Friday, May 14, 2021

Viking religion, Buddhism in Sweden (video)

Prof. Neil Price (Grimfrost, 12/21/20); Amber Larson, Pat Macpherson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

(Grimfrost) Grimfrost Academy is a documentary series with the purpose of educating and maintaining a historical record of the Viking Age and Norse mythology.

Heathen? PaganAsatru?
Episodes feature leading Viking experts sharing knowledge otherwise difficult or impossible to come by.

The second episode features Professor Neil Price of Sweden's Uppsala University who explains the Scandinavian religion, worldview, and magic of the Viking Age.

Prof. Price goes through the importance of the "ancestors" and unseen beings, the invisible population surrounding the people.

I went to Thailand to meditate (Dreamstime).
Funding and producing the series is a way for Grimfrost.com to pay respects to those who came before, to counter misconceptions regarding the time period, and to thank supporters interested in the Viking Age.
Swedish Buddhism in Sweden
Wikipedia entry edited by Wisdom Quarterly
Viking era bronze Buddha found at Helgo, Sweden
Buddhism is a small religion in Sweden, relatively speaking. Most practicing Buddhists are of Asian heritage (Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese).

But Buddhism may have arrived many centuries before: A 500 AD Kashmir bronze Buddha statue dating from the Viking era was found at Helgö in Sweden.
  • Helgö is derived from Proto-Norse Hailaga, which originally meant "dedicated to the gods."
The Swedish Buddhist Cooperation Council (Sveriges Buddhistiska samarbetsråd or SBS) had 7,901 members based on old 2015 statistics ("Statistik 2015: Myndigheten för stöd till trossamfund,sst.a.se).

Northern Light Vipassana Meditation, Sweden
Buddharam has five Thai Theravada Buddhist temples (viharas) in Sweden -- in Värmdö, Karlstad, Boden (with Northern Light vipassana meditation), and Ragunda. The other is in Fredrika (the Buddharam Temple or Wat Buddharama) that when finished will be the largest Buddhist temple in EuropeMore

When slaying dragons, Buddhist and European

G.P. Malalasekera, Pali Proper Names; Pat Macpherson and Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
If dragons were only mythical and imaginary, would they be detailed in Western texts?
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The first fully modern dragon (1260 AD)
Life is fun. You get to slay, befriend, or get your arse kicked by dragons. But that's metaphorical. There be real dragons:

In ancient Buddhism, now in its 26th century, as in ancient Europe, which is a more recent development, "dragons" (shapeshifting Dracos) are called nagas.

Nāgās are a class of beings in Buddhist cosmology classified along with garulas (avians) and supannas (garudas and suparnas), playing a prominent role in Buddhist folklore.
  • Dragons are much older in China, the New World (like Mesoamerica and Mexico), and all regions of the world.
I just represent the true rulers of this world.
These reptilians are gifted with marvelous (siddhi) powers and great strength. Generally speaking, they are confused with snakes, chiefly the hooded cobra.

Their bodies are described as being those of snakes, though they can shapeshift and assume any form at will -- including that of a beautiful human. (One is reminded of the snake in the Garden of Eden with Eve and Adam).
Royal families in China, India, and Europe worship and are worshipped as dragons

The Sino Sphere takes dragons very seriously. They're as real as they are in the Christian Bible.

The Persian (pre-Iranian, pre-Islam) Aryan poem of Rostam/Rustam slaying dragon
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Three-headed dragon in Russian folklore (Zmey Gorynych)
They are broadly divided into two classes, those that live on land (thalaja) and those that live in water (jalaja). The Jalaja-nāgā live in rivers as well as the sea, while the thalaja-nāgā are regarded as living beneath the surface of the earth.

