Once upon a time, there was a teacher who meditated much and developed his mind. Gradually his fame spread. Those who wished to be guided by a wise man came to hear him. Considering what he said to be wise indeed, 500 decided to become his followers.
One of these 500, who considered his teachings to be wise, was a certain pet lover. In fact, he loved pets so much that there was no animal he did not wish to keep as a pet.
One day he came upon a cute little poisonous snake, who was searching for food. He decided he would make an excellent pet. So he made a little bamboo cage to keep him in when he had to leave him alone. The other followers called the little snake, ‘Bamboo’. Because he was so fond of his pet, they called the pet lover, ‘Bamboo’s Father’.
Before long, the teacher heard that one of his followers was keeping a poisonous snake as a pet. He called him to him and asked if this was true. Bamboo’s Father said, “Yes master, I love him like my own child!"
The wise teacher said, “It is not safe to live with a poisonous snake. Therefore, I advise you to let him go, for your own good."
But Bamboo’s Father thought he knew better. He replied, “This little one is my son. He wouldn’t bite me. I can’t give him up and live all alone!".
The teacher warned him, “Then surely, this little one will be the death of you!" But the follower did not heed his master’s warning.
Later on, all 500 of the teacher’s followers went on a trip to collect fresh fruits. Bamboo’s Father left his ‘son’ locked up in the bamboo cage.
Since there were many fruits to collect, it was several days before they returned. Bamboo’s Father realized that poor Bamboo had not eaten the whole time he was away. So he opened the cage to let him out to find food.
But when he reached inside, his ‘son’ bit his hand. Having been neglected for all that time, Bamboo was angry as well as hungry. Since he was only a snake, he didn’t know anything about poison!
But his ‘father’ should have known better. After all, he had been warned by the very teacher he himself considered wise.
Within minutes of being bitten, Bamboo’s Father dropped dead!
The moral is: There’s no benefit in following a teacher if you don’t listen to what he says.
“Mangala” means something auspicious, a blessing, happiness, a good or lucky sign, or an omen.
In the Mangala Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha told us what to do so we can live an auspicious/happy life.
I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was living in the vicinity of Savatthi at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a deva appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After paying respects to the Buddha, the deva asked him a question in the form of a verse:
Today, I would like to beseech Buddha Master to impart a Dharma. I know that in the course of imparting Dharmas Buddha Master often revealed unfavorable opinions toward Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism. However, in my poor knowledge, there are many Dharmas within Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism. According to my understanding, the Vajra Dharmas in the Tantric Division are the highest Dharmas. The ten major Vajra Dharmas are the core and key constituents commanding the entirety of Buddha Dharma for attaining accomplishment. Therefore, I beseech my Buddha Master to impart the Dharma that tells us Buddhist disciples: What should we do to be able to learn the best and highest Vajra Dharmas, in order to ensure attaining accomplishment in this current lifetime? Additionally, do these Vajra Dharmas all have rituals and detail procedures or steps of practicing? How should we practice these Dharmas?）
（莫知尊者再度合掌恭敬白羌佛提問：Thank you, Buddha Master. Namo Your Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III! After hearing the impartations from my Buddha Master, off the many Vajra Dharmas in various sects of Esoteric Buddhism, we are truly astounded and are like being brought to a new world. Then, how can we accurately distinguish and correctly select with a one-hundred-percent certainty among all those Vajra Dharmas, in order to truly achieve great accomplishment and liberation? Also, how do we know the right or wrong of our own Dharma practice? How do we know if we have made progress to develop accomplishment through our practice?）
（莫知尊者合掌恭敬而白羌佛說：I am so grateful to the kindness of Namo Your Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III! Thank You, my beneficent Buddha Master. Thank you so much for opening the door to the supreme true Buddha Dharma today for us Buddhist disciples. This is actually the Invincible Vajra Dharma! This Dharma is more than sufficient for enabling living beings to become liberated! I am so extremely grateful! I am so grateful!）
Once upon a time, the people of Benares were fond of setting up bird houses. This was an act of generosity and kindness, done for the comfort of birds. It also made the people happy to hear the friendly birds singing.
