The last two podcasts have been about transferring merit (podcast 80) and about shravakas and bodhisattvas (podcast 81), so today's podcast is about how transferring merit created a bodhisattva. The podcast refers to Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva who is known in Japan as Jizo Bosatsu.
Once upon a time there was a good girl who had a bad mother. Now, of course, in our days you tend to think if you have bad parents, you’ll be damaged and this will have a bad effect. But this story goes in a rather different direction.
There is a good girl with a bad mother; and the bad mother many times offended the Three Jewels. The Three Jewels, we say: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; and when we say offended the Three Jewels, we mean broke the Buddhis precepts - so, told lies, hurt people, stole things, was bad sexually, took drugs and so on. These sorts of things are offences against the Three Jewels.
Of course, the Buddha doesn’t actually take offence. Buddhas have infinite patience. When we’re acting up, the Buddha simply goes into samadhi and waits until we come round and are more amenable; and then the Buddha displays the Dharma for us. But still we call this offending the Three Jewels.
So, the mother offended the Three Jewels in many ways, and then the mother died. So, at this point Good Girl is very worried: “Perhaps my mother has gone to an unfortunate rebirth?” She is very worried about it. So, she goes to the temple and she wants to transfer merit, so she makes many prayers and she makes offerings and her heart reaches out to her mother. She is transferring merit to her mother.
This is a long time ago, this is before the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. The Buddha of that time was called Padma Samadhi. Padma means Lotus, so Lotus-Samadhi. She is praying to the Buddha Padma Samadhi; and she goes to the temple and prays many times to Padma Samadhi.
And then, one day, Padma Samadhi appears before her and says to her: “If you go home and you make calling my name a practice, then you’ll be able to follow your mother and find out where she has gone.“ So, Good Girl goes home and she takes up the practice of calling the Buddha’s name. And she calls it very ardently and many times with much feeling.
While she is calling the Buddha’s name one day, she passes into a kind of revery and suddenly she finds herself in a terrible place, in a kind of nightmare, in a hell, surrounded by flames and people suffering in many, many ways; but because she has been praying and because she has a feeling for the Buddha, she remains calm in the midst of all of this terrible trouble.
So, there she is, floating as if on a lotus in the middle of this hell zone, and a being appears to her and asks who she is, and she tells her story; and this being says: “Well, I’m one of the guardians of hell and I can tell you that your mother was here, but because of all the merit that you have transferred to her, she is now in a heaven,” and he tells her which heaven she is in and how it all happened; and Good Girl is very pleased and happy.
But also, Good Girl has been greatly affected by looking around and she asks the hell being to show her around this hell realm where so many beings are suffering. In due course, Good Girls comes out of her revery and thinks about this vision that she has had, and she makes a great resolve to save all the beings that are suffering in such hell realms.
This is the way in which Good Girl becomes Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva, or Jizō Bosatsu in Japanese. So, the bodhisattva Kshitigarbha, the Earth Store Bodhisattva, who is dedicated to saving all beings from suffering in the dark time came about in this way.
I thought you would like to hear this story. There is more we could say about this bodhisattva, but this is enough for today.
Thank you very much
Namo Amida Bu