Several nāga dwellings are mentioned in the books, for example:
  • Mañjerika-bhavana under Mt. Meru (Sineru, Sumeru)
  • Daddara-bhavana at the foot of Mt. Daddara in the Himālayas
  • the Dhatarattha-nāgā under the river Yamunā
  • the Nābhāsā Nāgā in Lake Nabhasa
  • the Nāgas of Vesāli, Tacchaka, and Payāga (DN.ii.258).
The Monastic Code of Discipline (Vinaya, ii.109) contains a list of four royal families of nāgas (Ahirājakulāni):
  1. Virūpakkhā,
  2. Erāpathā,
  3. Chabyāputtā,
  4. Kanhagotamakā.
We can distinguish different types of dragons.
Two other nāga tribes are generally mentioned together, the Kambalas and the Assataras. It is said (SA.iii.120) that all nāgas have their young in the Himālayas.

Stories are given -- for example, in the Bhūridatta Jātaka -- of nāgas, male and female, mating with humans.

But the offspring of such unions are [or were a failure of genetic engineering because at that time they were] "watery and delicate" (J.vi.160).

The nāgas are easily angered and passionate, their [fiery] breath is poisonous [like septic Komodo dragons and spitting African snakes capable of blinding a person], and their glance can be deadly (J.vi.160, 164).

They are carnivorous [eating humans as reptilians] (J.iii.361), their diet consisting chiefly of frogs (J.vi.169), and they sleep, when in the human world, on ant hills (Ibid., 170).

The Eagle and Serpent motif
Dragon manuscript illustration from Verona: St. George (patron saint of England), circa 1270

Avian overpowers Serpent motif, Mexican flag
The enmity between the nāgas and the garulas is proverbial (DN.ii.258).

At first garulas did not know how to seizenāgas, because the latter swallowed large stones so as to be too heavy, but then they learned how in the Pandara Jātaka.

The nāgas dance when music is played, but it is said (J.vi.191) that they never dance if any garula is nearby (due to fear) or in the presence of human dancers (due to shame).

The European drag can fly and shoot flames.
The best known of all nāgas is Mahākāla, king of Mañjerika-bhavana. He lives for a whole kappa [kalpa, an ordinary average lifespan or an aeon, of which there are various kinds up to a great-aeon], and is a very pious follower of the Buddha.

The nāgas of his world had the custodianship of a part of the Buddha's cremation relics until they were needed for the Māha Thūpa or "Great Burial Mound" (Mhv.xxxi.27f.).

A Chinese one gets to Rustam
And when the Bodhi tree was being brought to Sri Lanka, they did it great honor during the voyage (Mbv. p.. 163f.).

Other nāga kings are also mentioned as ruling with great power and majesty and being converted to the Buddha's Dharma, for example Aravāla, Apalālā, Erapatta, Nandopananda, and Pannaka. (See also Ahicchatta and Ahināga).

In the Atānātiya Sutra (DN.iii.198f.), speaking of dwellers of the Realm of the Four Great Sky Kings or regents (Cātummahārajika), the nāgas are mentioned as occupying the Western quarter of the sky, with Regent Virūpokkha as their ruler.

Ancient Greek: Goddess Athena observes as Colchian dragon disgorges the hero Jason, attic red-figure kylix painting, circa 480-470, part of the Holy Roman Empire's booty (Mithraic Vatican).

Rustam can't get enough of that D
The nāgas had two chief settlements in Sri Lanka, in Nāgadīpa ("Naga Island") and at the mouth of the Kalyānī River. It was to settle a dispute between two nāga chiefs of Nāgadīpa, Mahodara and Cūlodara, that the Buddha paid his second visit to Sri Lanka.

During that visit he made a promise to another nāga-king, Manjakkhika of Kalyānī, to pay him a visit, and the Buddha's third visit was in fulfilment of that undertaking (Mhv.i.48f.).

The nāgas form one of the guards set up by Sakka, King of the Devas, in Sineru (Mt. Sumeru) against the titans or asuras (J.i.204).

The nāgas were sometimes worshipped by human beings, who offered sacrifices of rice, milk, fish, flesh, and strong drink (J.i.497f.).

Ancient Egyptians wrote of serpents in need of slaying, as if the pre-human world was reptilian
.
The jewel (ratana or treasure) of the nāgas is famous for its beauty and its power of conferring wishes to its possessor (J.vi.179, 180).