The richest man in the city had a cook. He kept such a bird house near the kitchen. In it lived a gentle and careful pigeon. He was so gentle that he did not care to eat meat. And he was careful to keep his distance from the cook. For he knew the cook was in the habit of roasting and boiling dead animals, even including birds!
So the pigeon always left the bird house early in the morning. After spending the day finding and eating his food, he returned each night to sleep in the bird house. He was quite contented with his calm and harmless life.
Nearby there was a crow who was quite a different sort of character. For one thing, he would eat anything! And he was not known for being gentle and careful. Instead, he often became overly excited, and acted without considering the danger. And far from being contented, he often got himself into trouble.
One day the crow smelled the delicious food being cooked in the rich man’s kitchen. He was so attracted by the odour that he could not take his mind off it. He decided that he must have the rich man’s meat at any cost. So he began spying on the kitchen, trying to figure out a way to get some of the meat and fish.
As usual, that evening the pigeon returned with his little belly satisfied, and contentedly entered his little home for the night. Seeing this, the hungry crow thought, “Ah, wonderful! I can make use of this dull pigeon to grab a delicious feast from the kitchen."
The next morning, the crow followed the pigeon when he left for the day. The pigeon asked him, “Oh my friend, why are you following me?" The crow replied, “Sir, I like you very much, and I admire your calm and regular way of life. From now on, I would like to assist you and learn from you."
The pigeon said, “Friend crow, your life style is much more exciting than mine. You would get bored following me around. And you don’t even eat the same food I do. So how can you assist me?"
The crow said, “When you go each day to find your food, we will separate and I will find my food. In the evening, we will come back together. Being together, we will be able to help and protect each other." The pigeon said. “That sounds all right to me. Now go your own way and work hard finding food."
The pigeon spent his usual day eating grass seeds. It took some time patiently searching for a few little grass seeds, but he was satisfied and contented.
The crow spent the day turning over cow dung patties, so he could gobble up the worms and insects he found there. This was fairly easy work, but he kept thinking it would be even easier to steal from the rich man’s kitchen. And no doubt the food would be better too!
When he was full, he went to the pigeon and said, “Sir pigeon, you spend too much time searching for and eating food. It is no good wasting the whole day that way. Let us go home." But the pigeon kept on steadily eating grass seeds, one by one. He was quite happy that way.
At the end of the day, the impatient crow followed the pigeon back to his bird house. They slept in it together peacefully. They spent several days and nights in this way.
Then one day there was a delivery of many kinds of fresh meat and fish. The cook hung them on hooks in the kitchen for storage.
The crow saw this and was overwhelmed by the sight of so much food. His desire became greed, and he began plotting a way to get it all for himself. He decided to pretend to be sick. So he spent the entire night groaning and moaning.
The next morning, the pigeon was ready to go look for food as usual. The crow said, “Go without me, sir pigeon, I have been sick to my stomach all night long."
The pigeon replied, “My dear crow, that sounds so strange. I’ve never heard of a crow getting an upset stomach. But I have heard they sometimes faint from hunger. I suspect you want to gobble up as much as you can of the meat and fish in the kitchen. But it’s for people, not crows. People don’t eat pigeon food. Pigeons don’t eat crow food. And it would not be wise for you to eat people food. It might even be dangerous! So come with me as usual, and be satisfied with crow food, sir crow!"
The crow said, “I’m too sick, friend pigeon, I’m too sick. Go ahead without me."
“Very well," said the pigeon, “but your actions will speak louder than your words. I warn you, don’t risk safety for the sake of greed. Be patient until I return." Then the pigeon left for the day.
But the crow paid no attention. He thought only about grabbing a big piece of fish, and was glad to be rid of the pigeon. “Let him eat grass seeds!" he thought.
Meanwhile, the cook prepared the meat and fish in a big stew pot. While it was cooking, he kept the lid slightly off, to allow the steam to escape. The crow smelled the delicious fragrance in the rising steam. Watching from the bird house, he saw the cook go outside to rest from the heat.
The crow saw that this was the chance he’d been waiting for. So he flew into the kitchen and sat on the edge of the stew pot. First he looked for the biggest piece of fish he could find. Then he stuck his head inside and reached for it. But in so doing, he knocked the lid off! The clattering sound brought the cook into the kitchen at once.
