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Cleansing the Body and Mind

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After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha traveled all over northern India to spread the Dharma. One day, he passed through a forest alongside the Sundari River. A Brahman ascetic was living in this area. When he saw the Buddha approach, he was most pleased and excitedly rushed out to meet him.
The Brahman asked, "Would you like to bathe in the Sundari River?"
"What is so special about this particular river?" the Buddha inquired.
The Brahman answered, "In the ancient days, it was in this river that the holy sages liberated many people from their suffering. Therefore, if you jump into this river to bathe, all the wrongdoings from your past will be washed away and you will have good fortune, purity, and liberation."
The Buddha looked at the river, gazed at the Brahman intently and asked, "Can this be so?"
The Brahman replied, "It is definitely true. Bathing in this river is the secret of my success in cultivation."
The Buddha then spoke, "Taking a bath in the Sundari River will not get rid of all bad karma. The same holds true for the Ganges, Gaja and Salva Rivers. Even if one bathes in a holy river for a hundred thousand years, one still cannot rid oneself of all troubles and impurities."
The Brahman was astonished at the Buddha's response. The Buddha continued, "The water in the Sundari River is just like any other water. It will wash dirt from your body. If you want to wash the dirt from your heart, you need the pure Dharma water."
The Brahman felt as if his mind had been instantly illuminated by this novel way of teaching. Eagerly he asked, "What is the pure Dharma water?"
The Buddha answered, "Rinse your heart with wholesome deeds; wash your mind through diligent cultivation; cleanse your being by upholding the Five Precepts of abstaining from killing; abstaining from stealing; abstaining from sexual misconduct; abstaining from lying, and abstaining from consuming intoxicants; have a deep belief in the law of karma and its results; do not be jealous of others. This is the true meaning of using the pure Dharma water to cleanse your mind and heart."
After listening to the Buddha's explanation, the Brahman's heart was deeply touched. He felt as if he had been given a priceless rare gem. Overjoyed, he gratefully prostrated himself to the Buddha and left.

-- Traveling to the Other Shore: Buddha's Stories on the Six Perfections (by Ven. Master Hsing Yun)