Purnamaitreyaniputra is translated as “son of full compassion.” He was named after his parents. He took refuge with the Buddha and excelled at explaining the essence of all dharmas in an eloquent and principled way. Always leading back to the origin, his speech caused people to have deep faith and to practice the Dharma. He often inspired celestial flowers to fall from the heavens and golden lotuses to well forth from the earth. Wishing to spread the Dharma in the frontier regions, he sought the Buddha’s advice.
The Buddha asked, “If people scold you, what will you do?”
“I will be patient and treat them as good advisors.”
The Buddha then asked, “If people beat you, what will you do?”
“I will accept it and consider them my good advisors.”
The Buddha asked further, “If people kill you, then what?”
“They will be helping me to enter nirvana.”
The Venerable One taught and transformed countless people, leading them to believe in the Triple Jewel. He was foremost in speaking the Dharma. The Venerable One suggested that in times of famine, when it is hard to obtain food by begging, one may use seven expedient methods:
1. Store food for oneself.
2. Take food that ripens by itself.
3. Cook food for oneself.
4. Take food for oneself to eat or follow other people to eat.
5. Pick fruits for oneself to eat.
6. Receive the food next to a pond.
7. If there is no pure person serving, remove the seed by one self and then eat the fruit.
Since all of you are tired from sitting, I will briefly explain this to you.Purnamaitreyaniputra’s father’s name was Purna. His mother’s name was Maitreyani. His parents’ name were combined to make his name. Purna means fullness. Maitreyani means compassion. He was the son of these two people, thus he is called “Son of Full Compassion”.
This Venerable One was foremost in speaking Dharma. He was eloquent in speech. He excelled at explaining the true essence of all dharmas. Since he was good in speaking the Dharma and penetrating the substance of the Dharma, he was regarded as “foremost in speaking Dharma”. Each of the ten great disciples of the Buddha had his leading talent. There is a saying:
“Shari’s wisdom, Maud’s penetration, Purna’s speaking of Dharma.” Shariputra was foremost in wisdom; Maudgalyayana was foremost in spiritual penetrations; Purnamaitreyaniputra was foremost in speaking Dharma.
“Subhuti’s emptiness, Kausthila’s debate, Kasyapa’s Dhuta, Aniruddha’s heavenly eye, Upali’s precepts, Rejoicing’s erudition, Rahula’s secret practice.” These ten great disciples each had their leading talent. [Editor’s note: Subhuti was foremost in understanding emptiness; Kausthila was foremost in debate; Mahakashyapa was foremost in
dhuta practice; Aniruddha was foremost in the heavenly eye; Upali was foremost in upholding the precepts; Rejoicing refers to Ananda, who was foremost in learning; Rahula was foremost in secret practices.]
The Venerable Purna had taught and transformed many people. He wanted to go to places where no one was teaching and transforming people. One day, he went before the Buddha to ask whether he should go or not. The Buddha asked him, “If you go to the frontier regions to spread the Buddhadharma and someone scolds you, what will you do?” Purna replied, “If people scold me, I will bear it. I’ll be patient with them. I’ll regard them as my good and wise advisors.” The Buddha further asked: “If people beat you up, how will you respond?” He replied: “I’ll take the beating. I too will see them as my good and wise advisors.” The Buddha asked him further: “What if there are people who want to kill you? What will you do?” Purna replied, “Hmm, kill me! They will aid me to enter nirvana quickly.” See how dashing and refined his reply was. It was so natural with no hesitation at all! The
Song of Enlightenment puts it well:
Let others slander me; I bear their condemnation.
Those who try to burn the sky only exhaust themselves.
When I hear it, it’s just like drinking sweet dew.
Thus smelted and refined, suddenly one enters the inconceivable.
He was saying: if anyone comes to slander or ridicule me, or discriminate against me, it is fine.
Those who try to burn the sky only exhaust themselves. Slandering me is like trying to burn the sky with fire. In the end, the sky is not burned in the least while the person who tried to do so is worn out. He cannot possibly burn the sky with fire; he merely exhausts himself.
Let others slander me; I bear their condemnation. Those who try to burn the sky only exhaust themselves. When I hear it, it’s just like drinking sweet dew. Thus smelted and refined, suddenly one enters the inconceivable. Even if one slanders me, my mind remains unmoved.
When I hear it, it’s just like drinking sweet dew. It is that sweet.
Thus smelted and refined, suddenly one enters the inconceivable. If he scolds me like that and I can bear it, then my skill in enduring insult would be sufficient.
Thus smelt and refined, I can digest it. Suddenly one enters the inconceivable. Then one arrives at an inconceivable state.
I have often used a very simple example. If a person scolds you, what is he doing? He is sprinkling fertilizer on you! It is like adding fertilizer in a field to make the crops grow better. If a person scolds you and you can bear it and not be affected, then he is just giving you fertilizer. Your Bodhi sprout will surely grow very robust. You shouldn’t reject it when people give you fertilizer. Don’t rebuff them, saying: “Oh! I won’t accept this.”
The Song of Enlightenment further says:
Contemplate vicious words as merit and virtue,
Then vicious words become one’s Good and Wise Advisors.
Do not let abuse and slander arouse enmity or liking,
How else can the power of compassion and patience with nonarising be manifest?
When abuse and slander come, if I don’t treat both friend and foe with equanimity, I won’t be able to bear it.
Contemplate vicious words as merit and virtue. Whenever anyone comes to scold me, that is merit and virtue; he is giving me fertilizer.
Then vicious words become one’s Good and Wise Advisors. If a person comes to scold me, he is helping me realize my spiritual practice; he is my Good and Wise advisor.
Do not let abuse and slander arouse enmity or liking. If someone slanders you or treats you badly and you remain calm, patient, without feeling hate or love, being imperturbable no matter what the person says, then naturally you will gain clear and constant understanding. If your mind remains unmoved, you have
If no one comes to test you out, how would you know how strong your concentration is? How would you know whether you can bear the scolding from this person?
What is endurance? I will tell you. This is what I have learned from many years of experience. I’m sure the policeman disciple who took refuge with me today has not had this experience. Perhaps he has had some training in it. However, I believe he still hasn’t mastered it.
What skill is this? Endurance means being patient; endurance is the ability to yield; endurance is the ability to take a loss; endurance is refraining from taking advantage of the situation. Ah! Endurance is being able to take a scolding; endurance is being able to take a beating; endurance is waiting for someone to kill you. If you didn’t have endurance you’d be afraid to stay put, you’d be scared out of your wits.
These are all forms of endurance. Only someone who truly has great skill can remain unmoved and let go of attachments. “Even if you kill me, that’s no problem!” See? If you are a person who truly understands the way things are, you won’t resort to tricky schemes and maneuvers to get money. You won’t do that even if you are in poverty. As the saying goes: “The superior person is unmoved even in poverty. The petty person will go astray if he is poor!” The latter will do anything to trick people out of their money. They can be obsequious and flatter people into giving them some tips. That’s how people who lack integrity and backbone behave.
I will be honest with all of you. I despise those who worship money; I look down on those wealthy people and I have offended them. The more the better, I don’t care! I am that stubborn a person. Whoever wants to put up a front before me will fail! I simply don’t buy that.