Saturday, August 06, 2005

Fruit Spirits

The Vajrasekhara Sutra says:

"Estacy, Love, Contact, Embracing are all the Bodhisattva's path;
All defilements are fundamentally no different from the pure Buddha body."

A recent report from Segamat, Malaysia, tells us that "Fruit Spirits" are strange human-shaped fruits originating from the deep mountainous trees in the Northern Thailand and Laos border regions. Picked and consecrated by Dhutanga (Ascetic) monks wandering in those mountains, they are sometimes given to lay followers as an auspicious gift to be venerated at home. These Fruit Spirits are believed to bring luck and wealth to the faithful.

One of the owners of these fruit spirtis, Mr Deng from the Segamat Buddhadhamma Society related that the trees that grow such human-shaped fruits bear fruit only once in a few years. Most of the fruits are shaped like a woman and only a rare few are shaped like a man. Besides being woman-shaped, the facial features of these fruits (shown above) are also clear and distinguishable, and they even appear to be wearing holy robes on their bodies. Mr Deng was given 5 such fruits by a Dhutanga monk on a past occasion, and 2 of them (a man and a woman) have been brought back to the house of one of their members. Now they have only 3 left at the society. Although there have been people from other parts of Malaysia, and even Singapore asking to buy their remaining fruit spirits, Mr Deng have so far rejected all requests, prefering to keep them on display for the public.

Mr Deng also told reporters that according to legend, long ago there was a couple whose love for each other was thwarted by unfortunate circumstances, and decided to commit suicide together in the end. After their death, their spirits (belonging to the Ghost realm) continue to dwell in the trees where they died. As they cultivated their spiritual powers, they became tree deities and the trees in which they dwell started to bear such man and woman-shaped fruits - signifying their physical and spiritual union. These fruits contain the essense of their union and thus possess the ability to help lovers and people in trouble. After being blessed by the Dhutanga monks and converted to the Dhamma, they also become guardian deities for lay followers who have an affinity with them.

All sentient beings are fettered by thoughts of love and lust, which are manifestations of fluctuating ignorance. Yet in order to shatter fundamental ignorance and reach Nibbana, these emotions can sometimes be used as an expedient method of practice to clear obstacles on the path to Enlightenment. That is why all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and even Arahants have spiritual partners of the opposite sex assisting and practicing with them through the eons, right until they attain the ultimate goal. After they become enlightened, they will dutifully help their spiritual partners reach the same goal as they have, out of gratitude for their timeless support. Yashodhara, the Buddha's consort when he was still a Prince, is a good example of such a faithful female partner. She later became an Arahant also when the Buddha went back to Kapilavastu to teach the Dhamma to his family and kinsmen, the Sakyas. Taking the Buddha's example, and the example of the Fruit Spirits, we should always respect and be thankful to our spiritual partners, for without them we may never attain enlightenment.

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