He saw the crow standing on the edge of the pot with a fish bigger than he was, hanging from his beak! Immediately, he closed the door and window of the kitchen. He thought, “This food is for the rich man. I work for him, not for some mangy crow! I will teach him a lesson he’ll never forget!"
The poor crow could not have picked a worse enemy. This cook just happened to be rather ignorant, so he did not mind being cruel when he had the upper hand. He took no pity at all on the clever crow.
He grabbed him, and plucked out all his feathers. The poor crow looked ridiculous without his shining black feathers. Then the vengeful cook made a spicy paste from ginger, salt and chilli peppers. He rubbed it all over the crow’s pink sore skin. Then he put him on the floor of the bird house, and laughed.
The crow sweated and suffered from the terrible burning pain. He cried in agony all day long.
In the evening, the pigeon returned from a quiet day searching for and eating grass seeds. He was shocked to see the terrible state of his friend the crow. He said, “Obviously, you didn’t listen to me at all. Your greed has done you in. I’m so sad there’s nothing I can do to save you. And I’m afraid to stay in this bird house so close to that cruel cook. I must leave at once!"
So the careful pigeon flew away in search of a safer bird house. And the plucked and pasted crow died a painful death.
The moral is: Greed makes one deaf to sound advice.
After seven days on the Indian Ocean, all the winds and currents stopped completely. The ship was stuck! After being dead in the water for seven days, all on board were terrified they would die.
So they drew straws to find out who was the cause of their bad luck and frightening misfortune. Seven times the short straw was drawn by Mittavinda!
They forced him onto a tiny bamboo raft, and set him adrift on the open seas. They shouted, “Be gone forever! You are nothing but a curse!" And suddenly a strong wind sent the ship on its way.
But once again Mittavinda’s life was spared. This was a result of his wholesome actions as a monk, so many births ago. No matter how long it takes, actions cause results.
Sometimes an action causes more than one result, some pleasant and some unpleasant. It is said there are Asuras who live through such mixed results in an unusual way.
Asuras are unfortunate ugly gods. Some of them are lucky enough to change their form into beautiful young dancing girl goddesses. These are called Apsaras.
They enjoy the greatest pleasures for seven days. But then they must go to a hell world and suffer torments as hungry ghosts for seven days. Again they become Apsara goddesses – back and forth, back and forth – until both kinds of results are finished.
While floating on the tiny bamboo raft, it just so happened that Mittavinda came to a lovely Glass Palace. There he met four very pretty Apsaras. They enjoyed their time together, filled with heavenly pleasures, for seven days.
Then, when it was time for the goddesses to become hungry ghosts, they said to Mittavinda, “Wait for us just seven short days, and we will return and continue our pleasure."
The Glass Palace and the four Apsaras disappeared. But still Mittavinda had not regained the peace of mind thrown away by the village monk, so very long ago. Seven days of pleasure had not satisfied him. He could not wait for the lovely goddesses to return. He wanted more and more. So he continued on, in the little bamboo raft.
Lo and behold, he came to a shining Silver Palace, with eight Apsara goddesses living there. Again he enjoyed seven days of the greatest pleasure. These Apsaras also asked him to wait the next seven days, and disappeared into a hell world.
Amazing as it may seem, the greedy Mittavinda went on to seven days of pleasure in a sparkling Jewel Palace with 16 Apsaras. But they too disappeared. Then he spent seven days in a glowing Golden Palace with 32 of the most beautiful Apsaras of all.
But still he was not satisfied! When all 32 asked him to wait seven days, again he departed on the raft.
Before long he came to the entrance of a hell world filled with suffering tortured beings. They were living through the results of their own actions. But his desire for more pleasure was so strong that Mittavinda thought he saw a beautiful city surrounded by a wall with four fabulous gates. He thought, I will go inside and make myself king!
After he entered, he saw one of the victims of this hell world. He had a collar around his neck that spun like a wheel, with five sharp blades cutting into his face, head, chest and back. But Mittavinda was still so greedy for pleasure that he could not see the pain right before his eyes. Instead he saw the spinning collar of cutting blades as if it were a lovely lotus blossom. He saw the dripping blood as if it were the red powder of perfumed sandal wood. And the screams of pain from the poor victim sounded like the sweetest of songs!
