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Educating Rahula

Lies are Like a Dirty Basin
Rahula was the first sramanera in Buddhist history, being only nine when he renounced the household life. At that age he could not fully understand the Buddha’s teachings. Although he had a mild temperament and behaved well, he also enjoyed telling lies just for the fun of it. One day, when a royal visitor came looking for the Buddha, Rahula randomly directed the visitor to different locations so the visitor went on a wild goose chase looking for the Buddha, as Rahula playfully watched.When the Buddha heard of this mischief, he made a special trip to Rahula’s hut. He told Rahula to bring him a basin of water to wash his feet. Stunned by the Buddha’s serious demeanor, Rahula quietly prepared the basin of water.After washing his feet, the Buddha asked, “Rahula, is the water in this basin suitable for drinking?”“No, Lord Buddha!” Rahula said, “The water is very dirty after being used to wash your feet. Of course it is not suitable for drinking.”“You are just like this water, which was initially clean and pure. You were a royal prince who had given up worldly pleasure to become a sramanera; yet you have not worked hard to pursue truth, to purify your mind and body, and to be prudent in your speech. The filth of the three poisons, greed, anger and ignorance, had defiled your mind, just as the initially clean water is now dirty,” said the Buddha.Lowering his head, Rahula was ashamed to look at the Buddha and remained silent. The Buddha told him to throw the water away. When Rahula returned, Buddha asked, “Would you now use the basin as your rice bowl?”“No, Lord Buddha! This basin is not clean. It has dirty stains on it and therefore cannot be used as a food container.”“You are like this basin,” the Buddha continued.“Although you are a sramanera, you have not cultivated the precepts, meditative concentration and wisdom diligently. Nor have you purified your behavior, speech and thoughts. How can your mind hold the food of the great path?”The Buddha gently kicked the basin, causing it to roll around. Rahula looked scared. “Are you worried that I might break the basin?” asked the Buddha.“No! Lord Buddha. It does not matter if it is damaged. The basin is nothing but a crude container.”“Rahula! Just as you do not care about his basin, people will not care about you either. You are a monk, yet you do not pay attention to your own conduct. You play tricks and tell lies. Eventually, nobody will care about your, and at the end of this life you will remain unenlightened and lost.”After the Buddha’s admonition, Rahula completely reformed all of his naughty tendencies. He strictly upheld the precepts and diligently cultivated his mind. Day after day he practiced discretely and finally became one of the Buddha’s ten greatest disciples, foremost in esoteric practice.
One of the five precepts of Buddhism is to abstain from lying. Impure speech can lead to an impure mind. The consequences of wrongful speech, like the dirty stains on the foot basin, can contaminate our pure mind. How can we not be careful then about our speech?
(Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Traveling to the Other Shore: Buddha’s Stories on the Six Perfections)
"Educating Rahula" on Google Arts & Culture - https://g.co/arts/8pfhYxjbi1caufD29
"Rahula" on Google Arts & Culture – https://g.co/arts/vXJRCcztere6UTpD6