Bhikkhuni Gotami OfferingGolden Clothes to Buddha
Buddha Bathing the Unwell Monastic
Boat Skipper Bringing Buddha Across Waters
Caretaker of the Wang Family Pond Sprinkling Flowers In Front of Buddha
Filial Piety: The Filial Daughter-in-Law who Touched All
Filial Piety: The Kingdom That Abandoned Elders
Merits from Offering Fresh Flowers: Cardamom Flower Story
Merits from Offering Fresh Flowers: The Third Horse Carriage
Merits from Supporting Sangha: The Painter Who Offered to the Sangha and Attained Excellent Merits
Monastery Construction: Monk Mending the Monastery Wall, thereby Increasing his Lifespan
AnandaBuddha had a well-known disciple that was always by his side – Ananda. Not only was Ananda Buddha’s attendant personally taking care of all of Buddha’s affairs, he also had an extremely special quality, which was “the ability to retain Buddha’s entire wisdom”. At that time, the monks were all very curious as to why Ananda had such a quality: he could remember every single word that Buddha said in his heart. They all gathered in front of Buddha and asked: “What was the karma that Esteemed Ananda had created which resulted in him having this unique and amazing ability of retaining Buddha’s entire wisdom? Buddha replied.”Ananda can retain the entire wisdom because of the merits he had accumulated.” Buddha then proceeded to tell them the deed that Ananda had done in his past life that caused him to have this unique quality: A very long time ago, there was a monk who had a novice disciple, whom he was extremely strict with. Everyday the novice monk had to complete a set amount of homework: he had to chant many sutras. If he completed his scheduled homework, the monk would be happy, if not, the monk would severely reprimand him. The novice monk was very troubled by this. He tried his best to complete the day’s scheduled homework but this often meant he would go hungry. If he was able to beg for alms smoothly, he would have enough time to finish chanting all the sutras for the day, but if the begging for alms took too much time, he would not complete his chanting for the day and he would be reprimanded by his teacher. For this matter, the novice monk was very worried and was in tears while he was walking. Just then, an elder came across this novice monk in tears. The elder went up to him and asked the novice monk:”Why are you so upset?” The novice monk then poured his heart’s woes to the elder.. The elder then said:” From today onwards, come to my house. I will offer you food so that you no longer need to worry about this matter.” From then on, the novice monk could focus on completing his scheduled homework everyday. He also no longer had to worry about having no food and going hungry . This offering made both the monk and the novice monk very happy. Buddha told the monastics: “The monk then is the future Ding-guang Buddha and the novice monk then is me. The elder who offered the food is Ananda. Because of his support and care for the novice monk’s studies, in this life, Ananda has the unique quality of retaining the entire wisdom, not forgetting a single word.
From “The Sutra of the Wise and Foolish”
Bhikkhuni Gotami Offering Golden Clothes to Buddha
This was a story that happened during Buddha’s time. At that time, Bhiksuni Gotami wanted to offer Buddha a quality robe that she had personally woven with golden silk threads. Bhiksuni Gotami was Buddha’s aunt. When Buddha was still a prince, she took care of him until he became an adult and she loved the Buddha very much. When Bhiksuni Gotami respectfully offered the robe to Buddha, Buddha said to her: “You should offer the robe to the monastics.” Bhiksuni Gotami said: ”I nurtured you while you were young and care a great deal about you. I made this robe just for you. Why would I offer it to the monastics? ” The Buddha replied:” Because I hope that you, my aunt would receive great merit. Why? As a field of merit, the monastic community is vast and without bounds. This is why I strongly suggest you offer to them. If you do as I advise, you are also offering to Buddha.” Upon hearing these words, Bhiksuni Gotami happily took the robe and offered it to the monastics.
