§ 94. Contentment Is Riches

Translated from the Visuddhi-Magga (chap. iii.)

By dwelling-place is meant either a chamber, or a hut, or a whole monastery. Now a dwelling-place is not a hindrance to everybody. But anyone who spends much thought on building operations or the like, or accumulates many goods, or for any reason devotes much attention to his house and becomes engrossed by it, to him it is a hindrance, but not to any other. The following story will illustrate.

They say there were two young men of good family, who issued forth from Anurādhapura, and retired from the world in a monastery surrounding a relic-shrine. One of these learnt two tables of contents by heart, and when five years had elapsed from his ordination, he went, after the solemnity of inviting criticism, to Pācīnakhandarāji. The other one remained where he was. The one who had gone to Pācīnakhandarāji dwelt there a long time, and having become an elder, he reflected, "This place is very suitable for retirement. Come now, I will tell it to my comrade." And he issued forth, and in due course of travel arrived at the monastery surrounding the relic-shrine. His friend saw him coming, and, notwithstanding he was also an elder, and had been a member of the Order for the same length of time, went to meet him, and taking his bowl and his robe, he performed for him the duties of respect. When the visiting elder had entered his sleeping-quarters, he thought, "Now my friend will send me either some clarified butter, or some treacle, or something to drink; for he has dwelt in this city a long time." But when he received nothing at night, in the morning he thought, "Now he will send me some rice-gruel, or some hard food, given by some of his charitable friends." But when he saw nothing, he thought, "There are none to send. Methinks they will give when he goes to the village," and went with him early in the morning to the village. After walking through one street and securing only [429] a ladleful of rice-gruel, they sat down in a hall where there was a seat, and drank it up. Then the stranger elder thought, "Methinks it cannot be rice-gruel all the time; surely at dinner-time the people will give some good rice-porridge." So at dinner-time he went his rounds for alms, and getting nothing to eat but such as had already been given him, he said to his friend:

"Reverend sir, do you always live in this way?"

"Yes, brother."

"Reverend sir, it is very pleasant at Pācīnakhandarāji. Let us go thither."

The elder issued from the city by the southern gate, and started off by way of the potter's village.

"Reverend sir," said his friend, "why do you take this road?"

"Brother, did you not celebrate the praises of Pācīnakhandarāji?"

"But, reverend sir, in all this time that you have inhabited this place, have you acquired no spare requisites?"

"Yes, brother; the bed and the bench that belong to the congregation. But I have put them back where they belong, and have nothing else."

"But I, reverend sir, am leaving behind a walking-stick, a measure of sesamum oil, sandals, and a scrip."

"Brother, have you accumulated all those in one day's time?"

"Yes, reverend sir," said the other; and pleased in mind, he did obeisance, and said, "Reverend sir, for such as you it is everywhere as though you dwelt in the wood, and as though every place contained a relic-shrine, and held the remains of the four Buddhas, and as though you could hear profitable sermons in the Brazen Palace, and had sight of great temples, and of holy elders. For you it is as if The Buddha were alive. Stay you here!"

And on the next day, with his bowl and his robe, he departed alone.

For such a one, a dwelling-place is no hindrance.


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