THE PERSON THE BUDDHA WOULD NOT ADMONISH by Sayagyi U Chit Tin At one time, in a conversat
*THE PERSON THE BUDDHA WOULD NOT ADMONISH*
by Sayagyi U Chit Tin
At one time, in a conversation with a horse-trainer named Kesi, the
Buddha asked him how he trained his horses. Kesi replied that he
used mildness, harshness, and a combination of the two. Next, the
Buddha asked what Kesi did with a horse that would not submit to his
training. "I destroy him," Kesi answered, explaining that he did not wish
for such a horse to be a discredit to his teacher's clan.
Then Kesi remarked that the Buddha was the unsurpassed trainer of
men. How did he train men?
The Buddha replied that he too used mildness, harshness and a
combination of the two. By mildness, the Buddha explained that he meant
training through good conduct of body, speech and thought with the good
results of each, leading on to rebirth as a Deva or a human being. By
harshness the Buddha meant showing bad conduct of the body, speech and
thought and the results of each, leading on to rebirth as an animal or a
wandering ghost (peta). The combination of the two was also possible.
We can infer from this that some people only need to be shown the
positive way of acting and the good that results, some only need to see
the results of bad actions, while others need to see both sides before
they submit to training.
Kesi asked the Buddha what he would do if someone did not submit to
any of these methods. "In such a case, Kesi, I destroy him," the Buddha
replied. Kesi was understandably surprised by this answer. It was one
thing for him, a mere horse trainer, to destroy a recalcitrant horse, but
for the Buddha to destroy someone was unthinkable. "But surely the Blessed
One does not take life!" he exclaimed.
"Kesi," the Buddha replied, "it is true that taking life does not
become a Tathagata (Buddha). Yet, if the man to be trained does not submit
to the training by mildness, by harshness or both together, then the
Tathagata does not think it worthwhile to admonish that man, nor do his
wise companions in leading the holy life (brahmacariya) think it
worthwhile to admonish that man. This, Kesi, is destruction for a man in
the noble discipline: when both the Tathagata and his companions in
leading the holy life do not think it worthwhile to admonish him."
The method mentioned here can be taken as part of the first step
involving the motivation for a person ready for training. It is necessary
to have the right view that volitional actions will give future results,
that other planes of existence actually exist and that our good or bad
acts will lead to birth in a good or bad plane respectively. If this is
true, then a person will be motivated to work for a good existence at the
very least. This matter of right belief is so important it is the subject
of the first discourse in the Sutta Pitaka.
The Buddha does not mention to Kesi that working for a good
existence is not enough, that the goal should be the ending of all future
births. This is probably because Kesi was not ready at that time to aim at
the highest goal. An illustration of how the Buddha initially motivated
some people to work for a good existence is found in his discourse to the
Kalamas and also in the way he taught his half-brother Nanda. Nanda
became a bhikkhu just after being married and soon began to long to return
to lay life. The Buddha showed him the pleasures of the Deva worlds to
help him get rid of his longing for the pleasures of the human world,
knowing that as he worked to attain temporary pleasures Nanda would be
able to go beyond them and attain Nibbana. This can serve as an example of
training with mildness.
In a very different case the Buddha used the harsh training. An
actor name Talaputa had been told that through entertaining people he
would be reborn in the world of the laughing devas. When he sought to
confirm this by asking the Buddha, the Buddha at first remained silent.