Excerpted from “Century of Noble Deeds”
Buddha Bathing the Unwell MonasticDuring Buddha’s time, there was an elderly monk who had been bedridden for a long time due to his poor health. The elderly monk was extremely frail and unable to get out of bed to use the washroom. He was dirty and smelly, and no one was willing to visit him. One day, Buddha brought five hundred monks to visit the elderly monk. Upon arrival, Buddha asked, “You have been unwell for a long time. Has anyone come to visit you?” The elderly monk replied, “No one has visited me.” Buddha then asked, “When you were healthy, did you visit or take care of the ill?” The monk replied, “I never did.” Buddha continued, “In the past, because you did not properly plant the seeds of virtue, you are now experiencing the unfortunate effects.” Buddha was very compassionate and sympathetic. He instructed the five hundred monks to take turns looking after the elderly monk. They made porridge for him and took care of his health. However, because the elderly monk was so dirty and smelly, the monks could not help but have some feelings of resentment and unhappiness. When Buddha learned of the situation, he asked Shakra for some hot water. Buddha then personally bathed the elderly monk;he earth shook and emanated bright light. At this moment, the king, his council and countless citizens–even the deities– came to Buddha and exclaimed, “Buddha! You are the most dignified teacher within the three planes of existence. Your merits and wisdom are nonpareil. Why do you still choose to bathe this unwell and dirty monk?” Buddha told everyone, “I came into this world so that the poor or suffering can have someone they can rely upon . Those who care for an unwell monastic, as well as the poor and elderly, will reap boundless merits. They would gain all that they wish for and all their aspirations will be fulfilled. With the accumulation of such merits they will eventually achieve enlightenment.”
Boat Skipper Bringing Buddha Across Waters
Once, when Buddha and his monastic followers were living in Magadha, they came to the Ganges River. Buddha said to a nearby boat skippe, “Would you mind helping me bring the monastics across the river?” The skipper replied, “You have to first pay me, then I can bring all of you across the river.” Buddha said to the skipper, “Do you know, I am a skipper, just like you! In the three planes of existence, I bring beings safely to the other shore. There is Angulimala, who was full of anger and murdered countless beings, Mahavira who was extremely proud and looked down on all, and also Uruvela Kassapa who was clouded by foolishness and had no wisdom. I guided them and countless beings safely to shore, never asking any of them for compensation. Why do you now ask for compensation before you are willing to bring us across shore?” Buddha used many different types of logic, trying to persuade the boat skipper but the boat skipper was extremely stubborn and refused to change his mind. At this point, there were other boat skippers downstream who heard Buddha’s words. They were extremely delighted and came forth to Buddha and said, “Buddha, I can help you bring the monastics across the river.” Soon after, they thoroughly cleaned and decorated their boats and welcomed the monastics aboard. At this point, the skippers saw some monastics appear in mid-air, some of them were in the middle of the river while others had already reached the other shore. All the boat skippers present who saw the monastics’ powers expressed their admiration and developed devout confidence. They paid their respects to Buddha and the monastics. Buddha then proceeded to give teachings to the boat skippers. As a result, they made great achievements on the path of cultivation and became srotapannas. At the same time, the boat skipper who had insisted on receiving compensation saw all of this. Deep regret and shame arose in him. He immediately prostrated in front of Buddha and sincerely repented. He asked Buddha and the monastics to go to his house to receive his offerings. Buddha, in his compassion, agreed. When the boat skipper returned home, he prepared an extremely sumptuous and delectable feast and personally offered the food to Buddha and the monastics. He then came to the front of Buddha and asked Buddha for teachings. Buddha granted the skipper’s wish and gave him all sorts of teachings. The boat skipper was filled with delight and proceeded to make an aspiration. He wished that the merits from his offering would help him in achieving enlightenment in future lives and that he would be able to help all beings across to the other shore, just like Buddha. After the boat skipper had made his aspiration, Buddha smiled and emanated light in five different colours. Ananda saw this and immediately asked Buddha, “Buddha, why are you smiling?” Buddha told Ananda, “Due to the merits accumulated from this boat skipper’s repentance as well as offering, he will not be reborn in the three lesser realms for thirteen eons. He will enjoy all sorts of happiness in the heaven and human realm. In his last life, he will become a pratyekabuddha, and be known as ‘Rescuing from the Sea of Life and Death’. He will save countless beings. It is because of this reason that I smile!”
