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A Story on Manjusri Bodhisattva

 

A Story on the Manjusri Bodhisattva

(adapted from the transcript of the Official Opening of the New Campus in 2010)

 

In the time of Buddha, monks would gather to hear his teachings or the teachings of the bodhisattvas. They would sit at his feet respectfully and silently, and hear the teacher's wisdom.

 

One day, the monks gathered to hear Manjusri Bodhisattva teach. They were eager to hear him, for Manjusri Bodhisattva was said to be as wise as Buddha himself.

 

However, Manjusri Bodhisattva had not arrived. The monks waited for many hours, then for many days, then for many weeks, but still Manjusri Bodhisattva did not arrive. The monks became puzzled, then impatient, then resentful, then angry.

 

Finally, Manjusri Bodhisattva arrived. The monks went to him: some were curious, some were impatient, some were calm, and some were angry. Manjusri Bodhisattva said, "I have been amongst the children of the poor, and the women of the night; I have been with the farmers in the field, and the servants in the houses of the rich." When they heard this, the monks who were curious grew troubled, those who were impatient went away, and those who were angry became outraged. They called loudly for Manjusri Bodhisattva to be expelled from their assembly as they deemed him not worthy to be their teacher. Manjusri Bodhisattva remained silent.

 

Suddenly, there was a great noise of thunder. Buddha appeared amongst the monks and said, "Manjusri Bodhisattva has taught five hundred amongst the children of the poor, and five hundred amongst the women of the night; he has taught five hundred amongst the farmers in the field and five hundred amongst the servants in the houses of the rich, who would henceforth never lose their determination to seek Enlightenment."

 

The monks were astounded and asked Manjusri Bodhisattva how he had accomplished such a thing. Manjusri Bodhisattva replied, "I used many ways to teach them. I played games with the children, or I used money with the poor; I demonstrated good deeds, or I revealed my powers; I came to them as gods, or I came to them as Buddha; I terrified them with faces of fear, or I consoled them with visages of love. Why did I do so? You should know, that people are different, so I had to preach to them in different ways."

 

Manjusri Bodhisattva continued, "The white lotus and the white lily do not grow on dry ground fit for planting. The lotus and the lily grow in the swamps and on mud banks. In the same way, virtues and wisdom do not grow in people who are already virtuous and wise, but in people who are like swamps and mud banks of confused passions and desires. And so I go to them."

 

The monks marveled at Manjusri Bodhisattva's compassion and wisdom, and they bowed low before him. Learning from Manjusri Bodhisattva's example, they too went forth, their hearts filled with compassion to teach and their minds filled with the clarity of Manjusri Bodhisattva's words.