The ordinary man becomes a Buddha

A Story

Once upon a time there was a poor man, and he happened to meet a kindly rich man, who felt very sorry for him. So he took the poor man with him and entertained him to a splendid meal, including rice wine. The poor man, not used to the wine, soon became tipsy, and finally collapsed into a deep sleep. The friend thought that when the other awoke, he would still be as poor as before, and he thought how he might make him able to live better in the future. So he sewed a precious jewel into a corner of the sleeper’s cloak, thinking that when he sobered up, he would find it and his troubles would be over. With this thought, he left him.

But when the sleeper awoke he did not notice what had happened and went on as before, going from place to place begging for crumbs. So the long months and years went by in his misery, until it chanced that he came again to the place where the kindly man lived.

That man took in his condition at a glance, and said: “How is it that you are still in this situation? That time we met, I sewed a jewel into the hem of your cloak. I thought you would find it.” The beggar’s jaw dropped, and he ran his hands over the filthy cloak. He finally found it, and was overcome with joy.

That is the story. Now at the Taking of the Precepts, the senior is pointing out the treasure with which the applicant is already endowed, so that he will look for it as already with him, and the ordinary man thus becomes a Buddha.

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