The word nāga ("mighty being") is often used as an epithet of the Buddha and the arhats (fully enlightened disciples), and in this connection the etymology given is āgum na karotī ti nāgo (e.g., MNid.201).

The Bodhisattva (the Buddha-to-be) was reborn several times as a king of the nāgas: Atula, Campeyya, Bhūridatta, Mahādaddara, and Sankhapāla.

In accounts given of the nāgas, there is undoubtedly great confusion between the nāgas as various kinds of entities, good and bad.

Whether they are snakes, monsters, supernatural beings, reptoids (Draco reptilian humanoids), shapeshifters, genies (jinn), and the name of some non-Aryan "Barbarian" tribes (like those from Nagaland, northeast India), but the confusion and overly general use of the term is too difficult to unravel.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Art is art: "I, Pet Goat II" (animation)

HeliofantThe CG Bros, 9/25/13; Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven, Seth Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Heliofant's CGI 3D animated "I, Pet Goat II"
(The CG Bros) This is a story about the fire at the heart of suffering (dukkha). Bringing together dancers, musicians, visual artists, and 3D animators, this Heliofant film takes a critical look at current events:

God (celestial deva) communicates by dance?
A mysterious figure travels aboard a boat through a dark and desolate waterscape on a quest for inner peace.

Main software used: Maya, Vray, FumeFX, RealFlow.  Download the wallpapers at heliofant.com. Original soundtrack, "The Stream," written and performed by Tanuki Project (thetanukiproject.com). 

Remote viewing is real: The Men Who Stare At Goats
Some of the stellar artists that worked on this short:
Animation is roughly half keyframe animation and half motion capture. Motion capture recording by Lartech.

Winner of the Ocelot Robot Film Festival. Placed 14th (out of 100) best of 2012 | Fubiz The Future of Animation | SOTW Awards 2013 "3D movie creation" best film distinction | 4th International Animated Short Film Festival "Ciné court animé."

Based in the beautiful Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal, Canada, Heliofant is a nascent independent computer animation studio focused on creating experimental and challenging content. 

Bringing together artists from various fields, the company is very interested in exploring the common ground that underlies many spiritual and philosophical traditions in a lyrical form. Contact: info@heliofant.com.

Jews attack: Israel killing kids in Israel (video)

Jimmy Dore (jimmydorecomedy.com); Sheldon S., Pfc. Sandoval, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly

Max Blumenthal helps comedian Jimmy Dore understand the hypocrisy and crimes against humanity if not slow-genocide of the Palestinians of Palestine/Israel as supported by the CIA and US military for its own self-serving purposes. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is corrupt and being prosecuted, but he was groomed by the CIA for the job of running a puppet state for the West in the geopolitical Middle East, so let's not expect that his conviction will change anything or so much as shame the public relations Jewish leader of a nation taken over like England took the US from Native Americans and Australia from aborigines, and most of the world for its own settler colonial ambitions to be a world empire. This time it's different because Jews are taking to the streets of their occupied land to terrify, beat, kill, and drive out Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs or anyone who looks like it. Will the AP or "American Propaganda" (ap.org) channel be saying any of this? At least npr.org contorts itself to seem objective.

US Poet Laureate Harjo and youth poets (audio)

Kathryn Fink (the1A.org, 5/11/21); Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Crazy Brave: A Memoir by poet Joy Harjo (Kindle eBook via Amazon)
Harjo onstage at the 11th Annual Governors Awards gala hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)
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Joy Harjo is a poet-musician.
United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo has been busy during the pandemic. She recently released her first spoken word album in over a decade, entitled I Pray for My Enemies.