“Century of Noble Deeds”
Caretaker of the Wang Family Pond Sprinkling Flowers In Front of BuddhaWhen Buddha was still amongst us, there was a king named Pasenadi. Six times a day, without fail, he would offer flowers to the deities. He had never heard of Buddha’s name. Buddha, in his compassion, wanted to help and bless this king. One day, Buddha put on his robes, and holding his alms bowl, personally came to the king’s palace. The king saw Buddha walking towards him from afar. Buddha emanated light and lit up the entire world, giving off a dignified presence. At that instant, indescribable joy rose in the king’s heart. He immediately stood up and invited Buddha to take his seat. The king then instructed his attendants to prepare exquisite food for Buddha. Buddha accepted the King’s offering, after which Buddha gave many teachings to the King. This first meeting elicited feelings of deep respect and confidence in the King towards Buddha. From that day onwards, the King would devoutly offer flowers to Buddha. He no longer offered to deities. One day, after his delivery to the palace, the florist who provided King Pasenadi with flowers regularly brought the extra flowers to sell at the marketplace. On his way, he met a man who was not a student of Buddha.. When this man saw the florist, he asked, ”Are your flowers for sale?” Just at this very moment, the elder, Sudatta, also crossed paths with them and asked the same question, “Are your flowers for sale?” Both the man r and Elder Sudatta wanted to buy flowers. So they started to bid the price up. Back and forth, the price increased rapidly. Even after reaching the high price of 1,000 taels of gold, neither party would give up. At this point, the florist asked the man, “Why are you buying these flowers?” The man replied, “I would like to offer Narayana Deity, and pray for his blessings and protection. The florist then asked Elder Sudatta the same question. Elder Sudatta replied, “I would like to offer Buddha.” The florist was curious and asked, “What is Buddha?” Elder Sudatta answered, “Buddha’s greatness is hard to describe. Buddha is the most superior in the three planes of existence. He is an enlightened being who is worthy of respect from all humans and deities. Upon hearing this, the florist was very touched. He thought: “This elder has an air that is unlike others. Today, he is buying flowers to offer Buddha and willing to spend a thousand taels of gold. This good deed must be something huge and no one knows about this…” As such, the florist said to both the Elder and the man, “I am not selling these flowers. I am personally taking them to offer to Buddha.” When Elder Sudatta heard this, he was both surprised and delighted, and immediately brought the florist to meet Buddha. The florist met Buddha, who had thirty-two major and eighty minor marks of a mahapurusa. Buddha’s body emitted hundreds of thousands of light as bright as the sun. Whereupon, the florist gained huge confidence and respect in the Buddha. He tossed the flowers in his hands towards Buddha. Whilst in the air, these flowers formed a flower canopy, giving shade to Buddha. Wherever Buddha went, the flower canopy would follow. When the florist saw such an astonishing sight, he could not help but prostrate himself and make the aspiration: “May the merits from offering Buddha the flowers allow me in my future lives to become other sentient beings’ eyes and place of refuge, helping them to break free of reincarnation and even reach complete enlightenment.” When Buddha heard the florist’s aspiration, he smiled. Ananda immediately came forth and asked, “Buddha, why are you smiling?” Buddha said to Ananda, “You see this florist? Based on today’s deed of offering flowers to the Buddha, after three eons, he will become a buddha named ‘Prosperous Flower’! He will be able to help all sentient beings. I smile because of this reason!”
Excerpted from “Century of Noble Deeds”
The Filial Daughter-in-Law Who Touched All From Ancient Virtuous Stories
In Chin Ling City, there once lived an old lady whose name was Dong Gu Chen. Mrs. Dong had a daughter-in-law. One time, the daughter-in-law went back to visit her parent. Most unfortunately, Mrs. Dong contracted the local plague. The plague had spread to different districts of the neighborhood. There was a family where several members died from the plague. And along one alley, there was no survivor. The plague was so frightening that no one, even the closest family member dared to ask about the situation. Mrs. Dong suffered from the plague. Her family of eight, including sons and grandsons, stayed by her side everyday, awaiting their fate. At that time, the daughter-in-law was at her parents’ house when she heard this piece of news. She was anxious to go back to take care of her mother-in-law. Her parents tried their best to stop her from going back. The daughter-in-law said to them “As a wife, I am responsible for looking after my parents-in-law in all matters related to life and death. Today I hear that my mother-in-law is suffering such a fatal disease. If I don’t go back to look after her, I am no better than an animal. Even if I am in mortal danger, I would not abandon my parents-in-law.” Upon saying this, she left and went to the neighbourhood of plague. A fortune-teller who who could see people from the other realms such as the ghost realm said,“ All the deities will protect and assist this filial daughter-in-law. If we do not leave immediately, we will be punished severely.” This was how the family of eight survived the plague.
