1 The Tigress

Jataka on tigress

Jataka on tigress

The compassion of the Buddha touches every living being.
His perfect love, dispassionate and unlimited,

Resonates throughout all his former lives.

Pg 3 – Before he became the Buddha, the Bodhisattva, in a series of lives too numerous to mention, through his wisdom blessed the world with countless demonstrations of his compassion, shown through giving, kind words, help­fulness, and consistency between words and deeds.

In one of his lifetimes, the Bodhisattva took birth in a family of brahmans which was renowned for purity of con­duct and spiritual devotion. And as a result of merit earned in former lives, he found himself showered with wealth, dis­tinction, and fame.

As a youth, the depth of his intellect was matched only by his eagerness to learn. He soon mastered the arts and sciences so well that the brahmans revered him as an au­thority dependable as the law itself; to the ksatriya warriors, he was as venerable as a king. To those thirsty for knowledge, he seemed a reservoir never empty; to ordinary people, he seemed a god.

Pg 4 – But he did not delight in power or wealth or fame. His former actions and his constant reflection on the Dharma had purified his mind; he saw all too clearly the inevitable suffer­ing that accompanies worldly pleasure, and the thought of renunciation was familiar to him. Without remorse, he shook off the householder’s life as if it were an illness, and moved to a forest retreat which became ornamented by his presence. – … Continue reading »

2 – King of the Shibis


Pg 11- Only after hundreds of hardships did

the Lord Buddha obtain the Dharma for our benefit.

Knowing this, we should listen to the Teachings

with deep respect and close attention.

Pg 11- Once when the Buddha was still a Bodhisattva, the vast store of meritorious actions amassed in many previous lives caused him to take birth as a king of the Shibis. Respectful toward the elders from earliest childhood and modest in his behavior, he was deeply loved by all his subjects.

Blessed with boundless energy, discretion, majesty, and power, knowledgeable in many sciences, and favored by fortune, he ruled his subjects as if they were his children. In the Bodhisattva, all the finest qualities, both spiritual and worldly, blended harmoniously despite their contrasts. Glory, which mocks those who win high rank by wrong means, glory, which brings calamity to fools and intoxicates the feeble-minded, had found a true dwelling place within him.

Overflowing with compassion even greater than his wealth, this best of kings was happiest when granting the wishes of beggars and when seeing their delighted faces. Continue reading »



Any gift that comes from the heart and is upon a bestowed worthy recipient will produce a great result. No gift of such a nature, however small, is without merit.

Pg 21 – Once, when the Buddha was still a Bodhisattva, he lived as a great king of Koshala. Energy, discretion, majesty, power, these and other royal virtues were his to the highest degree. Yet the strength of one quality surpassed all others: his talent for gaining prosperity. Enriched by this felicitous ability, his other qualities shone all the brighter, as the splendor of moonlight increases in autumn.

Fortune followed him everywhere like a lover, abandoning his enemies and holding his followers dear. Although his sense of fairness prevented him from harming any living being, his fortune was such that his adversaries did not flourish even though he refused to oppress them.

Now it happened one day that this king came to recall one of his previous lives, and was deeply moved. And with this recollection he increased the gifts of charity he was used to bestowing on the shramanas and brahmans, on the poor, on the wretched and the helpless. For giving is the basis and

Pg 22 – cause of happiness. More than ever before, he strove to practice good conduct; more than ever he followed the restrictions on holy days.

Intent on illustrating to his people the power of meritorious action, every day he made the same proclamation in his assembly hall as well as in the innermost apartments of his palace. These were the words that issued from his heart with deep feeling: Continue reading »



Pg 29 – Even in the face of imminent peril

the virtuous never shrink from practicing charity.

Who, then, when safe and happy, should not be charitable?

Once, when the Buddha was still a Bodhisattva, he took birth as the son of a good family. Blessed with boundless energy and great good fortune, he became head of his guild. He acquired a large estate, and by his fairness and integrity in business, earned the deepest respect of all. In addition, his study of various branches of the arts and sciences purified his mind and produced qualities which, together with his noble virtues, brought him honor even from the king.

