Sariputra's Unyielding Resolve (T25.70c11- 71a17 [fasc.2])
Once the Buddha arose from dhyana and proceeded to walk along. Rahula followed, walking with the Buddha. The Buddha asked Ra hula, "Why are you so gaunt?" Rahula replied to the Buddha by uttering a verse: "If one partakes of foods with oils, then in strength he gains. And if one partakes of curds as food, then in color he gains. But eating leftover sesame vegetables, one has no strength or color. This the Venerable World Honored One ought to naturally know."
The Buddha asked Rahula, "Who sits at the head of this assembly?"
Rahula replied, "The upadhyaya, Sariputra."
The Buddha said, "Sariputra has consumed impure fare."
Sariputra overheard this pronouncement, immediately vomited up his meal and made a vow to himself, saying, "From this very day I shall never again accept [food proffered through] people's invitations."
At this time King Prasenajit, Sudatta the Elder, and others came to pay a visit to Sariputra and said to Sariputra, "It is not without reason that the Buddha accepts people's invitations. If the greatly virtuous Sariputra no longer accepts invitations, how shall laypeople such as us be able to obtain the purification of great faith?"
Sariputra said, "My great master, the Buddha, has said, 'Sariputra consumes impure fare.' Now I cannot bear to accept people's invitations."
At this, Prasenajit and the others went to the Buddha and addressed the Buddha, saying, "The Buddha does not often accept people's invitations. Sariputra no longer accepts invitations. How shall the minds of people such as us develop great faith? Pray, may the Buddha direct Sariputra to continue to accept invitations."
The Buddha said, "This man's resolve is solid and it cannot be moved or deflected." Then the Buddha proceeded to recount the causes and conditions of a previous life:
"Formerly, there was a king who had been bitten by a poisonous snake. As the King was on the verge of succumbing, he summoned the expert physicians and ordered them to treat the snake poisoning. Then the physicians said, 'We must cause the snake to draw it out again. Then the poisonous effects shall cease.'
"At this time the physicians each performed incantational rituals. The snake which had bitten the King then came to the King's quarters. The physicians stacked up firewood, set it ablaze and then commanded the snake, 'Draw your poison back out again. If you don't, then you shall have to go into this fire.'
The poisonous snake then thought, 'Since I have already injected the poison, how can I draw it out again? This matter shall lead to my violent death.' Having reflected thus his mind became fixed and he then immediately slithered forward into the midst of the flames. That poisonous snake was Sariputra. In life after life his mind has been solid and immovable."
To be continued