From Ancient Virtuous Stories
Filial Piety： The Kingdom That Abandoned Elders
This is a story about Buddha from the Storehouse of Sundry Valuables. The name of the story is The Kingdom That Abandoned Elders.When Buddha was at Sravasti, he said: “Respecting the elderly will bring us a lot of benefits. When we respect and tend to elders, we will learn and understand what we had never heard before. Such good reputation will travel afar, and one would be respected by the wise.” The monks said: “Tathagata, the World Honored one, you often praise and respect parents and elders.” Buddha replied: “It is not just in the present life; actually I have paid respect to parents and elders since countless eons ago.” The monks asked Buddha again: “Could you kindly share how you have paid respect to the elderly in the past?” Buddha began to tell the story: “A long time ago, there was a kingdom named Abandoning Elders. In that kingdom, the elders were banished to a faraway place and were left alone without care. There was a minister whose father was aged. According to decree of the kingdom, his father should be expelled from his household and sent away. However, the minister was very filial and could not bear to abandon his father. Thus he came up with a solution: he would build an underground chamber as a hideout.His father could stay there and the minister could attend to his father. Undoubtedly, this had to be done in secret and no one could find out. Why? Because it was violating the law; that is, taking care of one’s father was against the law! One day, a deity appeared at the palace. He brought two snakes with him, and said to the king, “If you can tell which snake is male and which one is female, then your country will be at peace. However, if you can’t, then you and your country will be destroyed in 7 days.” This was a deity! Even though the king was resoundingly well known, he dared not challenge the deity. Thus, upon hearing this, the king was so troubled that he immediately consulted with the ministers for the solution. Though all ministers racked their brains, they couldn’t come up with any solution or answer. They courteously declined one by one, claiming that they were at their wits’ end. Thus, the king offered a reward to the people in the entire kingdom: whoever could tell the difference will be granted with an official position with a handsome reward. This minister went home and consulted his father; the father told his son, “This is a very easy task! Just put both snakes on something silky and soft. The fidgety one would be the male snake, while the calm, stable one is the female.” They followed the advice of the minister’s father accordingly, thus they were able to distinguish the male snake from the female one. It seemed that this deity was not satisfied and continued asking the king another question, “Who is the awakened one compared with those who are asleep? Who is the asleep one compared with those who are awakened?” The king could not come up with an answer, and neither could the ministers. Thus the king offered a reward in the kingdom again, but still no one could answer it. The minister asked his father again, “What does this statement mean?” The father said, “Compared with ordinary beings, the learned one is the awakened one; when compared with an arhat, the learned one is like a sound asleep person.” That was the answer for it. The learned refers to the practitioners between the stages of path-of-preparation and the path-of-meditation, which including ordinary beings and sages. The path-of-preparation is the stage of ordinary beings, while the path-of-seeing and the path-of-meditation are the stages of the sages. All of them apply the teaching for the sake of removing afflictions; thus they are known as the learned. So this question was answered. Then, somehow the deity was still not satisfied. Here came the 3rd question. The deity asked, “What is the weight of this white elephant?” Evidently there was a white elephant in the palace. That elephant might be so gigantic that even though the ministers discussed for a while, they didn’t know how to measure such a heavy and enormous elephant? Again a reward was offered, but no one could come up with an answer. And the minister asked his father again; the father replied, “Put the elephant onto a boat, mark the water level that the boat sinks to, and then take the elephant out of the boat. Load the boat with rocks until it sinks to the same water level. [By knowing how much the rock weight,] you would know the weight of the white elephant.” Thus, the deity’s question was answered by using this approach. The 3rd question was passed again. However, the deity was still not satisfied, so here came with the 4th question. The deity asked again, “Who knows how to answer this one: the amount of water cupped in hands can be more than that of the ocean?” The ministers began to discuss again; after a while, they still had no solution; not any minister could think up an answer. So the minister asked the father again, “What does this question mean?” And the father replied, “It is very easy! If someone, upholding a pure faith, offers water cupped in hands to Buddha, sangha as well as all the suffering patients, this person would accumulate tremendous amount of blissful merits for millions of eons. Although the ocean is vast and deep, its existence is no more than one eon. Thus, such amount of water cupped in hands can exceed hundreds of thousands times that of the ocean.” That was the answer for the deity. Let me elaborate here. Why is that the ocean exists for such fixed duration? Each world will go through the stages of formation, sustaining, decaying and vacating. When it is the decaying eon, everything in this world will be destroyed, including the oceans due to processing through the calamities of fire, water, or wind respectively. Thus the duration of the ocean is said to be one eon. From this passage, we know the father held a firm belief in cause and effect; he was erudite and he totally understood the concept of formation, sustaining, decaying, and vacating. Can you imagine what kind of person this father was? What about the deity? The 4th question was replied, but the deity was still not convinced and proposed the next question again. This time, the deity transformed himself into a famished person. How starving was he? He looked very skinny and bonny, so wretched and pitiable, and he asked, “In this world, is there anyone more famished, poorer, more emaciated and wretched than me?” The ministers racked their brains again, yet could not come up with the answer. They were really at the end of their tether. Thus the minister went to ask his father again. What was the answer from the father? Let’s find out. The father said, “People who are stingy, jealous, lack of faith in the Three Jewels, unable to take care of their parents, teachers, and elders will bring about the downfall to the realm of hungry ghost in their future lives. They will not hear the name of water or food for millions of years. Their bodies are like mountains, with bellies as big as valleys; their throats are as tiny as the pinhole, and hairs as sharp as awls, which twist around their bodies from head to toe. If they move their bodies, all joints of the limbs will be burning with pain. The ordeals these people undergo are thousands times more terrifying than your starvation!” This was the answer given to the deity. How many questions have we gone through so far? Have you come up with answers to any of the above questions? Did you get any one right? Do you have answers? The deity was still not satisfied, so again he asked the 6th question; everyone can try to think about it! This time, the deity transformed into a human, with shackles on both hands and feet; he was even chained up around the neck. Besides, the entire body was on fire and badly charred; and again the deity asked: “In this world, is there anyone who is suffering more than I?” Neither the king nor the ministers could answer it; in fact, no one knew the answer so none of them could answer it. If that were for you, what would be your answer? At this time, the minister went back to ask his father again. The father replied: “In this world, those who disobey their parents, harm their teachers, betray their husband – of course this refers to the wives, and slander the Three Jewels will be reborn to the hell realm. In the hell, there are mountains of daggers, forests with trees of iron sword leaves, firing wagons, burning tandoors, rivers of feces; besides, there are paths of knives and paths of fire; namely, the roads are either covered by barbed knives and with blazing fire. Those who are reborn to this realm have to endure immeasurable sufferings, the intensity of which is many thousand times more than that of your suffering!” That was the answer gave to the deity. After that, the deity transformed into an exquisite woman with elegant appearance, her beauty is beyond worldly beings, and asked: “In this world, is there anyone as elegant as I?” The king and ministers were again silent, unable to come up with any answer. Thus, the minister went to ask his father again. The father replied immediately, “In this world, those who have faith in the Three Jewels and pay respect to them, who are filial to their parents; enjoy applying generosity, patience, joyous perseverance, and upholding precepts will be reborn to the deity realm with elegant features, outstanding appearance that is many thousand times more than yours. Comparing with them, you are like a blind monkey.” This was the answer for the deity. Upon answering the question, the deity came again holding a square shaped genuine sandalwood and asked, “Which side of this wood block is the root of the sandalwood?” This was totally beyond the capability of the king and ministers, so again they could not answer it. There was no mention of any reward provided by the king for this answer in the sutra. Most likely there was no one provided any answer to the question. Again the minister went back to ask his father in the secret basement chamber, and the father said: “This one is very easy; just put the sandalwood block in water, and the root of the tree block would definitely sink, while the upper part of the tree would float.” This was the answer provided to the deity. Later, the deity brought two white horses, which looked exactly identical in size and color; the deity asked again: “Which one is the mare and which one is the baby horse?” Neither the ruler nor his ministers could answer that. And the minister again went to ask his father; the father replied: “Feed them hay, and the mother horse will definitely push the hay toward the baby horse.” Since the king answered all questions, the deity was very pleased. He presented the king with a great number of precious treasures, and told the king: “I will protect your kingdom from being attacked or invaded by any intruder.” After hearing this, the king was very pleased and asked the minister: “Did you come up with all the answers on your own or was there someone who told you how to answer those questions? Because of your wisdom, our kingdom is saved and secured; not only that I have been granted with so many treasures but also the kingdom is protected by the deity; all these happened because of your capacity.” Henceforth, the minister replied to the king: “Actually, it was not my wisdom. I wish Your Majesty pardon me the kindness of speaking the truth, so I dare to share with you one