Friday, December 7, 2012

The Holyman and Harlot in Heaven

Seth Auberon, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly
Prostitution in Zurich (
Nudity in China (
A holyman lived happily on a peaceful street. One day the empty house across from him was bought. 
He stared out of his window at it and before long, seeing many men coming and going, became convinced that it was being used as a brothel.
He soon saw a beautiful woman coming to the window staring out across the street at him. 

He became incensed, "She's mocking me! That woman of ill repute has no right to live across from the holy precincts of this temple!" 

By chance that woman died and the holyman died as well. He was eager to see heaven for the dispensing of some karmic justice; the woman was abashed. 

But he was alarmed when he found himself being pulled back to Earth to be reborn, whereas the woman was drawing up to be reborn in some minor paradise in space. 

"Something's gone wrong!" he shouted. "I'm a holyman; she's a wh*re! Why am I being cast away while she advances?!"

Buddhist heavens (Angelo G.I.O./flickr)
A gentle messenger (gandharva) explained that he had been a corrupt man in life, his heart/mind defiled, always condemning others for the faults he thought he detected. And this in spite of the fact that he lived what could have been a peaceful life of spiritual development with the blessing (benefit) of being taken care of as a holyman with time to cultivate spiritual qualities as others worked for their livelihood.
That woman, on the other hand, had led a life of hardship and even desperation that led her to resort to what she could do to get by, and nevertheless did not give up hope of one day gaining something better for herself.

One cutting example was shown to the holyman. The messenger recounted that she would frequently come to her window between visitors to a house she felt trapped in. There she would look out across the street in admiration of the temple and the peaceful old holyman in the window looking back at her. 

She wished more than anything that she could live as peacefully as he lived, cared for and contented, rather than being sunk in the mire of her degrading existence.
"What had you done?" the messenger asked. "What had you been thinking?" Abashed, the holyman fell back to Earth more humble, less judgmental, full of appreciation that he could again live on a planet only half sunk in mire. 

Instead, what might have come his way had he not lived and cultivated some beautiful karmic impulses (cittas) that enabled him to enjoy another rare opportunity to live on Earth.

"If you want to make GOD* laugh, tell [it] your plans."

*"GOD" here is not "God," the supreme god of various warring religious factions in the world but rather what they be hinting at and crediting their god with, which was understood by ancient Indian seers as that ineffable, impersonal, unimaginable godhead the Brahmin priests called Brahman, which should never be confused with Brahma. GOD in this sense is the all, the interplay of karma and results, the enduring reality behind the transient illusions in life.

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