Parables & Stories from Vipassana (2)

Stories & Parables have been used by teachers since times immemorial to drive home their thoughts & increase learning. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism….all have their stories. I heard some great ones, in the Vipassana Meditation course, I attended in April.; this is an attempt to share the stories with you for your learning & entertainment. This blog is Part 2 of the one I posted on 11/5/2022. Read, think, learn & enjoy.

5) Buddha once told that there are 4 types of people in the world: Type 1 are people who are in Darkness & they are running from there to Darkness. Type 2 are people in Light but they are running towards Darkness. Type 3 are people in Darkness, but are running towards Light. Finally the Type 4 are people who are in Light & they are running towards Light.

Obviously the Type 4 are the best hope for mankind as they know where they are, they are living their life well, & they will continue to be in Light. Type 1 are the worst off: they are in Darkness but they continue to hurtle towards Darkness.. These are shallow & foolish people who cannot pull themselves out of darkness/ignorance. They will blame Fate & Destiny. But they will not take charge of their situation & help and support each other to move ahead. Type 2 have lost their way. They were in Light but due to some external or own compulsions they are choosing to go towards Darkness. Not much good can be expected from them. Type 3 were in the Dark but have found their mistakes, are ready to change & are positively oriented to wards Light/knowledge/salvation. We need to analyze where we stand &, in the long run, move towards Light for the best outcomes for ourselves & the community.

My learning: First thing I need to understand where I stand & what is my future 0rientation. Next I need to use this to leverage and help myself & others to move towards Light.

#6) When Buddha’s influence started to spread, the entrenched priests & the religious system resented the fact that people were drawn to Buddha’s thinking & stopped the rituals & practices, which was their source of income & influence on the janata. They decided to hurt Buddha’s clean image, to wean the people away. A good looking girl was influenced to go into Buddha’s ashram every day. The girl would sleep under a tree at night, and in the morning go into the village with disheveled hair and crumpled clothes & tell stories about how she enjoyed the night in Buddha’s bed. This continued for a while. After a few months she tied some wooden sticks to her abdomen to create an impression of a pregnant woman, a big stomach carrying a child. Alongwith her instigators, all the Bramhins and religious henchmen, they marched into Buddha’s ashram: the girl accused Buddha of having slept with her & made her pregnant.

With a calm and equanimous mind, Buddha just smiled : he saw through the girl’s game. He did not defend himself against her diatribe. But just then a rat entered the girl’s sari & gnawed at the rope that held the sticks together on her stomach! The sticks got dislodged & fell to the ground, with a sound. The falsehood of the girl & her supporters was exposed.

My Learning: a clear conscience can never be shaken, as Truth is the strongest Defender of who you are.

#7) A devotee’s father died & was cremated with full Hindu rites & rituals. Thereafter the person came to Buddha and asked him to something special, some कर्म कांड, a ritual which would ensure a place in heaven for his father. Buddha told him to go to the market, get 2 earthen pots/मटका, fill one with Ghee, one with small stones, and meet him at the river side. The man rushed and got the 2 pots as instructed. Buddha asked the man to put the 2 pots in the water. Then Buddha asked the man to take his wooden staff & hit both pots hard, so that they break.

The one with Ghee..all the Ghee came out and started floating on the water. The stones and pebbles in the other one sank to the ground level under the water. Buddha then told the man how can we reverse this? how do we ensure the stones float? and the ghee sinks to the bottom? The man told Buddha that is impossible. Buddha explained to him, Similarly if your father had done good deeds in his life, he will naturally rise to Heaven. But if there are bad deeds in his past that would drag him down to hell.

My Learning: As you sow, so shall you reap. Past actions cast a long shadow into the future.

#8) A King and his Queen, regular practitioners of Vipassana, had built a meditation center where they meditated regularly. One morn, the King told the Queen, “I had a strange dream, that you are asking me, who is the person I love the most in this entire universe”. The Queen retorted,” that is really strange as I had a similar dream that you are asking me who is the person I love the most in the universe. So let me accept, when I thought about this question, I realized the person I love the most is myself” The King replied, “Interesting but in my dream I also told you that the person I love the most is myself!

