Shakya Muni And The Prodigal Son


A great trouble with us is that we do not believe in half the good

that we are born with. We are just like the only son of a

well-to-do, as the author of Saddharma-pundarika-sutra[FN#172] tells

us, who, being forgetful of his rich inheritance, leaves his home and

leads a life of hand-to-mouth as a coolie. How miserable it is to

see one, having no faith in his noble endowment, burying the precious

gem of Buddha-nature
into the foul rubbish of vices and crimes,

wasting his excellent genius in the exertion that is sure to disgrace

his name, falling a prey to bitter remorse and doubt, and casting

himself away into the jaw of perdition. Shakya Muni, full of

fatherly love towards all beings, looked with compassion on us, his

prodigal son, and used every means to restore the half-starved man to

his home. It was for this that he left the palace and the beloved

wife and son, practised his self-mortification and prolonged

Meditation, attained to Enlightenment, and preached Dharma for

forty-nine years; in other words, all his strength and effort were

focussed on that single aim, which was to bring the prodigal son to

his rich mansion of Buddha-nature. He taught not only by words, but

by his own actual example, that man has Buddha-nature, by the

unfoldment of which he can save himself from the miseries of life and

death, and bring himself to a higher realm than gods. When we are

Enlightened, or when Universal Spirit awakens within us, we open the

inexhaustible store of virtues and excellencies, and can freely make

use of them at our will.

[FN#172] See 'Sacred Books of the East,' vol. xxi., chap. iv., pp.