the Western Palace said, “I’d like to have a talk with
minister replied, “Alright, I’ll come along and ask on your behalf.”
departed together, and arrived at the old cultivator’s place where the
minister said, “The Emperor no longer wants this concubine of the
Western Palace; he doesn’t love her anymore. We must help her find a way
to influence the Emperor to order her return.”
old cultivator said, “Alright! Tell her to take a bowl of water and dump
it on my head. Then her inauspicious energy will all pass on to me and the
Emperor will invite her to return. Then the concubine did precisely as
she was instructed and when she returned, the Emperor promptly beckoned to
her to come back and no longer confined her to the cold palace. Isn’t
this truly a magical response?
At this time the country went to war. In every battle the army fought and lost. Then they would battle more and lose yet again. The Emperor conferred with the minister and the concubine of the Western Palace and asked, “Now that our country is at war, with such great defeats, what can we do?”
The minister replied, “I have a way, an old friend who is a patient immortal. I’ll go talk it over with him. He’s got dharma tricks!” He went away and had a chat with the patient immortal who thought, “Since I dwell in this country, I ought to help it. Now its armies suffer defeat in battle...O.K.! Transfer all energy of the country’s inauspicious fortune to me! Alright.”
Then he instructed the Emperor that the inauspicious affairs of the entire country would require the of a tubful of water, dirty water, water as filthy as urine, more or less...because the affairs of the country were so inauspicious. So, using a tub, the Emperor splashed the water all over the immortal’s body. Ahh, because the water was so impure, so especially rank, and so especially stinking, the body of the old cultivator was completely soused with filth. Although the old cultivator was now impure, henceforth, in all ensuing battles with neighboring countries, the armies of the homeland won. As soon as the power of victory returned, the Emperor announced to all those present at a big official celebration, “The Way virtue of this old cultivator is especially great.”
Then all the people of the country knew about the patient immortal, and whenever anyone had an inauspicious affair, he went to the cultivator, scooped up a handful of mud, and dirtied the cultivator’s body. More people with bad fortune came and spewed out mouthfuls spit on the cultivator’s face and proclaimed, “Ohhh, he ought to have patience!” Ahhauh. Then having spit again, they said, “This old cultivator should wait till it dries by itself.” Ahhh! Every day, from morning till night, this one would come and that one would come. The first day there were ten, and the next a hundred more; the next day a thousand, and the day after, there came ten thousand myriads and ten thousand myriads more. Uohhh! People from the entire country came and crowded around to transfer their misfortune. Hahhh! This old cultivator just couldn’t stand it any longer and struck up a false thought. What was the false thought? When he was no longer able to endure, he thought, HEIEIGH@#$%!!! All of you people... DROP DEAD!#!$%!!” Ahh, as a result of this hateful thought, all of the people fell dead.
do you see? His powers of spiritual penetration were that great! He only
had to think, “All of you people should die”, and they all died. Ahhh,
so now, for this hundred—mile stretch of road, there isn’t a single
person. It’s just such a principle as this.
practice of patience isn’t easy. Although it’s not easy, we ought to
cultivate patience as if it were, and not in a trillion myriad years
should we raise such a hateful mind and think, “You should all drop
Your Wisdom and
Sino-American Buddhist Association, The Buddhist Lecture Hall, and Vajra Bodhi Sea together will sponsor three separate
four—week Lecture and Cultivation Sessions to be held during the
summer of 1971. The main lecture series in each Session will cover
sections of the AVATAMSAKA SUTRA. Additional lectures on THE WONDERFUL
DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA, THE SURANGAMA SUTRA, THE ORIGINAL VOWS OF EARTH
TREASURY KING BODHISATTVA SUTRA, and other important Buddhist texts will
also be given. Complimenting the sutra study, seven hours of meditation
will be scheduled each day, in addition to chanting of sutras and mantras.
The dates for the three Sessions are as follows:
There is no better way to introduce yourself to Buddhism than attending one or more of these Sessions. The combination of sutra study, meditation, and recitation allows for a good understanding of both the principles and practices of the Buddhadharma. You may attend one, two, or all three of these Sessions. A graduation ceremony, at which diplomas for all three Sessions will be handed out, will take place on September 19th.
It is hoped these Sessions will be held at the new Bodhimandala, thus reducing the need for selective admissions and allowing space for greater participation than in the past.
For further information, call or write The Sino—American Buddhist Association, 1731 15th St., San Francisco, California, 94103. Telephone: 621—5202