by one.” The king said: “Even if you have committed a serious crime punishable by death penalty today, you will be acquitted of any charge, let alone some minor wrongdoings?” Thus, the minister reported to the king: “There is a law in our country, specifying that caring for the needs of the elders is not allowed. Yet I have an elderly father; I could not bear to abandon him, so I transgressed the royal law by hiding my father in the secret basement chamber in my household. The reason that I was able to answer all those questions is due to my father’s wisdom instead of mine. I wish everyone can be granted to take care of their elders in your kingdom.” Upon hearing this, the king was full of great admiration and was pleased; he tended to the father of this minister and paid respect to the father, regarded the father as the teacher. And the king said: “You have saved everyone’s life in this kingdom; such merit is beyond my comprehension.” Moreover, the king declared an order and announced that: “From now on, abandoning the elderly is no longer permitted; instead we must be filial and tend to the needs of the older generation. Whoever disobeys their parents or disrespects their teacher will be charged with grave sentences!” After explaining such past causes and conditions, Buddha said: “The father at the time was me; the minister then was Sariputra, and the king at the time was the king Ajatashatru; the deity then was Ananda.” That is the end of the story; what is going through your mind? Sariputra, at the causal stage, under such difficult circumstances, was willing to run the risk of against the royal policy to be filial and tend to his father. However, today if we don’t take care of our father, we could be punished by the law and would be condemned by the moralists in the society. Even though in our era, there is no hindrance that will prohibit us from taking care of our parents, how do people around us attend to the needs of their parents or show respect to their teachers? So, during Chinese New Year, we can show more gratitude to our parents, and if unfortunately one’s parents have already passed away, then recite sutras sincerely, carry out meritorious deeds on behalf of them, and dedicate all of the merits to them. After hearing the story, you can think about how you respond to the questions that are in a way like brainteasers; it is not easy to quickly get your head around them, right? However, Buddha Sakyamuni was different; at his causal stage, wow, Buddha was not merely erudite. Actually, his wisdom was as profound as the ocean! So, let’s be inpired to take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha life after life, to engage in ten virtuous deeds to benefit self and others, and properly abide by the ethical discipline. During Chinese New Year celebration, those who uphold the five precepts, especially those who observe the precept of no alcoholic drink, please be more vigilant! While gathering with relatives and friends, you need to be clear-headed that if you have taken the vow of not drinking wine or liquor; please remember it! Also, no killing; consuming as many vegetables as possible is better for your health. Again, I wish you all have a Happy New Year and all is well!
From Storehouse of Sundry Valuables
Cardamom Flower: Offering Flowers, Raining Flowers from the Sky
Once upon a time, when Buddha was staying at the city of Shravasti in India, there was a wealthy benefactor who had just married and living a perfect life. The only thing he wished for was to have a child of his own. After praying to the heavens, a young deity decided to enter his wife’s womb and she became pregnant. His wife was thrilled and immediately told her husband. He then built a grand palace, filled with delectable foods and fine music, particularly for his beloved wife and unborn child to rest in and be well-taken care of. Just as Shakyamuni Buddha and all buddhas, they are completely wise and have immeasurable qualities. Their voices can resonate throughout all the worlds, and they are always overlooking all sentient beings with great compassion. They are watchful of those sentient beings that are fortunate or suffering, those that are likely to harm others or help others, those that will fall into miserable realms or will be liberated, those that will obtain the riches of the world, etc. Even though tidal waves of the ocean must momentarily part with the shores, despite observing those qualities of sentient beings, buddhas never part with their great compassion for sentient beings. Arhats, or great sages who have already reached liberation, are also the same way. At this time, a great sage, Anolu, noticed that the benefactor’s entire family was ready to become Buddhist. Clothed in a monk’s traditional attire—a monastic robe and with his alms bowl in hand—he made a trip alone to the benefactor’s home to seek for alms. When the benefactor saw the great sage arrive by himself, he was greatly confused and asked, “Great Sage, why didn’t you bring anyone else with you?” He responded, “I have no attendant; can you help me find one?” The benefactor then promptly replied, “My wife is pregnant. If my child is a son, then he can become your attendant in the future.” After that was promised, the sage returned home. After nine months, during the day of the child’s birth, there was a fragrance that permeated throughout the air both inside and outside the delivery room. Inside the delivery room, it was raining cardamom flowers and thus, the newborn was named “Cardamom Flower”. The benefactor used the finest of all foods to nourish his son, Cardamom Flower, who grew up really fast and quickly mastered all topics of knowledge. At this time, the great sage Analu knew that the time had come for