Front Page Titles (by Subject) LVI.: THE LESSON GIVEN TO RĀHULA.: LVII.: THE SERMON ON ABUSE. - The Gospel of Buddha
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LVI.: THE LESSON GIVEN TO RĀHULA.: LVII.: THE SERMON ON ABUSE. - Buddha, The Gospel of Buddha 
The Gospel of Buddha. Compiled from Ancient Records by Paul Carus. Illustrated by O. Kopetzky (Chicago and London: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1915).
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THE LESSON GIVEN TO RĀHULA.
Before Rāhula, the son of Gotama Siddhattha and Yasodharā, attained to the enlightenment of true wisdom, his conduct was not always marked by a love of truth, and the Blessed One sent him to a distant vihāra to govern his mind and to guard his tongue. 1
After some time the Blessed One repaired to the place, and Rāhula was filled with joy. 2
And the Blessed One ordered the boy to bring him a basin of water and to wash his feet, and Rāhula obeyed. 3
When Rāhula had washed the Tathāgata’s feet, the Blessed One asked: “Is the water now fit for drinking?” 4
“No, my Lord,” replied the boy, “the water is defiled.” 5
Then the Blessed One said: “Now consider thine own case. Although thou art my son, and the grandchild of a king, although thou art a samana who has voluntarily given up everything, thou art unable to guard thy tongue from untruth, and thus defilest thou thy mind.” 6
And when the water had been poured away, the Blessed One asked again: “Is this vessel now fit for holding water to drink?” 7
“No, my Lord,” replied Rāhula, “the vessel, too, has become unclean.” 8
And the Blessed One said: “Now consider thine own case. Although thou wearest the yellow robe, art thou fit for any high purpose when thou hast become unclean like this vessel?” 9
Then the Blessed One, lifting up the empty basin and whirling it round, asked: “Art thou not afraid lest it should fall and break?” 10
“No, my Lord,” replied Rāhula, “the vessel is but cheap, and its loss will not amount to much.” 11
“Now consider thine own case,” said the Blessed One. “Thou art whirled about in endless eddies of transmigration, and as thy body is made of the same substance as other material things that will crumble to dust, there is no loss if it be broken. He who is given to speaking untruths is an object of contempt to the wise.” 12
Rāhula was filled with shame, and the Blessed One addressed him once more: “Listen, and I will tell thee a parable: 13
“There was a king who had a very powerful elephant, able to cope with five hundred ordinary elephants. When going to war, the elephant was armed with sharp swords on his tusks, with scythes on his shoulders, spears on his feet, and an iron ball at his tail. The elephant-master rejoiced to see the noble creature so well equipped, and, knowing that a slight wound by an arrow in the trunk would be fatal, he had taught the elephant to keep his trunk well coiled up. But during the battle the elephant stretched forth his trunk to seize a sword. His master was frightened and consulted with the king, and they decided that the elephant was no longer fit to be used in battle. 14
“O Rāhula! if men would only guard their tongues all would be well! Be like the fighting elephant who guards his trunk against the arrow that strikes in the center. 15
“By love of truth the sincere escape iniquity. Like the elephant well subdued and quiet, who permits the king to mount on his trunk, thus the man that reveres righteousness will endure faithfully throughout his life.” 16
Rāhula hearing these words was filled with deep sorrow; he never again gave any occasion for complaint, and forthwith he sanctified his life by earnest exertions. 17
THE SERMON ON ABUSE.
And the Blessed One observed the ways of society and noticed how much misery came from malignity and foolish offences done only to gratify vanity and self-seeking pride. 1
And the Buddha said: “If a man foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall go from me; the fragrance of goodness always comes to me, and the harmful air of evil goes to him.” 2
A foolish man learning that the Buddha observed the principle of great love which commends the return of good for evil, came and abused him. The Buddha was silent, pitying his folly. 3
When the man had finished his abuse, the Buddha asked him, saying: “Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?” And he answered: “In that case it would belong to the man who offered it.” 4
“My son,” said the Buddha, “thou hast railed at me, but I decline to accept thy abuse, and request thee to keep it thyself. Will it not be a source of misery to thee? As the echo belongs to the sound, and the shadow to the substance, so misery will overtake the evil-doer without fail.” 5
The abuser made no reply, and Buddha continued: 6
“A wicked man who reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks up and spits at heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back and defiles his own person. 7
“The slanderer is like one who flings dust at another when the wind is contrary; the dust does but return on him who threw it. The virtuous man cannot be hurt and the misery that the other would inflict comes back on himself.” 8
The abuser went away ashamed, but he came again and took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. 9