Ajahn Chah: Buddha, Dhamma & the Mango Tree

Post sayings and stories you find interesting or useful.

Ajahn Chah: Buddha, Dhamma & the Mango Tree

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 01, 2009 6:25 am

Hello friends!

This is a story of the Buddha as told by Ajahn Chah that I really like. He describes how in a former life, as King Mahajanaka, the Buddha learned of the dhamma from a mango tree...

Dhamma Nature

excerpt:

The Buddha understood the uncertain nature of things. He observed the phenomenon of fruit in the wind and reflected upon the monks and novices who were his disciples. He found that they, too, were essentially of the same nature - uncertain! How could it be otherwise? This is just the way of all things.

Thus, for one who is practicing with awareness, it isn't necessary to have someone to advise and teach all that much to be able to see and understand. An example is the case of the Buddha who, in a previous life, was King Mahajanaka. He didn't need to study very much. All he had to do was observe a mango tree.

One day, while visiting a park with his retinue of ministers, from atop his elephant, he spied some mango tees heavily laden with ripe fruit. Not being able to stop at that time, he determined in his mind to return later to partake of some. Little did he know, however, that his ministers, coming along behind, would greedily gather them all up; that they would use poles to knock them down, beating and breaking the branches and tearing and scattering the leaves. Returning in the evening to the mango grove, the king, already imagining in his mind the delicious taste of the mangoes, suddenly discovered that they were all gone, completely finished! And not only that, but the branches and leaves had been thoroughly thrashed and scattered.

The king, quite disappointed and upset, then noticed another mango tree nearby with its leaves and branches still intact. He wondered why. He then realized it was because that tree had no fruit. If a tree has no fruit nobody disturbs it and so its leaves and branches are not damaged. This lesson kept him absorbed in thought all the way back to the palace: ''It is unpleasant, troublesome and difficult to be a king. It requires constant concern for all his subjects. What if there are attempts to attack, plunder and seize parts of his kingdom?''

He could not rest peacefully; even in his sleep he was disturbed by dreams. He saw in his mind, once again, the mango tree without fruit and its undamaged leaves and branches. ''If we become similar to that mango tree'', he thought, ''our ''leaves'' and ''branches'', too, would not be damaged.'' In his chamber he sat and meditated. Finally, he decided to ordain as a monk, having been inspired by this lesson of the mango tree. He compared himself to that mango tree and concluded that if one didn't become involved in the ways of the world, one would be truly independent, free from worries or difficulties. The mind would be untroubled.

Reflecting thus, he ordained. From then on, wherever he went, when asked who his teacher was, he would answer, ''A mango tree''. He didn't need to receive teaching all that much. A mango tree was the cause of his Awakening to the Opanayiko-Dhamma, the teaching leading inwards. And with this Awakening, he became a monk, one who has few concerns, is content with little, and who delights in solitude. His royal status given up, his mind was finally at peace.

In this story the Buddha was a Bodhisatta who developed his practice in this way continuously. Like the Buddha as King Mahajanaka, we, too, should look around us and be observant because everything in the world is ready to teach us. With even a little intuitive wisdom, we will then be able to see clearly through the ways of the world. We will come to understand that everything in the world is a teacher. Trees and vines, for example, can all reveal the true nature of reality. With wisdom there is no need to question anyone, no need to study. We can learn from nature enough to be enlightened, as in the story of King Mahajanaka, because everything follows the way of truth. It does not diverge from truth.

If we have awareness and understanding, if we study with wisdom and mindfulness, we will see Dhamma as reality. Thus, we sill see people as constantly being born, changing and finally passing away. Everyone is subject to the cycle of birth and death, and because of this, everyone in the universe is as One being. Thus, seeing one person clearly and distinctly is the same as seeing every person in the world.

In the same way, everything is Dhamma. Not only the things we see with our physical eye, but also the things we see in our minds. A thought arises, then changes and passes away. It is ''nāma dhamma'', simply a mental impression that arises and passes away. This is the real nature of the mind. Altogether, this is the noble truth of Dhamma. If one doesn't look and observe in this way, one doesn't really see! If one does see, one will have the wisdom to listen to the Dhamma as proclaimed by the Buddha.


source:
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Dhamma_Nature1.php


This story fits well with my experiences so far, in that while I have learned much from advanced practitioners, teachers, life events, books, nature and spiritual friends I have yet to cultivate a one-to-one teacher/student relationship with a Buddhist teacher in this life. I am not adverse to the idea, it just hasn't happened yet. Still, i feel i have constantly learned things from life, and the natural world all around us. I feel like dhamma lessons are being thrown my way constantly...

I would think that even with a teacher this is often true, no?

:D
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Ajahn Chah: Buddha, Dhamma & the Mango Tree

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:04 am

Greetings Christopher,

I think that's a very good point you make, and thank you for sharing Ajahn Chah's rendition of this classic story.

I find it interesting that no matter what we do or where we go or what we see.... all we know and experience are the six sense bases... sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell and mind. Our total sum of experience thus far, and right this very moment, falls into these six senses.

Here's another story, this time a sutta from the Anguttara Nikaya.

AN 4.45 - Rohitassa Sutta

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Rohitassa, the son of a deva, in the far extreme of the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he stood to one side. As he was standing there he said to the Blessed One: "Is it possible, lord, by traveling, to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away or reappear?"

"I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear."

"It is amazing, lord, and awesome, how well that has been said by the Blessed One: 'I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear.' Once I was a seer named Rohitassa, a student of Bhoja, a powerful sky-walker. My speed was as fast as that of a strong archer — well-trained, a practiced hand, a practiced sharp-shooter — shooting a light arrow across the shadow of a palm tree. My stride stretched as far as the east sea is from the west. To me, endowed with such speed, such a stride, there came the desire: 'I will go traveling to the end of the cosmos.' I — with a one-hundred year life, a one-hundred year span — spent one hundred years traveling — apart from the time spent on eating, drinking, chewing & tasting, urinating & defecating, and sleeping to fight off weariness — but without reaching the end of the cosmos I died along the way. So it is amazing, lord, and awesome, how well that has been said by the Blessed One: 'I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear.'"

[When this was said, the Blessed One responded:] "I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear. But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos."

It's not to be reached by traveling,
the end of the cosmos —
regardless.
And it's not without reaching
the end of the cosmos
that there is release
from suffering & stress.

So, truly, the wise one,
an expert with regard to the cosmos,
a knower of the end of the cosmos,
having fulfilled the holy life,
calmed,
knowing the cosmos' end,
doesn't long for this cosmos
or for any other.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Ajahn Chah: Buddha, Dhamma & the Mango Tree

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 01, 2009 9:50 am

Hi Paul. Thanks for sharing that story! An interesting common theme (perhaps?) in both tales, that no matter what we do or where we go or what we see.... there is no sensory end to this cosmos, but, what can end is our longing for it...

;)
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Ajahn Chah: Buddha, Dhamma & the Mango Tree

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:48 am

Precisely so, Christopher... I find that to be a liberating message.

Without that realisation, how could there ever be true renunciation?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Ajahn Chah: Buddha, Dhamma & the Mango Tree

Postby christopher::: » Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:55 am

retrofuturist wrote:Precisely so, Christopher... I find that to be a liberating message.

Without that realisation, how could there ever be true renunciation?

Metta,
Retro. :)


or true happiness?

deep bows.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am


Return to Dhammic Stories

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests