Monday, March 07, 2005

A Tale of the Bodhisattva

An ancient tale (or is it new?) of the Bodhisattva* relates how students once gathered to question the enlightened one. They all wanted to reach enlightenment too, and asked how to do so. The bodhisattva said "Enlightenment is like a thousand petal lotus. It is easy to get caught in one of the petals and dwell forever, but one should seek the center of the bud." Upon hearing this analogy, one student achieved enlightenment.

Another asked "How can one achieve enlightenment?" and the bodhisattva answered, "Enlightenment is like a lamp that always burns, yet ever must we re-light it." That student instantly received enlightenment.

A third student remained stubbornly silent. The bodhisattva picked up a tree limb and whacked the student on the head. The student fell face down in the mud and at once achieved enlightenment.

What is the aim of this story? That some must be hit over the head to achieve enlightenment? Or that a teacher must use all tools available?

*Bodhisattva--an enlightened being who has put off transcendence the better to help others reach enlightenment.

5 comments:

gybe ho! said...

I say the teacher is overly fond of the dramatic. The Socrates once had a student who wnated to know how had to study, how much effort to put into learning. Socrates said, "follow me." and proceded down to the shore and waded in until waist deep. He motioned the following student to approach closer and face him as the waves rose and fell on their torsos. Socrates placed his hand on the students head an pushed him underwater. The student waited patiently underwater for a minute or to, then made to stand. Socrates kept him underwater. After reliquishing another minute under the water the student struggled to break the water's surface. Socrates put another hand on the student and continued to keep him under water. Quickly the student began to squirm wiggle out of Socrates grasp to stand up. Socrates did nto relent. Now the student began trhshing about wildly to push socrates off his shoulders. His lungs burning with need, he gave a giant push that knocked Socrates over. Finally able to stand he gasp his first breath in six minutes and flops and staggers back to the beach where he colapses. As the student lay with his feet in the water, his elbows on the sand, Socrates approaches and his shadow covers the studnet's face. He looks down upon the waterlogged boy and says, "That's how hard you should study!"

Kinda make you think teachers (even the enlightened ones) are sadists! (Or is that masochists?)

K. A. Laity said...

Great story, gybe ho! I'm not sure either -- are teachers masochists or sadists at heart? Perhaps both in turn. I think one cannot last long in teaching, however, without a firm sense of self. You can help other people, but only if they are willing to help themselves. And it does require even more effort than you think you can give (on both sides!)

K. A. Laity said...
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K. A. Laity said...
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K. A. Laity said...

I love the error message that says it did not post...then the five copies of the post that turn up. Gaaah!