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Buddhist Stories: The Story of Magha, Part 2 of 10, Sept. 12, 2015

2020-10-23
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“Mahali, Sakka, king of gods bears sway as lord and master over the gods of the Thirty-three; therefore, he is called King of Gods. Mahali, Sakka, king of gods in a previous state of existence as a human being took upon himself and fulfilled seven vows. Because he took upon himself and fulfilled these seven vows, Sakka attained to the state of Sakka.”

Now, this story in the present: "Mahali’s Questions." A Licchavi prince named Mahali, who lived at Vesali, hearing the Teacher recite the Suttanta, meaning the Sutra, entitled "Sakka’s Question", he thought to himself, maybe one of his teachers, “The Supreme Enlightened One,” meaning Buddha, “has described the great glory of Sakka.” Sakka or Sakra is the same, the god of 33 heavens. “Has the Teacher seen Sakka himself? Or has he not seen Sakka? Is the Teacher acquainted with Sakka? Or is he not acquainted? I will ask him.” I wonder who he meant by Teacher. Did he mean the Buddha himself? So we will see. I just read as is. Then, we will see.

So the Licchavi prince, Mahali, drew near to where the Exalted One was, and having drawn near, saluted the Exalted One. The Exalted One, or the World Honored One, or the Buddha, or the Enlightened One, are all the titles of the Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, or most of the Buddhas, who have attained complete enlightenment. And then having drawn near, saluted the Exalted One, and sat down on one side. And having sat down on one side, the Licchavi prince, Mahali, spoke thus to the Exalted One: “Reverend Sir...” I wonder if Exalted One means the Buddha or not, or even not. This is not very clear, this translation. Probably it’s for the westerner’s mind. What Buddha? Teacher is OK. Buddha what? Master, no! And even Supreme Master, what? So, maybe they translated it as Teacher. But maybe he’s just another one, because it doesn’t say, “Thus I have heard...” So this sounds like one of the Buddhist stories. This is about making good karma.

So he drew near the Exalted One and said, “Reverend Sir, has the Exalted One seen Sakka king of gods?” “Yes, Mahali, I have indeed seen Sakka king of gods.” So he asked again, “Reverend Sir, it must certainly have been a counterfeit of Sakka,” meaning a fake one, “for, Reverend Sir, it is a difficult matter to see Sakka, the king of gods, no?” So the Exalted One said, “Nevertheless, Mahali, I know Sakka, Sakka; I know what qualities made him; I know by the cultivation of what quality Sakka attained to the state of Sakka.” So he continued, “Mahali, in the previous state of existence, Sakka, king of gods, was a human being.”

Pay attention, you may be Sakka, king of gods, if you want to. How to? You can say, “How to be.” There are so many books nowadays to tell you how to, how to. How to do this? How to do that? You can also change this into a title saying, “How to Be a God of All Gods,” “God of 30 Gods.” Sakka is a great god, he rules over 33 heavens. Imagine that. Don’t go around messing with him. He’s very good in testing sincere practitioners. You know, right? How much he did test the Buddha. Terrible guy. I’m sorry. I’m honest. I mean, I have to keep the precepts. I can’t tell lies. So, Mahali, the Exalted One. I guess it was the Buddha, but I’m not sure. But it’s taken from the Dhammapada Commentary. Then it should be one of the stories of Buddha’s time. “Mahali, in a previous state of existence, Sakka, king of gods was a human being.” They explain here that Sakka was the ruler of the gods in the Tavatimsa heaven, the realm of the Thirty-three, one of the celestial realms in the sensual sphere. Sensual sphere, people enjoy sensual pleasure there. But not the way we do here, I guess, no.

All right, and then, a prince, he was a prince named Magha. “Therefore, he is called Maghava. Mahali, in a previous state of existence, Sakka, king of gods was a human being who in a previous state of existence gave gifts; therefore, he is called Purindada. Mahali, also in another previous state of existence, Sakka, king of gods was a human being who gave alms assiduously; therefore, he is called Sakka. Mahali, in another previous state of existence...” This is a long line of existence!

“Sakka, king of gods, was a human being who gave a dwelling place; therefore, he is called Vasava. Mahali, also in another former life, another life...” this is easier. “Sakka, king of gods, was a human being who could think of as many as a thousand things in an instant; therefore, he was called Sahassakkha. Mahali, Sakka, king of gods has an asura maiden named Sujata for his wife; therefore, he is called Sujampati.” It’s so funny. According to his wife, he changed his name? If he gives something, his name changes. Even if he’s married, his name changes. Normally in this world, when a woman marries, she changes her name, right? In this time, the man changed his name. Probably he married into the matriarchal system, when the mothers ruled the house. But don’t we still do, even if we don’t say it? The men think they are ruling us, right? We just don’t say anything. We are ruling them. Never mind. Who cares? Who cares who rules the world. It must be a very tiring job.

All right, now, wow, my God! So many names, so many previous existences. Even the Sakka, king of gods. You see this? He transmigrated, I told you. He came up and down, up and down, sometimes being a god, sometimes being a human. And even then he made a lot of offerings from every lifetime. That’s why he could become better. He had continued to be a god for a long time. “Therefore, he is called Sujampati Mahali.” Oh, no. Mahali is the person who asked questions. “Mahali, Sakka, king of gods bears sway as lord and master over the gods of the Thirty-three; therefore, he is called King of Gods. Mahali, Sakka, king of gods in a previous state of existence as a human being took upon himself and fulfilled seven vows. Because he took upon himself and fulfilled these seven vows, Sakka attained to the state of Sakka.”

