Buddhist Tales

Angulimala: A Story of the Power of Compassion
(As told by Ven. Walpola Piyananda Thera in Love in Buddhism)

There was once the son of a Brahmin (the highest “priestly” caste in India) in the court of King Pasenadi of Kosala, whose name was Ahimsaka. He was sent to Taxila for his studies. Ahimsaka was intelligent and obedient to this teacher; therefore he was liked by both the teacher and his wife. This made the other pupils jealous of him. So they went to the teacher and falsely accused Ahimsaka of having an immoral relationship with the teacher’s wife. At first, he did not believe them, but after hearing it a number of times, he thought it was true and vowed to have revenge on Ahimsaka. He thought that to kill him would reflect badly on him. His rage prompted him to suggest the unthinkable to the young and innocent Ahimsaka. He told his pupil to kill a thousand human beings and to bring the right thumb of each as payment for teaching him. Of course the youngster would not even think of such a thing, so he was banished from the teacher’s house and returned to his parents.

When his father learned why Ahimsaka had been expelled, he became furious with his son, and would hear no reason. On that very day, with the rain pouring down, he ordered Ahimsaka to leave the house. Ahimsaka went to his mother and asked her advice, but she could not go against the will of her husband. Next Ahimsaka went to the house of his betrothed (in accord with the ancient custom in India calling for betrothal of children long before their actual marriage), but when the family learned why Ahimsaka had been turned out of school, they drove him off. The shame, anger, fear, and despair of Ahimsaka drove him out of his mind. His suffering mind could only recollect the teacher’s order: to collect 1,000 human thumbs. And so he started killing, and as he killed, the thumbs he collected were hung on a tree, but as they were destroyed by crows and vultures, he later wore a garland of the fingers to keep track of the number.

Because of this he came to be known as Angulimala (finger garland) and became the terror of the countryside. The king himself heard about the exploits of Angulimala, and he decided to capture him. When Mantani, Ahimsaka’s mother, heard about the king’s intention, she went to the forest in a desperate bid to save her son. By this time, the chain around the neck of Angulimala had 999 fingers in it, just one finger short of 1,000.

The Buddha; learned of the mother’s attempt to dissuade her son from, and reflected that if he did not intervene, Angulimala, who was on the lookout for the last person to make up the 1,000, would see his mother and might kill her. In that case, he would have to suffer an even longer period for his evil karma. Out of compassion, the Buddha left for the forest.

Angulimala, after many sleepless days and nights, was very tired and near exhaustion. At the same time, he was very anxious to kill the last person to make up his full quota of 1,000 and so complete his task. He made up his mind to kill the first person he met. As he looked down from his mountain perch, he saw a woman on the road below. He wanted to fulfill his vow to complete the 1,000 thumbs, but as he approached, he saw it was his mother. At the same time, the Buddha was approaching, and Angulimala had just enough presence of mind to decide to kill the wandering monk instead of his mother. He set out after the Blessed One with his knife raised. But the Buddha kept moving ahead of him. Angulimala just could not catch up with him. Finally, he cried out, “O Bhikkhu, stop, stop!” And the Enlightened One replied, “I have stopped. It is you who have not stopped.” Angulimala did not catch the significance of these words, so he asked, “O Bhikkhu! Why do you say that you have stopped while I have not?”

The Buddha replied, “I say that I have stopped because I have given up killing all beings. I have given up ill-treating all beings, and have established myself in universal love, patience, and knowledge through reflection. But you have not given up killing or ill treating others and you are not yet established in universal love and patience. Hence, you are the one who has not stopped.” On hearing these words Angulimala was recalled to reality, and thought, these are the words of a wise man. This monk is so very wise and so very brave that he must be the leader of the monks. Indeed, he must be the Enlightened One himself! He must have come here specially to make me see the light. So thinking, he threw away his weapons and asked the Blessed One to admit to the Order of the Bhikkhus, which the Buddha did.

When the king and his men came to capture Angulimala, they found him at the monastery of the Buddha. Finding that Angulimala had given up his evil ways and become a Bhikkhu, the king and his men agreed to leave him alone. During his stay at the monastery, Angulimala ardently practiced meditation.