This shows that the Buddha was careful not to tell people something if it
would only serve to upset and depress them. Talaputa had to ask three
times before the Buddha explained that an actor who provoked immoral
thoughts in his audience would be reborn in a lower realm. And this
knowledge motivated Talaputa to become a bhikkhu and work for true
In many places it is made clear that the Buddha only taught those
who would follow his instructions, but that he also gave people every
chance to see the error of their ways. A good example is the case of the
quarreling bhikkhus of Kosambi. Due to a misunderstanding concerning
the rules, two factions of bhikkhus refused to listen to the advice of the
Buddha. It was only when he saw that he could not resolve the conflict
that the Buddha left the bhikkhus. When they finally came to their senses,
the Buddha advised the bhikkhus with him and the lay followers who asked
how to act towards the two factions: they should continue to act correctly
towards both sides, but not get involved in the dispute. The conflict was
eventually resolved when the bhikkhu who had broken one of the minor rules
confessed his fault. But it is important to note that both sides in the
argument were guilty of wrong speech in their quarreling and they almost
lost contact with the Buddha because of that. They were almost destroyed.
As Ven. Sariputta said, a bhikkhu who lacks respect for the Teacher cannot
have respect for the Dhamma and Sangha.
The Buddha is described as having compassion and loving kindness for
all living beings. Even Devadatta, who had tried to kill the Buddha,
realized at the end of his life that the Buddha had not cherished so much
as the tip of a hair's hatred towards him. If this is so, how could the
Buddha turn his back on someone? We have all probably seen cases of people
in difficulty who refuse to see the solution to their problem. We may have
tried to help them, only to find that all our efforts were in vain.
Instead of helping the other person, we might find ourselves being dragged
down by them. If we realize that we are unable to help someone, then we
would do better to avoid them entirely, just as the Buddha left the
bhikkhus of Kosambi. The best response to someone who only wants to
quarrel or stir up trouble is silence. We cannot help someone who is not
ready to help himself. This is what the Buddha meant when he said that he
only showed the way. He could not enlighten anyone else. But if they were
ready to follow his instructions, he could show them the way to reach
Nibbana by their own efforts.
It is not always easy for us to know whether we can be helpful or
not to another person. A Buddha can see better than anyone else the
potential a person has. Some indications of the qualities a person who can
be helped will possess can be obtained from the description of the
dedicated student of meditation in the Visuddhimagga:if he dedicates
himself to the teacher, he will be responsive to correction, he will not
go about as he likes, he will be easy to speak to and will live only in
dependence on the teacher. If the bhikkhus at Kosambi had had this sort of
attitude, they would have stopped their quarreling the first time the
Buddha corrected them.
At times, of course, a person can only learn by his own mistakes. A
good example of such a person was Ven. Meghiya, who was one of the
Buddha's attendants before Ven. Ananda. He insisted on meditating in a
grove where he was unable to make progress. But realizing his mistake,
he approached the Buddha and asked him about it. The result was that the
Buddha gave him very thorough instructions for his meditation, and Meghiya
was finally able to make progress. If we are aware that we have gone down
the wrong path, then we should come back before it is too late. If we
encounter others who have fallen into error, but who sincerely wish to
begin again, and work properly, then, like the Buddha, we should welcome
the opportunity to help them if we can.
The Buddha explains very plainly, "This, Kesi, is destruction for a
man in the discipline of the Ariyan--when both the Tathagata and his
fellows in the higher life think it not worth while to admonish him!"
When our teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin was living and teaching at the
International Meditation Centre, Yangon, Myanmar, there were many
occasions when he would train by mildness with sweet and gentle speech,
and good food, and also by harshness with firm, strong words -- sometimes
very stern words -- and also by both mildness and harshness. At such times
we were at a loss to understand but always knew that his loving-kindness
was so great that he could not help but follow in the foot-steps of the
"Destroyed indeed is a person by the Teacher when he would not
admonish the unfortunate person!"
So those who wish to lead a higher life should submit to the
admonition of our teachers who are wise and who with much loving-kindness
show us the Right Path, the Path to Liberation.
Hence, let all beware!
Sayagyi U Chit Tin
 GS II 116-118.
 F.L. Woodward translates the name by "with a mane."
 Woodward quotes the commentary as saying "proper regard, good food,
sweet water, gentle speech" are examples of mild training and "hobbling,
bridling, goading, whipping, harsh speech" are examples of harsh training.
