The two brothers

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The two brothers

Postby fabianfred » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:59 am

In ancient India after the passing away of the Buddha,
there were once two brothers in their twenties, who agreed to
set off for a journey of a lifetime so that they could learn
the dhamma from different teachers, and they aimed to settle
down with the teacher who could teach them to understand
the most profound dhamma. After two months of travelling,
they reached a small farm house which was quite remote from
the next village. It was dusk and the two brothers had no
choice but to ask the owner of the farm to let them spend
a night there and they would leave early in the morning.
The two brothers were rather surprised to find out that there
was no man there at all. The farm was owned by a middle
age mother and her beautiful daughter in her early twenties
who appeared to be strong and tough and agreed to let them
spend a night in the farm house with a few of their animals.
The two men got up at the crack of dawn, washed
themselves by the well and were about to leave after they
had thanked the two women. The daughter had already been
up and was milking the cows. She saw the men and shouted for
them to come to see her.
“If you two are not in a rush, my mother would like
you to stay for breakfast before you leave. She is preparing
a meal right now,” the young woman said to the men smilingly
while still milking the cow.
The younger brother felt reluctant and was about to
refuse, but the elder brother quickly agreed to the kind
invitation before he could say anything. He was annoyed at
his elder brother but kept quiet. A while later, the two men
and two women were having breakfast, and engaged in some
small talk. At one point, the mother paused briefly, went into
a deep thought, and said:
“Why don’t you two men stay here and work for me in
the farm. My husband died a few years ago and we never had
a son. It is sure good that this daughter of mine is tough and
strong. We were thinking of selling the farm and moving into
the town instead, but if you can work for us, we won’t have
to sell the farm.”
Whilst the younger brother remained silent, a way to
refuse the woman’s request, the elder brother asked more
questions about the arrangement. To the younger brother’s
horror, the elder brother finally agreed to what the woman
suggested. When they both had a chance to be alone, the
younger brother said angrily to his elder sibling:
“I cannot believe you. We have agreed to set off on
this journey to find the ultimate enlightenment and you
are willing to give up that holy ambition the first sign you have
the opportunity to be with a beautiful girl and all her wealth.
This is just very convenient, isn’t it? I cannot believe how
weak my brother is and I am very disappointed in you. How
can you treasure all these worldly values more than your own
spiritual salvation?”
The elder brother listened to his brother with
an amazingly calm reaction. He did not answer back nor did
he try to explain why he chose to stay behind. He remained
silent and let his brother get everything off his chest while he
was listening. Then, it was time to say goodbye. The younger
brother had no choice but to leave his elder brother behind.
“All right, it looks like whatever I said cannot change
your mind. You have made your choice to live a family
life. Remember how the Buddha said that life is suffering.
I am sure you’ll soon find out. Well, we’ll see when we’ll
see, I suppose. Good luck and goodbye, brother.”
The elder brother also wished for his younger sibling
to find the best dhamma teacher so that he could achieve
his spiritual goal.
After twenty years had gone by, the young traveller
was now a Buddhist monk and he had visited many famous
meditation schools and learnt from many well known
dhamma teachers. His spiritual knowledge had been widened
by meeting people with his own interests and reciting a great
deal of famous sutras. However, he still had not yet settled
down in a particular monastery. For some reason, he still had
a need to search for something better. He then travelled
nearer to the place where he and his brother had stopped
some twenty years before. He was intrigued to find out how
his brother’s family life was, so he decided to drop in
for a visit. It was a great delight to his elder brother to have
a chance to see his young sibling again. The brother invited
his brother the monk to a small hut a good fifty yards from
the main house and they both sat down for a chat just
like old times. The monk was rather intrigued and his first
question was: “What is this place?”
“Well, this is where I live.” The brother answered calmly
as usual.
The monk was even more surprised because inside
the hut barely had anything but one small bed enough for
one person. He could not wait for further explanation. The
brother knew exactly what was going through the monk’s
mind and quickly said:
“Well, look at you, brother. You look so radiant in your
robe. Now, please tell me first of your adventure. Did you
finally find a good teacher who helped you to understand
the profound dhamma?”
Once that question was raised, the monk could not
help to boast about his experience in meeting many well known
dhamma teachers and taking part in reciting the profound
sutras. He was also very keen to recite the sutras to his brother
to show him that he had learnt a great deal during these
twenty years. The brother calmly and carefully listened to what
his brother told him without any interruption. After a long
monologue, the monk asked his brother:
“How about you, brother? How many children do you
have? Or are you already a grandfather? Now, you tell me
about your family life.”
