净远法师开示:象护因缘

建寺功德不可思议,若有好的发心、清净的加行、至诚的回向,果报必殊胜。请看以下这一则因果故事:

象护的因缘(出自《贤愚经》——《象护品》)

佛世时,摩羯国有一长者生了一男儿,出生之日,家中库藏也出现了一头金象,故为儿取名象护。此象一直不离小儿,也随儿渐渐长大,善解人意,最奇特的是金象大小便中会出现金子。太子阿阇世知道后,内心盘算将来登上王位后一定要夺取过来。

后来太子阿阇世杀了父王而登王位,派人召唤象护父子及金象到王宫。长者对象护说国王召见必是为了要夺取金象,象护回答无人能劫走他的象。见了国王,国王刻意把金象留在宫内。当象护与父亲离开王宫到门外后,金象又出现在他们眼前,父子二人就乘金象返家。

象护自念国王无道,今佛出世,不如离家修行。象护启白父母后乘金象去见佛求出家,而象护神悟,速证罗汉果。象护比丘经行时,金象也跟随,国人听到此事纷纷前来观看。人多喧闹而干扰僧众修行,佛陀请象护把金象遣走。象护启白久已想遣走金象,但象不肯走。佛陀教导象护遣走之言辞,说了三遍之后,金象离开了。

大众比丘都觉得奇异,请问佛陀象护比丘修何因而感此果报。佛陀开示,在上一尊佛迦叶涅槃后,建了很多塔寺供奉佛舍利。其中一佛塔,有纪念菩萨从兜率天乘象下入母胎时之像。有一人绕塔,见象身破损,心念:“这是菩萨所乘的象,现在损坏,我应修补。”他就取了泥补好象身,再用黄色涂料漆上,做完后立誓希望将来恒处尊贵、财富无量。他寿终之后生天上,之后下生人间,世世都在尊豪富乐之家,长相庄严,并有金象跟随。佛告阿难,此人就是象护比丘,因他修补象身,故世世富贵,因敬心奉三宝,今世值遇佛陀乃至证果。佛陀说:“若有众生,于三宝福田之中,种少少之善,得无极果。”

参考:

  1. 象护比丘前世见到大象雕像有破损而修补,感得殊胜果报。世人也多从事艺术的画家、雕刻匠,也有画大象、雕大象的,是不是也有此殊胜果报?
  2. 佛塔的菩萨乘大象之像,应是属于塔物佛物,有破损而修补,应也是维护塔寺。
  3. 仅仅是因修补菩萨所乘大象之像,并涂上黄色漆料,后世感得天上富乐,下生人间大象随身,任由使唤;大象大小便中出金子,财富无量,任由使用。布施供养的功德不可思议,修补塔寺功德无量!建寺建塔亦如是。
  4. 象护比丘的前世所遇到的因缘并非独特的,现在我们也可见到佛塔的雕像有破损,我们内心作意是什么?我们又作了什么行动?佛陀说:“若有众生,于三宝福田之中,种少少之善,得无极果。”大家应善思念之!

Venerable Jing Yuan Discourse: The Elephant Helper

The merits of building a monastery is inconceivable. If the intention is good, together with pure actions and sincere dedication, the effects obtained will definitely be remarkably superior. Please read the following story on cause and effect:

The Elephant Helper, originated from The Sutra of the Wise and Foolish 《贤愚经》——《象护品》

During Buddha’s time, in the country of Magadha, one of the householderhad a son. On the day the baby was born, a golden elephant appeared in the family’s treasury. Hence, the baby boy was named as the Elephant Helper. The elephant never left the side of its young master and gradually grew up with its master. It was considerate and understood people’s views, and the most amazing thing about the golden elephant was that gold could be found when it urinated or defecated. Prince Ajatasatru knew about this and schemed to obtain the golden elephant when he ascended to be king.

Later, Prince Ajatasatru murdered his father and ascended the throne as king. He sent people to summon the Elephant Helper, his father and the golden elephant to the palace. The householder told the Elephant Helper that the king had summoned for them so that he could seize the elephant.The Elephant Helper replied that no one could seize his elephant. Upon seeing the king, the king deliberately retained the elephant in the palace. However,as the Elephant Helper and his father were at the palace gates, the golden elephant appeared before their eyes. Hence, both father and son rode the elephant home.

The Elephant Helper knew that the king did not follow moral ethics, and since it was during Buddha’s time, he decided to become a monk. The Elephant Helper obtained his parent’s permission and rode on the golden elephant to see Buddha to be ordained as a monk. The Elephant Helper had divine intelligence and soon became an Arhat. Whenever the Elephant Helper sat together with the other monks to meditate, the golden elephant would come along. On hearing this, the people in the country came one after another to see the elephant. With the noise and excitement from the crowd, it interfered with the practice of the monks. Buddha requested for the Elephant Helper to send the golden elephant away. The Elephant Helper shared that he had wanted to send the golden elephant away but the elephant refused to leave. The Buddha taught the Elephant Helper what to tell the elephant. He repeated it three times and the golden elephant left.

The Sangha community felt unusual and asked Buddha what causes the Elephant Helper had cultivated to reap such a fruit. Buddha said, “ After the Buddha Kasyapa had passed into Nirvana, many stupas were built to house the Buddha’s relics. One of the stupas depicted the bodhisattva descending from Tusita heaven and riding on an elephant to enter his mother’s womb. A man who was performing circumambulation of the stupa, saw the damages on the elephant’s body and thought to himself,” The elephant is what the Bodhisattva rode and now that it’s damaged, I must repair it.” Then, he obtained some plaster and repaired the elephant’s body and used some yellow paint to paint on it. When it was done, he established his wishes that in future he would permanently be bornin a place where it was respectable and filled with immense wealth. When he died of old age, he was reborn in the heavens. When he was later reincarnated on earth, in all his rebirths, he was born into a respectable, powerful and wealthy family with dignified appearance and the company of the golden elephant. Buddha said, the man in the story was the monk, Elephant Helper. The result of the Elephant Helper mending the elephant’s body, was to be reborn with great wealth in every life. And, because he made offerings to the Three Jewels with heartfelt respect, he met Buddha and reaped the fruit of attaining realization. Buddha said,

”In the field of virtue of the Three Jewels, no matter how small a seed of virtue a man sows, he would reap great harvest.”

Worth Pondering

  1. Upon seeing the damage on the elephant sculpture, the Elephant Helper repaired the damages and received great karmic fruit. Does that mean common people dealing with the arts, who draw pictures of elephants, craftsmen, who carve elephants will also have such immense karmic fruit ?
  2. The relic of the bodhisattva riding the elephant belongs to the stupa of Buddha relics. If it’s damaged and repaired, this is also a way of safeguarding stupas/monasteries.
  3. Merely by repairing the elephant ridden by the bodhisattva and putting on yellow paint on the elephant, the results were to be blessed with abundance of wealth and happiness in heaven, and to be reborn as a human with an elephant assigned to be ordered about; to find gold in the elephant’s urine and faeces, and therefore having immeasurable wealth. The merits of generosity and offering are unimaginable; Repairing a stupa results in immeasurable merits ! Constructing a monastery or stupa bears the same result.
  4. The causes and conditions that were encountered by the Elephant Helper in his previous life were not really unique. Today, we can also see damages on the sculpture of some stupas, what contemplation arises within our hearts ?What have we done about it ? Buddha said, “In the field of virtue of the Three Jewels,no matter how small a seed of virtue a man sows, he would reap great harvest.” Everyone should “contemplate thoroughly, and hold this in mind !”