Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Way Of Healing

In due time Kisa Gotami became pregnant and after ten lunar months she gave birth to a son. But the child died as soon as he was able to walk. Kisa Gotami had not known death before and when they came to remove the child's body for cremation, she refused to let them do so, saying to herself: "I will get medicine for my son." Placing the dead child on her hip, she went from house to house, pleading: "Do you know a cure for my son?" Everyone said to her: "Woman, you are completely mad in seeking medicine for your son," but she went away, thinking: "Truly, I will find someone who knows the right medicine for my child." Now a certain wise man saw her and thought to himself: "I must help her." So he said: "Woman, I do not know if there is a cure for your child, but there is one who will know and I know him." "Sir, who is it who will know?" "Woman, the Lord will know. Go and ask him." So, she went to the Lord, paid reverence to him, stood at one side and asked: "Venerable sir, is it true as men say that you know a cure for my child?" "Yes, I know." "What then do I need?" "A few mustard seeds." "I will get them, Venerable sir, but in whose house?" "Get them from a house where no son or daughter or any other person has ever died." "Very well, sir," Kisa Gotami said, and having paid reverence to the Lord, and having placed the dead child on her hip, she went to the village and stopped at the very first house. "Have you any mustard seeds? They say they will cure my child." They gave her the seeds, and then she asked: "Friend, has any son or daughter died in this house?" "What do you ask, woman? The living are few and the dead are many." "Then take back your seeds, for they will not cure my child," she said, and gave back the seeds they had given her. In this way she went from house to house but never did she find one that had the mustard seed that she needed. Then she thought: "Oh! It is a difficult task that I have. I thought it was only I who had lost a child, but in every village the dead are more than the living." While she reflected thus, her heart which had trembled now become still.
Dhp. a. 242


Unknown said...

i wonder why they don't make movies or teledrama out of these good moral Buddhist stories. i'm sure these are way better than the crappy cliches they show on tv.

i'm also wondering why my husband's so-called buddhist relatives (Sri Lankans) avoid dhamma discussions whenever he starts one. :( and yet they wanted to vote the person who promised to protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka. strange...

Alessandro S. said...

One of the most touching and uplifting tales from the Canon. And one of the two (or three? or four? oh, whatever! :-) I love the most, the other one beeing the tale of Pacatara (

Ken and Visakha said...

As a small child I remember asking what happened to poor old Lazarus when he got old. The minister was not pleased ;-)

Thanks for this wonderful, gentle story.


Nil said...

Bhante, I thought it through after last night discussion. In fact, I do not know if the Lord lied or not, it may seems so in the text that He lied. If He doesn't then it is the interpreter that mis-interpreted the Lord / text.

All the Sutta are based on a 3rd person recollection, so whether there is any error, I do not know for sure.

The Lord can have 3 respond when Kisa Gotami asked for his help.
1. To tell the Truth.
2. To tell a lie.
3. To keep quite.

If He chose (1), then there is really 2 choices:
a. He really know how to raise the death, we will not know for sure since we are not the Buddha and know what he knew.

b. He know that the death cannot come back to life. I.e. there is no cure for death.

If He chose (2), then the lie will die in the light of Truth sooner or later.

If He chose (3), then he is no difference from the others who told Kisa Gotami that her son cannot be brought back to life and she will suffer even more.

Based on the Lord's action, I am of the view He saw the suffering of Kisa Gotami and skillfully provided an end to that suffering. He knew the temperament of Kisa Gotami at the moment since he is a skillful teacher (a teacher of man and Gods).

Really, the Lord only teaches the cause of suffering and the end to suffering out of Compassion for us and for our Welfare.

It was a skillful means to delay telling Kisa Gotami the Truth and for her to experience the First Noble Truth herself.

Isn't the Dhamma-Vanaya about experiencing and seeing the benefit of the Dhamma ourselves? If not, why won't the Lord give us salvation (since he is compassionate) but instead only point the way for us?

Thus I conclude that I do not know if the Lord lied or not, but His action suggest that His intention is pure, based on Wisdom, Kindness and Compassion for Kisa Gotami.

Any view point on whether he lies or tell the Truth are rally our own interpretation of his action.

Nil said...

Some post on Kisa Gotami.

(Entering the Sangha after a Child's Death)

(Sahassavagga: Thousands)
Yo ca vassasatam jeeve
apassam amatam padam
Ekaaham jeevitam seyyo
passato amatam padam

Though one should live a hundred years without seeing the Deathless State, yet better indeed, is a single day's life of one who sees the Deathless State.

(Skinny Gotami & the Mustard Seed)

yuri said...

Dear Querty, I feel the question of lying does NOT even arise here. For if Kisagotami had indeed managed to bring those seeds from a family, in which no one had ever died, proving that immortality in this world did exist, then the Buddha would have resurrected her son.