The elder brother smiled gently and said:
“Well, it was you who assumed that I was going to
marry that young beautiful tough woman twenty years ago.
In fact, when her mother talked about letting us stop and
work here on that morning at the breakfast table, I did not
think anything other than helping out these two women. Life
would be very difficult without a man to take care of this
farm for them. I had never thought about marrying her, but
I knew you could not understand so I let you think as you did.
Once you left the farm, I went back to the house and had
a good talk with the mother and daughter. I told them that
I had always wanted to be a monk once I could find a good
teacher. Therefore, I made a deal with them that I would help
them out as long as they would leave me alone to do my own
things. They have kept the deal up until today. We have become
very good friends. In fact, the mother passed away about
three years ago and now there are only the daughter and
myself here. I never had any intention to marry that beautiful
young girl. That’s why I built myself this little hut here where
I have lived ever since.”
The monk gasped with amazement once his brother
told him his story up to this point. He reluctantly asked:
“Brother, you are telling me that you have been working
side by side with that beautiful woman all these years and
you have never wanted to be more than just friends with her?
It is rather difficult for me to believe, I must admit. The reason
I left here twenty years ago was because I knew I wouldn’t
be able to resist that pretty young woman. I counted it
a blessing that my passion for enlightenment was stronger.
It was also you who decided to stay behind so, there was no
point for both of us to fight for one woman, was there? But
I was so sure that no sooner had I left this farm that you
would quickly agree to marry her.”
“You know now that you were very wrong. Of course,
my passion for enlightenment was no less than yours. At that
time, I just thought to myself that in fact, if I really wanted
to pursue the dhamma practice, there should not be anything
to stop me, no matter where I was and what kind of
livelihood I led. Maybe with a bit of determination, I could
make it work out both ways. That’s why I thought I could
help this family out as well as carrying on with my dhamma
practice,” the elder brother explained.
“Please tell me the truth then brother. Did you never
have any feelings for that young enchanting woman all these
years? Did you never make any wrong move and give in to
your burning desire?” asked the monk with great curiosity.
“I wouldn’t have been a human if I did not have
moments when I wanted to bow down to my temptations. We
are men after all; man’s sexual desire is indeed much more
powerful than woman’s. In fact, there were countless times
when I wanted to give in to my burning desire and ask her
to marry me. That would have made her mother very happy
too, but I always remembered what you had reminded
me before you left. Life is suffering and I should work hard
for my own salvation. I bit my tongue and on I carried.
Strangely enough, I seem to have survived until now.”
The monk became more and more intrigued of how
his brother could manage to carry out such an extraordinary
way of life.
“Now, you must tell me how exactly you practised your
dhamma to make you survive all these years,” asked the monk.
“Well, I practised only one thing. I watched my mind.
No matter what I was doing during the day and night, as long as
I was awake, I was constantly watching my mind all the time.
Of course, it was more difficult when I had to work side by side
with that exceptionally pretty woman. I had to work extremely
hard in my heart. I often had to come back to this cottage and
lick the wounds. It was very painful but I was so determined
to win my inner battle. When I was really desperate for help,
I recited, “Buddha, Buddha, please help me.” It was extremely
difficult during the early years but after a while I seemed to
learn something by just watching my mind in this way. I could
see a certain pattern of how the mind would flare up and
calm down after a while as long as I had my awareness. Once
I could understand how the mind worked, I faced my next
battle with a little bit more confidence as life was progressing.
I also kept on with my basic meditation skills. Every night
before I slept, I would sit in meditation and be aware of my
breathing. This had helped me a great deal in fighting the
battle during the day. I must admit that my inner battle has
calmed down. In fact, it has eased off quite a lot during this
past couple of years. I have more calm moments than not.
Well brother, this is what I’ve been doing all these years.”
The elder brother talked to his brother monk in a very
calm and peaceful manner as if there was nothing extraordinary
about it.
The brother monk then suddenly realised that while
he was busy travelling and learning to recite the profound
sutras and meeting different famous teachers, his brother had
literally gone through the real life battle and used the dhamma
to fight his way through life. He also realised that what his
brother had done was in fact a million times harder than what
he himself had done. He began to suspect that his brother
might have reached some level of holiness. So, he asked his
brother the straightforward question:
“Brother, has your search for ultimate enlightenment
come to an end?”
The elder brother looked at his younger sibling
with kindness and slowly nodded his head as the answer
to his question. The brother monk quickly went down on
his knees, paid great respect to his brother and said with
overwhelming delight:
“I have finally found the teacher, brother!”
fabianfred
 
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