Devoted to the precept of giving, he constantly endeavored to share his wealth with the people. The mendicants praised his name far and wide, spreading his reputation for charity in all directions; they trusted him entirely, becoming bold enough to tell him their desires freely. For his part, untouched by avarice, he never held back his wealth, either for his own pleasure or to gain influence over others-for he found it impossible to witness any sort of suffering and refuse to help.

One day a mendicant, a Pratyekabuddha in whom the fire of knowledge had burned away all fettering passions, approached the Bodhisattva’s dwelling. –

Pg – 30 Now this beggar’s sole desire was to increase the merit of the Bodhisattva, and to that end he had appeared in the gateway at meal time, just as the Great Being, having bathed and anointed himself, was about to sit down to a feast. Many and various dishes had been prepared by the finest of cooks, dishes pleasing in their color, smell, taste, texture, and so on. In the quiet of the evening, the monk stood outside the house without apprehension or agitation, looking firmly and quietly a small distance before him, his lotus-like hands holding a wooden alms bowl. Continue reading »



Neither fear of fortune’s loss nor hope of future gain can

distract the virtuous from the practice of giving

Pg 35 -At one time when the Buddha was still a Bodhisattva, he was born in an illustrious family and later became head of his guild. He radiated generosity and morality, and excelled in sacred learning, self-discipline, and spiritual knowledge, embodying both wisdom and humility.

Blessed with such boundless riches, he seemed like Kuvera himself. Charity was for him a perpetual practice-and so he became a constant source of wealth. Best of almsgivers, he lived only to benefit humanity; truly oblivious to all manner of greed and selfishness, he soon came to be known as Avishahya, `the Invincible One’. He was as happy to see beggars as they were to see him: At first sight, both knew that their fondest wish had been granted. He was, indeed, incapable of refusing any request, and his great compassion left no room in his heart for attachment to wealth. His highest joy, therefore, was to watch the mendicants carry off the finest objects from his home. He saw those so-called goods for what they were, sources of desire and discontent that would quickly lead to dissatisfaction without any apparent cause.

Indeed, riches joined with greed may be called swift caravans on the road to despair. His riches, on the other hand, brought true benefit both to himself and to others. The Great Being gave the mendicants whatever they desired and ornamented his gifts with respect and freedom from emotionality, in this way satisfying them wholly. Continue reading »



Pg 43- If even in lives as beasts the Great -Minded

have been known to practice charity,

who then, being human, should not be charitable?

In the middle of a forest was a clearing once frequented by ascetics. There the earth was carpeted with soft green grass; rich soil put forth flowers and fruits in lush profusion, and trees and greenery of all sorts abounded. Bordering this lovely spot was a sparkling river as blue as lapis lazuli.

In this forest, the Bodhisattva lived as a hare-an animal that shone with such goodness, such vigor, such strength and beauty that all the other animals in the forest looked to him as their king, none fearing him, none causing him fear. Satisfying his needs by simple blades of grass, wearing his own fur for the ascetic’s garments, he glowed like a Great Being. Everything he thought, everything he spoke, everything he did was motivated by a friendliness so pure and simple that even those beasts usually given to wickedness became his students and friends.

Among his devoted following, three in particular were attracted by the love and respect which his eminent qualities inspired, and they grew to be his constant companions: an otter, a jackal, and a monkey. These three loved the hare as if he were their kin, their mutual bond of respect binding them together in joy. They spent all their days with him, soon for-getting their lower natures-and compassion for all living creatures flowed from their hearts. Greed no longer tempted them, they forgot how to steal, and their lives began to con-form closely to the Dharma. Their minds became disciplined, clear, and strong. Continue reading »



As generosity is such a great ornament even to ascetics,

how wonderful it is when displayed by householders!

Once when the Buddha was still a Bodhisattva travelling

through samsara for the good of the world, he was born as the child of an illustrious Brahman family whose purity of conduct was an ornament for the earth. As the full and spotless autumn moon beautifies the heavens, so did the birth of Ajastya enhance the luster of his family. In due time, after he had obtained the sacraments called for by the sacred texts and traditions, and after he had studied the Vedas and their many rituals, fame of his knowledge spread far and -aide.

