As I was searching for last week’s story, I ran across another story that I thought I’d share today.
“The Dragon King’s Daughter” is a parable that appears in the twelfth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most influential of the of Buddhist scriptures. I know very little about Buddhism, but according to the internet, many believe the Lotus Sutra contains the ultimate and complete teaching of the Buddha.
There was once a daughter of Sagara (“Ocean”), one of the great Dragon Kings who lived at the bottom of the sea. When the Buddha was teaching on Vulture Peak, Bodhisattva Chishaku stood up and said, “It took eons of practicing austerities and accumulating wisdom for even our own Shakyamuni Buddha to realize awakening. Is it possible for anyone to quickly attain Buddhahood?”
To this Manjusri Bodhisattva said, “With the Awakened One’s permission, let me tell you about the Dragon King’s daughter. She is just eight years old, highly intelligent, and well-versed in Buddha-dharma. In just a single moment, just one instant of time, after having generated the thought of awakening, she entered into meditation and became a Buddha.”
Bodhisattva Chishaku replied, “There is not even a spot as small as a poppy-seed in this universe where the Bodhisattva has not made efforts for the sake of all living beings and only after such efforts was he able to realize awakening. I find it hard to believe that a mere girl could become a Buddha so quickly.”
It was at that moment when the Dragon King’s daughter arrived and Shariputra asked her, “The Buddha Path is long; I too, have difficulty understanding how you could so speedily become a buddha.”
The Dragon King’s daughter turned, bowed to the Buddha and offered him a precious jewel. When he immediately accepted this gift, she said to Shariputra, “Did you see that Shakyamuni Buddha received the jewel I offered to him which signifies proof of my having attained enlightenment?”
And in a flash, she was transformed into a man and flew up into the heavens. She appeared in a world to the south called the “Land without Impurities” sat on top of a lotus flower, and was endowed with the thirty-two features and eighty characteristics of a Buddha.
She then preached the teachings of the Lotus Sutra to all people of that land. All the people, dragons and animals who witnessed this were overjoyed as they realized that they too would be able to obtain Buddhahood as they were.
DailyEnlightenment.com tells us that this short teaching speaks against, at the same time, ageism, sexism, casteism, racism and speciesism. Despite being young, female, a non-brahmin (priests revered in ancient India as the ‘select few’ with higher spirituality), and a dragon, the Dragon Girl was able to attain Buddhahood swiftly, by adhering to the great universal teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
I like the Dragon Girl. I have to imagine she was dedicated and open to learning.
It’s also a good reminder to not judge other people. Just because they are young or female or a dragon, we can’t judge where they are on the path of life. We can’t know all their battles or all their accomplishments.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.