They went to Buddha to ask him the interpretation of their dreams. Buddha complimented them and said: all veils have dropped away. You are left with the ultimate trust. Indeed each one of us loves oneself the most. But we try to hide & couch this. You are now so evolved that you are facing this directly.

My Learning: Face the Truth squarely without trying to hide anything. That way you are closest to Nirvana/Salvation.

#9) Another story of Mohammad : He used to daily follow a particular route to go to the masjid to pray, by a horse-cart. One of the ladies who lived en-route was anti Mohammad’s preaching. Every time Mohammad’s horse-cart went from the road in front of her house, she would climb to the first floor balcony & empty her garbage on the cart!! The garbage would fall on Mohammad & spoil his clothes. He used to take it in his stride, not react at all. He would go on to the masjid, clean his clothes & body, and then go & pray. This routine continued many times. And Mohammad’s response was the same: ignore the provocation & continue what he had set out to do.

One day, when Mohammad crossed that lady’s house no garbage came down on the cart or Mohammad. He asked the driver to stop the horse-cart, got down, walked into that lady’s house. He climbed up to the first floor and very solicitously enquired after her health. Mohammad said to her, सब खैरियत?? Is all well? I was surprised that no garbage has come on me today. I hope you are healthy and well. Is there anything I can do for you?. Mohammad’s behavior shamed the lady so much that she fell on Mohammad’s feet & asked forgiveness for her pettiness. Later she became a strong supporter of Mohammad.

My Learning: Rise above pettiness. Time will prove you right. Just be patient.

#10) A man came to Buddha and asked him,” You are so evolved. A great Master. So many come to your discourses. You guide all of them. So does everyone reach salvation?” Buddha counter questioned him, where are you from originally? Your language, body structure, clothes show that you are not from here in Shravasti” “No” said the man, “I am from Rampur”. So Buddha asked you must know the road to Rampur well? Yes of course was the man’s reply. So Buddha continued, whoever wants to go to go to Rampur must be coming to ask you for directions? Yes they do , said the man, I explain the whole road to them well. So once you explain, do the people immediately reach Rampur? No said the man, they have to travel, walk the path & take the effort and then they reach. The same is with me, said Buddha. I am a Teacher. I know the road to salvation. Merely having me as a Guide will not help. Every person must take efforts & walk the path himself to reach the destination.

My Learning: You can be shown the path, but it is your efforts that will take you forward. With all Buddha’s knowledge/प्रज्ञा, the only person Buddha can save & take to salvation is Buddha alone. I must take my own efforts. No one can save me, save & except myself.

All these stories & anecdotes are Guide Posts, Lighthouses that show us the path. Use them judiciously to direct your path. And be ready to take the effort yourself, to walk the road. For that there is no substitute!!

All the best for your journey : vikas

Parables & Stories from Vipassana

I went for my 4th Vipassana Meditation course in April 2022. What has always fascinated me is the oratory skill of SN Goenkaji & his ability to draw on stories, examples, parables from every religion under the sun, to drive home Vipassana concepts for his audience. Goenkaji does not want us to take anything on face value, on pure faith. He exhorts continuously that we must trust & believe ONLY our experience & sensory inputs. No ideological discussions, but only focus on your own experience. I had written in 2018 on what is vipassana and the underlying concepts. Those interested can check out the old blog at

Here I want to recollect some of the great stories & parables I heard which Goenkaji uses to elucidate his points & explain. So here goes:

#1) A rich man was enjoying his sumptuous lunch one day, when a Bhikshu came & cried out begging for alms. The rich man’s daughter-in-law, shouted from inside,” Maharaj, go elsewhere to beg. Here my father-in-law is himself eating stale/बासी food.” The Bhikshu went ahead, but the father-in-law was upset. He called his daughter-in-law and asked her “why did you say बासी भोजन/stale food? Here I am eating the choicest cuisine, rich with fruits & exotic vegetables, garnished with dry fruits. Why did you call it stale/बासी?”