Cardamom Flower to pursue a path as a Buddhist practitioner and become a monk; Analu set forth again to Cardamom Flower’s house to seek alms. When he arrived, he kindly said to Cardamom Flower, “Before you were born, your father had already given me to you as my attendant.” Cardamom Flower was overjoyed upon hearing this and vowed to always stay by the great sage’s side. As the benefactor remembered his promise, he then let his son go with the great sage. The great sage took Cardamom Flower back to his study hall, where he ordained Cardamom Flower and taught him Buddhist teachings. Soon, Cardamom Flower like his teacher, reached arhatship, or the state of enlightenment when one has achieved personal liberation. The deities in the heavens were all in praise of his efforts. Cardamom Flower thought, “All my achievements are because of Buddha’s blessings. In order to repay Buddha, I should help all the sentient beings that I can. Where should I start?” His parents. He performed all sorts of incredible supernatural powers for them. Upon seeing this amazing display, the benefactor and his wife developed strong faith in the Three Jewels and decided to take refuge in Buddha. They practiced Buddhism with great diligence and also became highly accomplished practitioners. At this time, all the monks asked in unison, “Buddha, why is Cardamom Flower so handsome? When he was born, why did it rain cardamom flowers and why was there a fragrance that permeated throughout the air? After he became a monk, why did he please Buddha and achieve a high level of accomplishment? Please give us the teachings.” Buddha then replied, “Once in an eon long ago, when the lifespan of humans was 20,000 years, Kassapa Buddha was born. In India’s city of Sarnath, there was a benefactor, whose wealth was greater than the richest deity in the heavens. His son had incomparable faith in Kassapa Buddha; he later become a monk and mastered all the Buddhist scriptures. He believed in not only devoting his life to studying and practicing Buddhism, but he also believed in making offerings to the monastic community as a way of accumulating merits. He offered all his materials and wealth to the monastic community, and made a shrine for Buddha, where he often offered fresh flowers and garlands, primarily the cardamom flower, to Buddha. At that time, he vowed: “With this good heart, I vow to be reborn in a wealthy and noble family life after life, with handsome features. When I am born, may cardamom flowers fall from the sky and during Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, I vow that I may achieve arhatship, or personal liberation.” Meanwhile, his parents also vowed that they could become his parents and then while listening to the teachings, also achieve a high level of accomplishment. The couple at that time is today’s benefactor and wife and their son is Cardamom Flower. They were faithful to me and under my guidance, achieved high levels of accomplishment in Buddhist practice.”
excerpted from The Complete Hundred Deeds Sutra
The Third Horse Carriage – Offering Fresh Flowers to the Buddha and Receiving Buddha’s Ryakarana
One time, the Buddha was in Sravasti. One early morning, dressed in robes, the Buddha was carrying His bowl to enter the city to receive alms. Along the way, He met a Brahman travelling in a horse carriage. As soon as the Brahman saw the Buddha, he thought: “It is very inauspicious to run into a monk begging for food so early in the morning.” He then sped up in hopes of leaving the Buddha behind. But the Buddha, with a heart of great compassion, kept following him. No matter how the Brahman tried hiding, he could never leave the Buddha. He wanted to leave through the city gates, but at each of the four city gates, there was a Buddha. It was then that he realized the Buddha’s supernatural power was beyond comprehension. This inspired great joy in him. . With both hands, the Brahman personally offered fresh flowers to the Buddha. After the Buddha accepted the Brahman’s offering, the Buddha smiled joyously, His body emitting white, red, yellow and blue rays. These rays illuminated all the realms, from heaven to hell. At that instance, the beings in the eight cold hells felt warm while the beings in the hot hells felt cool. The anger and evil thoughts that these beings originally had, disappeared. They were in awe and thought: “Is it time for us to be re-born to better realms? Or has our karma been completed?“ It was only after that they realized it was Buddha’s supernatural power that blessed them. Therefore, they had incomparable joyous feelings towards the Buddha. Due to the merits from these feelings of joy, they were reborn in heaven. After the rays emitted by Buddha had circled and illuminated three thousand worlds, the rays of light finally entered the Urna between the Buddha’s eyebrows. This meant that the Brahman would become a pratyeakabuddha. Upon seeing this, Ananda with palms joined, asked the Buddha respectful: “World Honored One, what caused you to smile while emitting the four rays of coloured lights that illuminated three thousand worlds?” The Buddha replied: “Did you see the Brahman in the horse carriage just now? Due to the virtuous root of the Brahman that arose from him offering me fresh flowers, he will not fall into the lower paths of rebirth for the next thirteen great eons. Instead, he will be reborn to the heaven to enjoy sublime bliss; after that, he will be reborn as a human being and become a monastic. At a serene place without the guidance of a learned teacher, he will practice the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment alone and attain enlightenment. His name is Flower Pratyeakabuddha. This is why I smiled while emitting the rays of lights.”
