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Between Master and Disciples

Buddhist Stories: The Story of Magha, Part 4 of 10, Sept. 12, 2015

2020-10-25
Language:English
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So the king said, “Friends, this animal knows your good qualities. But I, who am a man, was unable to discern them. Pardon me.” He meant the elephant even knew that they were good men. So, he did not trample upon them even by order.

I want to tell you this, the present story, the new story. In August, sometime in August, or the end of August, almost before we came here, the sister who cooked for me every day Aulacese (Vietnamese), she was going, so they arranged for somebody to come. Well, I didn’t know. They said somebody would come from America. I said, “What’s her name?” They said “Nguyễn,” an Aulacese (Vietnamese). And the sister said, “Master, every Aulacese is named Nguyễn.” I said, “Who is that?” She said, “We don’t know. They just said Nguyễn.” So she said, “Master, everybody in Au Lac (Vietnam) is Nguyễn, just like every Korean is Kim.” Even the vegetable they eat is “kim”-chi! So, we were laughing so much.

And then I said to my assistant, “This sister, she is going back to Germany because she has children.” She wanted to stay. I said, “No, no, no. You have children. You have responsibility. You have to go home.” She said, “They are all big already. They can cook themselves.” I said, “Yes, but they need you. They need you to guide them until they… until they die.” Actually, it’s like that. Even after they have children themselves, they still need you, to babysit, to run back when they argue with the husband or wife, to help them with shopping, anything, anything. They always need you until they die or until you die, either way.

All right. I said, “Just go back. I don’t need, I don’t need you to stay here just to cook for me. I have not needed anybody up to now. I cook for myself all the time. So don’t worry, I won’t die. I promise.” So she said, “Yes, but somebody is coming.” Then they said Nguyễn. All right, then I said to my assistant, “Whoever comes, I don’t care Nguyễn or Kim. Just tell her if she has children she cannot stay for three months, until her visa is finished. She cannot stay that long. They can take turns if they really worry about me. They can take turns. Everybody comes, maybe a couple of weeks or something, but not to stay as long as the visa lasts, no.”

So she came and asked the chef, the Formosan (Taiwanese) chef in the kitchen, “That sister who is coming, does she have, the new sister... The sister coming, does she have children?” Because they said she arrived already. “Does she have children or not?” And she came back and said to me, the chef, she said, “Master, she has two children.” “OK.” I said, “In that case she cannot stay long.” And then later I asked, “Go and ask her what’s her name, full name, not Nguyễn.” I don’t know what Nguyễn is, because then probably I know her. Not very many Nguyễn is there. But there are a couple of Nguyễns who cooked for me before when I was in America. So I wanted to ask if maybe I knew her or not. And she came and asked. She said, “No. It’s not a Nguyễn. It’s a Huan, Huan.” I said, “We don’t have Huan in Aulacese (Vietnamese). Oh! You mean Huỳnh.” She said, “Yeah, something like that.” Then she said, “And she has two children, Master.” I said, “What? OK, then cannot stay.”

And then, later she came back and told me, “Oh Master, she has no children. She said completely free. She is free. She is not married. She’s completely free. She can stay as long as she wants.” Oh, my God! Just a few meters apart, and the two-legged newspaper brought me the wrong news like that. Imagine. Imagine. Because I already said then she cannot stay. Maybe somebody else is better. So she protested vehemently, “No. I am completely free! I am completely free.” And then we knew these were wrong. I said, “But why did you tell me she has two children? Where did the two children come from?” “Oh, sorry, Master. It’s the Chinese chef who told me.” You see what I mean? I heard from this, and that one heard from that. That one heard from that. Probably mixed up with the sister. Her sister has two children. But she doesn’t have any children. She’s not married. Oh man, I’m telling you. Suddenly she is given two children for free, instant family, just like that.

All right. So we come back to the village of the King Magha. “The headman of the village was angry with us. That’s why he is fabricating this story to tell you.” So the king said, “Friends, this animal knows your good qualities. But I, who am a man, was unable to discern them. Pardon me.” He meant the elephant even knew that they were good men. So, he did not trample upon them even by order. Normally, when they are trained well, the animal would do that. But he did not. So he said, “Even this animal knows your good qualities. But I’m even a man, a king, and know not. Pardon me.” He apologized to these 33 good gentlemen. So saying, the king made the village headman their slave.

My God. That’s a very, very mild sentence, right? He was going to kill 34 persons. And the king so leniently made him only a servant of them, together with his children and wife. OK, it’s not bad. Because of the family, he didn’t want to kill them, kill him, I guess. Gave them a riding elephant, and presented that village to them to do with as they saw fit. The king gave them an elephant to ride, and gave them the whole village instead of the headman. Thought the 33 youths, “Even in this life, the advantage to be derived from the performance of work of merit is clearly to be seen already.” And mounting the elephant by turns, they rode about the village, which now became their village.

As they went about the village, they took counsel together, saying, “It is our duty to perform yet more abundant works of merit. What shall we do?” Thereupon, the following thought occurred to them: “Let us build at the crossing of the four highways a rest house for the multitude, making it secure and strong.” So, they summoned the builder and ordered him to build a hall for them. And because desire for women had departed from them, they resolved to give women no share in the building of the hall. Why? That’s not fair! They don’t desire them. It doesn’t mean they should not accept the women, right? I guess they didn’t want to mess with our strong side of humans.

