Story of the Bad Buddhist by Alejandro N. Marrero 12/28/2020
Once upon a time, there was a bad Buddhist. He never thought he was bad. For he paid no mind to the dualities of good or bad. However, his morals and views were so different than everyone else. People treated him poorly. They questioned his background and his authenticity. They asked why his reactions were so different than others. He was considered peculiar, and because he didn’t have a shaved head, they even called him a fraud. Still, this bad Buddhist never reacted negatively to people’s judgments. He heard their whispers, yells, shouts, and criticisms. Yet, he kept his attention to his breath. He kept focusing on being dew on the blade of grass. Simply abiding in stillness despite the distractions until the drop of water joined the clouds in the boundless sky. Such was this supposed bad Buddhist’s mind. He was always quiet, and when he spoke, it was always kind. He theorized about phenomena. He never kept track of time. He listened and observed everything in the moment. He understood the good and bad omens. He was treated poorly by others. People would call him the pretender. The least spiritually accomplished person of all the earth. Still, he didn’t entertain their words. He focused on the present. He focused on his heart. For every insult given, he’d share invisible beams of love.
One day a drunk man who was morally good but had celebrated the birth and merriment of his son’s wedding came across him. He had turned the corner in the alley and low and behold their was a man sitting in stillness with no lantern in the shadows. However, this man was not afraid and had not heard the rumors of being in danger on the streets. He had been walking a steep incline and thought deeply of this peaceful man. This pure disciple of the Buddha sits in darkness near my path home. Meanwhile he was drunk and not completely focused. He sat down next to the Bad Buddhist and asked for his name.
The bad Buddhist said, “There are many names I’ve been called. However, they refer me most as the Bad Buddhist,” the mendicant answered. The drunk was struck by this. He thought ‘This man so humble and serene that’s skin glowed in the shadows of an alleyway couldn’t possibly be bad.’
“I have never heard a word of you but I don’t see you as a bad Buddhist. Your face is smooth and your posture though disciplined is at ease. There’s not even a pinch to your brow and you glow in the darkness. I think if it were a choice between you or myself. I would be the bad Buddhist, as it’s I who have drank more than necessary this very night. I am pale, impaired, dehydrated and still I see your light and lack of fright.” The bad Buddhist said nothing but offered a kind smile.
The drunk decided right then and there that he didn’t want to pollute his body with spirits. He wanted a mind clear and pure. He wanted to be like the bad Buddhist. Serene with no regard to praise or blame. He sat down next to the bad Buddhist and asked to be taught the noble way. The bad Buddhist told him about the Four Noble Truths. Explained the Noble Eightfold Path and the causes of suffering. He even taught the man how to be at ease, be patient and that his sobriety and clarity would come soon. The drunkard was moved by this Bad Buddhist and sat down next to him. He offered bread and water from his travelers pack and pondered what he had learned.
The next day the sun rose and it was a beautiful day. The drunk was now sober and the sun radiated on both of their faces. All while they sat serenely and mindfully in the alleyway. They practiced meditation and humility. The former drunkard even heard other travelers snicker and whisper, ‘It looks like now there is two fools instead of one. This bad Buddhist must surely be wretched to have a single disciple that was known as a the town drunk by his side.’
People threw their change at the bad Buddhist’s direction. Their intention was to strike the two with their heavy coins but each offering landed centrally into the alms bowl instead. They were boggled by their aim for they felt it was true. Still, no matter how much coin they aimed at the two mendicants heads they would land in the alms bowl. Frustrated they left the bad Buddhist and his disciple.
Evening came and a poor girl who sold flowers from her garden crossed their path. She had done well and sold many bundles of flowers from her garden that day. She only had one last bouquet to sell. She saw the darkness of the alleyway that she knew would take her home quicker made luminescent by two men. She saw a man with simple clothes at peace. Then another man beside him that looked like a prince. ‘A monk and a prince on my way home. How unusual’ she thought.
She spoke to the princely man, “Venerable Noble Man are you lost? What is your name that I might be your guide to take you to your home?” Then she put the last bouquet of Roses and Upala flowers in the alms bowl. Bowing respectfully to what she perceived as a prince and his attendant.
