A SMALL LIFE STORY OF SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA Homage to the living embodiment of Compassion and loving kindness to all beings. You who have worked three incalculable aeons of time to establish the two merits of accumulation and wisdom. To you who become the source of all purelands. To the Buddha Shakyamuni, I prostrate. My faith is a fresh-blooming lotus, reflecting the splendor of the moon's shining rays. The lotus' ten petals close in a heart-felt prostration to you, oh Great Lord of Compassion, As I hold the spontaneous reflection of your wondrous image in the mirror of my mind. I offer you boundless praise and adoration. Even though this effort is less than a single hair on your body, by the offering of these small unceasing praises of your life, I ask that you grant your ceaseless blessings. In the Kingdom of the Shakyas lived King Zay-tsang and his wife Gyutrulma, daughter of Bishukarma. In a previous life Gyutrulma had prayed to be born as the mother to a Buddha. In the deva realm , the bodhisattva Dampatogkarpo gave his crown to the bodhisattva Maitreya, in preparation to his descending to earth. He then emanated himself as a white elephant. As his mother, Gyutrulma lay sleeping she had a dream that a white elephant, shining with a glorious light, was within her womb and she flew through the sky and climbed mountains. Many kings and minister bowed and prostrated to her, It was at that time that the Buddha entered her womb. Ten months later, at Lumbini, the Buddha was born in a miraculous manner. Without womb obscuration he appeared from the right side of his mother's ribs. Instantly Indra, King of the Gods, appeared and offered the infant Buddha clothes to wear. The Buddha then took seven steps in each of the four directions and each footprint became a lotus. Then He looked East and said, "From this point on I am the arising of enlightenment." Looking South he exclaimed, "From this point I will achieve complete knowledge, both ordinary and extraordinary." Then he looked to the West, saying, "From this point I am born to be the cure of suffering and completing this, my last lifetime, I will dissolve." Finally, he looked North and said, "From this point, in my Life I will completely purify all of my karmic obscurations." Then the deva realm beings appeared and offered him all auspicious substances. At this time, throughout the entire area of his birth, everyone was witness to the phenomena of clear light free from darkness and shadow. All of the people talked of this phenomena and called on a great Brahmin to give an explanation. He cast an astrology chart and said that in the country of the Shakyas a great bodhisattva had been born that day. The infant Buddha was named Prince Ton-kun-drup. His father, King of the region, was told that according to his son's astrology chart, the prince was destined to become the greatest of Kings if he stayed home, or upon leaving his home, would become a monk and thus become enlightened. At this point, it was observed that the palm of the child-prince possessed all the minor marks of perfection. Seven days after the Buddha's birth, his mother passed away and entered the god-realms. Everyone thought that the prince would have problems without a mother, but he proved to be a very calm and peaceful baby. The people of his kingdom called him Shakya-Tug-pa, or Great Courage of the Shakyas. During his youth, the gods and goddesses from the deva realms would often visit him and his father called him the God's god. He was given extensive training by great teachers at a very early age. As the years passed, all of his studies and physical trainings were learned to perfection. When he had grown to a young man, the prince married a young Serkya princess named Sa-Tso. Up to then, the King had protected his son from observing the suffering of everyday life out of love for him. After his son's marriage an astrology chart showed that the prince would either stay and rule as a great King or leave and become a monk. The King decided to create a diversion for his son by planning an outing for him and his new wife. The Prince and his new wife then left the palace with their servants for a day's excursion. it was then that the prince first saw a very old man and then looked at his own body groaned. "This youthful body is pleasing and ripe, but it will change into an aged and decrepit body. The hair will all turn gray and fall out. The skin will hang loose until only the veins remain between skin and bone. The body will become bent and wrinkled and will need sticks to help it walk. The teeth will rot and fall out and the mouth will drool. Soon it will not be able to hear or see and the mind will become vague and the memory will be gone. This is the impermanence of our body and why it is unreliable. I would rather be a monk in the forest and rely on meditation." Later, while on the outing, the Prince sees a sick person and further illustrates the nature of the body. "My body is flesh and the nature of flesh is to spontaneously gather sickness. This is why my body is not so precious, because it harbors sickness. Why should I trust this body and support it?" Then the prince saw a corpse and the relatives were surrounding it and grieving. The prince thinks that the relatives who are grieving are suffering with a deluded mind. "Nothing is useful or meaningful in Samsara because we are all trapped by Karma. After death the mind is wandering in the bardo. The body becomes inanimate like a log or a stone, a mere piece of earth. Samsara's suffering is like a river. All karma is like a wind blowing the trees and so my life's nature is illusory. Why rely on the illusion of my life? Better I avoid this worldly idea and become a yogi. I will seek the truth." At this, the prince sees a monk wearing robes, carrying