She edited a new anthology called Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry. And she’s set to release a new memoir this fall. Oh, did we mention she’s also been appointed to a rare third term? The 1A talks with Harjo about her latest work — and what it means to be the first Native American poet to serve as U.S. poet laureate. More + AUDIO

  • GUEST: Joy Harjo, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is the author of An American Sunrise and the current U.S. poet laureate about to enter her third term and has just edited an anthology of American poetry while playing music and performing spoken word pieces to practice mindful-detachment and forgiveness (kshanti) by praying for people who want to be her enemies.
  • LA County is stronger together with free Headspace

U.S. settler colonialism (Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz)

Mitch Jeserich (KPFA.org, 5/11/21); Dhr. Seven, Xochitl, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
March for missing Indigenous females (Dulcey Lima @dulceylima on Unsplash)
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Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Settler Colonialism
History of the US (beacon.org)
The new Americans engaged in settler colonialism even before there was a "United States" just as England did it to Ireland. Guest Native American scholar Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is an expert on Indigenous history. She is a radical writer and editor of many books, including Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, All The Real Indians Died Off, and her acclaimed An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. She is the recipient of the Cultural Freedom Prize for Lifetime Achievement by the Lannan Foundation, who lives in San Francisco, California. More: Pacifica Radio, Berkeley (KPFA.org)

NY Times deceptively edits truth about Israel

Max Blumenthal, Jimmy Dore, May 13, 2021; Pfc. Sandoval, Sheldon S., Wisdom Quarterly

8 misconceptions about Native Americans

Joey Clift (insider.com, January 9, 2020); Xochitl, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Lakota language crash course, U of Denver in 2018 (Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty)
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8 of the biggest misconceptions people have about Native Americans
We're in in country (racist U.S. military slang)
As one of the few Native Americans in the entertainment industry, I'm used to being asked bizarre questions about my culture and upbringing.

Many people seem to think that all Natives live in teepees and look like caricatures from the 1700s.

Here are some of the weirdest and wildest misconceptions people have about being Native American today.

The mainstream media does little to help.
Growing up on the Tulalip Indian Reservation in Washington state, I was ill-prepared for how little the average person knows about Native issues.

For context, according to a study by the Native-run nonprofit IllumiNatives, 87% of United States schools fail to cover Native American history beyond 1900.

My house is on the left 😏 (Artur Widak/Getty)
That fact is never more apparent than when a grown adult — who's gone to college and could know better — asks me if I was born in a teepee.

To head some of these questions off at the pass, I'm here to clear up some of the weirdest and wildest misconceptions people have about being Native American in the 21st century. More

BDS: Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel (video)

Journalist Max Blumenthal (@maxblumental), comedian Jimmy Dore (@jimmy_dore, jimmydorecomedy.com); Pfc. Sandoval, Sheldon S., Seth Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Smoking weed and cartoons (video)


(The New Yorker/Eric Lewis/art.com)
Is pot (medical-grade high-CBD Cannabis sativa) the greatest invention or the worst? Giggle uncontrollably with slacker friends all Heshered out then become Hesher and it's slack, slack, slack. Somebody said, "Weed is spiritual." It seems about as otherworldly as sipping rotten malt, which we call brews (the suras of the no-suras). There has to be a better way to focus and concentrate the mind on the present, to be all zen'ed out, jhanified (absorbed in a single subject of attention). Pot ain't it, although it might make for a better world than alcohol gives us.

Then paradise all came crashing to an end by getting stoned too much.

Bigfoot and the Bodhisatta: Jataka 1 (sutra)

Ken+Visakha Kawasaki, Jataka Tales of the Buddha; Dhr. Seven,CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Crossing the Wilderness: Apannaka Jataka
Yakkhas are ogres like a variety of Bigfoot.
(Jataka 1) While the Buddha was staying at Jetavana Grove near the city of Savatthi, the multi-millionaire Buddhist banker Anathapindika went to pay his respects along with a large company of friends.

His servants carried mounds of flowers, perfume, butter, oil, honey, molasses, cloths, and monastic robes. Anathapindika bowed and presented the offerings he had brought, then sat respectfully to one side.

At that time Anathapindika was accompanied by many friends who were followers of other local teachers. His friends paid their respects to the Buddha and sat close to the banker.