The offerings he received from charitable lovers of virtue swiftly multiplied into considerable wealth. And, in turn, as an expansive cloud showers the fields, he regaled with treasures his relations and friends, beggars, guests, and teachers-the distressed as well as those worthy of honor. And so the bright glory of his learning, augmented by his generosity, shone forth all the greater, just as the beauty of the moon increases in autumn.

Yet the Great-minded One realized that the state of a householder is a source of sorrow, affording little comfort. A householder must involve himself in countless activities which lead to indiscretions and even greater difficulties. Turmoil surrounds the gaining of a fortune and the necessity of guarding it; struck by suffering’s hundreds of arrows, one slowly becomes careless in spiritual affairs, until tranquility is destroyed. Continue reading »

8 – The Strength of Love

8 – The Strength of Love

The truly compassionate take no heed of their own pleasure; it is the suffering of others which concerns them.

At a time when the Bodhisattva was established in the practice of compassion, intent on becoming a refuge for all beings, he set his mind on increasing the qualities which benefit the world-giving, self-discipline, devotion, and love for all beings. And so he was born as a king named Maitribala, ‘He Whose Strength is Kindness’.

Maitribala felt the suffering of his subjects as if it were his own, and protected his people skillfully. His sword was a mere ornament, for the other kings respectfully accepted his word as law, a law which was demonstrated in the measures he took to promote his people’s welfare. He ruled with right action; even punishment was but a means to increase benefits for his kingdom. He was like a father to his people, in that he protected them with the Dharma. While his liberality, his tranquility, his honesty and wisdom were all directed toward the welfare of others, he increased his own store of lofty actions, essential for the attainment of enlightenment. – … Continue reading »

9 – Vishvantara

9 – Vishvantara

If ordinary beings are not capable of even appreciating the Bodhisattva’s actions, how can they follow his example?

Once the Shibis were ruled by a king whose every action was crowned with virtue. Samjaya was his name, a man whose valor, discretion, and modesty kept his passions firmly in check, and led him to become victorious and mighty. Because of his great virtue, Glory, faithful as an honest lover, followed him as fervently as a lion guards its den.

Due to his constant and strict respect for the elders, he had mastered the mysteries of the Vedas and metaphysics, and had become skilled in the administration of justice. His subjects therefore enjoyed the benefits of security and peace, and performed their tasks with the utmost joy and devotion. He honored all who came before him, whether they demonstrated their merit in spiritual practices, science, or the arts. – … Continue reading »

10 – The Sacrifice

10 – The Sacrifice

Those whose minds are virtuous cannot be seduced by the enticements of the wicked. Knowing this, strive to be pure in heart.

Long ago, the Bodhisattva, due to merit accrued during previous lives, was born a king. All the lesser rulers bowed before him, and so he ruled in peace, having no need to subdue either his own or other peoples. His claim to the throne was universally acknowledged, and his relations with other countries were calm and balanced. His land was free from every kind of disturbance, disruption, or disaster and all his subjects obeyed his commands without question.

Having subdued his only enemies, the senses, and having become totally unattached to the fruits of his own labors, the king had as his sole object the happiness of his subjects. And this he pursued with all his heart. Like a true Muni, he made the Dharma the only purpose of his actions. He also knew that human nature was drawn to emulate the highest, and so was particularly intent on the performance of his religious duties. In order to bring about the salvation of his people, he practiced giving and moral conduct, cultivated forbearance, and worked for the benefit of all sentient beings. With a countenance as mild as his thoughts, he appeared to his people to be an embodiment of the Dharma. – … Continue reading »

11 – Shakra

11 – Shakra

Neither adversity nor the majesty of sovereign power will diminish the compassion of the noble minded toward sentient beings.

For countless lifetimes, the Bodhisattva performed virtuous actions, thoroughly actualizing the meaning of giving, self-discipline, responsibility, and compassion. When his every action was directed toward the benefit of others, then, it is said, he became Shakra, Lord of the Gods.