Angulimala had no peace of mind because even in his solitary meditation he used to recall memories of his past and the pathetic cries of his unfortunate victims. As a result of his evil karma, while seeking alms in the streets he would become a target of stray stones and sticks and he would return to the Jetavana monastery with broken head and blood flowing, cut and bruised, to be reminded by the Buddha: “My son Angulimala. You have done away with evil. Have patience. This is the effect of the evil deeds you have committed in the existence. Your evil karma would have made you suffer through innumerable existences had I not met you.”

One morning while going on an alms round in Savatthi, Angulimala heard someone crying out in pain. When he came to know that a pregnant lady was having labor pains and facing difficulty to deliver the child, he reflected, all worldly beings are subject to suffering. Moved by compassion, he reported the suffering of this poor woman to the Buddha who advised him to recite the following words of truth, which later came to be known as Angulimala Paritta. Going to the presence of the suffering woman, he sat on a seat separated from her by a screen, and uttered these words:

Sister, since the day I became an arahat
I have not consciously destroyed
The life of any living beings.
By this truth, may you be well
And may your unborn child be well.
Instantly the woman delivered her child with ease. Both the mother and child were well and healthy. Even today many resort to this paritta.
Angulimala liked living in solitude and in seclusion. Later he passed away peacefully. As an arahant, he attained parinibbana.

Other bhikkhus asked the Buddha where Angulimala was reborn, and when the Blessed One replied, my son Angulimala has attained parinibbana, they could hardly believe it. So they asked whether it was possible that such a man who had in fact killed so many people could have attained parinibbana. To this question, the Buddha replied, “Bhikkhus, Angulimala had done much evil because he did not have good friends. But later, he hound good friends and with their help and good advice he became steadfast and mindful in practicing the dhamma and meditation. Thus, his evil deeds have been overwhelmed by good karma and his mind has been completely rid of all defilement’s.”

The Buddha said of Angulimala

“Whose evil deed is obscured by good,
he illumines this world like the
moon freed from a cloud.”
The power of love and compassion are stronger than any evil, and are absolute conditions for awakening.

Thai Massage Exercises Part 4

10. Lie on your back with hands at sides, interlock fingers at waist level push arms straight then bring over your head, bring hands to top of head palms upward then back to waist and repeat.

11. With feet shoulder width apart, put hands palm down at top of thighs near to groin crease. Squat then lift up left leg, return to start position then lift up right leg.

12. Using Sen points in leg previously learned bend forward from waist pressing the points until the hands are flat on the floor. Walk forward on hands three steps then back, return pressing points on leg to start position.

13. Lying face down on floor, breath in bring both legs up and arch your back pushing with hands flat on floor in front, breath out when return to start position.

14. Lying on front arms outstretched to sides grab left ankle with left hand and push out with leg still holding ankle, look at left leg, repeat other side.

Before trying any of these exercises you should seek qualified guidance I have posted them here for information only not as a how to do the exercises. If anyone is interested in learning Thai body massage then please get in touch.

Thai Massage Yoga Exercises Part 3

7. Sitting with one leg outstretched and the other tucked in with sole of foot touching inside of the outstretched leg at the groin. Put left hand straight out palm forward the with right hand pull fingers of left hand back gently and hold then repeat other side

8.With feet shoulder width apart and hands in fists at waist level on top of the other,  squat down and push left fist up and right fist down. Stand up and relax then repeat.

9. Standing with left foot at 45° in front of right foot about shoulder width apart, put left hand just above left knee and right palm on back of right hip turn gently and look at right hand on hip repeat other side.

Thai Massage Yoga Exercise Part 2

4. Sitting cross legged put left hand under chin and right hand on left elbow, bring arm under chin to get stretch in shoulders, repeat other side.

5. Sitting with legs outstretched in front follow the Sen Line down the bone of leg a total of 8 points to press from groin to ball of feet, do both legs at once and press and hold points for few seconds.

6. Sitting with left leg outstretched in front and right leg tucked in so sole of foot on inside of left thigh near to groin, make two fists facing each other bring up to heart level then extend left hand as if holding a bow, breath in then out, return fists to centre and repeat other side.

