Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/01/2010

On Viriya

After I got home tonight I briefly entertained the thought of going straight to bed or, if you can believe it, watching a documentary on TV. I decided to see what I could find to rouse myself and I stumbled upon the following excerpt from a Jataka tale. So, its off to walking meditation for me and an inspiring little tale for you. Sukhi hotu!

Long ago the Bodhisatta, born as an adventurous merchant named Janaka, journeyed the high seas in search of wealth. Unfortunately in mid-ocean the ship was wrecked. Some who attempted to swim perished, and a few implored gods for help. But the energetic Bodhisatta, relying on himself, besmeared the body with oil and climbing the mast jumped far out into the sea beyond the reach of the fish that had collected near the wrecked boat to eat the flesh of drowning men.
For seven days he courageously swam though no shores on both sides were visible to him. On the eighth day, as usual, even in mid-ocean he resolved to observe the Eight Precepts.
A goddess, seeing him thus struggling for life, appeared before him and offered him a dish of food. As it was after mid-day, and he was fasting, he thanked the goddess and declined the offer though he was fasting for more than seven days. To test him, the goddess spoke discouraging words to him and said that he was only making a foolish attempt in thus swimming with no shore in sight.
‘The Bodhisatta replied that there was no disgrace in making an attempt though he would fail; disgrace lay in making no effort at all through laziness. The goddess was pleased with his lofty principles and perseverance. She saved him from a watery grave and safely led him home.
He was rewarded for his self-reliance and indomitable energy; whilst those who merely prayed perished miserably.  After His Enlightenment the Buddha said:
“In mid-ocean was I, not seeing both shores. All the people, too, perished.
Still my mind wavered not. This is my Perfection of Energy.”

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