Gateway to the Classics: Eastern Stories and Legends by Marie L. Shedlock
Eastern Stories and Legends by  Marie L. Shedlock

The Dreamer in the Wood

N OW the Buddha once upon a time lived alone in the woods, in the ecstasy of meditation. For wild fruits he went no further afield. When fruit grew upon the tree, he ate the fruit; in time of flowers, he ate flowers. When the leaves grew, he ate leaves. When leaves were none, he ate the bark of trees. Thus, in the highest contentment he lived a long time in that place.

Now on a day, Sakka, the King of the gods, appeared before him and, wishing to test him, said: "Behold yon man, all black of hue, my spirit likes him not."

Now by his divine insight the Buddha knew that Sakka spoke to him. And he made answer and said:

"Though black of hue, I am a true Brahmin. A man is not black by reason of his outer skin; only can sin make him black." Thus he discoursed to Sakka, and it was as he had made the moon to rise in the sky. And the god asked him what boon he would crave.

And the Divine being asked to be free of three things: malice, hatred and greed.

Then Sakka: "What is bad in these things?" And Buddha made answer, "Because hatred grows from small to great and is ever full of bitterness. Malice brings evil. First word, then touch, next fist, then staff, and last the swordstroke flashing free. When men are urged by greed, then arise fraud and deceit and swift pursuit of savage loot—"

"Then," said Sakka, "choose another boon."

Then said the Buddha, "Grant that in the woods where I live alone, no disease may mar my peace, or break my ecstasy."

Then said Sakka, "He chooseth no thing connected with food." And he granted yet another boon.

And the Buddha said, "Let no creature ever be harmed for me in body or in mind."

And Sakka made the tree bear fruit perennially, and saluting the Buddha by touching his head with joined hands, he said:

"Dwell here for ever free from disease," and returned to his throne.

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