Suddhipanthaka and Ksudrapanthaka were two
brothers. In India, it is a custom for women to return to their
mother's home to give birth. In keeping with this custom,
Suddhipanthaka's mother started back to her mother's home shortly
before his birth. She did not want to go home and procrastinated
until the last minute. How do you think it was? Before she arrived
home, halfway along the road, she gave birth. He is called "Great
Roadside" (Suddhipanthaka) because he was born along the way.
When she was about to give birth to her second
child, she again waited until the last minute. She probably wanted
to see if the second child would also be born along the road. She
started out on the last day, and when she arrived at the place where
she had previously given birth, she could not go any further. The
second, called "Little Roadside"1 (Ksudrapanthaka), was
also born halfway down the road.
When Great Roadside grew older, he decided to
leave home to follow the Buddha, and was followed by his younger
brother. Although the brothers were born in the same way, and both
went off to be disciples of the Buddha, they were otherwise not the
same. The older brother was very intelligent, and the younger very
The most stupid. He couldn't even remember half a sentence of verse.
The Buddha told the five hundred Arhats to
teach him a gatha, and they each tried in turn. They taught:
Guard your mouth, unite your mind,
do not transgress with your body;
Do not cause trouble for all those with feeling,
and avoid the meaningless bitter practices.
A cultivator like this can cross over the world.
"Guard your mouth, unite your mind"
means to constantly pay attention to your thoughts, and not let them
run out of your mouth. "Do not transgress with your body"
refers to keeping the precepts. These accomplished, the body, mouth,
and mind are all clear and pure.
"Do not cause trouble for all those with
feeling" means to avoid being the cause of another's
"And avoid the meaningless bitter practices."
Ascetic practices which are not in accord with Dharma
should be left far away. For example, those who maintain cow
precepts imitate cows, and those who maintain dog precepts imitate
dogs. Those who practice the way of fire take fire as master, and
those who practice the way of ashes cover their bodies with ash.
Some outside way people sleep on nails, very painful although they
don't pierce the skin. They suppose they practice true cultivation
and only struggle with meaningless bitter practices, all without
principle. All these should be left far behind.
"A cultivator like this can cross over the
world." Cultivation which is in accord with the gatha will bring
the wished-for fruit.
Little Roadside studied for a long time. The
five hundred Arhats all used their spiritual penetrations to help
him, but he couldn't remember the gatha. When they taught him the
second line, he forgot the first. Reciting "unite your mind"
he forgot, "guard your mouth", and said instead, "What? I
don't know. I forget." This went on for a long time.
Finally it caused his older brother,
Great Roadside, to get angry. "You dumb brick," he said,
"what use are you? Get on home. You don't want to leave home to be a
Bhiksu," and chased his younger brother
Little Roadside, although his memory was small,
had a great temper which he used to yell after his brother, "If you
won't let me leave home, I'll die. Wait and see." Then he ran off to
the flower garden and began stringing himself up from a tree.
At that time Sakyamuni Buddha, transforming
himself into the body of a tree spirit, went to speak Dharma to
Little Roadside saying, "Your brother is your brother and you are
you. He told you not to leave home, but you can ignore him. It's not
necessary to die."
Little Roadside thought, "He's him and I'm me.
How can he tell me not to leave home," all
the way back to the place where Sakyamuni Buddha dwelled.
When he saw Little Roadside, the Buddha said,
"I've tried to teach you a gatha to instruct your cultivation of the
Way, and you haven't been able to remember half a line. So now I'll
give you another Dharma door which
consists of just two words, 't'iao sao' (broom sweep). Use this
Dharma broom to sweep your heart, sweep
away the dust so it's clean and clear, sweep away all false
Little Roadside thought, "Use a broom to sweep
my heart. What a good method.
Broom...what?...sweep...sweep...sweep...What? He couldn't remember
the two words together. But he practiced diligently, and following
the Buddha's instruction to use a broom to sweep his heart, he
finally remembered the two words to sweep his heart clean.
Every day from morning to night Little Roadside
recited these two words, "broom sweep",
and remembered that the Buddha had told him to sweep his heart
clean. And so moment upon moment he swept his heart, and at the end
of not even a week, he opened enlightenment. He understood
everything, was clear about understanding, penetrated the actual
appearance of all Dharmas, and was even
more intelligent than his brother.
- The names are translated from