He said to the poor man, “You’ve had that lovely lotus crown long enough! Give it to me, for I deserve to wear it now." The condemned man warned him, “This is a cutting collar, a wheel of blades." But Mittavinda said, “You only say that because you don’t want to give it up."
The victim thought, “At last the results of my past unwholesome deeds must be completed. Like me, this poor fool must be here for striking his mother. I will give him the wheel of pain." So he said, “Since you want it so badly, take the lotus crown!"
With these words the wheel of blades spun off the former victim’s neck and began spinning around the head of Mittavinda. And suddenly all his illusions disappeared; he knew this was no beautiful city, but a terrible hell world; he knew this was no lotus crown, but a cutting wheel of blades; and he knew he was not king, but prisoner. Groaning in pain he cried out desperately, “Take back your wheel! Take back your wheel!" But the other one had disappeared.
Just then the king of the gods arrived for a teaching visit to the hell world. Mittavinda asked him, “Oh king of gods, what have I done to deserve this torment?" The god replied, “Refusing to listen to the words of monks, you obtained no wisdom, but only money. A thousand gold coins did not satisfy you, nor even 120,000. Blinded by greed, you struck your mother on your way to grabbing greater wealth still.
“Then the pleasure of four Apsaras in their Glass Palace did not satisfy you. Neither eight Apsaras in a Silver Palace, nor 16 in a Jewel Palace. Not even the pleasure of 32 lovely goddesses in a Golden Palace was enough for you! Blinded by greed for pleasure you wished to be king. Now at last, you see your crown is only a wheel of torture, and your kingdom is a hell world.
“Learn this, Mittavinda – all who follow their greed wherever it leads are left unsatisfied. For it is in the nature of greed to be dissatisfied with what one has, whether a little or a lot. The more obtained, the more desired – until the circle of greed becomes the circle of pain."
Having said this, the god returned to his heaven world home. At the same time the wheel crashed down on Mittavinda. With his head spinning in pain, he found himself adrift on the tiny bamboo raft.
Soon he came to an island inhabited by a powerful she-devil. She happened to be disguised as a goat. Being hungry, Mittavinda thought nothing of grabbing the goat by a hind leg. And the she-devil hiding inside kicked him way up into the air. He finally landed in a thorn bush on the outskirts of Benares!
After he untangled himself from the thorns, he saw some goats grazing nearby. He wanted very badly to return to the palaces and the dancing girl Apsaras. Remembering that a goat had kicked him here, he grabbed the leg of one of these goats. He hoped it would kick him back to the island.
Instead, this goat only cried out. The shepherds came, and captured Mittavinda for trying to steal one of the king’s goats.
As he was being taken as a prisoner to the king, they passed by the world famous teacher of Benares. Immediately he recognized his student. He asked the shepherds, “Where are you taking this man?"
They said, “He is a goat thief! We are taking him to the king for punishment!" The teacher said, “Please don’t do so. He is one of my students. Release him to me, so he can be a servant in my school." They agreed and left him there.
The teacher asked Mittavinda, “What has happened to you since you left me?"
He told the story of being first respected, and then cursed, by the people of the remote village. He told of getting married and having two children, only to see them killed and eaten by demons in the haunted forest. He told of slapping his generous mother when he was crazy with greed for money. He told of being cursed by his shipmates and being cast adrift on a bamboo raft. He told of the four palaces with their beautiful goddesses, and how each time his pleasure ended he was left unsatisfied. He told of the cutting wheel of torture, the reward for the greedy in hell. And he told of his hunger for goat meat, that only got him kicked back to Benares without even a bite to eat!
The world famous teacher said, “It is clear that your past actions have caused both unpleasant and pleasant results, and that both are eventually completed. But you cannot understand that pleasures always come to an end. Instead, you let them feed your greed for more and more. You are left exhausted and unsatisfied, madly grasping at goat legs! Calm down, my friend. And know that trying to hold water in a tight fist, will always leave you thirsty!"
