Monday, January 23, 2006

Is it possible to be a Lotus amidst the Flames?

To be a Lotus amidst the Flames means to live an impure life, yet remaining completely pure in the heart. Many Bodhisattvas who have realized the Unborn Dhamma choose this as an expedient method to teach sentient beings who have unwholesome livelihoods. In the Avatamsaka Sutra, there are many such examples among the 53 teachers that Sudana sought out to learn the Supreme Dhamma. The courtesan Vasumi is one of the most notable ones, as I have mentioned before in previous writings. But before you think you can follow in the footsteps of these enlightened beings, consider this story first:

In the past when the great translator Kumarajiva was forced by the Emperor Yao to take several palace maids as consorts, he relented & allowed the girls to serve him. The emperor's intention was for Kumarjiva to have blood descendents to continue his line, such that his teachings will live on through his children. Kumarajiva, of course, had other plans. However this caused his disciples to think that "Oh, even our master is living with women, so is it not ok for us to give up our vows of celibacy too?" Knowing their thoughts, Kumarajiva assembled all his disciples, took a bowl of needles, & swallowed all the needles right before their very eyes! He then said "I know what u are all thinking. If any of you could swallow this bowl of needles and remain unharmed, then you are welcomed to follow what I'm doing now." Stunned, none of them could utter a word. Kumarajiva then used his spiritual power to expel all the needles from his body through the pores of his skin. Only then did the disciples understood what does it really mean to live in defilement & yet remain undefiled.

Are you able to do likewise? If not, it will be much wiser to keep to the safe shelter of the percepts on your journey towards enlightenment.

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