The Rain Cloud

Thus have I heard:

The venerable Malunkyaputta arose at eventide from his seclusion, and drew near to where The Blessed One was; and having drawn near and greeted The Blessed One, he sat down respectfully at one side. And seated respectfully at one side, the venerable Malunkyaputta spoke to The Blessed One as follows:

"Revered Sir, it happened to me, as I was just now in seclusion and plunged in meditation, that a consideration presented itself to my mind, as follows: 'These theories which the Blessed One has left unelucidated, has set aside and rejected—that the world is finite, that the world is infinite, that the saint exists after death, that the saint does not exist after death, that the saint both exists and does not exist after death, that the saint neither exists nor does not exist after death—these the Blessed One does not elucidate to me. And the fact that The Blessed One does not elucidate them to me does not please me nor suit me. I will draw near to The Blessed One and inquire of him concerning this matter. If The Blessed One will elucidate (them) to me, in that case will I lead the religious life under The Blessed One. If The Blessed One will not elucidate (them) to me, in that case will I abandon religious training and return to the lower life of a layman."

"If The Blessed One knows that the world is eternal, let The Blessed One elucidate to me that the world is not eternal; if The Blessed One knows that the world is not eternal, let The Blessed One elucidate to me that the world is not eternal. If The Blessed One does not know either that the world is eternal or that the world is not eternal, the only upright thing for one who does not know, or who has not that insight, is to say, 'I do not know; I have not that insight."

(And The Blessed One replied:)

"Malunkyaputta, anyone who should say, 'I will not lead the religious life under The Blessed One until The Blessed One shall elucidate (these things) to me'—that person would die, Malunkyaputta, before the Tathagata had ever explained this to him.

"It is as if a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions were to cure for him a physician; and the sick man were to say, 'I will not have this arrow taken out until I have learnt whether the man who wounded me belonged to the warrior caste, or to the Brahmin caste, or to the agricultural caste, or to the menial caste.'

"Or again he were to say, 'I will not have this arrow taken out until I have learnt the name of the man who wounded me, and to what clan he belongs.'

"Or again he were to say, 'I will not have this arrow taken out until I have learnt whether the man who wounded me was tall, or short, or of the middle height.'

"That man would die, Malunkyaputta, without ever having learnt this.

"This religious life does not depend on the dogma that the world is eternal; nor does the religious life depend on the dogma that the world is not eternal. Whether the dogma obtain that the world is eternal, or that the world is not eternal, there still remain birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair, for the extinction of which in the present life I am prescribing.

"Accordingly, bear always in mind what it is that I have elucidated, and what it is that I have not elucidated. And what have I not elucidated? I have not elucidated that the world is eternal; I have not elucidated that the world is not eternal And why have I not elucidated this? Because this profits not, nor has it to do with the fundamentals of religion, nor tends to aversion, absence of passion, cessation, quiescence, the supernatural faculties, supreme wisdom, and Nirvana; therefore I have not elucidated it."

Selections from:

Henry Clarke Warren. Buddhism, in Translation. New York, Ath-eneum (19), 1963. p. 117.

It is as if a cloud rising above the horizon shrouds all space (in darkness) and covers the earth.

That great rain-cloud, big with water, is wreathed with flashes of lightning and rouses with its thundering call all creatures.

By warding off the sunbeams, it cools the region; and gradually lowering so as to come in reach of hands, it begins pouring down its water all around.

And so, flashing on every side, it ours out an abundant mass of water equally, and refreshes this earth.

And all herbs which have sprung up on the face of the earth, all grasses, shrubs, forest trees, other trees small and great;

The various field fruits, and whatever is green; all plants on hills, in caves and thickets;

All those grasses, shrubs, and trees are vivified by the cloud that both refreshes the thirsty earth and waters the herbs.

Grasses and shrubs absorb the water of one essence which issues from the cloud according to their faculty and reach.

And all trees, great, small, and mean, drink that water according to their growth and faculty, and grow lustily.

the great plants whose trunk, stalk, bark, twigs, pith, and leaves are moistened by the water from the cloud develop their blossoms and fruits.

They yield their products, each according to its own faculty, reach, and their particular nature of the germ; still the water emitted (from the cloud) is of but one essence.

In the same way the Buddha comes into the world like a rain-cloud, and, once born, he, the world's Lord, speaks and shows the real course of life.

And the great Seer, honoured in the world, including the gods, speaks thus: I am the Tathagata, the highest of men, the Gina; I have appeared in this world like a cloud.

I shall refresh all being whose bodies are withered, who are clogged to the triple world. I shall bring to felicity those that are pining away with toils, give them pleasures and (final) rest.

I am inexorable, bear no love nor hatred towards any one, and proclaim the law to all creatures without distinction, to the one as well as the other.

I recreate the whole world like a cloud shedding its water without distinction; I have the same feelings for respectable people as for the low; for moral persons as for the immoral;

For the depraved as for those who observe the rules of good conduct; for those who hold sectarian views and unsound tenets as for those whose views are sound and correct.

I also pour out rain: the rain of the law by which this whole world is refreshed; and each according to his faculty take to heart this well-spoken law that is one in its essence.

Even as all grasses and shrubs, as well as plants of middle size, trees and great trees a at the time of rain look bright in all quarters;

So it is the very nature of the law to promote the everlasting weal of the world; by the law the whole world is recreated, and as the plants (when refreshed) expand their blossoms, the world does the same when refreshed.

So then is the preaching of the law like the water poured out by the cloud everywhere alike; by which plants and men thrive, endless (and eternal) blossoms (are produced).

Selections from

H. Kern. Saddharma-Pundarika or The Lotus of the True Law. New York, Dover (T1065), 1963.* p. 122.

*H. Kern's translation is originally vol. XXI of The Sacred Books of the East, edited by F. Max Muller.

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