Hearing this, Mittavinda bowed respectfully to the great teacher. He begged to be allowed to follow him as a student. The Enlightenment Being welcomed him with open arms.
The moral is: In peace of mind, there is neither loss nor gain.
Little did poor Mittavinda know that his lives of constant hunger were about to come to an end. After wandering about, he eventually ended up in Benares.
At that time the Enlightenment Being was living the life of a world famous teacher in Benares. He had 500 students. As an act of charity, the people of the city supported these poor students with food. They also paid the teacher’s fees for teaching them.
Mittavinda was permitted to join them. He began studying under the great teacher. And at last, he began eating regularly.
But he paid no attention to the teachings of the wise master. He was disobedient and violent. During 500 lives as a hungry dog, quarrelling had become a habit. So he constantly got into fist fights with the other students.
It became so bad that many of the students quit. The income of the world famous teacher dwindled down to almost nothing. Because of all his fighting, Mittavinda was finally forced to run away from Benares.
He found his way to a small remote village. He lived there as a hard working labourer, married a very poor woman, and had two children.
It became known that he had studied under the world famous teacher of Benares. So the poor villagers selected him to give advice when questions arose. They provided a place for him to live near the entrance to the village. And they began following his advice.
But things did not go well. The village was fined seven times by the king. Seven times their houses were burned. And seven times the town pond dried up.
They realized that all their troubles began when they started taking Mittavinda’s advice. So they chased him and his family out of the village. They shouted, “Be gone forever! You are nothing but a curse!"
While they were fleeing, they went through a haunted forest. Demons came out of the shadows and killed and ate his wife and children. But Mittavinda escaped.
He made his way to a seaport city. He was lonely, miserable and penniless. It just so happened that there was a kind generous rich merchant living in the city. He heard the story of Mittavinda’s misfortunes. Since they had no children of their own, he and his wife adopted Mittavinda. For better or worse they treated him exactly as their own son.
His new mother and father were very religious. They always tried to do wholesome things. But Mittavinda still had not learned his lesson. He did not accept any religion, so he often did unwholesome things.
Some time after his father’s death, his mother decided to try and help him enter the religious life. She said, “There is this world and there is the one to come. If you do bad things, you will suffer painful results in both worlds."
But foolish Mittavinda replied, “I will do whatever I enjoy doing and become happier and happier. There is no point considering whether what I do is wholesome or unwholesome. I don’t care about such things!"
On the next full moon holy day, Mittavinda’s mother advised him to go to the temple and listen all night long to the wise words of the monks. He said, “I wouldn’t waste my time!" So she said, “When you return I will give you a thousand gold coins."
Mittavinda thought that with enough money he could enjoy himself constantly and be happy all the time. So he went to the temple. But he sat in a corner, paid no attention, and fell asleep for the night. Early the next morning he went home to collect his reward.
Meanwhile his mother thought he would appreciate wise teachings. Then he would bring the oldest monk home with him. So she prepared delicious food for the expected guest. When she saw him returning alone, she said, “Oh my son, why didn’t you ask the senior monk to come home with you for breakfast?"
He said, “I did not go to the temple to listen to a monk or to bring him home with me. I went only to get your thousand gold coins!" His disappointed mother said, “Never mind the money. Since there is so much delicious food prepared – only eat and sleep!" He replied, “Until you give me the money, I refuse to eat!" So she gave him the thousand gold coins. Only then did he gobble up the food until all he could do was fall asleep.
Mittavinda did not think a thousand gold coins were enough for him to constantly enjoy himself. So he used the money to start a business, and before long he became very rich. One day he came home and said, “Mother, I now have 120,000 gold coins. But I am not yet satisfied. Therefore I will go abroad on the next ship and make even more money!"
She replied, “Oh my son, why do you want to go abroad? The ocean is dangerous and it is very risky doing business in a strange land. I have 80,000 gold coins right here in the house. That is enough for you. Please don’t go, my only son!"
Then she held him to keep him from leaving. But Mittavinda was crazy with greed. So he pushed his mother’s hand away and slapped her face. She fell to the floor. She was so hurt and shocked that she yelled at him, “Be gone forever! You are nothing but a curse!"
Without looking back, Mittavinda rushed to the harbour and set sail on the first departing ship.