During the time the Bodhisattva held this high rank, he displayed greater majesty than had any of his predecessors, just as moonlight is reflected more brilliantly from a newly painted palace. Such was his mighty state, such was his brilliance that the asuras were willing to expose themselves to the tusks of his world, conquering elephants in order to challenge his position. But though he readily enjoyed the happiness and glory at his command, the bliss that was his due did not swell his heart with pride. Ruling heaven and earth in the proper manner, he acquired a glory that pervaded the entire universe. –  … Continue reading »

12 – The Brahman

12 – The Brahman

What is it that keeps the virtuous on the path of good conduct? Their sense of shame and decency.

Once the Bodhisattva took birth as the son of illustrious brahmans, well-respected for their ancestry and their conduct, a family which upheld traditional customs, self-discipline, and practice. He received the usual sacraments and purification rites in due course, and at the proper age was gent to live with a teacher distinguished for his learning, his birth, and his exemplary conduct.

The boy’s quick grasp of what he was taught, his sense of responsibility (for which his family was noted), his good manners, and his tranquil demeanor ― all rare ornaments in a youth ― led his teacher to look upon him with particular love and pleasure. Indeed, if the magic of virtue can charm even those burning with the fires of hatred, how much more will it erect those who are good-hearted? – … Continue reading »

13 – She Who Drives Men Mad

13 – She Who Drives Men Mad

The virtuous are always reluctant to follow a low road. Even when sick with heavy sorrow, their constancy allows them to maintain a steady course.

The Bodhisattva, during his many lives of striving to benefit beings by means of the special qualities of truthfulness, generosity, tranquility, and wisdom, once took birth as a king of the Shibis. Embodying the Dharma and self-discipline, he was able to secure the welfare of his subjects much as a father cares for his children ― influencing them to increase their virtuous qualities and to turn away from wrong actions. And so his subjects rejoiced both in this world and the next.

The king administered justice according to the Dharma, treating both kinsman and commoner alike. And because the people were encouraged to cultivate right action and to obstruct the path of wrongdoing, a ladder to the heavenly realms gradually came into being.

Understanding that the welfare of the world rested in righteousness, the king delighted in the path of the Dharma. :always acting in accord with the Dharma, not allowing — others to violate its precepts, the king thus protected his people. … Continue reading »

14 – Suparaga

14 – Suparaga

When one dwells in the Dharma, the truth is enough to dispel destruction. What more could one say of the good that comes from observing the Dharma? Thus, one should follow the Teachings.

During one of his many lifetimes, the Bodhisattva was a very wise ship captain. Great Beings, because of their innate acuity and clarity of mind, invariably surpass any other great men in the world in whatever art or science they undertake. Thus it was that during his life as a helmsman, the Bodhisattva possessed all the extraordinary qualities one could imagine.

Knowing the course of celestial bodies, he always knew his exact location and was therefore never lost; knowing all the different types of prognostication, he was always in tune with the shifting pattern of events and therefore knew whatever was timely or untimely; by observing the color of the water, the composition of the shore, the shape of the rocks, the species of birds, fish, and other creatures, he could easily place himself in any sea. In addition, he was always vigilant and never dull-witted, and was able to endure great cold, heat, rain, and fatigue. Being always careful and observant, and so skilled he never deviated from course, he was in great demand among sea merchants to guide them to their destinations, since his navigation was so very successful, he came to be known as Suparaga, ‘Good Passage’, after the seaport where he lived. – … Continue reading »

15 – The Fish

15 – The Fish

If those who practice good conduct successfully realize virtuous ideals in this life ― how much more will they be able to realize virtuous ideals in the next! Therefore strive for pure conduct.

Once the Bodhisattva was born as king of all the fishes that lived in a certain large lake ― a lake with lovely waters adorned by water-lilies and red lotuses, by lotuses of white and blue, its surface sprinkled with the blossoms of neighboring trees. This was a lake much favored by swans and ducks and geese.

By long and sustained practice, good or wicked actions become inherent in one’s nature to such a degree that in future existences they are performed without effort, as if in a dream. Thus it was that the Bodhisattva was intent on acting solely for the good of others, even in his existence as a fish.

