THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
1 The Stupid Man and The Salt
Once there was a stupid man who paid a visit to a friend. When the host gave him something to eat, he complained that the food was tasteless and so the host added a bit of salt. The stupid man tried the food again and found it much improved. He thought, “If a little salt improves it this much, more salt would make it even better.” Then he ate only salt and his mouth became raw and he became sick.
2 The Stupid Man Tries To Store Up Milk
Once there was a stupid man who was going to have some guests and decided to store up some milk for them. He thought, “If I milk the cow every day beforehand, there will be too much milk and not enough space to store it. It will probably spoil. It would be better to leave it in the cow. I’ll milk the cow right before the guests arrive.”
Then he separated the cow from its calf and tied them up. A month later, when he actually had the gathering, he tried to milk the cow, but found that the milk had run dry. Some guests scoffed at him and others laughed.
This is like stupid people who want to give alms all at once and say that they will wait until they possess great wealth. Usually, before they can accumulate enough money, it is seized by the government, lost in a fire or flood, or taken by robbers. Or else they many even die before they get around to giving. They are just like that stupid man who tired to store up milk.
3 The Pears and The Broken Head
Once there was a bald-headed man. When someone threw several pears at him, injuring his head, he stupidly remained silent and refused to get out of the way. Seeing this, the people said, “Why didn’t you get out of the way and thereby avoid injury to your head?”
The stupid man replied, “That person was just showing off his strength, but he was stupid and had no wisdom. He thought my bald-head was a rock!”
The people said, “You are the stupid one! How can you call him stupid? If you weren’t stupid, how could you have let him injure you and how could you have refused to get out of the way?”
This is like a Bhikshu who, unable to cultivate faith, precepts, learning, or wisdom, merely maintains an awesome appearance to attract support and offerings. Such a Bhikshu is like that stupid man who received blows on his head without running away and then called his attacker stupid.
4 The Wife Plays Dead
Once there was a stupid man who was very much in love with his beautiful wife. She was unfaithful to him; however, and took a lover. Burning with deviant passion, she instructed an old woman, saying, “After I leave, put a dead woman’s corpse in my room and tell my husband I am dead.” The old woman waited until the husband was not at home and then placed a woman’s corpse inside the house. When he returned, she told him his wife was dead.
The husband saw the corpse and believed it to be his wife. He grieved and wept and prepared much firewood and oil for the cremation. He gathered the remains in a bag and carried them with him day and night.
The wife, meanwhile, grew tired of her lover and returned home, saying to her husband, “I am your wife.”
The husband replied, “My wife died long ago. Why do you falsely claim to be my wife?” He refused to believe her even after her repeated explanations.
This is like those of externalist ways who learn deviant teachings and whose minds give rise to delusion and attachment. They claim that the teachings are true and they refuse to change. Afterwards even when they hear the orthodox teaching, they do not believe, accept, or uphold it.
5 Seeing Water and Getting Thristy
Long ago there was a stupid, unwise man who was extremely thirsty and in need of water. Seeing a mirage, he mistook it for water and ran after it. He followed it all the way to the Indus River. Then he just stood by the river and stared at it, without drinking.
A bystander said, “You were so thirsty and desperate for water. Now you have found water, why don’t you drink it?”
The stupid man replied, “If I could drink it all, I would drink it. But there is so much of it I could never drink it all. Therefore, I’m not going to drink any of it.”
Hearing this, the crowd laughed loudly. This is like those of outside ways who stubbornly hold to their views and think themselves, incapable of keeping all the Buddha’s precepts. They therefore refuse to receive any of them. Because of this, they have no share in future enlightenment, but turn and flow in birth and death. They are like the man who was laughed at because he saw the water but refused to drink.