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Week 11 – Filial Piety Sutra (3/3)

“The Buddha continued, “…I found that some are born with wisdom, but others are dull and ignorant.” He said, “They are disrespectful and unfilial towards their parents. These defiant children are ungrateful as they do not think of the deep kindness of their parents. It is indeed very sad to witness this…” “As you all know, when our mother is carrying the baby for ten months, it is as though she is carrying a heavy burden. She cannot sir or stand at ease, neither can she eat or sleep properly.” “She looks very tired as if she has been sick for a long time. When the baby is due for delivery, the mother must endure very intense pain with blood flowing out profusely.” “In the process of giving birth, she falls unconscious many a time because of the acute pain. It is only after she has gone through innumerable suffering that the child is born. Yet on top of everything, she is still very worried about the safety of the child.” “She will only be at peace when she knows that the child has been born safely. She will always carry him with her wherever she goes.” “She will breast-feed her child until her legs and hands are very tired, yet her heart is very joyful. Moreover, she has to wash the child’s dirty clothing.” “When the child wets the bed, the mother will sleep on the wet spot while she moves the child to a dry and clean position. She does this without any complaints!” “For three years, the child feeds on the mother’s milk which is transformed from her blood. The mother gets so thin and weak by providing the child with nutrients.” “Parents spend lots of time and painstaking effort to nurture their children from the time they are born, through the periods of childhood and youth till adulthood. They instruct their children in the ways of propriety, righteousness and virtuous conduct.” “When the children  become adults, the parents will be busy preparing them for their marriage besides providing them with the necessities and money to establish their careers.” “Parents only hope that the children will quickly settle down and establish their own families and careers. For the sake of their children, they do not mind enduring all hardship!” “Parents will never expect their children to repay their kindness, neither will they mention it!” “If the child were to fall sick, the parents would be so worried that they felt as if their hearts were burnt by fire. Very often, they would also fall sick due to their anxiety over their child.” “It is only when the child becomes healthy again that the parents gradually become less anxious.” “Parents go through all sorts of hardship in nurturing their children and only wish to see them mature into adults. But some children become unfilial when they are grown-up and do not take care of their parent.” “They just ignore their mother’s advice or talk back rudely. They stare angrily at their parents as if they were looking at their enemies.” “It is indeed distressing to witness these unfilial children bullying their elders, hitting and scolding their brothers, with no regard for the family ties or the social etiquette.” “They have attended school but they do not follow the teacher’s instructions. They ignore the advice of their parents and brothers and go against them in defiance.” “These arrogant and impolite children do not greet or bid farewell to their parents when they go in and out of the home.” “They act according to their own decisions without seeking their parents’ advice. As the elders always find excuses to forgive them for being young and ignorant, they are easily let off.” “Later, they become even worse and are terribly ruthless and cruel. Not only do they not listen to advice, they develop a hostile mentality.” “Finally, they leave their relatives and wholesome friends to seek the company of evil people. With time, they also adopt unwholesome habits. They become so deluded that they cannot differentiate the good from the bad and hence bring great harm upon themselves.” “Once they are lured by their bad friends and evil people, they will just abandon their parents and homes to stay in other places.” “Some may make a living by doing business or other jobs there. As the years pass by, they accomplish nothing, but instead become old and sorrowful.” “Some will just settle down and get married there without going home even when they are old. They could not care less about their roots and origins.” “There are some even more unfortunate people who stray away home and make friends with evil people. As they are not cautious enough, they are framed and harmed.” “…or they may consort with evildoers and get involved in outrageous crimes which will eventually land them in jail!” “Some are sentenced to heavy penalty and die in the jail. Others may be afflicted by illness, mishaps and poverty.” “They are in such a sorry plight that people just look down on them and no one takes care of them. Their diseases become beyond cure, they die and rot by the roadside.” “Exposed to the sun and the rain, their corpses decay, leaving the bones in this place away from home. They are then forever separated from relatives and families and let their parents down.” “These unfilial children feel that all is over after their death. They will never realize that their parents have been constantly worrying and thinking about them day and night since they left home!” “Some may pass away in sickness and with resentment! Even if they were to become ghosts they would still be attached deeply to their children and constantly thinking of their children! Mother’s love is indeed very great!” “Some children are slack in their studies. On top of that, they are often in the company of bad friends and follow unorthodox deviant teachings.” “They act like rascals and bully the good. They create havoc wherever they go!” “They drink excessively, gamble and go against the law. Even their brothers get implicated.” “Such conduct brings great misery to their parents. They leave their home early in the morning and loiter outside. By the time they reach