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RAHULA Foremost in Quietly Doing Good (罗睺罗尊者)
来源:净心之旅 更新日期: 2016-8-10 浏览次数: 633 字号选择:  

Rahula, Shakyamuni's only child was born while his father was still Prince Siddhattha of the Shakyas. Siddhattha was nineteen when, at the instigation of his father Suddhodana, he married Yasodhara. Early in life, Siddhattha became aware of the suffering inherent in birth into this world and more and more of his time wrapped in the contemplation of liberation from suffering. His desire to seek an end to suffering grew ever stronger.

 King Suddhodana had arranged the marriage with Yasodhara in the hope of preventing his heir from abandoning the secular world for a life of religious pursuit. No doubt the king was overjoyed to hear that after ten years of marriage Yasodhara had given birth to a son. He imagined that this would change Siddhattha's mind about leaving home. 

Upon hearing of the event, however, Siddhattha cried out, "A hindrance [rahula] has been born; bonds of affection have been created!" This is said to be why he named his son Rahula.

At that time India was torn by violent battles among great kingdoms. The strong constantly threatened the weak, and some people rejected the validity of morality. They claimed that there was no evil in taking life, stealing, or causing others suffering, since no retribution for deeds done in this world waited in the world to come. 

Many eagerly accepted this doctrine. Prince Siddhattha witnessed this world firsthand and foresaw clearly the downfall of his society. He resolved to find a way to lead people from unhappiness as quickly as possible.

The birth of a son must have been a tremendous cause of concern to the prince. Seven days after Rahula came into the world, Siddhattha broke the bonds of affection tying him to the infant and silently left the palace for a life of religious pursuit. To Yasodhara, who had lost her husband, and to Suddhodana, who had lost his son, Rahula must truly have been a child of sorrow. But this may have made them treat him all the more tenderly. Surrounded with affection, Rahula grew rapidly.

After Prince Siddhattha left home to pursue a life of religion, not a day passed that Yasodhara did not worry about the harsh suffering that her husband must be enduring. He had been accustomed to the softest cushions and many attendants. Now he slept in open fields and submitted himself to all kinds of ascetic hardships. 

Finally word reached her one day that Siddhattha had attained enlightenment and become a buddha. Soon afterward she learned that he was returning, to visit Kapilavatthu, the capital.

He arrived in the company of a large number of disciples. They stayed in a forest outside the city, but paid a visit to King, Suddhodana at the palace. During this visit, Yasodhara pointed out the Buddha to Rahula and said. "That noble person is your father." Rahula advanced and looked up at his father, who returned his gaze but departed without saying a word.

Yasodhara hurried to her son and urged him to ask his father's blessing. Rahula did as he was told. Shakyamuni, turning back to look at his son, nodded and instructed the boy to follow as he continued walking. The boy did so in silence. When they reached the forest, Shakyamuni ordered Sariputta to shave Rahula's head, exchange his clothes for those of a monk, and make him a novice in the Sangha. Rahula is said to have been nine at the time.

Perhaps Shakyamuni foresaw the imminent fall of the Shakya tribe to one of the larger Indian kingdoms of the day. He must have realized how profoundly Yasodhara would suffer when her only son was taken away to lead a life of religious pursuit. No doubt he found it wrenching to tear his own child away from the comfort and wealth of life in the palace and compel him to wear the coarse robe of a monk and become a mendicant. Nonetheless, he was determined to live his son the precious legacy of enlightenment-eternal life and peace-attained only through strict religious discipline. Rahula's task was to follow the Way to its completion; and as a consequence of his actions, his mother too would eventually be brought to enlightenment.

As a member of the Sangha, Rahula underwent exactly the same discipline as all the other monks. When he was in training near his father at the Jetavana Monastery, a senior member of the Sangha returned from a long journey. Since rooms were assigned by seniority, Rahula had to give up his quarters to this monk. As luck would have it, it rained heavily the night he was forced to sleep outdoors, and he took refuge in a latrine. As might be expected, he grew very tired and dozed off. Suddenly he was awakened by a voice: "Who's there?" Recognizing it as his father's,

Rahula identified himself. "I see !" said Shakyamuni. After a moment's silence, Rahula heard the sound of his departing footsteps.

Though training at his father's side, Rahula was unable to call him father or draw close to him. Nor could he expect to receive from his father any sign of affection. Perhaps it was the sadness of being unable to treat his father as a father that prompted him to small acts of mischief. For instance, he once misdirected a lay believer who had come to the monastery and had asked him how to find Shakyamuni. Word of this reached Shakyamuni; that evening, to his son's great amazement, he took the unprecedented step of going to Rahula's quarters.

Rahula prepared his room and watched joyfully as his father approached. Inside the room, Shakyamuni called for water. Rahula brought it. When Rahula had washed his father's feet, Shakyamuni asked, "Rahula, can you drink this water?"

Rahula replied, "No. It was clean, but now that 1 have washed your feet in it, it's too dirty to drink."

Shakyamuni then instructed Rahula to throw the water away and return with the container. Rahula did as he was told, and Shakyamuni said, "Rahula, would you put food in this containers" Rahula answered, "No, I would not put food in a container that had just held dirty water."

Hearing this, Shakyamuni said, "A person who knows that lying is evil but lies anyway and hurts others is like water that is fouled or a container that has been dirtied. Sin begins with lying, which summons all evil to itself. And the suffering caused by lying inevitably rebounds upon the liar."

Enlightened by Shakyamuni's words, from that time forth Rahula was diligent in quietly obeying all the rules of the Sangha and became revered among the other disciples as foremost in quietly doing good. Many people looked on Rahula with sympathy. Though born and reared as the only son of a prince, he had given up his life of privilege at an early age to subject himself to a course of stern religious discipline. But within the Sangha some monks treated him with reserve, and some were jealous of him. Dealing with such attitudes was among his greatest ordeals.

Once, when Rahula and Sariputta were begging in Rajagaha, a hooligan threw sand in Sariputta's begging bowl and beat Rahula. Sariputta warned Rahula, “You are Shakyamuni’s disciple. No matter what kind of treatment you encounter, you must never allow anger to enter your heart. You must always be compassionate to all beings. The bravest person, the person seeking enlightenment, abandons conceit and has the fortitude to resist anger." Rahula smiled and silently walked on till he came to a stream, where he washed the dirt from his body.

Rahula continued strict discipline of this kind until he attained enlightenment at the age of twenty. Later, after Shakyamuni allowed women into the Sangha. Rahula's mother, Yasodhara, became a nun and trained under Mahapajapati, Shakyamuni’s aunt and foster mother until she too attained enlightenment.

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