Kapimala (lived approx 100AD) was a native of Pātaliputra in the Indian state of Magadha. As a young man he taught a form of Brahmanism and he had three thousand disciples. He had magical powers and was ambitious. His powers enabled him to change his form and appearance and thereby impress people.

One day he encountered Ashvaghosha. Ashvaghosha was not impressed by Kapimala’s powers. Although Kapimala said that he had the power to change the great ocean, Ashvaghosa said he was more interested in the ocean of the truth which Kapimala could not change.

The question is, does one seek the power to change the world or the facility to be changed and enriched by it? Does one really encounter the other or does one subvert it? When one really encounters the other one lives the other, even though one never ceases to live one’s own life thereby. The ocean of truth flows into one yet one does not thereby become something fixed and notable. In the samadhis of Buddhism, everything becomes the truth, everybody becomes a Buddha, just for the time being. Sometimes a Buddha, sometimes a fool, sometimes a foreigner, sometimes a friend. This is emptiness. There is no need to change others into disciples and dominate them. They become true disciples by becoming themselves. Yet, when one is truly oneself, one is a mirror of everything else and such a mirror is empty. Yet, although the mirror is always empty there is always something in it. Not only is there something in it, without the mirror making any effort, the whole universe can be found within it. So it is with ourselves. The greatest teacher is the best learner.

Kapimala ceased to be ambitious and selfish and came to Ashvaghosa as a disciple. He no longer cared about being powerful, yet, for that reason, he received the power of the ocean of truth. Being happy to be a servant he became the master.

Later Kapimala propagated Buddhism in southern and western India. When Kapimala went to see Nagarjuna he simply went in order to meet an interesting man. He had no ambition or selfish intention. Paradoxically, this led to Nagarjuna becoming his disciple because it was exactly this emptiness that Nagarjuna needed.

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Replies to This Discussion

This is beautiful and quite poetic. <3

I fully agree with you Elja. It is beautiful...These words have touched me deeply.

I think, in some way, whatever I do, I do it in order to get some sort of recognition. I mean, I start from a deluded mind that tries to subvert the world. It is all what I can do just now.

Hoewer, at least, it is my starting point, a way of knowing my helplessness, I think.

I find this message so inspiring...The idea of becoming a mirror to reflect the others is challenging and inspiring, letting the others be themselves from my own emptiness, "though there is always something in the mirror".

Sometimes I live moments of clarity when I surrender and I really think the contact with my own suffering and helplessness, "brokenness and foolishness" as Adam said, allows me to leave any effort to pursue anything. I also think that, behind all that fool effort, there is a huge original innocence and I trust very much in that innocence.

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