Thai Massage Yoga exercise part 1

First before beginning the exercises you carry out a self massage of the face and head to relax and make you alert, after paying respects to Phrat Ajarn Zhivago the exercises begin.

1. Sitting cross legged on the floor, put hands together like praying bring the hands up to heart level breathing in, push the fingers toward the left then toward the right.

2. Again sitting cross legged with fingers crossed and palms up in your lap bring hand up to heart level then above your head with palms facing upwards,rest hands on top of your head with palms up, then return to lap and gently tap the lower back area with closed fists.

3. Sitting as previous exercises push hands to left, then return to centre then push hands to right, and repeat this exercise is more like pushing

These exercises stretch and relax the muscles of the shoulders and upper back whilst getting strength in the fingers and wrists.

Thai Massage

Before we begin to learn massage we first learn the 12 exercises to help relax the body and prepare it for the rigours of performing the massage. Thai massage can take up to three hours to do correctly so it is important the masseuse is capable of carrying out the massage correctly in the right way. These exercises help achieve that by building strength and flexibility, but they don’t stop there as they also teach self massage of the Sen (meridians). These exercises can also be used to help others instead of massage as they are a daily method of maintaining health. In future blogs I will write about the exercises and how to do them as I was taught by my teacher Ajarn Wallilot as with everything there are slight differences and variations but the health benefits are the same.

Sun Style Bagua Characteristics

Sun Shi Ba Gua was created by Sun Lu Tang on the basis of what he learned with Master Cheng Ting Hua. Compared with the other schools of Ba Gua, the characteristics of Sun Shi Ba Gua are as follows:

1. The form is very simple, but contains infinite possibilities of change.
Sun Shi Ba Gua comprises only eight Zhang ((lion, large male deer, snake, kite, dragon, bear, phoenix, monkey), as well as the Dan Huan Zhang (single palm change) and Shuang Huan Zhang (double palm change), the two movements of transition, is on the whole ten Zhang. Each Zhang comprises only some simple movements. It avoids the too complicated movements and the long transitions to the image that exists in many other Ba Gua schools. The principle is that the more the formulated and fixed movements are simple, the more one leaves the expert practitioner the freedom to explore the possibilities of changes and uses, and not be blocked by too established forms. For example, the movement “Qing Long Fan Shou” in the Dan Huan Zhang can be transformed into at least five different movements of attacks. Thus, Sun Shi Ba Gua is very simple seemingly, but contains an immense space that allows the change and the variation which are the essence of the spirit of Ba Gua.

2. The movement of step is specific.
In many other Ba Gua schools, the front foot slips forwards parallel to the ground while the back foot presses on the ground and pushes the body forwards. In Sun Shi Ba Gua, it is initially the back foot which pushes whereas the front foot gradually lowers to the ground (the heel initially, then toes), then it is the front foot which draws and tears the back foot off the ground. The advantage of this step is that there is no interruption in the translation forwards: the centre of gravity advances while preserving a constant stability. For this reason Sun Shi Ba Gua requires to develop the capacity of the feet to seize the ground firmly as roots which plunge whereas the axis head, back and foot that supports must remain perfectly right and stable. It is necessary to begin the practice with steps slow, solid, and heavy. The feeling must be like turning a mill with the hands. It is only after this base has been established that the search can begin for speed and lightness.

3. The body must be moved back to the maximum. The shoulders and the hips must be moved back to the maximum so that all the weight of the body rests on the heels. Only the full and slackened retreat is capable to prepare for the sudden deployment of attack.

4. The body adapts to the situation, and the hands follow the body.
The principle is that any change must have a reason. The purpose of the change is to create opportunities facing the enemy. The attack of the hands must be fast and direct, the steps and the movement of the body must guarantee that the hands achieve their goal instantaneously. The hands, as well as Jian (sword) or Dao (sabre) must seek the objective, and the body and the steps must enable them to achieve this goal. The arms and the hands or the sword should not turn around the body with an aim which would be only aesthetic or demonstrative. The body is at the service of the sword, of the objective, not the sword at the service of the body.