The Buddha's face appeared bright as a full moon, his body was surrounded by his radiant aura extending a league. Seated on the red stone seat, he was like a young lion roaring with a clear, noble voice as he taught them a sutra full of charm and sweet to the ear.

After hearing the Buddha's teaching, the many friends gave up their other doctrines and practices (dhamma-vinaya) and went for guidance to the Three Treasures: the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the [Arya-] Sangha.
  • NOTE: The Triple or Three Gem are the Teacher, Teaching, and Taught, which refers not only to this buddha but all supremely enlightened samma-sam-buddhas like the historical Buddha, this Doctrine and Discipline they teach that leads those who practice it to enlightenment, and those who have followed it, which refers to the noble-sangha, those who have succeeded in gaining at least the first stage of awakening, the stream enterers.
After that, they regularly accompanied Anathapindika to offer flowers and incense and to hear the Dharma. They gave liberally, kept the Five Precepts, and confidently (faithfully) observed the weekly lunar observance (uposatha) day.
  • [Note 1: The uposatha or Lunar Observance Day refers to the full moon, new moon, and half moon days, when practicing Buddhists go above the Five Precepts and observe the Eight Precepts.]
Soon after the Buddha left Savatthi to return to Rajagaha (modern Rajgir), however, these men abandoned their new Dharma and reverted to their previous beliefs.

Seven or eight months later, the Buddha returned to Jetavana. Again, Anathapindika brought his friends to visit the Buddha. They paid their respects, but Anathapindika explained that they had forsaken their Buddhist guidance and resumed their former practices.

The Buddha asked, "Is it true that you have abandoned guidance from the Three Treasures for guidance from other doctrines (dhammas)?" The Buddha's voice was incredibly clear because throughout myriad aeons (kalpas) he practiced speaking truthfully.

When these men heard it, they were unable to conceal the truth and be anything but honest. "Yes, Blessed One," they admitted, "it is true."

"Disciples," the Buddha said "nowhere between the lowest of hells below and the highest of heavens above, nowhere in all the countless worlds that stretch right and left, is there the equal, much less the superior, of a buddha. Incalculable is the excellence that springs from practicing the precepts and from other virtuous conduct."

Then he declared the virtues of the Triple Gem. "By going for guidance from in the Three Treasures (Triple Gem)," he told them, "one escapes from rebirth in states of suffering." He further explained that meditation on the Three Treasures leads through the four stages to enlightenment.

"In forsaking such guidance as this," he admonished them, "you certainly go astray. In the past, too, those who foolishly mistook what was no guide for a real guide, met with disaster.

"Actually, they fell prey to ogres (yakkhas, carnivorous Bigfoot as opposed to the friendly nature protecting kind, Sasquatch, shapeshifters, maneating monsters) — harmful spirits — in the wilderness. And they were utterly destroyed.

"In contrast, those who clung to the truth survived, profited, and prospered in that very same wilderness."

Anathapindika raised clasped hands to his forehead, praised the Buddha, and asked him to tell a story of the past (a jataka tale).

"In order to dispel the world's ignorance and to conquer suffering," the Buddha proclaimed, "I practiced the Ten Perfections for countless aeons. Listen carefully, and I will speak."

Having their full attention the Buddha made clear, like releasing a full moon from behind clouds, what rebirth had concealed from them.

Story of the past
Older English translation of Jatakas (Rhys Davids)
Long, long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Varanasi (Benares), the Bodhisatta (the Buddha-to-be) was reborn into a merchant's family and grew up to be a wise trader.

At the same time, in the same city, there was another merchant, a very foolish fellow with no common sense whatsoever.

One day it so happened that the two merchants each loaded many carts with costly wares of Varanasi, preparing to leave in the same direction at exactly the same time.

The wise merchant thought, "If this silly young fool travels with me and if our many carts stay together, it will be too much for the road. Finding wood and water for the workers will be difficult, and there won't be enough grass for the oxen. Therefore, either he or I must go first."

"Look," he said to the other merchant, "the two of us can't travel together. Would you rather go first or follow after me?"