home, it is already mid-night.” “They will never greet their parents, or enquire after their well-being. The lonely parents are left feeling that life is empty and meaningless.” “They do not support or take care of their parents. The parents grow old, haggard and feeble, yet they are still burdened by these unfilial children.” “By right, the father or mother who is widowed should receive extra care and attention from their children. But in reality, many children just leave them aside to suffer cold and hunger.” “They do not enquire after the well-being of their parents. The sad parents weep in silence secretly and can only blame themselves for their unfortunate circumstances.” “By right, children should take good care of parents, but, the unfilial children do not bother to take upon themselves this responsibility. Their parents are greatly humiliated and fear being ridiculed by others.” “Very often, we can see a son who works hard so as to support his wife and children. He spares no pains to please his wife!” “Yet he treats his parents coldly like strangers. He always listens to his wife’s advice and will do everything to satisfy her wishes,…” “…while he refuses to listen to the advice of his parents. Sometimes, he will argue with them, totally lacking in respect for the elders. This really hurts the parents’ feelings deeply.” “Some daughters are quite filial before their marriage. But, after that, they become unfilial!” “They become resentful when their parents give them some comments!” “They have deep affection for their husbands and children but become gradually estranged from their parents. This really grieves their parents!” “Some daughters may move to reside in another place with their husbands, away from their homes and parents. They simply forget their parents and do not think of their parents at all.” “They act as if the family ties are severed. Day and night, their parents long for their daughters to come back. They cannot eat and sleep in peace. They are so grief-stricken that it is as though they are being hung upside down.” “Parents are always thinking of their children. The immense kindness of parents is truly vast and boundless.” “Their love is limitless and indescribable! Even if the unfilial children were to repent before a deity, it is still impossible for them yo be free from the negative effects of their unfilial actions.” After listening to the Buddha’s exposition on the deep virtuous kindness of parents, the multitude of virtuous ones were extremely sad. Some prostrated themselves in deep respect! Some were very remorseful and beat their chests! Blood flowed out from their hair pores and they fell unconscious as they were grief-stricken. Later, when they woke up, they all cried loudly, “It is really painful! It is truly sorrowful! Unfilial children really cause so much sorrow for their parents!” “After considering our past conduct, we know how that we have committed heavy negative karma*. Just like the night-travelling spirits, we wander everywhere in total darkness!” “W live like the drunkards or dreamers who are befuddled and cannot think properly for we never realize how deep our wrongdoings are!” “Now upon hearing the Buddha’s teaching, we are like people who have just awakened from a dream. We deeply regret our past misconduct. When we think of our unfilial and inhumane behaviour, we feel as though our internal organs are ablaze!” “May the compassionate World Honoured One have pity on our ignorance. Please grant us a chance to make amends. Please tell us how to repay the deep kindness of our parents!” By using eight analogies to illustrate the wondrous Dharma, the Buddha taught His disciples, “As you wish to know how to repay the deep virtuous kindness of parents, I will explain it to you now!” “If there were a man who, carried his father on his left shoulder and his mother on his right shoulder and circumambulated Mount Sumeru, with his skin being torn and his flesh being cut because of their weight,…” “With his bone marrow being cut through and blood flowing down to his ankles, and he continued to do this throughout hundreds of thousands of kalpas*, and he would endure it without a complaint, yet he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents.” “If there were a man who, during a famine, had cut off all his flesh and minced it finely to feed his parents,…” “…so that they would not be hungry, after practising such filial piety for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents.” “If there were a man who, for the sake of his parents, had used a sharp knife to cut out his heat with blood flowing profusely, and he was not afraid of all the suffering…” “…and he continued to do this throughout hundreds of thousands of kalpas, he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents!” “If there were a man who, for the sake of his parents, had to endure the pain of hundreds of thousands of sharp knives piercing through his body throughout hundreds of thousands of kalpas, he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents!” “If there were a man who, for the sake of seeking peace of mind and longevity for his parents, had lighted his body as an offering of lights before the Buddha, throughout hundreds of thousands of kalpas, he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents.” “If there were a man who, for the sake of repaying the kindness of his parents in enduring toils and hardships in bringing him up, had to be boiled and burnt with his bones broken and his marrow extruded, throughout tens of thousands of millions of kalpas, he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents!” “If there were a man who, for the sake of fulfilling his responsibility as a son, took upon himself the effects of his parents’ negative karmas and had to swallow redhot iron pellets such that his body was burnt and injured badly,…” “…and he continued to do this throughout hundreds of thousands of kalpas, he would still be unable to repay the deep kindness of his parents.” After listening to the Buddha’s exposition on the various deep kindness of parents, everyone was indeed