The Daughter-in-law replied,” None of this is due to your own effort or earnings. You are eating off the earnings of your ancestors, you have contributed nothing. So is it not stale?”

My Learning: Have new thoughts and pull your own weight every day, Never live off past legacy.

#2) When Mohammad Paigamber started preaching, not everyone appreciated his teachings. Some were strongly opposed. One such person used to always disrupt Mohammad’s meetings & vitiate the atmosphere. Some of Mohammad’s followers used to feel very bad & they decided to confront the opponents to teach them a lesson. A meeting place was fixed. Soon the debate between the two sides turned acrimonious. When tempers rose further, it came down to physical fighting & a melee ensued.

Mohammad, seeing this, quietly left the place. His supporters sought him out later & asked why did he run away. Mohammad replied,” When the fight started, I saw the Farishtey/Angels flew away and left the room. Hence I too left!!”

My Learning: Peace and friendliness is godly; always stay on that side.

#3) An old woman once came to a Vipassana Camp set up in a rural environment. While coming, she got alongwith a cloth, draw-string bag/बटुवा. In that she was carrying 30 Rs her life’s earnings, an ornament/हार which she had got from her house & a small piece of sweetmeat/बरफी. One day, when she had gone for meditation, she found the bag/बटुवा missing from her residential quarter.

She became highly agitated & started crying loudly, beating her chest, moaning her loss. Others tried to control her & tell her she is disturbing others’ meditation but she was unconsolably crying out aloud. Every camp resident started searching high & low for the bag but it was nowhere to be found. She was wailing loudly about the loss of her money & ornament. So Goenkaji suggested taking a contribution from all. In place of her lost Rs 30, a total collection of 100 Rs was made and put before her. This was significantly more than her loss. But still she wailed & cried. “What about my ornament?” It was an heirloom, I was so attached to it” etc. The collected 100 Rs could have easily enabled her to buy a new ornament. But she continued to cry & repent her loss!

Finally someone saw that, a monkey on a nearby tree had the bag. Monkey had made of with it, seeing the colorful embroidery. The monkey had no use for the 30 Rs or the ornament. But it was merrily enjoying the sweetmeat/बरफी, sitting atop a tree. People chased the monkey with drums and sticks. Finally the monkey dropped the bag & made off with the sweet. The bag with money & ornament were returned to the old woman. Then only she stopped crying & focused on the vipassana teaching!!

My Learning: The concept of मैं/मेरा I & Mine is so deeply entrenched in us, that once it awakens, it does not allow us to look at anything else. Stay away from मैं/मेरा (I & Mine): many doors will open!

#4) There were 2 close friends: one was blind, the other handicapped. They used to beg for food & live together. One day the blind friend had a fever & could not walk. So the handicapped friend told him to rest & said he would go & beg for food & get some for his friend. While moving around the village, at one house, he was offered Kheer (sweet rice gruel). The guy had no utensil to take the kheer in, so he cupped his hands and the Kheer was poured in. He wanted to take the Kheer for his friend, but it started dripping from his cupped hands. So rather than waste it, he drank up the kheer. When he reached home he told his blind friend that he had got kheer, but could not carry it back for his friend since he had no utensil.

The blind friend had never eaten Kheer in his life and asked what is kheer? So the friend tried to explain ” It is white and sweet” The blind person knew what is sweet, but had no concept what is white. The friend told “White is like the crane” The blind friend had not seen a crane. So the friend caught a crane and gave it to the blind friend to feel & “see” what is a crane. The blind friend touched & felt the crane’s body & exclaimed ” I now understand. The kheer is twisted. तेरी खीर टेढ़ी है!!!”

My learning: Perception is important and if you do not perceive holistically, you may go on a total tangent & err terribly.

Trust you enjoyed these stories which have practical wisdom & learnings beyond compare. Next blog, I will tell you some more stories and parables from Vipassana course, which created deep learning for me

Bhavatu Savv Mangalam: vikibaba punter