The foolish trader thought, "There will be many advantages if I take the lead: I'll get a road that is not yet cut up. My oxen will have the pick of fresh grass. My workers will find the choicest wild herbs for curry. The water will be undisturbed. Best of all, I'll be able to fix my own price for trading my goods." Considering all these advantages, he said, "I will go ahead, friend."

The Bodhisatta or "Buddha-to-be" (Java, Indonesia)
The Bodhisatta was pleased to hear this because he saw many advantages in following second: He reasoned, "Those carts going first will level the road where it is rough, and I'll be able to travel along the road they have already smoothed. Their oxen will graze off the coarse old grass, and mine will pasture on the sweet young growth that springs up in its place. My workers will find fresh sweet herbs for curry where the old ones have been picked. Where there is no water, the first caravan will have to dig to supply themselves, and we'll be able to drink at the wells they have dug. Haggling over prices is tiresome work; he'll do that work. And I will be able to exchange my wares at prices he has already fixed."

"Very well, friend," he said, "please go first."

"I will," said the foolish merchant, and he yoked his carts and set out. After a while he came to the outskirts of a wilderness. He filled all of his huge water jars with water before setting out to cross the 60 yojanas [2] of desert that lay before him.
  • [2: Yojana: an ancient unit of distance, the distance a yoked ox can pull before it needs to be unyoked and given a rest, about seven miles.]
The ogre (yakkha djinnshapeshifter, skinwalker, demon, devil, trickster) who haunted that wilderness area had been watching the caravan. When it had reached the middle, he used his magic power to conjure up a lovely carriage drawn by pure white young bulls.

Yakkha (ogre, Bigfoot) Thai statue
With a retinue of a dozen disguised (shapeshifted) ogres carrying swords and shields, he rode along in his carriage like a mighty lord. His hair and clothes were wet, and he had white water lilies around his head and a wreath of blue lotuses. His attendants were also dripping wet and draped in garlands. Even the bulls' hooves and carriage wheels were muddy.

As the wind was blowing from the front, the merchant was riding at the head of his caravan to escape the dust. The ogre drew his carriage beside the merchant's and greeted him kindly. The merchant returned the greeting and moved his own carriage to one side to allow the carts to pass while he and the yakkha chatted.

"We are coming from Varanasi, sir," explained the merchant. "I see that your workers are all wet and muddy and that you have lotuses and water lilies. Did it rain while you were on the road? Did you come across pools with lotuses and water lilies?"

"What do you mean?" the yakkha asked. "Just over there is a dark green streak of jungle. Beyond that there is plenty of water. It is always raining there, and there are many lakes with lotuses and water lilies." Then, pretending to be interested in the merchant's business, he asked, "What do you have in these carts?"

"Expensive merchandise," answered the merchant.

"What is in this cart that seems so heavily laden?" the yakkha asked as the last cart rolled by.

"That's full of water."

"You were wise to carry water with you this far, but there is no need for it now since water is so abundant ahead. You could travel much more quickly and lightly without these heavy jars. You'd be better off breaking them and dumping the water. Well, good day," he said suddenly, as he turned his carriage.

"We must be on our way," called out the yakkha. We have stopped too long already." He rode away quickly with his workers. But as soon as they were out of sight, he turned and made his way back to his own city.

The merchant was foolish; he followed the yakkha's advice. He broke all the jars and dumped the water, without saving a single cupful, and ordered the workers to drive on quickly. They did not find any water, and riding so quickly they were soon exhausted from thirst.

At sunset they drew their carts into a circle and tethered the oxen to the wheels, but there was no water for the weary animals. Without water, the workers could not cook any rice either. They sank to the ground and fell asleep.

Yakkhas or jinn (genies) in ancient Persian art
As night came, the yakkhas attacked, killing everyone. The fiends devoured their flesh, leaving behind only bones, and departed.

Skeletons were strewn in every direction, but the many carts stood with their loads untouched. The heedless young merchant was the sole cause of the destruction of the entire caravan.

