Sunday, 29 September 2019

Another wondrous Dhamma tale from the Sagaing Hills

The Sagaing Hills are full of wondrous and amazing stories to inspire any Dhamma practitioner, but few can hold a candle to the tales told about the 18th-century monastic Taung Pyi Lar Sayadaw.

Like many great Burmese monastics of the past 1,000 years, he choose the Sagaing Hills as a preferred place of practice to get away from the rigid orthodoxy (and laxness) of the central capital, instead enjoying the peace and quiet of living alone in nature.

The Burmese king wished to test his fortitude to ensure he was truly a monk worthy of respect. So he devised a plan in which a half-naked woman came running through the forest, and finding the monk, begged him to be permitted to stay at his monastery, fearfully claiming that a horde of rapists and murderers were hot on her tail. The monk refused, saying that it was against vinaya, but as the woman insisted, the monk relented, allowing her to stay in his kuti as he slept outside in the forest.

However, at night Taung Pyi Lar Sayadaw was so racked by lust, and having such a beautiful and nubile young woman close at hand after so many years of celibacy, that he was unable to concentrate on any of his meditation objects. So he took a nearby knife, and began to slice at his palms, with the gross pain finally allowing him to feel bodily sensations. The lust not subsiding, he sliced the other palm, and then both soles of his feet, and finally his thigh.

The next day, the king showed up with his royal entourage, and he found himself accused of impropriety. The monk argued he had done nothing wrong, but the king exclaimed, "How can you be believed with a half-naked woman walking out of your kuti?"

The monk responded by taking a Vow of Truth, and dropping the knife in a nearby pond. "Let the knife tell the truth then! If I am lying, it will sink. If I tell the truth, let it float across the water to the other side."

The knife did not sink in the end, and the monk became one of the most revered in the kingdom after this.

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