“I have been called many things but most of all I’ve been called the bad Buddhist,” he said evenly to her shock. ‘Why would anyone call this clearly rich and stainless man a bad Buddhist?’ She pondered.
“I see a devoted friend and a prince before me. Tell, me how you came to be a prince and from which lands you hail from,” she asked.
The bad Buddhist looked up and explained, “All lands, seas and streets under the boundless starry sky are the kingdoms of the Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas. I hail from under the sky and seek nothing but to benefit the beings in every direction with my downcast eyes.”
At these words the fair maiden was shocked. Surely a prince would be at a castle. This must truly be a holy man. She asked the bad Buddhist who appeared princely to her eyes for teachings. After imparting the truths of the origins of suffering arising from attachment, ignorance and aversion, the maiden joined the bad Buddhists side. She abandoned her intent to go home and chose to stay by this prince and his disciple’s side.
The next day the sun rose particularly strong, warm and bright. A Chariot passed by pulled by white and elaborately adorned horses. In the chariot was the King of the territory the Bad Buddhist where his two disciples sat serenely. ‘How is it that these three are at such peace? Why do these three have clothes that shimmer like well-spun silks and crowns of light on their heads’ he questioned to himself. They must hail from other lands and be lost.
The King stopped the driver of his coach and descended to the alleyway. “You three. This alleyway is not fitting for royalty as yourselves. Where is your vehicle? I shall take you to it and help you return to the places of your Noble station’s merit,” the King declared authoritatively.
“Our vehicle is with us kind king. It’s a spring for the thirsty, a shelter for those in need, and medicine for the sick. It’s the wings of a bird and the breezes they sail in,” the Bad Buddhist replied. The King was perplexed. He saw a rainbow touchdown on this trio of divine beings. Being mindful of the King’s confusion the Bad Buddhist clarified, “Life is a wheel of birth, sickness, old age, and death. Yet, with humility, ethics, kindness and compassion for all others you will be free from the limits of this worldly existence. You will find the palaces, mandalas and dwellings of the Buddha in each particle of this ocean and the next. With the wisdom of mindfulness and virtue you will be a sovereign of all lands under the parasols of righteousness and truth,” the once thought of as a Bad Buddhist explained.
The King was struck by the profound nature of these royal sovereigns teachings. He bought the alleyway and built around the bad Buddhist, flower maiden and former drunkard a castle. He was also taught the Four Noble Truths and all it entails and was devoted to sponsoring the trio of Saints present in his kingdom.
Some thought the King mad. Claiming his mind was tricked or broken. Others came from every direction to visit the three divine meditators from near and far for their blessing and teachings.
Where some people saw a flower girl, others saw Arya Tara the mother of all the Buddha’s as a princess with divine clothes. Where some saw a drunken man others saw Chenrezig a Bodhisattva of great compassion equally beautiful in adornments of a princely saint. Where others thought was a bad Buddhist in the center, even more saw a vividly glowing Prince of Boundless light called Amitayus.
After a short time none could see anything but the luminous and divine forms of the trinity of Buddha’s before them. Their teachings were beneficial, kind, true and sparked light in their hearts. They called this light Bodhicitta and they never saw a bad Buddhist, drunk or simple flower maiden again. Many supplicated the divine three. Even more received teachings from them.
Thus it is said that one day you will meet a beggar, a fool or a simple person. That day according to your virtuous acts and inner goodness you’ll meet and see their true forms. The Buddha of Boundless Light, crowned by the accomplishments of the path of The Buddha’s is
named Amitayus. Then a wise, fair, royal princess and savior of all who suffer dressed in jeweled ornaments of her vows and stainless purity is called Arya Tara. Then a Buddha of unsurpassable compassion and renunciation of that which harms and a heart that strives to ease the sufferings of beings called Chenrezig.
Thousands of years have passed. There’s been many manifestations and emanations of Amitayus, Tara, and Chenrezig throughout the oceans of populated lands. They appear to the devout in a myriad of ways. So one begs to wonder. ‘What is to say whoever I cross for rich, poor or hungry is none other than the Buddhas, an Angel or a Saint?’ One thing was certain, None of them were Bad Buddhists