|Image from HERE|
The Story of Angulimala
The Buddhist scriptures relate that one day, after his meal, the Buddha went out from the monastery where he was staying and walked towards a great forest. Seeing him going in that direction various people working in their fields called out to him to warn him that in that forest dwelt the dreaded Angulimala.
Little is known for certain about Angulimala but the usual account of his life has him the son of a well-to-do family and at one time a brilliant student at the University of Taxila, then the Oxbridge of India.
At Taxila, other students were jealous of him and succeeded in poisoning their teacher’s mind against him, with the result that the teacher asked of him what he must have believed would be an impossible honorarium, a thousand human right-hand little fingers. Unbelievably, instead of giving up and quietly going home without graduating, the young man set out to collect the fingers and pay the fee.
Presumably, he quickly discovered that people were reluctant to willingly give up their little fingers and so he was forced to resort to violence and killing in order to obtain them.
Then he found he had nowhere to store these fingers. He tried hanging them on a tree but the birds stole them so his solution was to string them around his neck. For this gruesome and growing garland of bloody fingers he was nicknamed Angulimala which means ‘finger garland’ or ‘finger necklace’.
This was the man who, peering out from his lair, spotted the Buddha coming towards him and who that day had round his neck nine hundred and ninety-nine little fingers. This powerful and athletic serial killer, who had already successfully resisted several attempts to apprehend him, grabbed his weapons and dashed out to murder the Buddha and complete his score.
He expected to easily overtake him and quickly finish the job but then a very strange thing happened – even though the Buddha was only walking, serene and unhurried, Angulimala, despite his formidable strength and speed, found he couldn’t catch up with him. Eventually, exhausted, angry, frustrated and soaked with sweat, Angulimala screamed at the Buddha to stop.
Then the Buddha turned and with neither anger or fear, speaking quietly and directly, he told Angulimala that he, the Buddha, had already stopped. He had stopped killing and harming and now it was time for him, Angulimala, to do likewise. Angulimala was so struck by these words that there and then he stopped; he threw away his weapons and followed the Buddha back to the monastery where he became a monk. (from here The Story of Angulimala)
Later, Angulimala came across a young woman undergoing a difficult labor. He went to the Buddha and asked him what he could do to ease her pain. The Buddha told Angulimala to go to the woman and say:
'Sister, since I was born I do not recall intentionally killing a living being. Through this truth may there be wellbeing for you, wellbeing for your fetus.'
Angulimala pointed out that it would be untrue for him to say this. The Buddha offered this revised stanza:
'Sister, since I was born with the noble birth (became a monk), I do not recall intentionally killing a living being. Through this truth may there be wellbeing for you, wellbeing for your fetus.' The Buddha was making a word-play here on the word "born" to support Angulimala, who was suffering from severe remorse which was badly obstructing his meditation, of his renewed commitment to harmlessness since becoming a monk.
After Angulimala delivered this benediction, the woman safely gave birth to her child. This verse, commonly called the Angulimala paritta, continues to be recited at the blessings of houses or pregnant women in Theravada countries. (from Wikipedia)
Coming across the story of Angulimala, in a Zencast by Jack cornfield I couldn't help, of course, but relate it to Yoga practise, to meditation, to loving Kindness. Whatever went before is of no account it all begins anew each day, each moment,
I've been thinking about Loving Kindness, people ....irritate me, they just do. I have cave yogi leanings.
So with the new year coming I thought a resolution, why not. Fifteen minutes or so of loving kindness meditation every morning for the whole year (rather than every now and again), see if I soften... somewhat. But then why New Year, why not tomorrow morning, why not right now. So at work this afternoon while it was quite and I repadded a flute I went over the loving kindness mantra...
May I be filled with loving Kindness
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be well and safe
May I be happy.
...and then I directed it at M. and then those I work with in the workshop, in the shop itself, the customers, the cybershala, yogi's and meditators everywhere, all people of good will and finally all who commit violence and harm, all who are filled with anger and hate.... you know the kind of thing.
Impermanence, what has gone before is passed, we begin again each moment, we have no fixed nature, essence, or self.
|When I started four years ago|
or we can begin pranayama practice
or a meditation practice
or loving Kindness.
Or we can take up our practice again after having let it slip, or start to eat a little better or be kinder to ourselves as well as to others.
We who get on the mat each morning, we know this of course.
Each day is a new practice. No matter if yesterday we were ashtangi gods and nailed our first drop back or caught our heels in kapo or took our karanda back up or bound mari B. Today we might be not so goddess like, our binds not so deep, our breath not so smooth but that's OK because tomorrow we begin again.
In fact come to think of it how often has practice started out terribly and yet the second half turned out not so bad, pretty good in fact. In Ashtanga it begins again after every jump back or WITH every jump back or step back, it's an etch-a-sketch practice.