And why is this so? One who, entering the Way, doesn’t master its principle will return to the flesh and has to pay back the alms received by the faithful. The story ‘When the respected man reached the age of eighty-one, the tree no longer bore mushrooms’ is a good example.
‘One who, entering the Way, doesn’t master its principle will return to the flesh and has to pay back the alms received by the faithful’ implies that when a monastic fails to attain enlightenment, he cannot escape from the yoke of causation or reincarnation. However, this is true of not only monastics but also everyone else. The story of the tree that bore mushrooms presents an example of being trapped in the yoke of causation.
Once upon a time there was a respected rich man in India who was Buddhist. He had a tree that continued to bear mushrooms immediately after they were harvested. One day he asked a master named Ganadeba, “I have a tree in my garden that continues to bear delicious mushrooms in no time after we pick them. What is the cause of it?” The master said, “A long time ago before your birth, your ancestor allowed a monk to stay in his house and served him for many years. The monastic just received the alms in vain from your ancestor without attaining enlightenment. He becomes mushrooms in order to repay the alms he received in his previous life. The tree will cease to produce mushrooms when you become 81 years old.” The tree stopped yielding mushrooms when the man turned 81 years old just as the master predicted.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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