To Repay the Kindness of the Triple Jewel, We Should Stop Killing
At this point, I have thought of a true story. During the reign of Emperor Wu (502 - 550 a.d.) of the Liang Dynasty, Buddhism flourished in China. People would ask Buddhist monks to recite Sutras at weddings and funerals, whenever anybody got sick, and also when people had recovered from illness. Everyone believed in Buddhism at that time, and it became a new enterprise for monks to recite Sutras on these occasions.
At that time there was a rich man whose grandson was getting married. He invited an eminent and virtuous monk to recite Sutras at the wedding. Guess whom he invited? Dhyana Master Bao Zhi. Dhyana Master Bao Zhi had been born in an eagle’s nest, and his hands resembled the talons of an eagle. When his (foster) parents heard a baby crying up in the eagle’s nest, they thought the eagle had snatched the baby from somewhere and was going to eat it. When they climbed up to the nest, they found a white, plump baby there, totally human-looking except for his hands, which looked like eagle’s talons. The couple took the baby home and raised him. As soon as he grew older, he liked to bow to the Buddhas and study the Buddhadharma, so his foster parents sent him to the temple, where he renounced the householder’s life and became a monk.
After he became a monk the good roots he had cultivated in previous lives matured, and so he attained the Five Eyes and the penetrations of the Heavenly Eye, the Heavenly Ear, and so forth. Possessing the Five Eyes and the Six Spiritual Penetrations, he was able to know what people had been in their past lives and what they would become in their future lives.
When Dhyana Master Bao Zhi went to the rich man’s home to recite Sutras, he saw the bride and groom who were to be married and said, “Strange indeed, indeed strange! The grandson is marrying the grandmother.” I’m sure a lot of people will not believe this story, but I’m still going to tell it. Even if there’s not a single person who believes it, there’s no way I can refrain from telling it. This is a big fault of mine: If I have something to say, I’ll say it whether you believe it or not. Anyway, the Dhyana Master was saying that the grandson was taking his grandmother for a wife. How could this be? We have to understand how we become people. It happens because of our emotions. If your emotions are appropriate, then everything is normal. But if they are inappropriate, then some strange things can happen. Why would the grandmother be willing to be her grandson’s wife? It was because right before the old grandmother died, her grandson had just been born, and she was emotionally attached to him. She thought, “I don’t have any misgivings about dying, except that I’m worried about my newborn grandson—who will take care of him after I’m gone?” Although she couldn’t bear to die and leave him, the ghost of impermanence came and took her before King Yama. She said, “King Yama, you really don’t know how to be a good lord of death. My grandson was just born when you called me away. What will become of him? Who will take care of him?”
King Yama said, “Fine, if your emotional attachments are so strong, I will follow your wishes and help you out. You can go back and be his wife.”
When the grandmother heard that she would become her grandson’s wife, she wanted to say that she didn’t want to, but there was no way she could oppose King Yama’s orders. So she reluctantly went off to rebirth. She was reborn as a little girl, and when her grandson grew up, she married him. That’s why the verse said that “the grandson is marrying the grandmother."
Dhyana Master Bao Zhi looked out the window and saw a little girl munching on a pig’s hoof. He said, “The daughter is eating the mother’s flesh.” The little girl’s mother had been reborn as a pig. The hoof she was chewing on was from the pig that had been her mother, but she didn’t know it.
Then the Dhyana Master looked over at the bandstand and said, “The son is beating on his father’s skin.” The boy’s father had been reborn as a mule. The boy was beating on a drum stretched with hide which came from that mule. Maybe when the father was alive he had beaten the boy all the time with sticks, clubs, and rods, and so now the boy was whacking his father with drumsticks all day long.
Dhyana Master Bao Zhi glanced at the couch and said, “Pigs and sheep are sitting on the couch.” The pigs and sheep the family had eaten before had been reborn as people and were joining the wedding festivities. They were really there to get their revenge.
Dhyana Master Bao Zhi looked into the pot of meat stew and remarked, “Oh, the six kinds of relatives are cooking in the pot.” The six kinds of relatives--father, mother, elder siblings, younger siblings, spouse, and children--are bound together by their emotional ties. What are relatives all about? They are about emotion. Emotion is like Crazy Glue, which glues all the relatives together so they cannot separate. Now the past relatives of the family have been reborn as pigs and sheep for people to slaughter and make into meat stew to eat. There is a verse describing the Chinese character for “meat”:
In the character for “meat” (肉) there are two people (人);
The one inside is holding onto the one outside.
Living beings eating the flesh of living beings:
If you really think about it, it’s just people eating people.
Taking in the whole situation, Dhyana Master Bao Zhi summed it up in two lines:
Everyone has come to offer their congratulations,
But I see that this is really suffering!
After saying those words of “blessing,” he left, not caring whether the people wanted to hear them or not. He didn’t take the offerings of money they had given him, either. If the people inside the character for “meat” could be our relatives who have been reborn as horses, cows, sheep, chickens, dogs, and so forth, we should give it some thought. Could it be that my ancestors have come back as horses, cows, sheep, chickens, dogs, and so on? Or that my parents have been reborn as animals? Or that my beloved pet cat or dog has been reborn in those forms? Or that the horses, cows, and sheep that we raised have been reborn? If my pets have turned into pigs and sheep, how painful it would be if I ate their flesh!
If you think what I am saying could be right, you might want to give it some thought. Look into it and see if it has any principle. If you think my words are wrong, simply forget them and act as if I never said them. Just let them blow by your ears like the wind.
To be continued