Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dreams that Predict the Future (Jataka 77)

Maitreya ("friend") is the buddha-to-come. But he will not appear until the Dharma has disappeared (when no one is left practicing it) and the ordinary human lifespan has increased to thousands of years (Candletree/Flickr).

Things to Come
Jataka Tales (

King Brahmadatta knelt down before the holy man then sat next to him. He asked, "Your reverence, can you tell me the meanings of my 16 prophetic dreams?"

"Of course I can," said the forest monk. "Tell them to me, beginning with the first eight."

The king replied, "These were the first eight dreams:

"Roaring bulls with no fight, midget trees bearing fruit, cows sucking milk from calves, calves pulling carts with bulls trailing behind, a horse eating with two mouths, a jackal urinating in a golden bowl [pictured above], a she-jackal eating a rope maker's rope, one overflowing pot with all the rest empty."

"Tell me more about your first dream," said the monk.

"Your reverence, I saw four pure black bulls who came from the four directions to fight in the palace courtyard. People came from miles around to see the bulls fight. But they only pretended to fight, roared at each other, and went back where they came from."

"O king," said the holy man, "this dream tells of things that will not happen in your lifetime or in mine. In the far-off future, kings will be unwholesome and stingy. The people too will be unwholesome. Goodness will be decreasing while evil increases. The seasons will be out of whack, with sunstroke on winter days and snow storms on summer days.

"The skies will be dry, with poor clouds and little water. Harvests will be small and people will starve. Then dark clouds will come from the four directions, but even after much thunder and lightning, they will depart without letting rain fall -- just like the roaring bulls who leave without fighting. More>>
  • "The Sixteen Dreams" (Mahasupina Jataka, No. 77)
    One morning, when his brahmin ministers went to the palace to pay their respects to Pasenadi, the king of Kosala and to see how he had slept, they found him lying in terror, unable to get out bed. “How could I sleep?” exclaimed the king. “Just before daybreak I dreamed 16 incredible dreams, and I have been lying here terrified ever since!
  • "The Sixteen Dreams" and Burma: There is a dramatic sequence of paintings hanging in pagoda walkways and monasteries throughout Burma. The story on which these paintings are based is Buddhist but not exclusively Burmese. When one understands the meaning, it becomes obvious why the paintings have become so popular in Burma.

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