The Spider Thread 
(from a lecture by Masao Yokota)

The Buddha was in a lotus-filled garden when he perceived a man named “Kandata” who was squirming in the depths of Hell. He had been a murderer, an arsonist, and thief. A lifetime of these causes had put him in hell. He was in the company of others like him.

The Buddha looked further into Kandata’s life and saw an incident where  Kandata came upon a spider. He raised his foot to stomp on it.  Suddenly, he reconsidered, thinking, "There is no doubt that this spider is also a living being and it is a shame to take its life for no reason." In the end he spared the spider.

Knowing this, the Buddha took a spider thread and lowered it to into depths of Hell with the intention of saving Kandata. 

Kandata reached for the thread and found it strong enough to hold his weight. Using all his strength he began lifting himself from Hell.

After some progress, he looked down and saw hundreds of others behind him climbing on the same spider thread.

He shouted back at them: “Get off! This is mine!” Just then, the thread broke and Kandata fell back into Hell.


Wo and Jah 

A troubled man named Wo could not figure out how to live. So he began meditating to find some answers. After many months he felt no progress, so he asked the temple priest for help. 

The priest said, "Go see old Jah." 

So he hiked to old Jah’s village and came upon the happy-looking old man coming from the forest under a heavy load of firewood. 

"Excuse me, honored Jah," he said. "But can you teach me the secret of life?" 

Jah raised his eyebrows and gazed at Wo. Then with some effort he twisted out from beneath his great bundle of firewood and let it crash to the ground. 

"There, that is enlightenment," he said, straightening up with relief and smiling. 

The troubled man looked on in shock at the prickly firewood scattered over the ground. "Is that all there is to it?" he said. 

"Oh, no," said Jah. Then he bent down, collected all the scattered sticks, hoisted them carefully up on his back and made ready to walk on. "This is enlightenment, too. Come. Let’s go together for tea." 

So Wo walked along with Jah. "What is old Jah showing me?" he asked. 

Jah replied, "First, yes, you are suffering a heavy burden. Many do. But, as the Buddha taught and many have realized, much of your burden and much of your joylessness is your craving for what you can’t have and your clinging to what you can’t keep. 

"See that the nature of your burden and of the chafing you experience as you try to cling to it are useless, unnecessary, damaging, and then you can let it go. 

"In doing so, you find relief, and you are freer to see the blessings of life and to choose wisely to receive them." 

"Thank you, old Jah," said Wo. "And why did you call picking up the burden of firewood again enlightenment as well?" 

"One understanding is that some burden in life is unavoidable — and even beneficial, like firewood. With occasional rest it can be managed, and with freedom from undue anxiety about it, it will not cause chafe. 

"Once the undue burden is dropped, we straighten up and see and feel the wonder and power of being. Seeing others suffering without that freedom and blissful experience, we willingly and knowingly pick up their burdens out of compassion  joining and aiding others in their various struggles for liberation, enlightenment and fulfillment." 

"Thank you, Old Jah," said the exhilarated Wo. "You have enlightened me." 

"Ah-so," said Jah. "Your understanding is enlightened. Now to make it part of your living and your spirit, you must go follow the eight practices and meditate. Then you will learn to detach yourself from your useless burden of cravings and to attach yourself to the profound source of being out of which life, creativity, joy and compassion form and flow." 

And so Wo went and did. And understanding the truths gave him comfort. And practicing the good behaviors kept him from harming himself or others anymore. And concentrating on the deep blissful potential of life gave him a continuing sense of companionship and joyful awe and of well-being in his spirit, no matter what else of pain he had to deal with. 

SuShi and the Buddhist Monk 

The famous Chinese poet SuShi, also known as Su Dong Po (1037-1101 A.D.) was visiting his friend, who was a Buddhist monk. SuShi asks the monk what SuShi is like in the monk’s eyes. 

The monk replies, "In my eyes, you are a Buddha." 

SuShi is very happy with this response. 

The monk then asks SuShi the same question, and SuShi answers, "In my eyes, you are dung!" 

The monk smiles, and SuShi is delighted, because he thinks he is better than the monk. 

Then some days later, SuShi tells the story to a friend, and the friend tells him the truth, "The monk sees you as a Buddha, because he sees everything as Buddha, because he has a Buddha’s heart and eyes. You see the monk as dung, because you see everything as dung, because you have a dung’s heart and eyes!" 


The World Honored One Flicks Dirt  with His Toe

[The Buddha is speaking]: 
"When the mind is pure, the Buddha land will be pure." 

At that time, Shariputra, moved by the Buddha’s supernatural powers, thought to himself: "If the mind of the bodhisattva is pure, then his Buddha land will be pure. Now when our World-Honored-One first determined to become a bodhisattva, surely his intentions were pure. Why then is this Buddha land so filled with impurities?" 

The Buddha, knowing his thoughts, said to him, "What do you think? Are the sun and the moon impure? Is that why the blind man fails to see them? 

Shariputra replied, "No, World Honored One. That is the fault of the blind man. The sun and moon are not to blame." 

"Shariputra, it is the failings of living beings that prevent them from seeing the marvelous purity of the land of the Buddha, the Thus Come One. The Thus Come One is not to blame. Shariputra, this land of mine is pure, but you fail to see it." 

Shariputra said, "When I look at this land, I see it full of knolls and hollows, thorny underbrush, sand and gravel, dirt, rocks, many mountains, filth and defilement."  

The Buddha then pressed his toe against the earth, and immediately the thousand-millionfold world was adorned with hundreds and thousands of rare jewels. All the members of the great assembly sighed in wonder at what they had never seen before, and all saw that they were seated on jeweled lotuses." 

The Buddha said to Shariputra, "Now do you see the marvelous purity of this Buddha land?" 

Shariputra replied, "Indeed, I do. Now all the marvelous purity of the Buddha land is before me." 

The Buddha said to Shariputra, "If a person’s mind is pure, then he will see the wonderful blessings that adorn this land." 



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