The Great Being cared for his fellow fish as if they were his own offspring, ministering to their every need with gifts, the kindest of words, and the like. Through skillful means he gradually restrained them from desiring to harm each other, and so they gave up their cruel manner of feeding. In time, a mutual affection even developed among the fishes. – … Continue reading »

16 – The Baby Quail

16 – The Baby Quail

Not even fire can destroy the power of speech purified by truth; knowing this, who would not always endeavor to speak the truth?

Once the Bodhisattva lived in a forest as a baby quail. Together with his many brothers, he lived in a nest built with great care by his parents on a vine in the middle of a thicket, firmly protected by a strong covering of grass. Having emerged from the egg only a few days before, his wings were not yet developed, and in his small, weak body his tender limbs were barely discernible.

Yet even in such a life, the Bodhisattva had not lost his awareness of the Dharma, and refused to feed on any of the living beings brought by his mother and father. Instead he sustained himself on the vegetable food they gathered, such as grass seeds, figs, and the like. Continue reading »

17 – The Jar

17 – The Jar

Drink is the source of many ills. Knowing this, the virtuous attempt to influence others against drinking even more so do they deter themselves.

Once the Bodhisattva manifested as Shakra, Lord of the Gods. Compassion having purified his mind, every one of his actions was directed toward fostering the happiness and good of others, through deeds of giving, morality, and self-restraint. Although he deeply enjoyed all the sensual pleasures which were due the gods, not once did he relax his exertions for the benefit of the world.

As a rule, those who drink deeply of the strong liquor of glory lose their alertness and forget even their own interests. They are like those gone mad. Shakra, however, did not let the intoxication of power go to his head. Continue reading »

18 -The Wealthy Prince

18 -The Wealthy Prince

The life of a householder is beset with concerns that are in conflict with spiritual pursuits; those searching for the Truth gladly spurn such a life.

Once the Bodhisattva was born into a family of great wealth, renowned for its virtue and good conduct, and highly esteemed by the people. Like a refreshing well to those who led good lives, this family shared their store of treasures and grain with a and Brahmans, and opened their home to friends and kin. The poor and the needy were sustained by their gifts, while artisans received their patronage and protection. Even the king was pleased to secure their favor and hospitality.

As the Bodhisattva grew older, his scholarly interests led him to study all branches of the usual worldly sciences, as well as the more esoteric arts. His scholastic accomplishments, his physical beauty, and the worldly knowledge he displayed without infringing on the precepts of the Dharma won the hearts of his fellow citizens, who thought of him as kinsman. For not family ties alone, but the virtues or vices which bring esteem or scorn, are what make others friends or strangers. Continue reading »

19 – The Lotus Roots

Chapter 19 – The Lotus Roots

One who has learned to appreciate the happiness of detachment will turn away from worldly pleasures, avoiding them as if they were bringing him disgrace or harm.

Once the Bodhisattva was born to an illustrious family of Brahmans renowned for their virtues and freedom from vice. He had six younger brothers whose bearing and traits were similar to his own, and a sister, all of whom imitated him in every way, out of affection and esteem.

Having studied the sacred Vedas and mastered the sciences of medicine, martial arts, music, and craftsmanship, he was highly regarded by all the people. He was a devoted son to his parents, respecting them as if they were gods; to his brothers he was like a spiritual teacher or a father, instructing them in all the sciences. He was skilled in worldly affairs and distinguished by his impeccable discipline and way of life. Continue reading »

20 -The Treasurer

20 -The Treasurer

Assumed to possess a virtue they lack, the virtuous are spurred on to attain it. Considering this, all should strive for virtue.

Once the Bodhisattva lived as a king’s treasurer, renowned for his learning, his nobility, and his modest behavior. He had both lofty aspirations and a fine intellect, and a love for honesty in business as well as for the study of the many branches of science. These virtues gave his speech an eloquence for which he had become well-known. His compassion overflowed; through gifts of charity, he dispersed his wealth in all directions ― it was no wonder he was considered the jewel of householders. The many virtues which ornamented his nature, a love of spiritual things and the like, caused the people to revere him above all others.

