Shakyamuni Buddha

A weaver’s girl

Getting the best out of a Buddhist sermon

This story is similar to the story narrated in the article “Buddha Care

Buddha travelled far to reach a weaver’s daughter and waited for her to complete her chores before delivering his sermon. That personal sermon not only benefited the girl but also everyone in the assembly.

However, this story recounted why this girl received special attention from Buddha. Three years ago, the Buddha had visited her town and delivered a sermon that exhorted the listeners to reflect on death.

Buddha encouraged everyone to constantly reflect on the unavoidable death and be acquainted with the fact that life is uncertain and death is certain.

After listening to that exhortation, the girl diligently reflected on the topic for 3 years. Consequently, she became spiritually ripe for emancipation from Samsara.


When the girl finally arrived at the sermon hall, Buddha started the conversation by asking,

Buddha: “Where did you come from, young lady?”

Weaver’s daughter: “I do not know, Exalted Buddha.”

Buddha: “Where are you going?”

Weaver’s daughter: “I do not know, Exalted Buddha.”

Buddha: “Do you not know, young lady?”

Weaver’s daughter: “I do, Exalted Buddha”

Buddha: “Do you know, young lady?”

Weaver’s daughter: “I do not, Exalted Buddha”

The above short conversation is so Zen like and similar to records of conversation between zen masters and disciples.


However, the other people in the audience thought the girl was being rude and answering the Buddha with irrelevant randomness. They became worked up and scolded her.

The Buddha silenced the angry crowd and continued to address questions to the girl and from her reply, the crowd became aware of the meaning.

 

The first and second question from Buddha is related to the bigger question of where do we come from before birth and where do we go to after death. The girl replied that she did not know.

Since she was reflecting on this topic for 3 years and her mind was focused on this topic, she fully comprehended Buddha’s questioning. Whereas the other people in the assembly did not grasped the question although they had attended the same sermon as that girl three years ago.

In her 3rd answer, the girl confirmed her understanding that death is certain when she said “I do, Exalted Buddha”

In her 4th answer, the girl replied that although she was certain about death, she was uncertain when and how she would die.

After the girl had elaborated her replies, the Buddha acknowledged and delivered a Dhamma-verse. At the end of that teaching, she was established in the state of Sotapatti-phala.


From the above, I think we can learn the importance of meditating and contemplating a Buddhist sermon. If we just listen without subsequent meditation and contemplation, the message will be lost.

It just flows out of us like tea being poured into a strainer.

On the other hand, the weaver’s daughter had diligently contemplated the Buddha’s instruction for 3 years. Although the Buddha’s question is short, the weaver’s girl fully comprehended the meaning of His questions. In this situation, we say the master’s mind and the disciples mind is single. There is no need for too many words.

Furthermore, we witness the time lapse of 3 years. The girl did not see Buddha everyday but during His absence, she trained her mind well and was spiritually ready for the step forward in her spiritual development.

Most of us listened to sermons and attended many talks but we are like the townsfolk in this story. We attend sermons and meet spiritual teachers like attending a concert of a superstar.

Then we blame the sermons or teachers for being ineffective……

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My Buddhist name is Ratna Jamyang Puntsog. I first encountered Buddhism in this life when I was 12. Formally took ceremonial refuge in the triple gem when I was 19. I believe the different spiritual methods were taught by Buddha to suit various beings who each have their own unique characteristic. The various sects and practices that arose are just a naming convention invented by disciples out of communication necessity. Had read and studied different forms of Buddhism. Volunteered in Buddhist organization. Until it last, I hope to share my views on Buddhism and find like minded practitioners around the world. May we practice Buddha's instruction together and connect through cyber space!

2 comments on “A weaver’s girl

  1. Thank You Cornelia. Sharing with you what one of my teacher advised.
    He said when listening to sermons, one should
    1) Listen attentively
    2) Contemplate deeply
    3) Practice diligently
    In Chinese character 闻思修

    Like

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