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Between Master and Disciples / Buddhist Stories

Buddhist Stories: The Story of Magha, Part 1 of 10, Sept. 12, 2015

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This is a story about making good karma. This story is about Magha. By heedfulness, by mindfulness did Magha go to the lordship of the gods. This instruction was given by the Teacher while in residence at the summer house near Vesali with reference to Sakka, king of gods. Sakka is the king of 33 heavens, and he rules over 33 heavens, the god of 33 chief gods.

What’s this? There are two? Somebody give me more or something? I didn’t see all these before. It’s very good! That means you will have a lot of stories. Thank you whoever did it.

There you go! Today, we have spoken about the Six Perfections, and the power of the Buddha who can control the minds of all beings - control but not dictate. So, you can see some of you are still very “frisky” with me, still. You can express your opinion, but mostly it’s the wrong opinion, anyway. But you will ask me why, why the Buddha could not control some of them, like Devadatta, his cousin, who always tried to harm him, or others like heretic people, a group outside of his group, and others who contradicted him or went against him, or tried to harm him in different ways. You would ask me like that, right? You would. You don’t dare, I know. But I ask for you because we don’t have Ananda here. That’s the problem. In order to ask good questions, you also need to have a good level of consciousness. Ananda, even though in the Buddhist sutras, it says that he did not get fully enlightened until after Buddha’s Nirvana, but he had his Buddhahood inside him, hidden somewhere, that’s why. He probably subconsciously wanted to hide, or to delay his enlightenment, complete enlightenment, until the Buddha’s Nirvana, so that he could concentrate on the task of serving the Buddha, as a kind of offering, a sacrifice inside. Otherwise, if he was too enlightened, like Sariputra, or Maudgalyayana, or Mahakasyapa, for example, then they would go all over to deliver other beings. They would concentrate more on the task of saving other beings instead of serving the Buddha so humbly, devotedly, and loyally. No? Don’t you think so? (Yes.) Different mission, different task. I guess that’s what it was. Otherwise, how come the Buddha just entered Nirvana, and the Sangha kicked him out, because he was not enlightened enough. And then he went to sit in the forest, just a day or two … enlightened! Isn’t that miraculous? And he remembered every word that he had heard in the Buddhist assembly, when the Buddha was still alive. Therefore, I suspect that he did that on purpose. Not consciously, but like in his mind, in his soul, he wanted to delay his enlightenment. I suspect it; I think it’s correct. No? Don’t you think so? (Yes.)

You see, so the Buddha can only help to train, not really control, but to train the mind and the body of whomever entrusted himself to Him, to the Buddha. You understand what I mean? So the Buddha even also does not, did not, will not want to interfere in humans’ free will. Otherwise, (with) so much power He could change the whole world. But this is not to do that. Human beings or other beings on the planet have to evolve naturally. It’s better that way, number one. Number two, if the Buddha wants to save all of them, then He has to reincarnate again. Remember, what I told you before, to go through a lot, a lot of suffering again, sacrifice again, to have affinity with them, then He can deliver them. I wish the Buddha would take a rest. It’s too much work, too much sacrifice. So many eons of time in order to save just some people. This is really incredible, incredible, all these stories that I’ve told you. This is incredible. But that is just him. I don’t hear that Sariputra had to do that, and, “Poof!” like that he just went to Nirvana, became a Buddha and also entered Nirvana, meaning freedom forever. Nirvana means the state of desirelessness, never die, never leave, never come, never go. Nothing happens. So Sariputra obviously had a relationship with Buddha before, according to the story we heard. But nevertheless, he never had to sacrifice so much to attain Nirvana. So a Buddha is something else. Sariputra can attain some enlightenment and can attain Nirvana. But he probably did not have the power that the Buddha had, because the Buddha had to sacrifice a lot, a lot, a lot of millions, billions, trillions of lifetimes, in order to accumulate all this merit and power that goes with it. You see, Sariputra could attain Nirvana, could attain complete enlightenment, but didn’t have all this compassion, didn’t have all this power to save all the beings, like the Buddha did. Remember, he even denied one of the persons who wanted to become a monk because he was too old; not because he was too old, but because he thought (so). He and a lot of the great disciples of Buddha at that time refused that man to become a monk, to let him become a monk in the assembly, because he was kind of useless. He could not do much for the Sangha. He could not help with even one third of whatever work that was required.

