THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
51 A Maid Servant and Five Masters
Once there were five men who together bought one maid. One of them said to her, “Wash my clothes for me.” Another told her to do the same thing. The maid said, “I will wash for whoever gave the the clothes first.”
The second man broke out in anger and said, “I bought you with the others. Why should you wash only for the first person?” thereupon he whipped her with ten strokes. The rest of her five masters did the same, each whipping her ten strokes.
The five skandhas are this way, too. They are the causes and conditions of afflictions and combine to make up this body. And yet the five skandhas constantly whip living beings with the limitless suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death.
52 The Musician
Once there was a musician. He played music before a king who promised to pay him a thousand coins. Afterwards he asked the king for the money, but the king refused to give it to him and said, “Just as the music you played only served to please me momentarily, so too, the money I planned to give to you would only serve to please you for a little while.”
Worldly rewards are the same way. Although one may enjoy a small amount of pleasure in the human or heavenly realms, this pleasure is not true and actual. Impermanent and subject to destruction, it is like the music that gives only temporary pleasure and cannot last long.
53 The Master’s Hurting Legs and His Two disciples
One time a master instructed his two disciples to take care of his hurting legs. Each disciple was told to continuously massage one leg. But each of the two disciples disliked and felt jealousy toward the other. If one disciple went out, the other would use a stone to break the leg the first one had been massaging. When the first one came back, out of anger he would break the leg that the second one had been massaging.
The same is true of Buddhist disciples Scholars of the Vaipulya (Great Vehicle) deprecate scholars of the Theravada, while scholars of the Theravada also deprecate scholars of the Vaipulya. This threatens to bring about the destruction of the scriptures of both schools of the Great Sage.
54 The Snake Whose Head and Tail Had an Argument
Once there was a snake whose tail told its head, “I should be in front.” The head told the tail, “I’ve always led the way. Why do you want to make the sudden change?” When the head led the way, the tail twisted its way around a tree and refused to budge. And when the tail was allowed to lead, the snake fell into a fiery pit and was burned to death.
The same situation applies to teachers and students. The disciples insist that they should lead, since their teachers are too old. But these youths do not observe the precepts and commit many infractions of the rules. As a result they mutually drag each other to the hells.
55 The King’s Barber
Once there was a king’s close attendant who risked his life to save the king at the battlefront. Delighted the king promised the man anything he wanted. He asked him, “What would you like? All of your wishes will be granted.”
The attendant said, “Please let me shave your head when you need a shave.” “If this agrees with you, I’ll grant you your wish.”
That foolish man became the laughing stock of the world. He could have asked for half the kingdom or the position of a minister or premier, but instead he opted for an inferior profession. Stupid people are this way, too. Until they became Buddhas, all Buddhas cultivated ascetic practices that were extremely difficult. It is very rare that we can encounter the Buddha or the bequest of his Dharma and attain a human body. It is as difficult as a blind turtle trying to find a hole in a log floating in the water.
Now that we have overcome both those difficulties, with inferior resolve we are content with holding just a few precepts and think it’s enough. We do not seek the supreme wonderful Dharma of Nirvana. With no thought of making further progress, we are content with doing deviant deeds.