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Rahula was the Buddha’s son,

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<poem> The Buddha’s father, King Suddhodana, was afraid that his son the prince would leave the home-life. When the prince was still quite young, his father told him to marry, and he wed Yasodhara. When he was nineteen, he left home and, so he was about to go, his wife told him she wanted a son. The prince thereupon pointed his finger at her, and she became pregnant. Then he left for the Snow Mountains to meditate for six years, and for six years Rahula, his son, lay in his mother’s womb.

Rahula means “obstacle.” He had plugged up a mousehole for six days in a past life, and so received six years of retribution, suffering in the womb. When he was finally born, he caused a lot of trouble for his mother. King Suddhodana and the whole family were upset. “Well, I never!” they said. “Without a husband, she gives birth to a son. Yasodhara has obviously been running around. She must have a boyfriend.”

“She’s a bad women,” pronounced the entire clan. One servant spoke in her defense. “You’re wrong,” she said. “She is pure. She stays home all day long and doesn’t flirt with men. The child really is the Prince’s.”

No one believed the servant, and they wanted to kill Yasodhara, to beat her to death. Finally, they dug a pit, built a fire in it, and prepared to throw Yasodhara and her baby in. Yasodhara stepped forward and made a vow. “Heaven spirits! Earth spirits! Bear witness! If the child belongs to the Prince, my son and I will not be burned. If I did transgress, we both will burn!” Then she jumped into the pit.

What do you think happened? The pit turned into a pool of water, and a golden lotus grew out of it to catch them. Everyone then knew that the child was truly the son of the Buddha. When the Buddha returned tot he palace, Yasodhara took Rahula to meet him. If the child had been illegitimate, she certainly would have feared the Buddha. But she sent the child out to meet him and the Buddha hugged the child.

Rahula sought the true Way and worked hard. Among the great disciples he was foremost in secret practices. He worked everywhere, at all times, but no one knew he was working because he never advertised his cultivation. His work was so secret that he could enter samadhi any place at all, even on the toilet, and no one knew. Although Rahula was the Buddha’s son, the Buddha doesn’t have only one son; he has Three Kinds of Sons:

1) True Sons. One often reads in the Sutras, “…headed by the Dharma Prince Manjushri…” The Buddha is the Dharma King, and the Bodhisattvas are the Buddha’s genuine sons.

2) Initiate Sons. These are the Arhats who, out of ignorance, hold to the principle of one-sided emptiness and have not attained the principle of the Middle Way.

3) Uninitiate Sons. Common men who do not know how to cultivate are upside-down, but they are still the Buddha’s sons, for the Buddha is the great compassionate father of all living beings. The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Blossom Sutra speaks of us as poor, lost sons. We should quickly return to our great compassionate father. We all have a share in the Buddha’s family.


This Venerable One’s very strange name means “cow cud.”

Far in the distant past, he had insulted a Bhikshu who couldn’t eat hard things and had to slurp his food because his teeth were no good. “You eat like a cow!” said Gavampati. The old Bhikshu happened to be a Pratyeka Buddha, and because of Gavampati’s careless slander,Gavampati was reborn for five hundred lifetimes as a cow and got to know the real bitterness that it involved. Finally he met Shakyamuni Buddha, learned to cultivate, and attained Arhatship. Although he had certified to the fruit, his habits from so many lives remained unchanged, and all day he snorted like a cow chewing its cud. Shakyamuni Buddha was afraid that someone might slander him and reap the same reward, and so he sent the Venerable Gavampati to heaven to live. There he became the foremost of those who receive the offerings of the gods. We should take care not to speak rashly or to scold others. If you berate others, others will berate you.

Pindola Bharadvaja

Pindola Bharadvaja means “unmoving sharp roots.” To the present day he has not entered Nirvana because he broke a rule. Although the Arhats around the Buddha had spiritual powers, they were not allowed to display them casually. Once an elder called JyotiËka carved a bowl out of sandalwood, put it on top of a high pole, and said, “Whoever can use his spiritual powers to get the bowl down can have it.” Pindola Bharadvaja couldn’t resist the temptation, and used his powers to get the bowl down. “Since you’re so greedy for sandalwood bowls that you display your spiritual powers,” said the Buddha, “you will not be allowed to enter Nirvana. Instead, you must stay here and be a field of blessedness for living beings.” Pindola Bharadvaja is still in the world, but no one knows where. Whenever people make offerings to the Triple Jewel, however, he comes to receive them, acting as a field of blessedness for beings in the Dharma-ending age.