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

16 Replies to “Parables & Stories from Vipassana (2)”

  1. Hi VS :

    The flow of wisdom continues from the previous blog!!!!

    Thanks for sharing the jewels .

    The categorisation of people by Buddha in the 5 th story about Light and Darkness reminded me of what Dr S Radhakrishnan had said:

    One who does not know he does not know is a fool ..shun him
    One who knows he does not know is a seeker ,teach him
    One who does not know he knows is sleeping , awake him
    One who knows he knows is a great man..follow him

    The stories that you have described are great source of ‘learning for life’.
    One must be ,however, clear that ONLY knowledge does not help. There is no dearth of knowledge in this world ,influenced so heavily by Google.
    There are 2 complimentary aspects which are needed for the knowledge to be really useful:

    • When one is in the thick of a situation , s/he should be able to recall /retrieve the relevant lesson
    • One should have the internal strength to act on this wisdom

    A cigarette smoker knows that it can kill him..the bold writing on the pack keeps reminding him of this.
    But the force of habit does not allow him to use the knowledge he possesses.
    This needs determination which would flow out of enhanced internal courage/strength.

    I guess it must be for this reason that Goenkaji would have thought of the Vipassana Meditation courses , of the type you have been attending.

    Such courses give you time for internal reflection and that becomes the basis for the real change in one’s behaviour pattern in the desired direction.

    Thanks again


    1. Dear JLS
      many thanks for your comments
      and sincere apologies for the delay in my reply
      In fact this incident itself underlines the importance of what you are saying
      I know I should comment and I had even thought of what I should reply
      but mere intellectualization means nothing unless I act on it
      Today had to dawn for me to shirk my rationalizations and sit to reply

      To your point underlining the limitations of “knowledge” my particular inspirational example is provided by the Maharashtrian Sant Pariwar like Tukaram, Chokha Mela, Samarth Ramdas, Sakkhubai and so many others; who, divest of any formal learning/education were evolved souls and have given Maharashtra a rich heritage of Sant Vaani. The richness of thought, the imagery and the lessons expressed so lyrically leave you astounded. It is at such times that the agnostic in me has to accept the existence of a Super Power which guides and speaks through these so-called rustic, uneducated souls. Bookish Knowledge indeed has severe restrictions.

      To me, action per se, requires courage as the natural resistance to act has to be overcome and appropriate action planned and executed. This is the gap which keeps many of us where we are. You have politely given the example of smoking. For me personally the waterloo is drinking. Despite all the social, familial and intellectual reasons to stay away, I revel in it much like the pig whose nature makes it gambol in mud. Only thing i tell myself on these occasions is I know it is “wrong” and some day I will choose the right path.

      First time I attended Goenkaji’s course I took an Addhishthan …drudh nishay….to stay away from booze for 1 full year and I was able to manage. So Goenkaji’s stories, the vipassana experience, the introspection is indeed helpful and would certainly light up the path for any true seeker. But he needs to finally walk the path himself.

      Thanks for writing in and enabling me to introspect more.
      Take care and Stay well


  2. Stories with simple examples, yet so persuasive, convincing and impressive.
    I suggest Vikas should continue attend similar sessions and communicate to us in his own attention drawing ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Simple truths of life beautifully explained as stories. Indeed, they are life changing in their power. Thanks for sharing


  4. Crisp yet very Immersive. As I walk my path my first brush with Vipassana ,truly wish we never had religion in the first place !This is the greatest learning for me. Till date I am struggling to come out of the rituals! Thank you for your sharing always …each time …you help me to travel from darkness to light!


    1. Amol
      you are a good man
      the fact that you are questioning and getting challenged is indeed good
      and so it is sure you will end up in a better space
      all people in our lives are there to challenge, encourage and teach
      that is what makes life challenging and fun
      Lage raho Munna Bhai


  5. Good ones! Thanks for sharing.
    I especially liked the Buddha – pots one and the Prophet Mohammed one. Simple but powerful.


    1. Vikas nice of you to have shared learning lessons in a convincing manner from impactful & simple examples.Makes a lot of difference as precepts of Buddha are not easily intelligible to the common man immersed in rituals & forms.

      Kudos to you.


      1. Tarini
        many thanks for your kind words
        I have always attempted to simplify and spread the good words as I feel our culture has been exclusivist and I believe it is time to break those walls
        Your words encourage me to stay on this path


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