Excerpted from The Complete Hundred Deeds Sutra
The Painter Who Offered to the Sangha and Attained Excellent Merits
Long ago in Chin Tuo Wei Country, there was a painter who was contracted to work abroad for three years. Upon completion of his contract, he received thirty taels of gold. On his way home, he came across a grand dharma ceremony offering food to the monastics. This caught the painter’s attention. He asked the Venerable in charge of the event: “How much does it cost per day to hold a dharma ceremony like this?” The Venerable replied: “It costs thirty taels of gold to offer food to monastics each day.” At this time, the painter contemplated: “In my past lives, I did not accumulate merits so this life I have to serve others in order to make a living. Now that I am fortunate to have come across this field of merit, I should seize this opportunity to accumulate merits!” Therefore, he said to the Venerable-in-charge: “Please help me gather the monastics, I would also like to hold a dharma ceremony offering food to the monastics.“ After the dharma ceremony, the painter, brimming with joy, continued on his way home. When he got home, his wife asked him: “Where are your earnings from the three years’ of work?” The painter replied: ”I have converted all my earnings to enduring treasures.” The wife continued to ask: “Where is the enduring treasure now?” The painter replied: ”It is amongst the monastics!.“ Upon hearing the answer, his wife got very angry. She immediately called upon all their relatives and friends in the neighborhood, and dragged the painter in front of a highly respected elder, who was typically asked to judge right from wrong. She said: “My child and I have been suffering from poverty all these years. We do not have enough food to eat, and our clothes do not keep us warm. Yet my husband did not bring home the money he earned.” The elder asked the painter: “ Why did you do so?” The painter replied: “My body disappears as quickly as the flash of lightning, and disintegrates as rapidly as the morning dew droplets. During past lives, I did not accumulate merit as I did not make offerings. As such, I live in such poverty this life. I am afraid that this life will pass just like that. At the dharma ceremony offering food to the monastics, I saw that the monastics were incomparably dignified and pure. My heart was filled with joy and so I offered my three years’ of earnings to provide food for the Monastics. Upon hearing this, the elder was extremely touched and filled with compassion. He took off his plush clothes right on the spot. And along with his carriage and horses, he gave them all to this painter. In addition, he also gifted him a piece of land in the village. According to the Sutra, this is only a small benefit that the painter received in his current life; his future lives will see even bigger benefits!
From Storehouse of Sundry Valuables
Monastery Construction: Monk Mending the Monastery Wall, thereby Increasing his Lifespan
A long time ago, there was a monk who was about to die. He came across a fortune-teller who did not believe in Buddhism. The fortune teller told him, ”You will definitely die after seven days.” A few days passed. By chance, this monk saw a hole in the cracked wall of the Monastery. He took some mud and repaired the wall by filling up the hole. Due to this deed, he accumulated vast merits which prolonged his life so he lived past the predicted seven days. Soon after, he saw this fortune-teller who did not believe in Buddhism again. The fortune-teller was very surprised and asked him, ”What have you done? How can you still be living?” The monk answered:” I did not do anything. It’s just that a few days ago, I saw a hole in the wall of the monastery and I simply mended it.” At this time, the non-believer sighed:” The monastics field of merits is truly unbelievable! It can prolong the life of a monk who is about to die.”
From Storehouse of Sundry Valuables