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