One day, when the Great Being had gone to the king’s palace on business, his mother-in-law appeared at his door to visit her daughter. After the usual welcome and inquiries about each other’s health, the mother, being alone with her daughter, plied her with questions: “And your husband, my dear?” she asked. “Does he love you? Does his work rob you of his time? Does he show you the proper attention? I do hope he never does anything to cause you grief?” Continue reading »

21 – The Story of Kuddhabodhi

21 – The Story of Kuddhabodhi

Those who can master their anger are able to pacify their enemies; those who cannot, inflame them.

Once the great Bodhisattva was born in this world to a certain noble family of brahmans renowned for their practice of virtue. Favored by the gods and honored by the king, they owned a large and flourishing estate. From early youth, the Great Being devoted his energies to cultivating the virtue of learning, so that by the time he was fully grown, his fame had already spread widely. As swiftly as a hero becomes known on the battlefield, as rapidly as a beautiful jewel gains note among collectors of gems, so quickly did his reputation grow among the learned.

Because of the Bodhisattva’s constant practice of the Dharma in previous existences, he soon reached the stage of wisdom where the idea of renunciation was so familiar that home life no longer gave him pleasure. He understood that worldly pleasures can never give true satisfaction ― that they are attended by the suffering of greed, quarrels, wars, and a host of other evils; that worldly pleasures are forever threatened by the fear of loss from acts of kings or thieves, from water, fire, one’s enemies, and so forth. Continue reading »

22 – The Noble Geese

22 – The Noble Geese

Even when in distress, the virtuous display right conduct of a kind impossible for the non-virtuous. How much more perfect their conduct must be when they are favored by fortune!

Once the Bodhisattva took birth as a king of the geese named Dhritarachtra, ruler of a vast flock living on Lake Manasa. Sumukha was his commander-in-chief, the protector of the king’s hundreds of thousands of subjects. Only slightly less exalted than the king himself, Sumukha was well skilled in the management of the king’s affairs, for he knew clearly what constitutes correct policy, and had a prodigious memory for events spanning vast extents of space and time.

Born of an illustrious family, Sumukha was endowed with constancy, honesty, and courage, his natural nobility embellished by talent, courtesy, and modesty. Distinguished by the purity of his conduct and mode of life, he was always vigilant, always clever, and his skill in management was faultless. Capable of enduring endless hardship, in military matters he was fearless, and he loved his king deeply. Sumukha was, indeed, a previous incarnation of the Buddha’s disciple Ananda. Continue reading »

23 – The Wise One

23 – The Wise One

The compassion felt by the virtuous for their benefactors does not diminish, no matter what injuries those benefactors might later inflict upon them: Such is the gratitude shown by the virtuous, Such their forbearance.

Once when the Bhagavat was still a Bodhisattva, he took birth as a wandering ascetic known as the Wise One, Mahabodhi. While still a householder, he had acquainted himself thoroughly with most branches of worldly learning, particularly the fine arts. After renouncing the world, however, he directed his mind exclusively to the study of the Dharma, in hopes of bringing benefit to all sentient beings.

Soon he had become a master in that field as well, and this accomplishment, when added to his already great store of merit, his knowledge of the world, and his lively intelligence, brought him great renown. And so it was that wherever Mahabodhi went, in whatever land he found himself, he was highly praised by the learned, by royalty, by brahmans and householders, as well as by those who lived in forest groves. For so it always is: Although virtues are always highly respected, it is their graceful practice that gains the affection of the people. Such grace will win even the praise of one’s enemies, who cannot respond otherwise for fear of their reputations. Continue reading »

24 – The great ape


When the virtuous are injured by others, they cry less for their own pain than for the merit thus forfeited by those who have injured them. At one time the Bodhisattva showed just this.