I thought being a monk meant doing nothing. I thought if you became a monk it meant doing nothing. Even at the Buddha’s time (you) had to do work! Do you hear that? The Buddha did not say that. And all the monks did not say that. And in the sutra it did not say, “OK, you can become a monk but you must work.” They did not even say what work. But through some of these leaking stories, these are what you say, “Sutra leaks,” we have seen that. The monks had to work, probably cleaning the yard, sweeping the cave, or preparing the assembly area, or assigning who sits where and how many people. Why are you laughing? (Sounds familiar!) Sounds familiar. But these are not monks who are doing it. It’s you, you guys doing it yourself, differently. But still, probably at that time, the Buddha didn’t have lay people around. So when the lay person, lay followers came, they just sat and listened, and then they bowed and withdrew. Every story I heard that people respectfully bowed to the Buddha and then went home. So, I guess they could not stay, because Buddha didn’t have a house. And even the people, they...

Excuse me. It’s for my throat, my sore throat and cough. I took a lot of medicine. Oh, God, more medicine than food these few days! That’s what I don’t like about being sick. You’ve lost your enthusiasm, lost your appetite, eat much less, and take a lot of medicine. And it sometimes ruins your body’s resistance. But I could sit there and heal myself, and all that. But it takes forever, and then I wouldn’t see you. So I take the shortcut, quickie! Recover in two, three days. Then I can come out, happily smiling, and talk to you. Then you’re happy. Just one or two days I didn’t come out, people made a lot of noise, trying to get attention. All kinds of trouble, like children. “What? Mom, why you don’t come out? I want this! I want that!” God, these are old children, big children, adult children. All right.

So the people like Prince Kỳ Đà (Jeta) and the noble and rich men in different countries, they did build ashrams for the Buddha and for the monks. And they made some small meditation stupas or some resting places, with covered roofs and walls so that they didn’t get wet in the rainy season, and didn’t get cold in summer. They did build them, but just enough for 1,225, or 1,250 monks, remember? And then kept increasing more monks, maybe 1,260, or 1,300, or 1,500. That’s the max. And if the lay people stayed there they had nowhere to stay. And nobody cooked for them like we do here. That’s a good business, I like. Everybody came, listened to the Buddha, and then bowed respectfully and went home. Very wonderful! And no need to worry about where they’d sit, where they’d sleep, whether they were cold or not cold, how much we have to cook every day, buy food, and store food, and cook food, and eat food, and digest food and worry about the rest of the food after. Oh, man! It’s too much! No wonder they call, the Americans, they call the toilet the “restroom,” the rest of anything there, “rest” room. Wow, now I understand, the rest room! It’s a lot of work. Think about it. You think you just bring your butt here, sit there, and then, “I’m a Buddha.” And everybody else who’s less Buddha, has to cook for you, work for you, sweep the floor for you, take care of your bus, everything else.

All right, so... What was I talking about before? What was that? Hallo? (Buddha cannot control.) OK, OK, yes. Because in this country, no, in this world, there is the ruling party. The ruling party is Maya, the Maya unique Party. It’s a one-party world, just like in some countries. It’s nothing new, OK? Some countries have two or three parties, so they have contradicting views. And therefore they are building on each other and becoming more democratic. And some countries have only one party. If you can have one, why two? Looking for more trouble, right? More names, more personnel, all of you know why. OK, one party. So in this world it’s like that, one party, Maya Party. Whoever doesn’t belong to it will be in trouble. Whoever belongs to it seems to be better off. And even if you belong to that party, if you do something wrong, they’ll still punish you. It’s not like they protect you or turn a blind eye on you, nothing.

We have to acknowledge our thanks to this person who translated this text of a Buddhist story which is many parts. This person’s name is Eugene Watson Burlingame. And there is another person who revised and selected. And his name is Reverend Bhiksu Khantipalo. And the Buddhist Publication Society of Kandy in Sri Lanka produced this and put it on the Internet for us, free for distribution, so today we can tell this story, and more stories to come. We have to acknowledge our thanks to them. And published with the permission of the Pali Text Society. We will offer some financial support. I will tell FG later on, like with other translation teams, translation societies, so that they can continue their good work. Even though they say it’s for free distribution. All right, we thank you. We thank all these people. And we thank BPS Online Edition, whatever that is.

Now we come to story number one. Wow, I’m very happy! We have a lot of stories. That means I don’t have to think of what to tell you. A story is always good. It’s easy to remember. It offers ample examples for us to follow. And it feels more real, more reinforcing, more encouraging for us to continue on our good path. This is a story about making good karma. This story is about Magha. By heedfulness, by mindfulness did Magha go to the lordship of the gods. This instruction was given by the Teacher while in residence at the summer house near Vesali with reference to Sakka, king of gods. Sakka is the king of 33 heavens, and he rules over 33 heavens, the god of 33 chief gods.

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