“Aniruddha” translates as “not poor,” because innumerable eons ago, he had made an offering of coarse rice to a Prateyekabuddha, and so he was rewarded with blessings for ninety-one eons. The Venerable One was the Buddha’s cousin. As a monk, he was not diligent and often dozed off when listening to Dharma lectures. The Buddha scolded him, saying, “Hey! Hey! How can you sleep, / Like an oyster or a clam? / Sleep, sleep for a thousand years, / But you’ll never hear the Buddha’s name!” The Venerable One was very remorseful and resolved to practice vigorously. He went for seven days and nights without sleep. As a result, he went blind in both eyes. The Buddha took pity on him and transmitted to him the “all-perceiving, illuminating vajra samadhi.” He attained the power of the heavenly eye and was able to see the entire trichiliocosm as if it were an amala fruit in the palm of his hand. He was foremost among the disciples in the attainment of the heavenly eye. The Venerable One regulated himself with eight dharmas: (1) Excessive desires are not the Way; freedom from desires is the Way. (2) Noisy places are not the Way; secluded places are the Way. (3) Dissipation is not the Way; subduing the mind is the Way. (4) Busy deliberation is not the Way; a calm mind is the Way. (5) Insatiable greed is not the Way; contentment is the Way. (6) Laziness is not the Way; diligence is the Way. (7) Selfishness is not the Way; concern for public welfare is the Way. (8) Delusion is not the Way; wisdom is the Way. When the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, the Venerable One asked Ananda to inquire from the Buddha regarding four matters.
The Venerable Aniruddha was foremost in the power of the heavenly eye. Why was this? It’s because he ruined his eyes for the sake of the Buddhadharma. Therefore the Buddha used the Buddhadharma to restore his eyes. The eye he regained was not an ordinary flesh eye, but the heavenly eye. “The heavenly eye penetrates without obstruction.” Not only can one see people and things from heaven to beneath the earth, one can see everything throughout space. It’s not too bad to exchange an ordinary pair of eyes for that of a sage. I believe we would all envy that. But since you are not able to let go of everything and go seven days and nights without sleep, you won’t be able achieve that. I’m telling the truth, not a lie. This is the absolute truth.
‘Aniruddha’ is Sanskrit and translates as “not poor”. Actually, a little poverty is a good thing. As the saying goes, “A gentleman is never poor; a wise man knows his destiny.” If you are content with your life and enjoy cultivation, that’s very good. Look at Yan Hui, “Others constantly worried about food and drink, whereas Hui is always happy no matter what.” Think about it: if things were so bad, why would he be happy? Who among you has the talent to debate this matter?
In the past, the Venerable Aniruddha once made an offering of poor-quality rice to a Pratyekabuddha. Although the Pratyekabuddha was a sage, he had wisdom but no blessings, like “an arhat with an empty bowl”, and he hadn’t had any food to eat for a few days. At that time, when the Venerable Aniruddha saw this hungry monk, he offered the monk his own lunch, which he had prepared to eat while working in the rice field. He was able to sacrifice himself for others. He didn’t know that the hungry monk was actually a Pratyekabuddha. Because Aniruddha was very poor, he didn’t have anything good to eat. His lunch was poor-quality rice that was cheap and easy to get. It would only fill you up temporarily and had very low nutritional value. A doctor would have disapproved of its consumption. Because Aniruddha so sincerely offered his own lunch to the Pratyekabuddha, his reward was that he would be rich for 91 eons. Thus, his name “not poor” meant he would not suffer any poverty or hardship.
After he made the offering, he got an immediate response. A rabbit jumped on his shoulder and would not go away. He could not get rid of it. He ran all the way home. When he got home he discovered that the rabbit had turned into gold. He sold the gold and made a fortune. From then onwards, he would be rich in life after life.
You can see the tremendous reward accrued from making an offering to a Pratyekabuddha! Someone might say, “I should make an offering to a Pratyekabuddha for then I would be rich for 91 eons, everything would go smoothly, and I would always have everything at my disposal.” Well, you will have to see if you have the blessings to encounter a sage or a Pratyekabuddha.
For example, the Venerable Elder Master Guangqin of Taiwan went without food for more than 10 days. If you had made an offering to him, you would have become rich. But that opportunity is gone because the Venerable Master Guangqin has already passed away. If he were still with us, I would not have told you. If I had told you, your greed would surface. You would do anything including selling your house and properties just to be able to make an offering to Master Guangqin. Therefore, I am giving you a “dose” of regret. I want you to see if regret is bitter.
The Venerable Aniruddha was the Buddha’s cousin. He left home with the Buddha but was lazy and dependent. He thought, “Since the Buddha is my cousin, it doesn’t matter if I cultivate or not. I don’t need to cultivate because my cousin is the Buddha himself.” You see how big his ego was! When the Buddha was teaching the Dharma, the others were in samadhi but he was sleeping away, attaining the sleep samadhi instead of listening to the Dharma. The Buddha saw that his cousin was so lazy and did not cultivate, and probably felt embarrassed, so the Buddha scolded him:
Hey! Hey! How can you sleep,
Like an oyster or a clam?
Sleep, sleep for a thousand years,
But you’ll never hear the Buddha’s name!
Why do you fall asleep? You are just like an oyster or clam. You sleep for several thousand years and later you won’t be able to hear the Buddha’s name.
After Aniruddha heard the Buddha’s teaching, he felt ashamed and remorseful, unlike before when he had no shame. He then became vigorous, like an automobile with a full tank of gas going 150 miles an hour. He went seven days and nights without sleep, until his eyes went blind. The Buddha sympathized with him and transmitted to him the “all-perceiving, illuminating vajra samadhi”. All-perceiving meant being able to see anything. With his human eyes he could see nothing, but in samadhi he could see everything. The Venerable Aniruddha cultivate the vajra eye – vajra samadhi, thus attained the power of the heavenly eye. With the heavenly eye, he could see the great trichiliocosm as clearly as seeing an
amala, a kind of fruit, in the palm of his hand. That’s why he was the foremost of the Buddha’s disciples in his attainment of the heavenly eye.
The Venerable One regulated himself with eight dharmas:
1) Excessive desires are not the Way. Freedom from desires is the Way: If you are greedy for food, you have the desire to eat. If you are greedy for sensual pleasures, you have the desire of lust. Greedy to be a leader, one has desire for leadership. Thus, to have too much desire is not in accord with the Way; if you are free from such desires, then you have the Way.
2) Noisy places are not the Way; secluded places are the Way: Being in noisy places is not in accord with the Way. Going to an aranya, a still and quiet place, is the Way.
3) Dissipation is not the Way; subduing the mind is the Way: To recklessly do as you please, without any inhibition, is not the Way. To focus the mind on a single point is the Way.
4) Busy deliberation is not the Way; a calm mind is the Way: To entertain idle thoughts and have many scattered thoughts is not the Way. To calm your mind and not give rise to any idle thoughts is the Way.
5) Insatiable greed is not the Way; contentment is the Way: To be greedy and insatiable is not the Way. To be content all the time is the Way.
6) Laziness is not the Way; diligence is the Way: To be lazy and doze off during Sutra lectures is not the Way. To advance courageously and vigorously is the Way.
7) Selfishness is not the Way; concern for public welfare is the Way: To pursue personal benefits is not the Way. To be unselfish and work on benefiting everyone is the Way.
8) Delusion is not the Way; wisdom is the Way: Delusion means doing muddled, ignorant and dark things. For example, you emulate a cow to eat grass or a dog to eat excrement. That’s not the Way. You should apply wisdom to accord with the Way.
To be continued