Near the Snow Mountains lies a blessed region, rich and inviting, fragrant as the sweetest of aloes, its mantle of magnificent forests as lush as dark silk. Birds of myriad colors and shapes enhance the landscape, which is so harmonious in shape and color that it appears to express a grand design. Here celestial beings sport in the clear waters of spring-fed mountain streams that flow over rocky ledges and tumble down cliffs in great waterfalls. Humming bees abound, and breezes fan the flowering trees. Here, the Bodhisattva once took birth as a great ape that lived alone. Continue reading »

25 – The fabulous Sharabha deer


The truly compassionate show love even for those with murder on their minds; even when they themselves are in great distress, they would never desert such beings.

Once the Bodhisattva took the shape of a sharabha deer who lived in a forest far away from the sound of man, a forest inhabited by many different kinds of animals. Trees and shrubs and thick high grass covered this remote land, which was untrod by travelers and bare of any trace of carts or other vehicles. It was, indeed, a land traversed only by rivulets and ant trails.

This sharabha was no common deer. Extraordinarily vigorous and swift, he was also distinguished by his beautiful color. Full of compassion, he felt nothing but friendliness towards all animals; he lived happily in the forest, always content, subsisting totally on grasses, leaves, and water. Although he had the shape of a forest creature, he nonetheless possessed the firm intellect of a man. The qualities of this deer, demonstrated by his mercy toward every sentient being, his forest retreat, and his simple fare, were like those of a yogin longing for total detachment. Thus he ornamented the forest by his presence. Continue reading »

27 – The monkey king


Those who walk the path of virtue can win over the hearts of even their fiercest enemies.

In the heart of the Snow Mountains is a blessed region. Watered by mountain currents clear as crystal, its soil is finely carpeted with herbs of healing powers. Hundreds of forest trees display an extraordinary variety of fruit and flowers, and throngs of birds fill the air with song.

In that forest the Bodhisattva lived as a monkey king. But even in that bestial form, his mind was formed by the constant practice of giving and compassion; depending on such friends as these, jealousy, selfishness, and cruelty would have nothing to do with him.

The monkey lived in a banyan tree, so tall that it seemed the lord of the forest. Like a mountain peak, it seemed to touch the sky; its thick, deep foliage was like a mass of clouds. Its long branches arched under the weight of large fruit, sweet and fragrant, and of a lovely bright color. Continue reading »

28 – The teacher of restraint


The immense forbearance of those who practice patience makes nothing too great to bear.

In a previous lifetime, the Bodhisattva once became a certain ascetic. He had seen that the life of a householder was full of suffering, and he knew that such a life was not conducive to spiritual pursuits. Beset with temptations, the householder’s life was exposed to the inroads of material and sensual pleasures which entailed the loss of modesty and spiritual goals. Such a life, in emphasizing the passions, was sure to lead to desire, hatred, impatience, anger, arrogance, pride, and greed. Continue reading »

29 – A visitor from Brahmaloka


Because wrong views have hellish consequences, those who follow such views are especially deserving of the compassion of the virtuous.

In one of the Bhagavat’s previous lives as a Bodhisattva, because of his constant practice of meditation and his vast store of good karma led him to take the shape of a Devarshi dwelling in the realm of Brahmaloka, the region of heavenly delights. Through the ripening of merit engendered in countless past lives, he had earned the privilege of enjoying the blissful meditations of the gods. However, because of his practice of compassion in previous lifetimes, even this supreme joy did not turn him from the desire to benefit others. Continue reading »

The Three

by Acarya Sri Pramodavajra

Homage to the Realization [that is] born out of faith1 in Self-Reflexive Awareness.2

Intelligence3 is free from existence, and yet the diversity of auto-appearances ceaselessly arise. Thus, all of phenomena4 is a manifestation of the Pure Field of Dharmakaya, simultaneously becoming liberated in its own nature. Thus:

  1. Direct5 introduction6 to one’s essential nature.7

  2. Direct recognition8 of that singular state.

  3. Direct continuation9 [of that recognition], with faith in Liberation.

The nature of mind10 from the beginning, is the Buddha-Absolute.11 Mind-in-itself, having neither origin nor end, is empty like space. Having completely realized the meaning of the nonduality12 of all phenomena: to abide thus, without seeking, this is the meditation. Continue reading »

30 – The Elephant


Pain is a prize to the virtuous, if its end be the happiness of others.

