Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Monk who cuts off his own penis

Recently there was such an article in the papers:

[BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai Buddhist monk cut off his penis with a machete because he had an erection during meditation and declined to have it reattached, saying he had renounced all earthly cares, a doctor and a newspaper said on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old monk, whose name was withheld for privacy reasons, allowed medical staff at Maharaj hospital, 780 km (480 miles) south of Bangkok to dress his wound, but refused reattachment, hospital chief Prawing Euanontouch said.

"We cleaned up the wound, gave him some stitches, but he declined to have it reattached because he said had abandoned everything," Prawing told Reuters by telephone.

Prawing declined to comment on the monk's erection, which Bangkok-based Kom Chad Luk tabloid reported on its Web site.]

How foolish this monk is. The Vinaya mentioned that:

[Now at that time a certain monk, tormented by dissatisfaction, cut off his own male organ. They told this matter to the Buddha. He said: "This foolish man, monks, cut off one thing when another should have been cut off. Monks, one should not cut off one's own male organ. Whoever should cut it off, there is a grave offence."]

Besides breaking a serious Vinaya rule, this kind of self-mutilation is totally futile. The Bodhisattvas can give up life & limb for the sake of the Dharma, but never for such a ignorant purpose like trying to cut off one's desires. First of all, we must examine the causes of an erection. If it was physiological, then there's nothing to fuss about as it is just a sign of the body's natural blood circulation cycle. If it was mental, triggered by thoughts of lust, then would cutting off one's penis stop one from thinking?

Instead of trying to understand with the source of lust in the mind, this monk became poisoned by his own aversion & ignorance, leading to such an extreme act. The Buddha's teachings are for one to cut off one's attachment, not to cut off one's body parts! As for dealing with thoughts of lust, there are many kinds of Asubha meditation that use decaying corpses as a subject of contemplation to counter strong craving towards the physical body. Instead of going for the proper solution, the Thai monk completely misunderstood the Buddha's teachings and did something that he would surely regret for the rest of his life.

The problem with many people is that when they try to get rid of a defilement, they end up having another defilement. This is like using dirty water to mop a dirty floor - the floor still remains dirty.

In the past there was a Lama who was very good at the Asubha meditation method of contemplating on the skeleton. He had developed disgust for the physical body, thinking that he had thus freed himself from the shackles of lust. Manjusri knew of this and devised a method to test whether the Lama had indeed attain such freedom. So he manifested himself as a beautiful young lass and went to visit this Lama. "She" intentionally used all sorts of ways to seduce him and test his mental strength.

At first, this Lama remained unmoved. But Manjusri had unlimited powers of knowing the minds of others, and was able to detect some subtle weaknesses in the Lama's mind. As the seduction went on, the Lama's resolve finally wore down and he started to feel very aroused. Realizing that he was about to lose it, the Lama had no choice but to flee. Manjusri kept chasing him, until the Lama became exhausted and begged the girl to let him off. At this point, Manjusri appeared in his true form and admonished the Lama saying:

"If you are a slave to lust, you cannot escape the wheel of suffering; but if you are a slave to aversion, you also can never attain enlightenment! Only when you transcend this duality can you understand the true meaning of the Dharma."

Thereupon the Lama finally realized his mistake and expressed profound gratitude for the Bodhisattva's instruction. Take heed, everyone! Do not repeat the mistakes of the Thai monk or the Lama. Always bear in mind the emptiness of all Dharmas and do not seek solutions outside of your own mind. This is the teaching of Manjusri.

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