Allowing six weeks to pass after the foolish trader had left, the Bodhisatta set out with his many carts. When he reached the edge of the wilderness, he filled his water jars. Then he assembled his workers and announced:

"Let not so much as a handful of water be used without my permission. Furthermore, there are poisonous plants in this wilderness. Do not eat any leaf, flower, or fruit that you have never eaten before without first showing it to me." Having thus carefully warned everyone, he led the caravan into the wilderness.

When they had reached the middle of the wilderness, the yakkha appeared on the path just as before. The merchant noticed his red eyes and fearless manner and suspected something strange. "I know there is no water in this desert," he said to himself. "Furthermore, this stranger casts no shadow. He must be a yakkha. He probably tricked the foolish merchant, but he doesn't realize how clever I am."

"Get out of here!" he shouted at the yakkha. "We are business traders. We do not throw away our water before we see where more is to come from!"

Without saying any more, the yakkha rode away.

As soon as the yakkhas had left, the merchant's workers approached their leader and said, "Sir, those travelers were wearing lotuses and water lilies on their heads. Their clothes and hair were wringing wet. They told us that up ahead there is a thick forest where it is always raining. Let us throw away our water so that we can proceed more quickly with lighter carts."

The merchant ordered a halt and summoned everyone together: "Has anyone among you ever heard before today," he asked, "that there was a lake or a pool in this wilderness?"

"No, sir," they answered. "It's known as the 'Waterless Desert'."

"We have just been told by strangers that it is raining in the forest just ahead. How far does a rain-wind carry?"

"A yojana, sir."

"Has anyone here seen the top of even a single storm cloud?"

"No, sir."

"How far off can one see a flash of lightning?"

"Four or five yojanas, sir."

"Has anyone here seen a flash of lightning?"

"No, sir."

"How far off can a person hear a peal of thunder?"

"Two or three yojanas, sir."

"Has anyone here heard a peal of thunder?"

"No, sir."

"Those were not men but yakkhas," the wise merchant told them. "They were hoping we would throw away our water. Then, when we grew weak and exhausted, they would return to devour us.

Since the young merchant who went before us was not a man of good sense, most likely he was fooled by them. We may expect to find his carts standing just as they were first loaded. We will probably see them today. Press on with all possible speed, without throwing away a single drop of water!"

Just as the merchant had predicted, his caravan soon came upon the many carts of the foolish merchant with human and animal skeletons strewn in every direction. He ordered his workers to arrange the carts in a fortified circle, to take care of the oxen, and to prepare an early supper for themselves.

After the animals and workers had all safely bedded down, the merchant and guards, swords in hand, stood watch all through the night.

At daybreak the merchant replaced his own weak carts for stronger ones and exchanged his own common goods for the most costly of the abandoned merchandise. When he arrived at his destination, he was able to trade his stock of wares at two or three times their value.

He returned to his own city without losing a single person out of all his company.

This story ended, the Buddha said: "Thus it was, lay disciples, that in times past, the foolish came to utter destruction, while those who held to the truth escaped from the yakkhas' hands, reached their goal, and returned home safely again.

Countless worlds in 31 categories
"This holding to the truth not only endows one with happiness even up to rebirth in the Realm of Brahma, but also leads ultimately to full enlightenment.
  • [3: The Realm of Brahma refers to higher heavens, where the deva beings there enjoy radiant bliss. Devas (lit. "shining ones") are light beings, ranging from the highest brahmas to simple woodland tree spirits or fairies.]
"Following untruth entails rebirth either in four states of woe (apaya) or in the lowest conditions of humankind." After the Buddha had expounded the Four Noble Truths, those many disciples were established in the fruit of the first path (the first stage of enlightenment).

The Buddha concluded his lesson by identifying that rebirth as follows: "The foolish young merchant was Devadatta.
"The workers were Devadatta's followers. The wise merchant's workers were the followers of the Buddha. And I myself was that wise merchant." The end.

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PART I CONTENTS