Mahabodhi the Renunciate – from Jataka Tale #23

Mahabodhi the Renunciate – from Jataka Tale 23

While still a Bodhisattva, the Buddha was a wandering renunciate named Mahabodhi.

Everyday a certain king would listen to Mahabodhi’s teachings on wisdom and compassion. The king’s ministers grew jealous, but could not outshine him in debate. So the ministers began to sow doubt in the king’s mind that Mahabodhi was a spy sent to undermine his rule. Little by little the king’s devotion began to waver. Mahabodhi saw this and decided to leave the kingdom.

Now that Mahabodhi was gone, the king’s ministers began to sway him with false doctrines. They denied the reality of cause and effect. Also, they made many false claims such as there were no past/future lives and that Lord Ishwara was the creator of all.

Through his clairvoyant powers Mahabodhi saw the king was being led astray from the dharma. So, he returned to the king. One by one Mahabodhi challenged the ministers and defeated them. The king returned to the righteous path. ~~~

This teaching tells us about patience..

The first is to be patient and to dare to tell the truth, if there is a reason or benefit. The second is: even though the bodhisattva was treated so badly, he remained patient. In the beginning he was treated so well and suddenly he was treated badly. That’s worse than being treated badly from the beginning. He was treated badly, but still he did not feel offended. That is the practice of patience. He never gave up compassion for the king. Then the third point is gratitude. The bodhisattva never forgot how the king had treated him in the beginning. These are really important teachings in our life. Nowadays most people, especially if they are not that kind, forget what happened in the beginning. They only remember what happened at the end. To be a good human being you cannot forget what happened at the beginning. If someone treats you really well and suddenly they treat you badly or get upset with you, still you cannot forget how they treated you earlier. That’s gratitude. That’s really important. Some people forget everything that happened earlier and only remember what happened last. Those people get into problems, they are easily tricked. Their enemies treat them badly, but when they need them they start treating them nicely and they are easily cheated.

So gratitude is really important. The moral of this teaching is: don’t forget gratitude for others who helped earlier, just because they don’t help you later.


–  Demo Rinpoche, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, Jataka Tales, May 16, 2021

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