Where is Pure Land?| Why Compassion?| Why Rituals?| Nature to Sting Vs Nature to Save| Novice Monk Reflections
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As "when the mind is pure, the land is pure",
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A Rationale for Cultivating Compassion
The Rationale for Having Rituals
Moonpointer : Fresh Offerings (30/4)
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Realisation: The Nature to Sting Vs the Nature to Save
One who greatly helps another despite being greatly harmed is a great fool or a great Bodhisattva. - stonepeace
Here is a wonderful Zen story to share... Two monks were washing their bowls by a river, when they spotted a scorpion about to drown. Without hesitation, one scooped it up with his hand and laid it on the land, getting stung while doing so. When he resumed washing his bowl, the scorpion fell in again. The same monk again saved the scorpion, and was again stung. The other monk asked in great surprise, "Why continue saving it when its nature is to sting?" The first monk replied, "Because it's my nature to save." Whenever this story is told, listeners are usually either touched by the first monk's relentless and unconditional compassion, or baffled by his "unrepentant stupidity". How does it affect you?
Is the first monk with great compassion but lacking in wisdom? Well, to prevent being bitten, he could have used his bowl to scoop the scorpion? And he could have placed the scorpion further away from the river? That would be utilising appropriate skilful means to "better save" the scorpion. When one means is proven faulty, another means should be used. Is the second monk with some wisdom but lacking in compassion? Perhaps he was considering his safety too selfishly to think of risking a small selfless act? Thus should compassion and wisdom go hand in hand on the Bodhisattva path of helping other beings. True wisdom is knowing how to be compassionate effectively, and true compassion is to be wise effectively.
Though a suddenly 'provoked' scorpion might sting, it does not always sting, doing so only when it thinks it is being harmed instead of helped. Thus, its nature to sting is actually impermanent, as the scorpion is "empty" of any fixed traits. The scorpion also refers to the unthankful people we help. Mindful that no one is permanently of the nature to 'sting', why not carry on helping? It is undying compassion that cannot bear to see others in pain, that never gives up lending a hand, that eventually touches and transforms the ungrateful. Even if it fails to, the joy from being kind is a reward! When we practise compassion despite it often being a thankless "job", without expecting any gratitude, while even open to the possibility of being harmed, then surely, this is true compassion in action. But remember to apply true wisdom too! - Shen Shi'an
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Review: Response to "The Meaning of Real Prosperity"
Excerpt: Reflections of a Young Temporary Novice Monk
The ideal way of life should be ideally emulated, even if not ideally lived. - stonepeace
Every time I break a precept, I try to make up for it by doing something good, like sweeping the monastery grounds or helping the old monks, even if I havn't been told to. The point is that I always know for myself when I've broken a precept or rule and I feel a bit ashamed about it, so just knowing I've been bad is the punishment for me. Whether I'm successful at following the precepts or not, they've made me much more aware of my own good and bad behaviour. Now I try to think more carefully before I do or say anything and try to be aware of the possible results of my actions and speech. Sometimes, I see other novices and monks behaving badly, much worse than me, but I try not to be influenced by them. I also see others practising really well, but that doesn't influence me either because I think I'm already doing the best I personally can. But I admire them when I see them practising properly and I'm glad there are so many good monks and novices... I like meditation because I think it's helpful not only in my life as a novice and student now, but will also be useful in the future when I have to work, or have my own family. It trains me to be calm, to keep control of my bad feelings, and it helps my headache go away after a while. After I meditate, my thinking is always clearer, which is useful in my studies.
- Little Angels: Life as a Novice Monk in Thailand (Phra Peter Pannapadipo)
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