“Happily we live without hate among the hateful;
amidst hateful men we dwell without hating.197
“Happily we live in good health among the ailing;
amidst ailing men we dwell in good health.”198
“Happily we live without yearning¹ among those who yearn;
among people who yearn we dwell without yearning.”199
Settling A Dispute Between the Buddha’s Relatives
The Sākyans of Kapilavatthu and the Koliyans of Koliya irrigated their fields on both sides of the River Rohiṇī, which ran between them, by means of a dam. During the month of Jeṭṭhamūla (May-June), the water was not sufficient and the crops were wilting. The labourers of each side quarrelled, and came to blows, throwing insults at one another. Then the armies were called out, and were getting ready for a battle. Seeing this, the Buddha flew through the air, and sitting cross-legged in the sky over the river Rohiṇī, he asked his relatives what the quarrel was about. Asking them whether the lives of warriors was worth less than water, he admonished them for behaving shamelessly, uttering the above three verses.²
“Happily we live, we who have no impediments,
Feeders on joy shall we be like the gods of the Radiant Realm.”200
The Story of Māra
Seeing that five hundred maidens of Pañcasālā village had the faculties to gain Stream-winning, the Buddha took up residence near the village and walked through it for alms the following morning. Due to the intervention of Māra, the Buddha did not obtain even a morsel of food. As he left the village, Māra spoke to him, suggesting that he should enter the village again, thinking that if the Buddha did so, he would possess the villagers again, and cause them to make fun of the Buddha. At that moment, the five hundred maidens came by, having finished bathing in the river. Māra asked the Buddha whether he was hungry. The Buddha explained the mental attitude of those who are free from impediments, uttering the above verse. The five hundred maidens gained Stream-winning on hearing the verse.
“Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat.”201
The Defeat of the King of Kosala
King Pasenadi of Kosala was depressed because he had been defeated three times in battle by his nephew, King Ajātasattu. He took to his bed and declined to eat, thinking that there was no longer any point in living. The news spread throughout the city, and the monks told the Buddha about it. The Buddha commented on the evil consequences of both defeat and victory, uttering the above verse.
“There is no fire like lust, no crime like hate.
There is no ill like the body, no bliss higher than Peace (nibbāna).”202
The Story of A Young Bride
To celebrate the marriage of a young woman, her family invited the Buddha and the Saṅgha to the house for alms. While the bride-groom stood watching the bride serving the Buddha and his disciples, lust arose in his mind so that he wanted to grab hold of her. Perceiving his thoughts, the Buddha used his powers so that he could no longer see the woman. Seeing her no longer, he gazed at the Buddha who uttered the above verse. On hearing this verse, both the bride and bride-groom gained Stream-winning.
“Hunger is the greatest disease. Aggregates are the greatest ill.
Knowing this as it really is, (the wise realise) nibbāna, bliss supreme.”203
The Story of a Certain Disciple
The Buddha went to Āḷavi accompanied by five hundred monks. The people invited the Buddha for the meal and afterwards waited for the thanks-giving. A poor farmer, whose ox had strayed from the herd had to go in search of it, though he knew the Buddha had come and wished to listen to the Dhamma. By the end of the day he had found his ox, and straight away went to pay his respects to the Buddha though he hadn’t eaten all day, and was ravenous. The Buddha was waiting for him. The Buddha asked the steward to give some food to the hungry farmer. After the man had eaten, the Buddha taught a progressive discourse on the Dhamma, and the man was established in the fruit of Stream-winning. Having given the thanks-giving, the Buddha rose from his seat and departed. Some monks were indignant at the Buddha’s action. The Buddha explained that he had come on a long journey for the benefit of the farmer, and that if he had taught him while he was still suffering from the pangs of hunger, he would not have been able to comprehend the Dhamma. Then he uttered the above verse.
“Health is the highest gain. Contentment is the greatest wealth.
The trustworthy are the best kinsmen. Nibbāna is the highest bliss.”204
The Story of King Pasenadi of Kosala
At one stage of his life King Pasenadi ate rice by the bucketful and curries in proportion. One day he came to visit the Buddha after his morning meal, and had to pace back and forth to stay awake, in great discomfort due to overeating. The Buddha asked the king if he had rested, and the king replied that he suffered greatly after eating his meal. The Buddha uttered the following verse:
The Buddha admonished him to practise moderation in eating, and thus extend his life, uttering the following verse (S.i.81):
“If a man is always mindful, if he is moderate in taking food.
His suffering will be light, he will age slowly, keeping his health.
The king was unable to memorize this verse, so the Teacher told the king’s nephew to memorize it, advising him to recite it when the king had nearly finished his meal. On hearing the verse each day, the king gradually reduced his food intake, and soon became lean and healthy again. Having regained his health, he reported to the Buddha that he was very happy now that his health had improved. The Buddha described four sources of happiness, uttering the above verse: “Health is the highest gain …”
“Having tasted the flavour of seclusion and appeasement,
he becomes free from sorrow and stain, drinking the Dhamma nectar.”205
The Story of the Elder Tissa
Hearing that the Buddha would pass away in four months’ time, the Elder Tissa meditated in solitude without joining the other monks in paying their respects to the Buddha. The monks reported this to the Buddha, who summoned the Elder and questioned him about his motives. The elder replied that he was striving hard to attain Arahantship before the Buddha passed away. The Buddha praised him, saying that one who practised the Dhamma well respected him the most. Then the Buddha uttered the above verse.
“Blessed is the sight of the Noble Ones: their company is ever happy.
Not seeing the foolish, one may ever be happy.”206
“Truly he who moves in company with fools grieves for a long time.
Association with the foolish is ever painful as with a foe.
Happy is association with the wise, just like meeting with kinsfolk.”207
“Therefore, with the intelligent, the wise, the learned,
the enduring, the dutiful, and the Noble Ones —
with a man of such virtue and intellect should one associate,
as the moon (follows) the starry path.”208
The Story of Sakka
When the Buddha was suffering from dysentery, Sakka, the king of the gods, assuming a human form, came to attend to his needs, rubbing his feet, and carrying away the vessel containing his excrement without so much as pulling a face. The monks expressed surprise at the exemplary attitude of Sakka. The Buddha explained how he had taught the Dhamma to Sakka¹ when he was about to pass away, and thus Sakka had gained Stream-winning and rebirth again as the king of Tāvatiṃsa, so the young Sakka’s devotion to him was not surprising. Then the Buddha uttered the above verses.