Once the Bodhisattva took birth as a huge elephant who lived in a forest far remote from civilization. A lake both deep and wide ornamented this wilderness, which was surrounded on all sides by a barren desert. But the forest of this oasis was well-suited for elephants and many other forest creatures. The trees were laden with flowers and fruit; young shrubs and grasses carpeted the earth. Mountain ridges and plateaus bordered the forest, as if detained there by its charm.

Here in the forest the elephant lived the solitary life of an ascetic, satisfied by the leaves and lotus roots, the clear lake waters, and the virtues of contentment and tranquility. Continue reading »

31 – Sutasoma


Even a chance meeting with a virtuous person promotes well-being. For this reason alone, those who long for awareness and balance in their lives should seek out the virtuous.

Once the Bodhisattva was born into the illustrious royal family of the Kauravas, into a dynasty known the world over for its glory. It was a family held in deep affection by the people; even their proud neighbors had become their vassals, partly because of the sheer splendor of the Kauravas’ power, but also because of the purity of the family’s intentions.

Because the Bodhisattva was blessed with a face that reflected his hundreds of virtues, he was named Sutasoma, ‘Lovely as the Moon’. And like the moon in the bright half of the month, his glory and grace increased every day. Continue reading »

32 – Prince of the iron house


Those once struck by the weariness of existence are distracted by nothing on their road to enlightenment not even by the brilliance and lure of royalty.

A one time when our Lord was still a Bodhisattva, he looked upon the world and found it full of the sufferings of disease, old age, and death, of separation from loved ones, of the calamity upon calamity which beset every sentient being. Knowing that beings had no refuge, no guidance, no protection, he was moved by compassion to work for their liberation; he wished to gain the highest happiness even for those unknown to him and averse to his teachings.

At this time, the Bodhisattva was born to a certain royal family distinguished by both modesty and splendor. Their prosperity insured by the affection of their subjects, the family grew wealthy with ease and without oppressing their vassals, who proudly paid them homage. And so their fame and glory spread far and wide. All the citizens shared in both their joy and their grief, so it was no surprise that the child’s birth occasioned a festival for the court and capital. Continue reading »

33 – The Buffalo


Forbearance exists only if there is an opportunity to show it. Knowing this, the virtuous appreciate those who would harm them, considering them benefactors.

Once the Bodhisattva took birth as a wild buffalo in a remote forest. Grim of appearance and caked with mud, he was as forbidding as a rolling thunder cloud of darkest blue. But even in that brute animal state where ignorance prevails and the concept of virtue is difficult to come by, his keen understanding led him to practice virtuous actions vigorously. He had served compassion so long it would not leave him.

Yet some influence, either of karma or of nature, must also be taken into account to explain his state. It is in reference to just such situations that the Buddha declared that the ripening of karma is inscrutable. For although the buffalo’s very nature was compassionate, he had obtained the state of a beast, albeit a beast who retained a knowledge of virtue. A series of existences cannot exist without karma ― and yet virtue (which leads to freedom from karma) could never lead to an animal birth, for its effects are always good. So it must be that even with the Bodhisttva’s consciousness of Dharma, some small residues of karma caused him, now and again, to find himself in such low states. Continue reading »

34 – The Woodpecker


Even when provoked, the virtuous, being unaccustomed to such conduct, are incapable of committing a wicked act.

Once the Bodhisattva lived in a forest as a woodpecker, renowned for his beautiful feathers, so brilliant and many-colored. Owing to his inherent compassion, he refused to follow the sinful instincts of his kind, and abstained from injuring other living beings. He fed on sweet and savory flowers, fruit, and young shoots, and was content.

Manifesting his concern for others, he found occasion to teach the precepts of right living to help the distressed and to prevent the low-minded from untoward action. The multitudes of animals in that part of the forest thrived, protected by the Great Being in whom they had found a spiritual teacher, kinsman, physician, and king. The more they found themselves protected by the greatness of his mercy, the more their virtue increased. Continue reading »