PureInsight | July 16, 2006
Sakyamuni told his disciples the following story about Mujianlian and
Shelifu, who were among Sakyamuni's principal male disciples.
One day, when the two cultivators were about to pass by a village, a
group of naughty children saw them approaching. The children decided to
pick on them. One of them stood in the middle of the road to block
their passage and asked, "When will it turn cold?"
The cultivator in the front answered with smile, "It doesn't matter
whether it's spring, summer, fall, or winter, when there are wind and
rain, it will turn chilly." These naughty children then let them pass.
But these children soon ran after them and blocked the second
cultivator from passing by. A child asked the second cultivator: "When
will it turn cold?" "Winter is the cold season and because of the
revolution of constellation. When earth is further away from the sun
during winder, it turns cold. Only an imbecile doesn't know that."
Upon hearing this, children threw stones at the second cultivator who
was trailing behind. Shelifu was the one in front and Mujianlian was
the one trailing behind.
Among the sixteen disciples of Sakyamuni who had superb achievements,
Shelifu and Mujianlian were the most outstanding ones, especially when
it came to their supernormal abilities.
Mujianlian possessed incredible supernormal abilities. When he pressed
his toe on the palace of the Celestial Ruler, he could shake the
palace, or even make it collapse. Why didn't he apply his supernormal
abilities to deal with those naughty children?
Mujianlian and Shelifu were frequently in each other's company. They
traveled together to heaven, on earth, the hell, and the animal
kingdom. They used their supernormal abilities and wisdom to save
suffering people and enlighten ignorant sentient beings.
Once, they traveled to the Deepest Inferno of Hell. It was super hot
inside. Hot flames from frying pans filled the air in hell. The poor
creatures who were receiving this physical punishment were wailing and
howling in pain. Shelifu and Mujianlian sprayed fresh and cool
beneficent rain on them to mitigate their pain for a short while.
At that moment, they saw a terrible sinner with a thick body and a
large and long tongue. Five hundred iron plows were placed on the top
of his tongue. He was using the plows on his tongue to plow a piece of
desolate land. Fresh blood droplets were dripping from the tongue. As
soon as the sinner saw Shelifu and Mujianlian, he hurried over to them
and cried out, "Honorable Monks, My name is Bulinu. I was a preacher of
paganism. I used to promote witchcraft and slander Buddhism when I was
alive. As a result, I am suffering from this kind of retribution in
hell. If you pass by the Nanzhanbu, please be sure to tell my disciples
not to worship the thing I put in the wooden pagoda anymore. It will
only increase my suffering. Also tell them not to slander Buddhism and
cheat people any more so they don't follow my footsteps and fall into
such a state. I beg you."
When the two cultivators returned to Wangshe City, they met a group of
non-Buddhists. All of them carried walking sticks and big sticks and
used the sticks as weapons to intercept and attack passer-by monks.
Shelifu was the one walking in the front. When those non-Buddhists
wielded their weapons to attack the two, Shelifu spoke them with a mild
manner. They stopped and let Shelifu pass by. But when Mujianlian
approached them, they again raised their weapons.
"Wait!" Mujianlinan raised his hands to stop them and said, "Both
of us just returned from the Deepest Inferno of Hell. We saw your
master Bulinu in there suffering great retribution. He is using iron
plows placed on top of his tongue to plow land. Fresh blood is oozing
from his tongue. He is suffering a great deal. He told me to pass on
the message to you to stop slandering Buddhism and stop spreading
paganism so that you do not follow his footsteps. In the mean time, you
also need to stop worshiping the thing in the wooden pagoda to reduce
his suffering." Mujianlian passed on the message hoping that they would
repent and dispel mutual animosity between the two groups. But as soon
as he finished his words, they attacked him with beastlike ferocity.
"Beat him up! He slandered our master. Beat him up. Beat this monk!"
Wooden bats and hand sticks fell on Mujianlian like raindrops. His whole body was beaten black and blue.
Many people saw what happened to Mujianlian and started to have doubts about his supernormal abilities.
Buddha Sakyamuni said, "Mujianlian's supernormal ability is not a sham.
He can go to heaven and go under the earth. He can bypass any
obstruction. He has unbelievable abilities. His supernormal abilities
haven't disappeared. In facing his own karma, he knows he must pay back
his karmic debt. No one can violate the rule of karma. When karma
comes, one needs to endure it. Complying with preordained fate conforms
to the rules of the Fa. Everyone needs to understand that when one's
karma comes, don't try to escape or hold grudges. One needs to clearly
understand how scary creating karma is, cultivate diligently, and be
cautious about one's conduct.
Mujianlian had a vast amount of supernormal power. But he didn't use it
to shield his own faults and avoid retribution of his karma. He
established a good example for us.