a begging bowl, and walking along smoothly. This attracts the prince and he has great joy in seeing this. Upon passing some farmers during this outing the prince is filled with extreme compassion at the burden of work both man and animals have to endure. He gives alms to them. On that day it was very hot as the prince and family made their way back to the palace. They stopped to take a break and rested under the forest trees. When the prince sat down under these trees he entered a meditative state. His father joined him and noticed that his son's shadow and the tree he is under doesn't move as the day wears on. The king was amazed and prostrated to his son. After this they passed a cemetery with a corpse laying out and the prince thought, "All have to die." Vultures and crows were tearing at the corpses eyes. The prince then thought, "All that is born is bound to die, why should I be attached to my body, it is already a corpse and belongs to the animals." When they passed by a beautiful women who was up on the roof of a building the king noticed his son admiring her great beauty and sent for her to come to be the prince's second wife. On the last night of the crucial week after the wedding, the princess Sa-Tso has a terrible dream. All her ornaments were torn away, her glory decreased, the sun and moon set and the world was in darkness. At this, she became very upset and woke to tell her husband. He replied to her, "In Samsara, all dreams are unreliable. I had a dream that a great tree grew from my navel and extended throughout the sky. My pillow was Mt. Meru." That night the prince decided to leave the palace. He left his sleeping wife and woke his servant Dunpa to bring him his horse. The servant then brought him his horse Ngagdan which they mounted and flew in a circle around the palace. The prince exclaimed sorrow over those to be left behind. The king placed guardians around the palace to prevent his son from leaving. As the king looked out into the night he thought he was seeing the moon but then realized it was his son escaping and cried out, "How can you leave your kingdom?" The prince gave a teaching to the guardian he encountered upon his departure: "All of ones relatives and friends are like links of a chain. If I don't cut these links, when will I be released from Samsara? My youth will soon age, my wonderful body will be dead. Then having had attachment to these objects, this kingdom, it will have been like drinking poison. Samsara is an unconscious, undisciplined realm. My wealth is like a poisonous snake rapping on my head, it will destroy my virtue. Non-virtue is like a poison, it will bear fruit and send you to a lower realm. It is like jumping into a bonfire. And so, I will choose the great path of Bodhicitta and live in a house of nectar." The prince and his servant then flew away on the horse. All of the palace awoke and plunged into a sorrowful grief. Near Bodha was the Forest of Chod-tan-nam-dak. It was here that the prince landed. He gave his servant his precious ornaments and the horse and sent them back to the palace. He then spoke, "I won't be caught up in the lasso of illusion. I remain alone in the forest with a satisfied mind. Everyone is born alone and will die alone. I renounce this world of form, and so, there is no source to fill this lake of defilement, and it will be dry. I suppress samsara and show the path to Liberation." Then he cut his hair in front of the Chod-tan-nam-dak stupa. Near the Narrajana River he entered into a state meditation. For two years he ate only seven grains of rice a day and one drop of water. The next two years only one grain of rice and one drop of water. Then for two years he took no food or drink. His mother had been reborn into the deva realm and through clairvoyance she saw the suffering of her son and his sorrows. Through her compassion, she appeared before her son. The prince told her not to be depressed because soon he was to be enlightened at which she became very joyous. To develop his view, the prince gave up his self mortification. Two worthy girls, in fulfillment of a prediction, gave the prince the boiled milk of 500 cows. When he drank this all signs of his mortification disappeared and his body became shiny and golden-yellow. He then went to the mountain to meditate but the mountain bowed low. He felt bad when a voice from the sky said, "You are not bad, you have more merit than anyone and the mountain is too small to hold it. It cannot be contained. You must go to Bodgaya to gain your enlightenment." On the way to Bodgaya, a woman offered the prince kusha grass, which he used as his cushion at the base of the Bodhi tree. He then meditated there. When the evening came he defeated the four maras who came to distract him from his purpose. At first they frightened him with a vision of destruction but he didn't move. Then they enticed him with extremely beautiful women but he was not distracted. Finally they shot arrows at him but instead of touching him they turned into flowers. On this same night the princess Sa-tso gave birth to Prince Ton- kun-drup's son, Dra-chand-zin. The baby had been in her womb for six years and the princess was so upset that she swaddled him and threw him into the river. The child did not sink but sat smiling in the seven point posture. After witnessing this the princess happily took him back. At midnight on the same day her husband the prince entered into Samadi. In the early morning he took the great light initiation by self- empowerment and with this clarity and radiant luminosity of light he then attained perfect enlightenment. May the beings of this smallest of praise raise the foundation of enlightenment for all beings and in reading this may you gain the confidence and wisdom, courage and strength to pursue your perfect dharma path.