Question: How does one fulfill danaparamita (the perfection of giving)?
Reply: One is able to give everything without reservation even to the point that when one gives of one's body one's mind has no regrets. It is like the case of King Sibi who gave his body for the sake of a pigeon. In a former life, Sakyamuni Buddha was a king named Sibi. This king had attained the dharani ofdedicating his life to rescuing and protection. He possessed a mind of kindness and compassion which he invested with great vigor. He looked upon all beings as a mother loves her child.
At that time the world had no Buddha. The life of Sakradevendra was coming to an end and he was about to fall. He thought to himself, "Where is there a Buddha, an omniscient man?" He posed difficult questions everywhere and was unable to cut off his doubts. Realizing that none of them were Buddhas, he returned to the heavens and sat down in a state of worry and distress. The god Visvakarman who was a master of clever transformations asked him, "Why is the Lord of Heaven worried and distressed?"
He replied, "I have been seeking after an omniscient man and have been unable to find one. It is because of this that I am worried and distressed."
Visvakarman said, "There is a great Bodhisattva who is perfect in giving, upholding the precepts, dhyana samadhi, and wisdom. It will not be long. He will become a Buddha."
Sakra replied in verse:
Bodhisattvas who have brought forth the great thought,
Eggs of fish, and blossoms of the mango,
These three things are initially numerous,
[But] at the time of fruition are especially rare.
Visvakarman responded, "King Sibi of the Yushihna clan upholds the precepts, is vigorous, is greatly kind, greatly compassionate, [and is possessed of] dhyana samadhi and wisdom and shall before long become a Buddha."
Sakradevendra said to Visvakarman, "We ought to go and test him. We shall know then whether or not he has the characteristics of a Bodhisattva. You should change into a pigeon and I shall change into a falcon. Then you pretend to be frightened and fly into the armpit of the king. I'm going to pursue you."
Visvakarman said, "Why should we aggravate this great Bodhisattva with this matter?" Sakradevendra uttered a verse:
For my part I'm not of evil mind.
Just as with true gold, one ought to test it.
By this we shall test the Bodhisattva
And know if his mind is resolute or not.
After he spoke this verse Visvakarman then changed his body into that of a red-eyed, red-footed pigeon. Sakradevendra changed his body into that of a falcon which flew swiftly in pursuit of the pigeon. The pigeon straightaway came and flew into the armpit of the king. His entire body quivered in fright, his eyes moved about [anxiously] and let out cries of distress.
At this time many people gathered together and said,
"This king is greatly kind and humane.
Everyone rightfully testifies to his credibility.
Just as this pigeon, a little bird
takes refuge in him as if entering his [own] abode.
The characteristics of the Bodhisattva are just like this.
It will certainly not be long before he becomes a Buddha.
To be continued
Venerable Master's Dharma Words
Seeking within ourselves means truly recognizing our own faults and not discussing the faults of others.