Now, there were four women living in Magha’s house named Joy, Thoughtful, Goodness, and Wellborn. Goodness went secretly to the builder, gave him a bribe, and said to him, “Brother, give me the principal share in the building of this house, of this hall.” “Very well,” replied the builder, agreeing to her proposal. Accordingly, he first marked a tree out of which to make a pinnacle, felled it and laid it aside to season. Then he hewed it and planed it, and boarded it, and having fashioned it in the form of a pinnacle, carved the following inscription on it thus: “This is the Hall of Goodness,” the name of the woman. But when he said “This is the Hall of Goodness,” nobody could say anything, right? It’s for goodness. Yes, of course. Wow, very smart!

Now, when he had completed the hall and the day came to erect the pinnacle, he said to the 33 youths... It must be 34, right? Including the prince, no? “Noble sirs, there is something we have forgotten.” “What is it, sir?” “A pinnacle.” “Let us procure one,” said the youths. “It is impossible to make one out of a freshly hewn tree.” Hewn tree, freshly cut, I guess, tree. “We should procure for a pinnacle a tree felled long ago and laid away to season.” Meaning to treat it, to let it become more lasting by being in the sun or soak it in some special treatment, something like that. So they said, “OK, what should we do in such a situation for the best?” “OK, you can go around, and search if anyone who has such a complete pinnacle which has been laid away for seasoning, and which is for sale, then you can buy it. You can take it.”

So they searched everywhere, and finding what they wanted in the House of Goodness, they offered her a thousand pieces of money for it. But they were unable to secure it for the price they offered. Goodness said, “If you will give me a share in the building of the hall, I will give you the pinnacle.” Otherwise, or else. But they replied, “We have resolved to give women no share in the building of this hall.” Thereupon the builder said to them, “Noble sirs, what are you doing? With the exception of the world of Brahma, there is no place from which women are excluded.” Especially this world, right? “So take the pinnacle...”  Pinnacle, right? “Take the pinnacle...” Sorry! I am thinking of pineapple. It’s so near pinnacle. “And complete the hall.”

And they divided the hall into three parts, reserving… So very well, they accept it. They divided it into three parts, reserving one chamber for kings, another for the poor, and another for the sick. Then the 33 youths built 33 seats, and having so done, gave the following orders to the elephant.

I am looking for the end of the story. It seems like a long story. I didn’t see it was that long. All right. Do you guys need a rest or something? No. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow, OK? (Yes. Thank you, Master.) Yes. I don’t feel very well, OK? I feel I could, just why force it too much? I need to go home, take more medicine, and drink something, and take a rest, and then I’ll see you soon, tomorrow.

Today, you have more bonus than usual, one-and-a-half story. Normally just one story, right? Afternoon, you had one complete story. So this, and now you have a half-complete story. So it’s good, OK? Anybody going tomorrow? No. It’s good, good.  I thought I could stay young and sassy forever, but it’s not. Losing energy too much, and losing too many cells too quickly, doesn’t help to keep young. OK, ciao! See you tomorrow. I love you.  Maybe I’ll just sit with you for five minutes. We’ll meditate. Turn off the light. Turn off everything.

Hallo. (Hallo.) Always smell so nice. I did not sleep the whole night. So if I fall asleep here then you'll know. So you can't tell me that I didn't tell you. I told you. Yes. So how was your nap? Sleep, how did you sleep? Hey, there's some more space up here for English-speaking people. Men and/or women, just seated more, so make you feel a little warmer. My God, it's so cold outside! And man, it's stuck. Come in. Men this side, English-speaking only. You don't have translation. Is it correct here? Oh, man… Feels like something in the… It feels like something in front of my face. Is it? Is there something? That's it, no more? They can sit in the middle of the road until I move. What is all this? OK, phone, and the story I owe you, half of the story yesterday, huh? I owe you. You just came here and then I owe you, just like that.

No more English speaking? (No more. They're out working.) Working? Poor people. Have to work in such weather, under the roof with the fire around them. How nice! And we have to sit here without anything. This is a fake fur, OK? Please. I'm so scared. Everybody looks at me, criticize and all kinds of things, thinking all kinds of nonsense. Fake fur, fake, man-made, human-made. All right then. OK, that's good, that's good. Are you all right then? (Yes.) That's it? No more English speaking coming? (No more.) All need translation? (Yes.) Man, I keep telling you to learn English, then you can sit right in the front. See that?

Now we have all empty space here. Also many are not home yet. And many have to work on the camera, and audio, and equipment, and earphone, and nose-phone, and eyes-phone, everything. Busy, busy. And I have been busy all the time up to now. Lucky we have enough space inside. I'm so happy, because my cave is now dry. I mean my cave is dry but the front porch for the dog was flooded, because they didn't connect the roof and the wall very well. The sun roof, just a piece of transparent plastic, but they didn't connect well. They didn't put cement so all the water was leaking in the middle between the cave and the sun porch. And my dog's hut was also leaking. So we've done all that now. Yes. Very happy. Such an easy thing and they didn't help me to do all these years. They should have, because some people were always here. Men, women, old, young, monks, lay, I mean lay people. Maybe the monks just lay around, that's why. So they both are lay people.

 Oh, my God! And every time I came back and they wrote me a note even. Many years I haven't stayed here. Well, at least since the last retreat, right? When was the last retreat? Two months ago? Two years ago? (Yes.) OK. Since then I haven't been here. But before that, it must have been leaking too, because all my organizing boxes are moldy inside. Oh God, inside and then outside, because they affect each other. It's very simple. And then they wrote me a note, saying, "Dear Master, whenever it rains the whole place here is flooded. So I have to move all these things inside your cave to keep them dry." If they know it's leaking, all they do is just fix it, right? (Yes.) Otherwise always moving in, out, in, out, in, out. Rainy weather, not rainy weather, raining, not rain, not. Love me, love me not. And I even now have to fix it with the help of two female assistants, including the dogs' room also.

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