 GS I 170-175.
 For the story of Ven. Nanda, see BL I 217-225.
 S IV 305f. (KS IV 214-216).
 See BD IV 483-513, for the complete account. The story is also given
by Bhikkhu Nanamoli, //The Life of the Buddha// (BPS), pp. 109-119.
 GS IV 81.
 BL I 239.
 //Path//, Chapter III, 126.
 GS IV 234-237.
Worldwide Contact Addresses
in the Tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin
*AUSTRIA*: International Meditation Centre, A-9064 St. Michael/Gurk 6,
Austria;Tel: +43 4224 2820, Fax: +43 4224 28204
Email: CIS, IMC-Austria, 100425,3423
*EASTERN AUSTRALIA*: International Meditation Centre, Lot 2 Cessnock Road,
Sunshine NSW 2264, Australia;
Tel: +61 49 705 433, Fax: +61 49 705 749
*UNITED KINGDOM*: International Meditation Centre, Splatts House,
Heddington, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 OPE, England;
Tel: +44 380 850 238, Fax: +44 380 850 833,
Email: CIS, IMC-UK,100330,3304
*USA (East Coast)*: International Meditation Centre, 438 Bankard Road,
Westminster MD 21158, USA;
Tel: +1 410 346 7889, Fax: +1 410 346 7133;
Email: CIS, IMC-USA, 74163,2452
*WESTERN AUSTRALIA*: International Meditation Centre, Lot 78 Jacoby Street,
Mahogany Creek WA 6072, Australia;
Tel: +61 9 295 2644, Fax: +61 9 295 3435
*CANADA*: IMC-Canada, 336 Sandowne Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2K 1V8,
Canada; Tel: +1 519 747 4762, Fax: +1 519 725 2781
*GERMANY*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Gesellschaft, Christaweg 16, 79114 Freiburg,
Germany, Tel: +49 761 465 42, Fax: +49 761 465 92
*JAPAN*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, Komatsuri-Cho 923,
Kishiwada-Shi, Osaka-Fu, 596 Japan, Tel: +81 724 45 0057
*THE NETHERLANDS*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Stichting, Oudegracht 124, 3511 AW
Utrecht, The Netherlands,
Tel: +31 30 311 445, Fax: +31 30 340 612
*SINGAPORE*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Association, 9 Penang Road #07-12,
Park Mall, Singapore 0923
Tel: +65 338 6911, Fax: +65 336 7211
*SWITZERLAND*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Gesellschaft, Greyerzstrasse 35, 3013
Bern, Switzerland;Tel: +41 31 415 233, Fax: +41 61 271 4184;
Email: CIS, 100256,3576
*USA (West Coast)*: Contact Address: IMC-USA c/o Joe McCormack,
77 Kensington Rd., San Anselmo, CA 94960,U.S.A.
Tel: +1 415 459 3117, Fax: +1 415 459 4837
*BELGIUM*: Address as for the Netherlands, Tel: +32 2 414 1756
*DENMARK*: Contact Address: Mr. Peter Drost-Nissen, Strandboulevarden
117, 3th, 2100 Kopenhagen, Denmark. Tel: 031 425 636
*ITALY*: Contact address: Mr. Renzo Fedele, Via Euganea 94, 35033
Bresseo PD, Italy. Tel: +39 49 9900 752
Published by the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, United Kingdom
Address as above, registered charity no. 280134
TITLE OF WORK: The Person the Buddha Would Not Admonish
AUTHOR: Sayagyi U Chit Tin
AUTHOR'S ADDRESS: n/a
PUBLISHER'S ADDRESS: International Meditation Centre, Splatts House,
Heddington, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 OPE, England
COPYRIGHT HOLDER: The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, U.K.
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1995
RIGHTS & RESTRICTIONS: See paragraph below.
DATE OF DHARMANET DISTRIBUTION: 17 February 1995
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