He had become a god because he had done many good things and he fulfilled his seven vows. Let’s see what it is. Now, what were the seven? The first one is, “So long as I live, may I be the support of my mother and father.” That’s first, I think. They don’t say first, second. But I’m reading on. “So long as I live, may I honor my elders. So long as I live, may I speak gentle words. So long as I live, may I never give way to back-biting. So long as I live, may I live the life of a householder with heart free from taint of avarice, generous in renunciation of what is mine,” meaning charity, “with open hand, delighting in liberality, attentive to petitions, delighting in the distribution of alms. So long as I live, may I speak the truth. So long as I live, may I be free from anger. Should anger spring up within me, may I quickly get rid of it.” “So Mahali, Sakka, king of gods in a previous state of existence took upon himself and fulfilled these seven vows. Because he took upon himself and fulfilled these seven vows, Sakka attained to the state of Sakka. If a man supports his mother and father, if he honors his elders in the household, if he be gentle and friendly in conversation, if he avoids backbiting, if he steadfastly puts away avarice,” Greedy? Greed, right? (Yes.) “if he be truthful, if he conquer anger, such a man the gods of 33, called a good man.

Don’t we know that? So if you do all that, then maybe you’ll become a god. It’s easier than sit here and eat vegan. But we all support our mother and father, no? I did. When they were still alive, I did the best I could. When I could, I made sure they lacked nothing. If he honors his elders in the household. I don’t have any elders. The only elder in my household is me, myself. So I fulfilled this vow too, easily. I honor myself all the time. Gentle and friendly in conversation? Yes, of course. What do you think?

All right. If he avoids backbiting. Backbiting. Steadfast in the non-greediness. Truthful, etc... Now, then the Teacher said, “This, Mahali, was what Sakka did in his previous existence as Prince Magha.” Mahali, desiring to hear the whole story of his conduct, asked the Teacher, “Reverend sir, how did Prince Magha conduct himself?” “Well then,” said the Teacher, “listen.” So saying, he related the following story. I wonder who was this Teacher here. Could be the Buddha, no? This must be the Buddha, then. Possible.

"Story of the Past: How Magha Became Sakka." Magha, Sakka! "In times long past..." Check it out. Be patient. It’s one of the Six Perfections. I’m just checking how many pages, because I don’t have this one perfection! So, I’m not always friendly. I feel very sad now. I can never be Sakka, whoever that is. I can never rule 33 kingdoms of heaven. How sad! What am I to do? All because of you! You make me angry. It’s all your fault! You and those out there. Any of you want to be Sakka? No? Why are you laughing? It’s a great position. You can rule there for thousands of years until your merit finishes, then you’re finished, too. All right. You don’t like to be Sakka? Pourquoi, why? Pourquoi no. Why? Tell me why. (We might go back as a human or...) You may... (we might go back as an animal...) Oh, very wise, indeed! So, I also don’t want to be Sakka god now. I changed my mind. No, no want. You can keep it, keep it.

So, this is a story of how Magha became Sakka. “In time long past, a prince named Magha, Maha or Maga, lived in the village of Macala. Magha lived in Macala in the kingdom of Magadha.” I don’t know. It sounds like Spanish to me. España, Barcelona, Málaga. “One day, this prince Magha went to the place where the business of the village was carried on.” Why don’t they just say a market, no? This is very long, many things. “Took upon himself and fulfilled these seven vows, because he took upon himself and fulfilled these seven vows, therefore.” It’s a lot of words. The person who translated it, really very diligent, did not miss out one word. Translated one by one very respectfully. All right. So he went to the market. He removed with his foot the dust from the place where he stood, and having made a comfortable place for himself, stood there. Why did he have to do that? “Thereupon, another struck him with his arm, pushed him aside, and took his place.” Instead of becoming angry at the man, he made another comfortable place for himself and stood there. Thereupon, another came and struck him with his arm, pushed him away, and took his place. Again! But neither did he allow himself to become angry at this man; he merely made another comfortable place for himself and stood there in like manner. But then, in like manner, one man after another came out of his house, struck him with his arm, pushed him away from the place where he had cleared for himself.

Oh, man! Reminds me of the story when I was in India. The train in India is always crowded, always overcrowded. There’s nowhere to sit. Mostly sitting places are occupied and you have to stand. I was wearing a monk’s robe even. I was having a seat. I came earlier somehow that day, and just luckily I had a seat. And then, all the men came up and pushed me out and said, “Get out!” Then he sat on there, in that place. I was surprised. I was very surprised. I thought India was a place where people have more courtesy and spiritual manner, but not all. Some are not like that. But I didn’t feel angry, either. How can you feel angry or show your anger with a man six feet tall looking down upon you and pushing you with his muscular arm and with his big fist? I didn’t have time to feel angry even. He pushed me on one side, and another pushed me to the other side. I didn’t have to walk, just kept being pushed around the train. And then by the time I reached the place I wanted to be, I was pushed right next to the door. I just walked out, very simple. No need to wait, I was right there. Otherwise, you had to wait a long time until everybody got off the train. How can I, a small woman, push my way out? I wasn’t in a hurry at all.

But in India, it’s very difficult to find things. Trains are always full, so people always compete for a good place. I guess it’s like that. It happened to me sometimes, if I took the train, of course, or the bus. And the conductor of the train doesn’t know how many people should be in the train. He never can tell. Like in the West, like in your country, in this country, they always say capacity, how many people: standing how many, sitting how many. In the train or the tram [in German], they always say that. In India, they don’t read this kind of thing. What for, writing it? They don’t bother. It’s a free country. It’s truly very free. You do what you want. Nobody says anything, no rules. And the car can drive any way they want. If you can drive, you just drive. Who cares how? And later they made more regulations for driving, because a lot of accidents happened. No driver’s license, and no rules and all that. In some big cities, it’s a problem.

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