Monday, April 06, 2009

True Modern Karma Stories - Story 02

5. Whatever the factory has, my house also has

One afternoon a 50 something year old man who looked liked a veteran worker came along with another old layman to pay a formal visit to Venerable Miaofa. He behaved like an old acquaintance; laughing and saluting the moment he entered the house and bowing thrice before the Master. Before anyone asked him to take a seat, he already sat himself down. One look and you know this is a straightforward man.

The Master asked him, “Did you come because of your waist ache?”

He appeared surprised, “Wow you are quite amazing, Master. You know before I even said anything.” As he was speaking he stood up and lifted his shirt to show the Master his back, “Please take a look at by waist.”

Around his waist was a 15cm wide back brace made from a machine conveyor belt.

He sat down again and said, “I have been wearing this thing for almost 10 years. The hospital told me it was lumbar muscular strain. This problem can’t be cured by medicine or injections. I can only rely on this back brace to give some relief; otherwise I can’t even straighten my back! It feels ok in winter and spring, but hurts the most during summer. I probably worked too hard in my youth to get this kind of ailment. I heard from my old friend that you are a living Bodhisattva, so please help me! If you can cure my waist I will burn joss sticks everyday as an offering to you, even kowtow 100 times a day if necessary.” After he finished speaking he saluted the master with clasped fists again.

Venerable Miaofa smiled and replied, “Firstly I am not a Bodhisattva, and secondly I don’t know how to cure diseases. If I’m a Bodhisattva, how can we be talking to each other here? If I can cure diseases I might as well become a doctor in the hospital. Whether or not your ailment can be cured depends on yourself, because he who tied the bell must untie it himself. Let me ask you; if I tell you to stop smoking, boozing, stealing and eating meat, can you do it?”

“As long as my ailment can be cured, I’m willing to do anything. But I’ve never stole anything before!”

“Other than the ache in your waist, do you feel much weight pressing on it?”

“Yes, it is as if there were many kilos of things pressing on my waist.”

“Did you ever steal steel hinges, screws and nails from your workplace? They come in whole boxes.”

He was stunned for a moment. A while later he nodded saying, “Yes I did, I’m a machine bench worker in my unit. Due to the advantage of being in that position, who won’t reap some benefits from the state? Can that be considered theft? Even our factory head had not stopped himself from taking stuff back to his house.”

“If taking state resources back home is not theft, than what is? Did you openly take those things away? Or did you stuff them in empty meal boxes before smuggling them out of the factory?” Venerable Miaofa sounded quite stern at this point.

That question startled the veteran worker, and he could only stare at the Master speechless.

“Not only those few. There were also pincers, screwdrivers and wires. You used galvanized steel plates from the factory to make your house chimney, dustpans, and steel wire rods to make stove heaters, fire chopsticks, fire hooks and so on……”

He suddenly interrupted the Master saying, “Enough Master, say no more. Whatever the factory has, my house has. But how did you know all these?”

“It is the weight of these things that make you unable to straighten your back!”

Looking at the veteran worker again, he no longer showed the coolness that he displayed earlier. I suddenly felt this study room turning into a police interrogation room. Now he was as pitiful as a deflated ball.

He continued softly, “Those things I took were not all for my own use and they were also not sold for profit. I mostly gave them to friends, relatives and neighbors. We ordinary folks don’t make much money, so since they are all for public use, why not take advantage of them? I’m a bench worker with some skill and able to help with many tasks. So being on good terms with the store keepers and helping each other are all perfectly understandable. Nobody thought that was considered stealing. Hearing what the Master told me today is truly shocking for me! Perhaps Heaven really has eyes to see. If not how would you know all these? And how would they all press on my waist? This is retribution! I could not understand why my ailment seemed to worsen with treatment these years; now I know it is due to constant theft. I realized that the saying that ‘If you don’t want others to know, don’t do it’ is quite true! I guarantee to you that from today onwards I will stop smoking, boozing and eating meat. I will never take advantage of state resources again. Everybody knows I’m a man of my word; tomorrow I will get a Buddha image for praying in my house. Master, what Buddhist books should I buy to read? I regret that I have not believed in Buddhism earlier; I would have done much less evil in that way.”

I did not expect this person to have such a sharp aptitude. Listening to his repentant confession, I was filled with appreciative Dharma joy, and so was the Master.

I said, “I will give a few Buddhist books for you to read first. You can go to the monastery later to get more if you like.”

He thanked me and asked, “What about all those things I stole from the factory in the past? Should I pay them back with money?”

Venerable Miaofa replied, “If you really did that, you will get into big trouble. When you feel repentance in your heart, your sins will automatically be dissolved. As for paying back the factory, you can choose to make extra contributions in your work to compensate for it. At the same time you should preach to your friends and relatives more citing yourself as an example, so that they too will learn not to take advantage of state resources. This is called correcting your own faults and practicing what you have learned. It will surely allow you to make amends for all past misdeeds.”

Before he left, he carried a stack of Buddhist books in his hands and said to Venerable Miaofa seriously, “Just wait and see, if I do not change into a better person I will have let down all that you have taught me today.”

Half a month later he came back to visit. This time he prostrated to the Buddha image in my house when he entered. When he stood up, he lifted his shirt and showed me that he was no longer wearing any back brace.

Before I had the chance to ask, he quickly said, “When I went home at that time I felt that I have already recovered a lot. I have kept to all the promises that I made to Master Miaofa. Giving a new coat of paint to my wine cabinet, I converted it into an altar and Buddhist book cabinet. I also got a Guanyin image for making offerings. Now I read the Sutras everyday, rejoicing in the well expounded Dharma. I feel so much better in my heart and have also cured myself of the ailment! These days my family passes the time with joy, as if it was Chinese New Year everyday.

I’m truly grateful towards Master Miaofa.” I was truly happy for him. This old fellow had succeeded in “Dropping the butcher’s cleaver and becoming a Buddha right there”!

1 comment:

Russell Chong said...

These are such amazing stories of Karma. Thanks for translating them. Do translate more!

If you have time, the stories from the free VCDs 山西小院 is so precious too. And the way to dedicate the Merits from chanting Tsitigarba's Sutra to all our Karmic Creditors is so useful!

Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!
I've enjoyed you blog for many years and hope that you'll continue your prolific effort!