very sad and tearful. They could only cry but could not think of how to repay the deep kindness of parents. They were truly ashamed. Together, they sought the Buddha’s advice, “World Honoured One! We have indeed done wrong, but we still do not know how to repay the deep kindness of parents!” When the Buddha saw that they were genuinely remorseful, He told them, “If you wish to repay the virtuous kindness of your parents…” The Buddha said, “Write out this Sutra; repent all past wrongdoings and make offerings sincerely to the Triple Gem.” The Buddha continued, “Observe the pure precept, practise the wholesome Dharma and generosity. Then, you are a genuine filial child. Otherwise, you are just a hell-being.” The Buddha then continued to tell Venerable Ananda and the rest, “People who are unfilial will definitely fall into the Great Avici Hell when they die.” “The length and width of this hell are eighty thousand yojanas*. It is surrounded by iron walls and covered with iron netting so that the hell-beings cannot escape.” “The whole hell is ablaze, with thunder roars and bright bolts of lightning which set things aflame. Molten brass and iron fluids are poured onto the hell-beings’ bodies. Brass dogs and iron snakes chase after the hell-beings and devour them.” “The suffering is acute and unbearable as everyone is burnt to ashes. Moreover, there are countless hooks and sharp spears in the air…” “The ground is covered with axes, hammers, spears, hills of knives, trees of swords and other instruments of torture.” “At any time, they will aim accurately at the hell-beings so that the hell-beings will be chopped, hacked or stabbed to death.There is no end to such countless acute sufferings for the hell-beings.” “After they have undergone such punishment, they will then be sent to other hells. They have to endure the torture of their bodies being rolled over by iron wheels.” “The wheels travel to and fro until their guts are ruptured, their bones are broken, their skins are torn and their flesh is squashed. Within a day, they have to endure suffering akin to dying ten million times.” “These hell-beings have to endure such torture and acute sufferings because in their previous lives, they have committed the grave offences of being unfilial and rebellious!” After listening to the Buddha’s exposition, everyone was very ashamed and remorseful. They cried sorrowfully and implored the Buddha, “What must we do to repay the deep kindness of parents?” The Buddha answered, “If you wish to repay the virtuous kindness of your parents, the best way is to print this Sutra and circulate it widely. If you can make a contribution to print one copy, you will obtain the merits and virtues to see a Buddha.” “If you can print ten copies, you will be able to see ten Buddhas. If you can print a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand copies, you will get to see a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand Buddhas.” “The Buddhas will always protect those who have made contributions to print Sutra for the benefit of sentient beings. By the power of the Buddhas, the donors and their parents will be born in the heavens and will never fall into hells to undergo sufferings.” After listening to the Buddha’s teaching, Venerable Ananda and the multitude, including the Heavenly Dragons and the Eight-fold Division, the Wheel-turning kings and others were very sorrowful. They were ashamed of themselves. They repented sincerely before the Buddha, “From now onwards until the infinite future, throughout ten million kalpas,…” “…we would rather have our bodies crushed into fine dust than go against the Sagely Teaching of the Thus Come One. We would firmly uphold the Teaching.” “We would rather have our tongues plucked out and ploughed with an iron plough so that the blood would flow out profusely like a river…” “…and we vow that even after hundreds of thousands of kalpas, we would not go against the Buddhas’ Teaching. We would rather travel to and fro among bladed wheels,…” “…and be stabbed by the knives so that both the flesh and bones are all pierced through and we would still not go against the Buddha’s Teaching. Even if our bodies were tightly wrapped with iron netting and the pain was unbearable,…” “…after hundreds of thousands of kalpas, we would still not go against the Buddha’s Teaching. We would rather have our bodies minced to a sauce by knives,…” “…with the skin, flesh, veins and bones all mixed up and indistinguishable, throughout hundreds of thousands of kalpas, we would never go against the Buddha’s Teaching!” Venerable Ananda arose calmly from his seat. He asked the Buddha respectfully, “World Honoured One! What is the name of this Sutra? Please tell us so that we can abide, uphold and practise it accordingly.” The Buddha told the assembly, “This Sutra is known as ‘The Buddha’s Teaching On The Difficulty In Repaying The Deep Kindness of Parents.‘ May all of you abide by the teaching, uphold it and practise it accordingly.” At that time, after listening to the Buddha’s exposition, Ananda and all the disciples, the heavenly dragons, the Eight-fold Division and others were very joyful as they clearly understood the practice. Everyone resolved to abide by t he Buddha’s Teaching forever. They would always uphold the practice of filial piety as their duty. After that, they made obeisance to the Buddha and then withdrew. Glossary: Kalpa: a very long period of time that cannot be measured in terms of days, months or years. Karma: intentional action, that is, a deed done deliberately through body, speech or mind. Yojana: a unit of mileage in India. There are four definitions of the yojana as representing 15 km, 20 km and 30 km respectively. The most commom definition is the definition of one yojana as 20 km. You can download the apps “IDharmaBook” to get the ebook in Itunes: Book Title: The Buddha’s Teaching On The Difficulty In Repaying The Deep Kindness of Parents (Filial Piety Sutra) Published by: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, Awaken Publishing & Design


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